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Adding A New Skill: Sailing Refinement Kick-off

Written by developer on . Posted in OSRS News

Today you’ll get your first look at how we plan to refine the new Sailing skill!



Refinement Explainer

Core System and Gameplay Loop

Navigation and Map/Sea Scale

Reward Space

Integration & Lore

Refinement Survey


The new skill pitches poll was one of the most exciting in Old School RuneScape history. Over 178,000 of you had your say, and we appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to vote. If you were there, give yourself a big pat on the back - go on, you deserve it!

When the votes were counted, Sailing took the crown as the community’s favourite skill. Thousands of you loved the idea of exploring new areas, taking down scary sea monsters, and upgrading your very own boat. No matter what kind of player you are, Sailing has a little something for everyone!

Over the next few months, we’ll work with you to transform ideas into formal designs. We’ve got loads of fantastic concepts to show you, and soon you’ll be able to tell us which ones should be part of the new skill.


Our journey to the Sailing design blog starts by covering four key topics, each of which will get around 2 weeks’ worth of feedback time:

  • Core System and Gameplay Loops
  • Navigation and Map/Sea Scale
  • Reward Space
  • Overall Game Integration and Lore

Once we’ve discussed these topics thoroughly, we can move on to a longer, detailed design for you to vote on.

Now, a few ground rules when it comes to discussion! Over the next couple of months we’ll be addressing each topic in order, and we’d prefer if you all stuck as closely to the current topic as possible. You might have great feedback in mind, but please keep hold of it until we’re ready to discuss the relevant topic.

You can look forward to a dedicated blog and a Discord ‘Stages’ call for each topic which will be used to explain and share what the team has been working on. To kick us off, we’ve got a survey in this very blog post where you’ll get the chance to tell us your thoughts about our initial ideas. We’ll follow up with the usual array of feedback changes and then move on to the next topic. Savvy? Savvy.

Once we’ve discussed all four topics, we’ll present a detailed design blog with everything we’ve learned. Remember, nothing is locked-in until we’ve run the 70/30 poll which lets us start work on the Beta, so there’s still plenty of time for us to take your feedback on board.

Lastly, we want to reassure everyone that your feedback is incredibly valuable to us. If you didn’t vote for Sailing, you’re still very welcome to participate in discussion. In fact, your ideas might be the most valuable of all – we’re hoping to improve Sailing based on your feedback, so dissenting opinions are really important! Together, we can make Sailing the best skill it can be.

And remember, once we’ve fully explored Sailing we also plan to revisit the runner-up skill, Shamanism! We’re really looking forward to exploring not one, but two fantastic new skill ideas.

For now though, it’s time to hoist the anchor and start refining Sailing!

Topic #1: Core System and Gameplay Loops

Mid May

As you know, Sailing will be an open-world skill, allowing brave buccaneers to explore the seas of Gielinor, engaging in various maritime activities and upgrading their ships to better withstand the challenges they’ll face in open waters.

We’re kicking off the refinement stage by discussing the Core System and Gameplay Loops in detail. It’s a critical topic, because we know your biggest concern with the skill is that it might feel like a minigame. This topic will help us steer away from that outcome.

We need your help to choose the best skilling methods for Sailing – share your favourite ideas with us, so we can create an exciting gameplay loop that feels 100% ‘Old School’! During refinement, we’ll iron out what we reckon are the best, most enjoyable training methods, whether they be solo, group-based, high-intensity or AFK-able.

Another question we’re interested to hear the answer to is: how much time you’d like to spend actually out at sea, instead of exploring the islands you’ll discover on your adventures?

That question, and more, will be answered in our first refinement phase!


Topic #2: Navigation and Map/Sea Scale

Late May

With the core gameplay nailed down, we can start thinking about another key aspect of the skill: how players will navigate the seas, and how big those seas are supposed to be!

The navigation interfaces you’re familiar with from quests like Bone Voyage and Enlightened Journey might be a fantastic nostalgia trip, but they’re a bit clunky. We want navigation to feel enjoyable, a fun way to travel for mobile and desktop ‘Scapers alike. Obviously, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time moving your boat around while Sailing, so this a real cornerstone of the design.

As Sailing will not be an instanced skill, we also want to discuss how the world of Gielinor will expand with this new content. We want to add loads of new islands and hidden secrets – and of course, the new world map must be large enough to harbour hundreds of players (and their ships!) on the open sea. We’re considering some kind of prototype to help us gather more accurate information about this topic following your feedback.

Lastly, we want to ensure Sailing seamlessly integrates with existing locations and travel methods. A player should expect to be able to sail right up to Catherby beach and ask the players there about their Fishing levels! While this is something we’ll touch on in this topic, we’ll come back to it when it’s time to look at Topic #4: Game Integration and Lore.

Topic #3 Reward Space

Mid June

While the core concept of letting players traverse the sea and explore new destinations is an awesome reward in itself, we want to offer more from Sailing – including an array of utility benefits for your account, and the ability to own and upgrade a ship of your own!

Obviously travel is a key reward space from Sailing, but we don’t want this skill to just be a more in-depth alternative to Charter Ships and Teleports. Instead, we want Sailing to be a free-form exploration method which lets you go wherever you want, rather than a pre-defined, speedy route to a destination. In this way, we’re also ensuring that the reward space doesn’t crowd out existing travel options.

So instead, let’s think about all the unique items, resources, and treasures you may find out at sea – and yes, that may well include pirate cosmetics!

While discussing this topic we’ll also consider how rewards can enhance existing skills and other gameplay, ensuring that Sailing has a meaningful impact even when you’re not at sea.

As always, we’re also mindful about power creep. It’s important that we get the right balance for these rewards to ensure they feel motivating enough to grind for without disrupting the game’s delicate economy.

Topic #4: Game Integration and Lore

Late June

Sailing has to feel like it's been a part of Gielinor since the very beginning, so our last stage of refinement will explore how we make this new skill blend seamlessly with existing skills, lore and areas.

For example, we already have loads of ports in the game – but what purpose might they have in Sailing? Your input will decide whether they serve simply as a place to dock your boat, or whether they’ll serve a greater purpose.

There’s also tons of existing lore dealing with sailing and the sea. We know we’ve got some budding lorehounds out there, and we’d love to hear from you about how we can tie existing lore to Sailing.

As you explore more of Gielinor’s ocean, of course, you’ll meet new NPCs and travel to exciting new places – so this is also your opportunity to tell us which as-yet-unvisited lore you’d like to encounter.

Visuals will also be a big part of this topic, so you can look forward to feasting your eyes on some nautical mock-ups!

Refinement Kick-off Survey

This is your invitation to join us on our Sailing journey and pitch in to help this skill be the best it can be.

You can expect dedicated blogs and Discord ‘stages’ calls for each of our four topics in the coming months, giving you ample opportunity to have your say. If you haven't already, you can join the Discord Server via this link. We’d like to reiterate that we’d prefer if feedback was limited to the current topic, to ensure that we’re able to take all your feedback on board properly.

Each topic will have a minimum of two weeks’ design and discussion time with the community, so here are some approximate dates to bear in mind:

Date (Approximate) Blog/Topic
Friday 24th April Sailing Refinement Blog #1 and Kick-off Survey
Explains how we'll be handling the Refinement stage and gives you the chance to tell us your initial feelings about Sailing.
Early May Sailing Refinement Blog #2
Explains the results of the Refinement Kick-off Survey.
Mid May Sailing: Core System and Gameplay Loop Blog
Presents initial ideas, may include a survey, and can be updated following feedback from the community.
Late May Sailing: Navigation and Sea/Map Scale Blog
Presents initial ideas, may include a survey, and can be updated following feedback from the community.
May include ways to prototype various navigational mechanics.
Mid June Sailing: Reward Space Blog
Presents initial ideas, may include a survey, and can be updated following feedback from the community.
Late June Sailing: Game Integration & Lore Blog
Presents initial ideas, may include a survey, and can be updated following feedback from the community.
Mid July Sailing: Refinement Summary Blog
Summarises the result of refinement, including what changes were made. It's uncertain at this time whether we'll be in a position to present the full detailed design blog, but hopefully we’ll be nearly there!

Community feedback, staff absence, holidays or other events outside of our control may alter the dates provided.

Now to get the ball rolling with the initial refinement kick-off survey! While this won’t include everything we need to know from you, it’s intended as a springboard that will help us understand your initial feelings about the skill.

Adding a new skill to Old School RuneScape is a big undertaking, and we’d like to thank our wonderful community for being so passionate and so engaged. Old School RuneScape wouldn’t be what it is today without you, and you’re all superstars in our hearts! We’re committed to working closely with you as we refine our new skill and creating content that surpasses your expectations.

For that reason, we want to reiterate that all feedback is valuable. Whether you’re a Sailing sceptic or a Sailing superfan, we want to hear all you have to say.

So, what are you waiting for? Make your way to the Sailing Refinement Survey, and let’s get going!

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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