Bounty Hunter Return
- Removed the Blighted Shark reward and added the Blighted Manta ray and Blighted Anglerfish.
- Added the following Blighted Sack rewards: Bind, Snare, Entangle, and Teleblock.
- Included clarity on the Bounty Hunter Reward items that have been dispersed to LMS and Slayer Shops.
Earlier this year we had to remove the Bounty Hunter minigame from OSRS. At the time, an unacceptable level of its rewards were being farmed by accounts that would cooperate with each other for quick kills. As a result value was flooding into the game faster than would be likely through legitimate gameplay. Removing it was not a decision we took lightly, since that minigame had a passionate following who'd been waiting a long time for it to be updated. However, in the circumstances, players widely understood that it would not be acceptable to leave it open.
We said at the time that we'd like to restore it in a modified form in a couple of months, with more monitoring from the Player Support team to help avoid the abuse it suffered before. More monitoring isn't a catch-all solution, however. If there's a strong incentive to abuse something, the problem can be expected to recur, however hard the dedicated Support staff try to keep on top of it. So, realistically, we're going to have to rethink its approach to rewards if we want a decent chance of the activity staying open.
What Doesn't Work?
Bounty Hunter aimed to give rewards for killing assigned targets. Additional rewards were offered for killing them in particular ways, or doing it in a specific zone. In PvM, a monster won't swap a quick kill for a favour. However, the same is not always true for a player, making it highly risky when you offer rewards.
We'd originally hoped that with enough players participating and a requirement to risk some wealth, any cooperative group would be broken up by more legitimate PKers coming for them. The use of hotspots - originally a player suggestion - aimed to concentrate groups in limited areas where such PKers could find them more easily. However, this proved ineffective.
We also added more restrictions on who could play, so that even in the low combat level brackets of the southern Wilderness, more players would be able to attack any participant. This did restrict how quickly abusers could set up accounts to farm the activity. However, the use of combat levels in those restrictions also blocked legitimate account builds, leading to many complaints.
Players did offer plenty of constructive advice about how to change things. Proposals included an Elo-like scheme that would give diminishing returns from repeatedly killing the same accounts, or restrictions on how many times a reward could be gained from killing the same account in a certain time period. Unfortunately, limitations of the 'old school era' technology meant that we weren't able to adopt those solutions. And while proposals involving filtering the list of potential targets to weed out 'undesirable' targets might have been good for the gameplay in an ideal situation, it seemed likely to make these abuse problems worse by directing legitimate players away from the abusers instead.
That makes it very hard to offer a form of Bounty Hunter that could give out significant rewards for killing one's targets. For the activity to come back, rewards will have to be rather more restricted than before.
Also, with the numerous rules and caveats in previous versions of Bounty Hunter, the game got remarkably hard for players to understand. We'd like to keep this new version simpler, even if that means disregarding some of the more intricate suggestions that were pitched for fixing the previous version.
What does the game need from Bounty Hunter?
Old School RuneScape came from an era before the removal of Wilderness PvP in 2008, and thus OSRS didn't have the minigames that were created in the later years to replace it. While there were many things players did like during that time, our aim - as you'll have seen in the Gazette - is to encourage PvP within the Wilderness rather than trying to move it elsewhere.
Bounty Hunter fits into that as an additional Wilderness activity, providing extra reason for players to encounter each other via recommended targets and destinations. To that end, we've been reviewing our options for the minigame in terms of whether they help with that aim:
- Features that help find one's target
In last year's rewrite, we extended the hint arrow to help you find your target, showed more information about your target on the head-up display, etc. These features were mostly received well, and we'd like to keep them.
- Flexibility for skipping targets
The ability to skip more kinds of undesirable targets was popular too, though by giving more scope to select one's target, we made it easier for players to farm the rewards by cycling through their preferred targets. We're keeping this for now, since it was so frustrating if you got an undesirable target such as one in a multi-way area, or one without a skull. As detailed below, though, all players in the Wilderness on a Bounty world will be skulled in this proposal.
Last year's rewrite came with a decision to have players buy emblems for cash, and carry them into the Wilderness as risk. Emblems merged or upgraded in very restricted situations, so that little wealth would be generated. While this may have sounded logical, it wasn't at all popular, and the emblem-as-portable-wealth achieved little beyond what could been done with actual coins or platinum. So we'd like to remove that, using emblems more like the previous version.
We also added a selection of tasks last year, challenging players to get the last hit with a certain style etc. We've had ample suggestions for expanding this, too. Regrettably, many of the popular suggestions have hinged on a target being in the right place or having the right setup, which would not have worked out very reliably. And, as covered above, if we just let you skip the target until you got a suitable one, it'd help players cycle through their preferred targets again. We'd like to keep the tasks we've got, rather than removing them, since they do add a little more variety. However, we won't be able to do a lot of new ones from player suggestions.
Moving the whole of Bounty Hunter into craters (or any new terrain with access restrictions) is a very common request. However, as described before, we feel the Wilderness would work better if we didn't take PvPers out of it. So, we intend for Bounty Hunter to remain in the Wilderness itself, on its themed world(s). Some had hoped that the creation of craters would lead to a safe area with a bank in the Wilderness. We're instead offering to do that by moving the Clan Wars lobby into the Wilderness, rather than by taking Bounty Hunter out of it.
The topic of rewards is double-edged. While we're not short of suggestions for what to add, we've seen with the last version that valuable rewards greatly encourage abuse. It's inevitably faster to kill players who are cooperating, rather than players who are fighting back properly. So, this time Bounty Hunter will not be a significant source of wealth for its participants. Untradeable PvP-only weapons/armour as rewards have been considered, but would have the major drawback that they couldn't transfer effectively to a PKer (especially as coins) without exacerbating that problem. The same applies to the various innovative combat features. However, we would be able to make a limited array of food and similar consumables that could only be used within the Wilderness, thus reducing costs for PvPers a little, but without significantly impacting the market for the real items across the rest of Old School RuneScape.
- Giving the rewards via Slayer instead
We'd prefer the rewards for Bounty Hunter to come, primarily, from playing Bounty Hunter rather than from doing PvM. However we do have proposals for helping players get looting bags and rune pouches...
How can we bring Bounty Hunter back now?
When we took Bounty Hunter away, we said at the time that we hoped for it to return in some form after a couple of months (which would have been the end of March). Also, we were keen to have a wider discussion about what we could do for PvP - now published in the Gazette - before trying to confirm anything. After all, if we'd put a launch out immediately that moved the activity out to separate craters, only to realise in the same month that we'd like to focus PvP within the Wilderness instead, it wouldn't have been a good start.
Unfortunately, other project development time, coupled with the recent disruption across the world has thrown our schedule slightly. We're now aiming for an April launch, if you'd like it.
As the aim now is to complement Wilderness activity rather than to form a major wealth source in itself, while keeping the activity straightforward, So, here's a proposal for a simpler target-hunting system that we'd like to offer you:
- Firstly, we'll discontinue the current Mysterious Emblems. These are the items you buy for cash, and exchange back into cash after trying to upgrade them. You'll still be able to exchange your existing Mysterious Emblems back into cash, though, rather than losing their value. The Archaic emblems will once again be given through playing the activity - see below...
- All players in the Wilderness on the Bounty world will be marked with a PK skull throughout their time there. This removes the need for the rule that lets you skip a target who isn't skulled. As everyone will be skulled, the standard PK skull graphic can be replaced with one that indicates the tier of the best emblem that the player is carrying.
- The minigame will continue assigning targets to players on the assigned Bounty world. Eligible players must have a combat level of 30, as before. They're also asked to get 20 quest points and to have spent a total of 48 hours logged into Old School RuneScape - all to make it harder for disposable farming accounts to get in on the action. We're aware that some PvPers resent being asked to meet requirements that don't relate directly to PvP, but leaving the activity unrestricted has not worked well, so we hope this compromise will be acceptable. A player will not be assigned a target unless they're carrying an emblem or carrying 20,000 coins, as we'd like to encourage a little risk there. We're aware that the combat level restriction still blocks certain builds from the activity, but we'd prefer a bigger selection of accounts to be able to fight the participants.
- Hotspots will continue to be marked, in various places across the Wilderness, moving to a 20 minute rota rather than 30 minutes. They'll focus on single-way areas most of the time, but with a small chance of choosing a multi-way area like Annakarl. After a multi-way area is used, the hotspot picker will ensure it picks one with some single-way terrain next time.
- Tasks will continue to be assigned, on the same 20 minute timer as before.
- Emblems like the original Archaic Emblems (tiers from 1-10) may once again be given as loot drops from a defeated target. Similarly, for a target kill, an emblem from the killer's inventory may be upgraded too, on an independent loot roll. The chances of this happening will depend on various factors:
- The combat level of the defeated target. Higher-level targets will be more likely to give a reward.
- The best emblem tier carried by the PKer. Carrying a higher-tier emblem will increase the chance of receiving a reward; the chance of getting one without an emblem will be extremely low.
- If the kill took place in the active hotspot, that will increase the chance of a reward greatly. However, after a reward has been gained from that hotspot, the increased chance will not apply until the hotspot next changes position, so players won't be able to farm rewards rapidly in one hotspot.
- If the kill completes a task, that will increase the chance of a reward greatly, on top of any benefit from being in a hotspot. Tasks are assigned only every 20 minutes, so players won't be able to farm rewards rapidly from one task.
- To avoid the previous abuse returning, a silent cool-down will apply as rewards are gained, capping the rate at which players can receive these rewards (comparable to the cool-down on Marks of Grace). We would prefer not to share full details of this, as that would encourage players to farm it rather than engaging in the gameplay.
- The dropped Emblems can be traded to the Emblem Trader for points that can be exchanged for item rewards. The shop will contain the same items as it does in the live game, with some small additions:
- Blighted Manta ray: A food item that heals 22 health, but can only be eaten in the cursed lands of the Wilderness.
- Blighted Anglerfish: Like the blighted manta ray, but an anglerfish.
- Blighted Ice Barrage Sack: A sack that supplies any required runes for casting Ice Barrage, but only in the cursed lands of the Wilderness. We'd be able to consider more Blighted items, though preferably only items that give a one-off effect, rather than items that give an ongoing effect like a potion that would try to persist after leaving the Wilderness.
- Blighted Bind Sack: Like the blighted ice barrage sack, but for the bind spell.
- Blighted Snare Sack: Like the blighted ice barrage sack, but for the snare spell.
- Blighted Entangle Sack: Like the blighted ice barrage sack, but for the entangle spell.
- Blighted Teleblock Sack: Like the blighted ice barrage sack, but for the teleblock spell.
- Looting Bag Promissory Note: An item that could be exchanged for a looting bag, by taking it to a bank, provided the player does not already own a looting bag. Since it would be tradeable, this would be a replacement for the older behaviour where looting bags were (indirectly) traded, and players could own multiple copies of it at once.
- Rune Pouch Promissory Note: Like the looting bag promissory note, but for a rune pouch.
- The Bounty Crate and Decorative Emblem would be discontinued and removed from the shop: We'd keep the previous versions of the shop around indefinitely for players to spend down their remaining points (and also on w45 where BH was never available in the first place). The tier-10 Emblem would be mountable in POH, like the current Decorative Emblem is.
- The items moved off the previous version of Bounty Hunter to LMS or Slayer shops would be moved back again.
While it's not the recreation of the 2008 craters that some had hoped for, we think this will add some variety to the actual Wilderness, while making the reward items accessible once again.
It's important to note that even with a beta, it was hard to assess how fast rewards could be brought into the game after the full launch of the previous version. If we're unable to keep a reasonable lid on abuse of the minigame, we'll ultimately have to nerf its rewards further or remove it permanently. We'd prefer not to remove Bounty Hunter forever, but we hope you'll understand if it comes to that.
Please let us know if you'd like us to give this proposal a try, or if you'd like it adjusted via the channels below.