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Runescape 2014 A Review

As a New Year draws ever closer it’s good to reflect on the year that is coming to a close. When I look back over 2014 I’m really pleased with the year RuneScape and the community has had. At the end of 2013 we set out the goals we had for the following year; we wanted to give players the power to decide what great content we work on, to place an increased emphasis on high level content, to increase the number of quests we release, and to improve the everyday gameplay experience of players.

The thing I’ve been proudest of over the past year has been ‘Player Power’, and the introduction of our in-game poll system. In 2014 there’s been over 20 polls in which you’ve chosen what content update we make – the equivalent to the ‘guaranteed content polls’ from previous years – and even more polls in which you’ve made choices about the all-important design within content updates. Throughout 2014 you’ve been more influential than ever and have had your say in the majority of content released this year – and the game has been better for it! Of course, as with everything, there were some growing pains: we’d be the first to admit that we polled a bit too much too early which unfortunately left the polls in the second half of the year feeling a bit sparse, and some of our experimental polls (such as using the poll system to design the Halloween event, or to name a troll!) didn’t work out as we’d hoped.

Player Power wasn’t just about polls though. Giving you a greater say in what we develop meant that we owed it to you to be more open and better at listening. We’ve made a real effort to become more communicative; seeking your input on the forums, sharing our progress on Twitter, discussing recent updates on Reddit, answering questions in weekly livestreams on Twitch, or taking your feedback in surveys. Personally, I think this has made for a much better collaboration between the developers and the players.

2014’s biggest update – the Elf City – was chosen by you in the very first poll of the year. It was shaped by you through several important polls, and then refined by you as we published the design documents; you can see them here, here, here, here, and here. Player Power also drove us to address the lingering issues with combat in RuneScape. Off the back of your decisions and opinions we added a Legacy Mode to the game, a move which pleased many fans of the older system, and we also reverted back to the 138 system combat formula which the majority of players preferred.

I’m also pretty happy to say that we’ve met our goals to put more focus on higher level content this year. In 2014 we’ve launched three grandmaster quests, a master quest, a new top-tier solo boss, soul reaper, ancient combat abilities, master capes, and expert skillcapes, to name just a few. Next year we will be focussing on more specific level content gaps.

However, there were some areas of disappointment. While, technically, we published more quests in 2014 than 2013, it was only one more, and that’s not the scale of improvement either you or we wanted to achieve for the year. While we are planning a similar number of quests in 2015, Runelabs will offer opportunities to increase that number. Expect more information in Mod Mark’s upcoming news post.

Minigames was also an area of slight disappointment for me. Many of you asked us to help make minigames popular again and this became a secondary goal for us. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out as we’d hoped. Whilst most of the individual updates were good - such as the Barbarian Assault rework, big improvements we made to Dominion Tower and Pest Control, and the new minigames like Heist and Cabbage Facepunch Bonanza that were added, along with a grouping system to help find team mates for multiplayer minigames - collectively they didn’t achieve our aim of getting many more players back into minigames. We’ve not given up though, and have new ideas to try next year, but what we need now is your input – what do you think would make minigames more relevant and popular? Or would you rather we directed our attention elsewhere?

Our final goal for 2014, and it was a big one, was to improve your everyday gameplay experience. This is something I am proud to say we have achieved. The Ninja team made tons of small improvements and fixes, as well as making a few headline content updates of their own. There were also a number of important core gameplay improvements, including Revolution, a bank interface update, and the addition of bank presets – I, for one, can’t imagine playing without these things now!

One final thing I want mention before I sign off for the year is the RuneScape community’s incredible heart and immense generosity to charitable causes. We’ve organised a number of charity events throughout the year, including GameBlast, United for Wildlife’s Royal Rhino, November’s Well of Goodwill, and December’s Oxfam initiative. In total Jagex and the RuneScape community have raised a massive $275,000 for these wonderful and well-deserving charities. This is an incredible amount and one which will really improve the lives of people and creatures who really need it. We couldn’t have done it without you all – thank you!

Remember, RuneScape is never done and we promise to never stand still! 2015 will bring even more exciting content to a computer screen near you, and with RuneLabs almost ready to launch you’ll not only have a hand in choosing the content we create, but actually conceive it yourselves!

Next week our one-and-only Mod Mark will be giving you exclusive insight into our plans for 2015 but for now, grab a mince pie, sit back, relax, and check out our latest video. I caught up with Mods Osborne, Ana, Chris L, Boo, and Whalefish over a lovely Christmas lunch to discuss all things ‘RuneScape 2014’ – and don’t forget to share your own thoughts on RuneScape in 2014 over on the forums.

Have a Happy New Year to each and every one of you.

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