Did you miss the livestream on April 21st? You can catch up on everything you missed right here, or alternatively head to the bottom of the post to watch the entire thing!
It’s been just three weeks since Archaeology came to RuneScape. In this week’s developer livestream, the team took us behind the scenes to see how this brand-new skill was created
In January 2018, Mod Timbo was tasked to come up with a new skill that was initially set to launch in the summer of 2019. He started by looking at what the community wanted from a new skill, as well as what the developers felt was most needed. Before, skills had simply been the result of cool ideas from the dev team, which were approved internally and then released without much examination.
– Mod Timbo took submissions for new skill ideas from staff at Jagex. Anyone at the company could pitch an idea, whether they were game developers or working in other departments.
– These pitches had to meet certain criteria: they had to be ‘RuneScapey’, interesting, fun and had to fit within the world. The team weren’t too keen on Spaceship Crafting.
– Mod Timbo also trawled Reddit and other social media platforms to see what players were looking for from a new skill.
– Ultimately, this was whittled down to a shortlist of just six skills: Archaeology, Sailing, Spellcrafting, Animal Training, Merchanting and Necromancy.
“I then sat down with some long-term RuneScape players at Jagex and went through each of the skills, pitching with them what each one could be.”
“At this point, Archaeology was not the top skill. The most popular was easily Necromancy, but we disregarded it from a design point of view because it sat too closely to other skills like Summoning, Magic and Prayer. I then wrote a bunch of pitches for each of the skills and said we’d pick between Archaeology and Sailing. They were the two strongest ideas we had. But over the months, we kept coming back to Archaeology.”
~ Mod Timbo
The Demo Stage
The team made a playable demo to showcase Archaeology in action at a dig site in September 2018. This meant that players could see everything that the new content had to offer in around 20 minutes.
– Initially, the hidden parts of dig sites were known as ‘lost areas’.
– This demo was pulled together in two weeks.
– At this stage, projects on the dig sites had players working out how to access the hidden parts of these areas.
– Feedback from players and Jagex staff at this stage was vital to the development of the skill.
– The team moved away from making areas look like dig sites and instead decided to focus on the fantastical elements.
– Early on, whenever players found an item in the ground, it would be dirty. Before they could do anything with these artefacts, they would have had to clean them.
“Archaeology conjures up images of brushing away an artefact for days at a time and musty old scrolls in museums.”
“One of our driving visions during the design of the skill was wanting to make it fantastical. We wanted to make this RuneScape’s version of Archaeology, not just digging a hole in the ground, then excavating and surveying it for ages. One of my favourite pitches to people was: ‘We’re going to have five dig sites. One of them is going to be in hell and another is going to be in the sky!’.”
~ Mod Timbo
Design and Concept
The team then moved onto building out the concepts for the Archaeology skill and experimented with a variety of mechanics. Some of these made it into the final release, while others were cut during development. Restoration, for example, used to be comprised of three separate stages. First players had to prepare their artefact, before then going to a separate workbench to assemble it. Finally, they went to another bench to finish the artefact.
– The team experimented with random generation to create the hidden parts of dig sites. These would have had doors that required certain artefacts open.
– Relics changed quite a bit during development. Initially there were small, medium and large relics and players could have only one of each at a time. This was eventually removed as it was too restrictive.
– Originally, there was going to be a language for each of the cultures in Archaeology. Players would have received XP for a particular culture’s dialect by examining items that related to them. For example, the Kharid-et dig site would have levelled up Zarosian language XP.
– Players would have had to have certain language levels to interact with certain aspects of dig sites.
“We felt it was a good idea but we didn’t really have a use for it. We didn’t want to stop players reading books because they didn’t have the right level.”
~ Mod Ryan
If you enjoyed learning about how Archaeology came together, then stay tuned for the forthcoming livestream with the art team that worked on the brand-new skill.