RUNESCAPE 3 INTERFACE
While working on the new game, Jagex came up with its new "tear and share" user interface, which is completely customisable.
"We're giving the player total control, by giving them a fully-customisable experience," said Ogilvy.
Every single on-screen dialogue box can be grabbed, resized and moved round the screen, while there's a choice of additional dialog boxes you can add depending on how you play the game, such as for social networking.
The 'share' part is because custom layouts can be saved and shared with other Runescape users. Of course, for people that just want to start with a default layout, the classic interface is available. You can see how the new interface works by watching the video below.
While better graphics is one thing, audio is arguably just as important to creating an immersive environment, so the team worked hard on this.
"We knew if we were striving for this immersion that we had to improve the music," said Ogilvy. "The tech team developed a new audio engine at 44KHz, 16-bit stereo. We can stream CD-quality music on demand from audio servers."
Working with composers and conductors, the game now has dynamic music that changes depending on the situation, while the front-end music has been given "an amazing facelift". The challenge for the team now is to go through the game and expunge all midi sounds, making Runescape a lot more polished.
RUNESCAPE 3 THE SIXTH AGE
While the graphical and audio changes, help give Runescape a new, fresh feel, it's the gameplay that's really important. This has had the biggest overhaul of all. With Runescape, Jagex felt as though the quests had become to disparate and spread over the world, so it wanted to tell "one glorious story".
Specifically, it wanted a strong narrative link to pervade quests and it wanted the community to have more control and influence over the game world. That's exactly what the Sixth Age does. In this period of Runescape, Guthix the guardian of balance and creator of Gielinor has died, removing his edicts that protected the world from the other gods. With this gods now returning to the world, it's up the players to decide which ones win and lose, and the ultimate future of Gielenor.
"We've given up the driving seat and are letting players take the wheel," said Ogilvy.
We're not entirely sure we'd want to side with this god
Key to this ethos are the new world events, which will occur over a three-month period. Jagex refused to let us into any of the "juicy details", preferring to keep the first event a secret for players to enjoy. However, what we do know is that during these events, player choices will decide the future of characters, environments and places that have been part of the RuneScape world forever. The decisions made in each world event will affect the next world event, with Jagex taking on-board community decisions before continuing with the story. On top of that, Jagex has promised weekly updates with Sixth-age quests. In other words, there's still everything that everyone loved about Runescape on offer.
We had chance to play an early Alpha version of the game, but even at this stage, the changes and improvements are huge. Graphically, Runescape 3 clearly isn't just a browser game, but something far more complicated and involving.
With a greater emphasis on the narrative and world events that change and shape the world, Runescape 3 should have some brave storytelling and a reason for regular and new players alike to give it a go. Runescape 3 will be out this summer and we'll bring you full launch information soon.