Runefest 2016. Another year has gone and now we are all thinking of the year to come. I want to start off by saying that I love the amount of time Jagex spent on the current year left for the game. I was really interested to hear what was left in store for us before a big change came for update cycles.
I can only imagine what this change for the update release schedule will do for Jagex. It is a scary time to change up a pattern that has proven to work for over a decade. The update cycle is going to change to 3 major expansions a year with minor updates happening in between. This means that we will see and I quote ”Elf City sized content” every quarter with all the updates around it being themed to something related to that content. I like the way that Jagex is doing this because I prefer a theme every few months to the game that gives a player something to look forward to and expands the amount of content release at once so not every place thing at once. This can provide value and immersion to the game that it has been lacking.
The first expansion that was announced was the city of Menaphos. This is another city that was promised to players for the longest time and I could not be more excited for its release. The whole discussion at RuneFest about it was full of new ideas that have never been tried before in a city. Ideas that are unique yet familiar, like city wide Pyramid Plunder. That sounds amazing. There could be so much immersion in the city. Jagex described it as the city where all the wealth has flowed to in the desert. That sounds really awesome and enticing to explore.
Without thinking too much about Menaphos though, what else can Jagex do for major updates? RuneFest brought some ideas that can be somewhat concerning but exciting at the same time. Ideas like the Mining and Smithing rework which is currently back at the drawing boards. The concern in this case is what if this was the major update for the four months of waiting? Could the players be excited about something they have already done in the past or have no need of doing anymore? I am not someone that wants everything to go to 120 but I feel that without it there would be no reason to try the updated skill and would be somewhat of a waste of money on Jagex’s part.
I am sure that at this age of the game things will become harder to decide when it comes to upkeep or new content and in web development this is called technical debt. I don’t think RuneScape was ever intended to be this large of a game so the technical debt must be really starting to pile on. That is a dangerous thing for any gaming company or website. Technical debt can really hinder what a publisher is able to produce when working with an old system. I applaud Jagex for moving to a new client but if they continue to support Java, they will be throwing their money into a fireplace and be disappointed that the heat is short lived. Jagex needs to drop this client and move to 100 percent support to the NXT because it will give Jagex more time to develop some new amazing feats that they were unable to do before.
So you may be wondering where this ties into the extended release schedule I mentioned before. Well it’s quite simple. If Jagex does not take care of their technical debt. They will suffer under the weight of the things that they are forcing themselves to continue to support. There is a reason that the Xbox 360 doesn’t have much support anymore. There is a reason that old programming languages are not supported anymore. Because it just leads to technical debt and that is one of the most expensive things to deal with as a company. Moving forward and embracing change is what is really important. I hope that the new company that acquired Jagex will see this as well. There are many opportunities that Jagex now has to continue to push forward and avoid another placer drop off. I am excited for the new release cycle and I think if Jagex focuses correctly that they could knock 2017 out of the park. But until next time everyone, happy gaming.