In Old School RuneScape, there are a lot of skills to master. You can fish, cook, craft, chop wood, and slay all day — and that's just the beginning! But what if there was another skill that you could learn?
That’s exactly what we’re proposing with this blog. We want to know what YOU think about adding a new skill to Old School RuneScape!
There’s a poll live right now where you’ll be able to tell us your thoughts, but before you run off to vote, have a read through what we’re proposing and why we think a new skill is the right choice for Old School RuneScape.
The New Skill Polling Process
Skills are an integral part of the game. They touch every single piece of content, and our surveys have shown that building skills is one of the biggest player motivations.
We’ve seen our wonderful community (that’s you!) passionately discuss the prospect of a new skill for years – and you’ve even put forward designs of your own, like Bard or Exploration.
Now is the perfect time to re-open the conversation about new skills in Old School RuneScape. You’ve told us that you want more dev time allocated to updates that will affect the main game, instead of temporary game modes.
‘Main game content’ could mean new quests, bosses, or minigames – and as you know, skills are the foundation of each and every one of those things. They’re what set Old School RuneScape apart, a core feature of the game – and yet we haven’t added a new one since Old School RuneScape was released nearly 10 whole years ago.
Since then, our community has grown beyond our wildest expectations, and your expectations are pretty clear. In our annual survey, a whopping 78% of respondents supported the addition of a new skill – an increase of 3% since we asked the same question last year.
Our community knows the value of skills – they allow us to expand on content and create new reasons for you all to log in each day.
But when we ask ‘How would you feel about a brand new skill, including new items, a new race to 99, and the prospect of unlocking new content across the game?’ your answer might be:
- … only if it feels ‘Old School’.
- … only if it’s fast to train.
- … only if it’s insert specific skill here>.
- … only if it’s non-buyable, non-gathering, and non-combat.
- … only if I don’t have to re-earn my Max Cape.
- … only if all the bits I vote yes to pass and all the bits I vote no to fail.
- … only if I get to playtest the skill in Beta Worlds.
- And the list goes on!
The truth is every player has their own ideas about what a skill should be. Our new polling charter means that we can get your input at every stage of production to ensure that the new skill ticks as many boxes as possible.
We want to maximise the time we have and create a meaningful, powerful update that provides all kinds of players with new content to enjoy. A new skill can be that update – and with constant iterative feedback from our talented and passionate community, we’re in the best position to make it happen.
We’ve polled three skills before – Artisan, Sailing, and Warding. Unfortunately, they all failed the poll for a variety of different reasons.
With the new polling system in place, we have a golden opportunity to work closely with the community and get things right.
You’ll be involved from the very start of the process, all the way through to launch. Your input will directly impact the new skill’s design, and you’ll get plenty of opportunities to speak your mind before we fully commit.
Here’s how the polling process will work in regard to the new skill.
Should more than 30% of the votes in our initial poll indicate that you don’t like the concept of a new skill, we won’t take the proposal any further. We’ll be pretty sad about it, but that’s how player power works – your voices will be heard and respected no matter what.
If you do vote for a new skill, we’ll move on to the next stage of the process…
Do you think the new skill should provide an item sink mechanic? Would you prefer a combat, gathering, or production skill? All these questions, and more, will be answered in stage two, where your input will directly shape the design of our new skill.
We want to make data-driven design decisions, so expect plenty of surveys (your favourite!) and in-game polls throughout January as we learn exactly which aspects of a new skill you value most.
Once we have a good understanding of what the community’s after, we can work on presenting some top-level design proposals for you…
Welcome to stage three! This is where the team will look at the data from the community consultation and come up with a few different ideas for your new skill. We’re not sure yet how many proposals we’ll present, but we want to give you plenty of options. We’ll explain why we’ve chosen them based on data and ask you to tell us which design you prefer most.
The outcome of stage three is absolutely critical. A few different things could happen:
- The community has a clear favourite. We’ll zoom straight to stage four and start refining the skill you’ve chosen.
- The community does not have a clear favourite. We can adjust the top-level concepts and depending on your feedback we might go back to the community consultation phase – or take a little more inspiration from player suggestions!
- The community does not like any of the ideas we’ve presented. Back to the drawing board! We’ll scrap our top-level concepts and present completely different designs, based on your feedback.
Once you’ve chosen a skill you’d like us to develop further, we’ll move to stage four, where we’ll refine and polish the ‘nitty gritty’ elements. This includes the fine details of gameplay, rewards, required new areas, and more.
At this point, we need to start making some final decisions and ‘lock-in’ the skill you’ve helped us create. We’ll present our ideas from stage four in a blog and ask you whether we’re ready to move on to the final stages of production. If 70% of you say yes, the new skill will be coming to the game – but first…
We’ll need to get through stage six, an open beta! Finally, you’ll be able to get your hands on the skill you’ve helped design and give us the last few bits of feedback before we launch for real. You can expect several open betas before the skill comes to the game.
So what’s the timescale here? Because the process is so flexible, we’re wary of setting any exact dates past February.
Today, though, we’re asking you to take the first step. Make sure to vote if you think a new skill should be something we add to Old School RuneScape!
Question #1: Should a new skill be added to the game? If this passes, we'll follow the revised polling structure, working closely with the community to determine the details of the skill through future polls and consultation, as described in the blog.
See above for further detail on what voting on the Greenlight Poll means
There are endless possibilities for our new skill – all kinds of activities would make sense in the magical world of Gielinor!
Since we can’t share the new skill right this second, we’ll share the next best thing: our design pillars!
Design pillars are keystone concepts that help developers work on new content. No matter how it looks, sounds, or feels, we want new stuff to fit in with our game and appeal to the wider community.
So, without further ado, here are the design pillars for the new skill!
These design pillars are open to further feedback
1. A healthy addition that is deeply rooted in the game
Our new skill should…
- … impact the wider game, instead of being confined to its own corner of the game world - looking at you, Daemonheim!
- … be deeply rooted in the game both narratively and systematically. We want it to feel like this new skill could have been there from the start.
- … make the game better than it was before the skill was added, and not just feed off of existing skills and systems.
- … fully consider the impact on current metas and the game economy. A new skill shouldn’t make old content feel obsolete.
2. Provides meaningful progression
There must be a strong reason to train the new skill, that makes you feel you are progressing through its content while you train it, not just grinding to the end. We should look to avoid situations where players are training a skill in the exact same way from level 1 to 99.
Our new skill should…
- …have appealing rewards, unlocks, and milestones. Levelling the skill should make other aspects of the game feel better.
- … have overlapping objectives and goals so that you’re working on more than just increasing XP.
- … consider the time spent at each level and tailor unlocks to match. Notably, higher levels in skills take the most time to attain, but also tend to have the least amount of new content available.
3. Appeals to a variety of player types
A new skill should...
- …be appealing to many types of players, not just those in one specific niche.
- … have lots of different ways to train, so that players can choose the method that suits their playstyle.
- … have rewards and reasons to train that affect different player groups, not just those who especially enjoy training skills.
4. Enjoyable to train
This is the most important pillar of all!
Skills hold some stigma – they’re often seen as ‘the thing you have to do to get to the fun stuff’. Instead, we want to design a skill where the journey is just as fun as the destination. Skills are at their worst when you’re just sat there watching numbers go up, and at their best when you log off after a few hours of fun and think “wow, I gained that much XP today?”
With that in mind, our new skill should…
- … be an intrinsically fun activity that players do because it’s entertaining, not just because they want the rewards.
- … be rewarding to train and make it feel as though your time training it was well-spent.
- … include varying types of content, whether that be new training methods, access to new content, or ways to earn money with the skill.
Incidentally, like everything else in our new process, these design pillars aren’t set in stone. We’d love to hear your feedback – are we heading in the right direction? Let us know!
Finally, let’s talk about all the other stuff which might influence your feelings about a new skill.
In the past, deal-breakers like these have impacted our ability to bring new skills to the game – so we want to work closely with you to fix these issues once and for all.
The 23 skills currently in the game are simply iconic. You’ve spent years training them, and we know you hold them in high regard. Ultimately, a lot of you like Old School RuneScape just the way it is.
As we reflect on the last ten years, though, we think Old School – and the Old School community - has changed more than you’d think. In 2022, players need more content in order to keep up with demand.
Old School’s uniquely nostalgic feel is always going to be there, but we feel we’d be letting our community down if we didn’t act as the living game we are, evolving and changing according to the needs and desires of our players.
Those who achieve the enormous prestige of maxing their account have shown the utmost dedication and loyalty to our game. We want to ensure you receive the same loyalty and respect in return.
Losing a Max Cape can be a huge inconvenience because of the quality-of-life options it offers. A lot of maxed players simply don’t remember what it was like to play without their Cape, having used it for so many years. Having to make such a big adjustment overnight would understandably be a deal-breaker for any new skill, no matter how good.
There are a number of potential solutions for this problem:
- What if we introduce a grace period where maxed players can retain their status for a period of time after a new skill launches?
- What if we made the existing Max Cape represent the current 23 skills, and add a Trimmed Max Cape for maxing any skills added after this point?
- What if we kept the status quo, and mandated that everyone would have to re-earn their Max Cape?
The one thing we don’t want is for the Max Cape issue to block the possibility of a new skill ever entering the game. Instead, we want the community to guide our decision – after all, you’re the ones doing the hard work of maxing those skills!
On a similar note, HiScores hold a lot of prestige for players too. They are ordered by level, then XP, and in the event of a tie, whichever player achieved the goal first is ranked higher. Currently, the front page of our HiScores is locked down, as we have over 25 players who have achieved 200 million XP in every skill. Impressive!
However, adding a new skill means that those coveted spots on the front page would be open again. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you’re into racing to be the first, but we understand the level of commitment it takes to land that spot, and we certainly don’t want to ruin the experience of the dedicated players who’ve already put in that work.
We’d like to keep an archive of the top players’ HiScores, so that if a new skill releases, all prior achievements will be visible for all to see. The exact number of players we can archive will depend on the hard work of our web and engine teams.
We’d like to consult with the community, too. Should we preserve the top 100 players? The top 1,000? As with all other aspects of the new skill, we plan to approach this with a data-driven mindset – so make sure to tell us your thoughts!
Your feedback has been invaluable in making Old School RuneScape as successful as it is today. Without our community, we simply wouldn’t be where we are now. We’ve always worked closely with our players, and the prospect of designing a new skill together is exciting for the whole Old School team. As we approach our 10th anniversary, we hope we’ve built up enough trust with the community to show that we’re here for the long haul.
With all that soppy stuff out the way, here’s the bottom line: the power is in YOUR hands! Share your feedback on Reddit, Twitter, Discord, and the Official Forums, and most importantly – get to the polling booth, and make your vote count!
You can also discuss this update on our official forums, on the 2007Scape subreddit, the Steam forums, or the community-led OSRS Discord in the #gameupdate channel. For more info on the above content, check out the official Old School Wiki.
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