Did you miss the livestream on May 12th? You can catch up on everything you missed right here, or alternatively head to the bottom of the post to watch the entire thing!
Leaping from a puff of smoke before vanishing silently into the shadows, some members of the Ninja Team joined us on this week’s developer livestream to shed some rare light on how they mysteriously operate.
Meet the Ninjas
You’ve already seen the improvements they’ve made to RuneScape, but do you know who the Ninja Team is? These pyjama-clad merchants of… quality of life improvements are led by Mod Kalaya, who directs the team and helps them figure out which changes need to be made to the game.
- The Ninja Team is comprised of three devs – Mod Erator, Mod Abe and Mod Shogun – as well as two QA staff, Mod Breezy and Mod Chaose.
- Mod Kari helps out on the community side, while Mod Dorn contributes in his localisation role.
- Mod Timbo is one of many advisors across Jagex that assist the Ninja Team.
“We’re here to make sure that every minute that you’re playing RuneScape feels great. We want to ensure you’re not being caught out by things that should be better.”
~ Mod Kalaya
The Story So Far
Legend tells of Ninja Teams of old, but what is this iteration’s origin story? These developers came together after Mod Kalaya approached Mod Warden at the end of 2019 to discuss creating a game quality strike force. Over Christmas, the team was brought together and the developers figured out exactly what they wanted to be doing.
- The team has worked on four Strikes so far. These can either be themed – where the Ninjas work on one piece of content, such as Shattered Worlds – or they can be ‘Scatter Shot’, which means a number of smaller tweaks are made across the game.
- Mod Kalaya is in charge of prioritising what the developers should work on first.
- Most Jagex teams work using Scrum, which is on a number of set tasks over a certain period of time. The Ninja Team, however, can be more reactive via the leaner Kanban style of development, which sees staff balancing demands against their capacity.
“When I’m making changes, I want to make sure whatever I’m working on reaches a point where we don’t have to revisit it again in the future. With the interface changes I made in the second Ninja Strike, for example, the actual initial job was just to make Charming Imp use an interface similar to Herbicide, Seedicide and Bonecrusher. When I was looking at those, I started to see if there were any changes I could make to improve all of these interfaces. The initial job bloated in size, but it means that we ideally shouldn’t really have to go back to those interfaces ever.”
~ Mod Erator
The main way that players can bring an issue to the Ninja Team’s attention is by submitting it via the Dojo (https://rs.game/ninja). Scrawl a message in there and it will soon surface in of the gang’s many meditations.
- The Ninja Team have received 4,907 submissions since opening the Dojo in February. No doubt that figure will have climbed following this week’s stream!
- Mod Kalaya and Mod Kari go through new requests once a week. If something is being raised by a large number of players, they’ll start investigating.
- Unsurprisingly, the submissions sent in via the Dojo are predominantly related to what is popular with players at the time.
- To date, the team has reviewed around 3,000 submissions from the community.
“Before the fourth strike, we were getting about 20 or 30 requests per day,” Mod Kalaya said. “On the day of the strike, we received 553 submissions. That’s great, but it’s a lot to get through.”
~ Mod Kalaya
Player Advocacy Groups
Another way that the Ninja Team decides what it should be working on is via Player Advocacy Groups, or PAGs. These are collectives of high-profile and knowledgeable RuneScape users, such as YouTuber and two-time Golden Gnome winner TheRSGuy, who is heading up the current PAG.
- PAG members reach out to their player communities to make sure they are receiving feedback from as many people as possible.
- The PAG has an hour-long meeting once a week with Jagex’s Mod Kalaya, Mod Kari and Mod Bolton.
- Suggestions are organized and split up into six different categories to ensure the different aspects of RuneScape aren’t competing with each other. Each part of the game has its own priority list.
“I’m working with a team of high-level players collaborating closely with Mod Kalaya. We’re helping her come up with problems with the game or improvements that can be made, as well as proposing potential solutions. We discuss them internally and then present them to Mod Kalaya who can approve them, take a look and speak to the wider Ninja Team to see if they’re things that are in line with what they could implement.”
The Runescape Team