Dev Blog: New Player Experience
2018 was a good year for Old School RuneScape, but 2019 could be even better if we solve one of our game's trickiest problems - welcoming new players into our healthy and vibrant community.
We're sure you remember your first experience of RuneScape, and how steep the learning curve can be. We're increasingly seeing that the curve is causing players to drop out before they're able to experience the real magic of the game.
We've already been making changes to tackle this, such as streamlining Tutorial Island and adapting messaging throughout the game. We’ve enjoyed some success, but now need to start looking at more significant improvements. However, our approach needs to be swift and reactive, adapting to the needs of players as and when they materialise. This need for versatility and responsiveness means that we can't poll these content changes, as the process would be too slow.
It's important to note that the types of alterations we're considering focus on new players and the early game experience. Everything we do will be true to the spirit of RuneScape without impacting anything in the late game or affecting the value or importance of items.
In this blog we'll outline some of the ideas we have. Welcoming new players is vital for a game like Old School RuneScape. Our aim to be the most popular MMORPG in the world, and to achieve that we need to grow. Our players have already been fantastic in welcoming new players to the game, such as when you all greeted newcomers to Lumbridge after Old School's mobile launch. Now we want to build on that spirit!
Our hope is that our changes will make it easier for newcomers to discover content they enjoy and, ultimately, have more fun and stick around for longer. This is critical for the game’s future, but at the same time we don’t want to do anything that players don’t think is right. So if you have concerns with our approach or if you’ve got any ideas, please let us know. We know our players have creativity in abundance, and together we can grow the game’s future without harming its present.
One of the first challenges new players face is getting around the map.
One way we could tackle this could be to introduce a new transport system that's accessible only for the first few hours of the RuneScape journey. It could connect major towns and cities in the F2P area, and could work similarly to the magic carpet system (by similarly we mean that you see the route that your player is taking). A big benefit of this is that players will get to see and learn the routes they will be taking unaided in the future, allowing them to better prepare when the time comes.
Additionally, in a recent livestreams we spoke about the possibility of making Agility available to F2P players. The response to the idea was very positive, and we’d like to explore this in more detail. A low-level Agility training course in F2P could be added to the game, which would allow F2P players to gain the benefit of faster-replenishing run energy and access to new and existing Agility shortcuts.
The beauty of Old School RuneScape comes from the freedom that our players enjoy. From the moment you leave Tutorial Island and arrive on the mainland, you’re free to do whatever you want and explore anywhere you please. The flip side of this is that it can be quite overwhelming. We want to help players set goals for themselves by introducing early objectives to get them started. Our ideas include:
- Helping new players train their combat stats by offering useful equipment as a reward for achieving minor milestones.
- Explaining what the purpose of training the combat skills is, and how they can do so.
- Preparing the player for adventuring and fighting beyond the minor milestones.
- Demonstrating the value of membership to new players.
- But perhaps most importantly - we don’t want to do anything that might ruin the nostalgic early experience. These changes are all about helping new players find their feet in Old School RuneScape and not about altering the iconic beginning of the game.
We intend to explore methods of delivering smaller, more milestone-driven tasks which offer small rewards. Whilst Achievement diaries are a good form of direction, they aren’t available to our F2P players, and new players might not be familiar with where to find them.
For instance, players might receive a voucher which can be taken to the Varrock Swordshop to be exchanged for a Steel longsword upon reaching level 5 Attack, or a handful of Law runes for reaching level 20 Magic. Members can expect slightly better rewards. We could even theme tasks to suit new content releases.
In addition to the task-based changes, we’d like to offer more direction in the form of extra dialogue, messages in a player’s message box and basic pathfinding (think hint arrows rather than pre-defined paths). These small changes would work hand in hand with our suggestions in the Getting Around section, and should encourage new players to explore.
We know this represents a massive change from the current early game, and that’s why we’re promising the following:
- You’ll be able to freely ignore these tasks. The veterans among you who’d like to start a new account will find that utilising your game experience will be more beneficial than anything else.
- Any rewards will be existing items already found in-game.
- Equipment rewards given to free players will never be best-in-slot. Equipment rewards given to members could be best-in-slot, but will only be given for the highest tasks.
- Item rewards will be both untradeable and unalchable.
- The tasks and rewards won’t be available for Iron accounts. We don’t want to disrupt the early game meta for restricted accounts.
- We’re not looking beyond level 20 for skills, we have no intention of overly dictating an account’s journey.
- Any interface changes will remain tonally correct for Old School.
Keeping new players engaged with the game is one of our highest priorities, and while we want to be agile with our changes, we aren’t going to rush any decisions. We’ll ensure that we continue talking to you, listening to your feedback and building on your ideas. Growing the community is very important, but we want to do it right. Please do let us know your thoughts, and we'd love to hear about any ideas you may have.