It’s here! The Mining and Smithing rework has finally made it to the live game. After six years of talking and eighteen months of development, we can finally play the rework. There is so much to say about this update I hardly know where to begin. I am in awe of what Jagex has done with this update and it shows what they can achieve when they put their minds to it, take their time and get just enough feedback from players at just the right points in the process. The way this update came together and the mere scope of the project is really reassuring that Jagex can do big things. The fact that there was no game breaking bugs or rollback bugs in an update of this scale shows that we can have confidence in Jagex and their flagship game RuneScape 3. The Mining and Smithing rework is too big to just do a mechanical overview here, although we will be touching on the fundamental mechanics that changed. Instead, this month lets celebrate the success of the update while talking about how it has fundamentally changed the game for the better.
Mining and Smithing are some of the oldest skills in the game. To completely overhaul these skills took both imagination and guts. In fact, calling them reworks doesn’t quite do it justice. Mining and Smithing are essentially new skills. They have also provided a road map for how to do this in the future. The Mining and Smithing rework is the gold standard going forward as Shane would say. The reasons for this are simple but it took a project of this size to really give the J-mods the space they needed to make significant changes. For example let’s take a look at what I would call a governing principle going forward with other skill reworks, which is the active vs. passive gameplay balance. This is the first time skills have been developed with this in mind. We’ve seen some work in this regard around the edges last year with Deep Sea Fishing but nothing like this. Players finally have a meaningful choice between playing actively and playing a more laid back afk style. The xp rates are all relative to what kind of effort you put in. The stamina mechanic in Mining and the heat mechanic in Smithing are good examples of this principle. Another important principle is allowing skilling to become a truly viable way to make gp in the game now.
RuneScape has been oriented towards combat as the main way to make gp for a long time now. The Mining and Smithing rework has changed that in a few ways. First and foremost resources like ore and bars have been removed from the drop table. This is hugely important because without taking this step, skillers could never keep up with the number of resources coming into the game through combat. This step took courage from the devs and Jagex as a whole. The combat-oriented players were not going to want to take their medicine but Jagex actually stood their ground and made a very important adjustment to the game. This step even went as far as to rebalance bosses that were completely off by way of their resource output. Telos should never have produced 50 million gp an hour and that has been reduced with the removal of ores and bars from the drop table. Hopefully, this will be encouraged more in the future and more skilling resources will be removed from more drop tables. I would love to see herbs only coming in from Farming and logs coming in from Woodcutting, etc. This move also ensures that Mining and Smithing will be worth the effort in the future because the only way these items come in is if someone makes them. The market is in flux right now and there are massive amounts of resources sitting on the GE and in banks but in the future, those will be used up.
Smiths can now make Masterwork Armor. This armor takes a long time to smith and is quite an involved process. This is a really good thing though. It’s top tier armor that actually comes from skilling, who would have thought? The masterwork armor should be viable long into the future ensuring smiths have a way to make decent money. On the other side, there are new high-level ores for miners. The top tier ores can bring a pretty penny too because they are used in the process of making masterwork armor. All the new high-level ore have new secondaries as well. Coal took a hit but it was a good trade off because each ore has a new and different secondary. These only come in through mining so it keeps the whole thing balanced nicely.
One of the defining aspects of the Mining and Smithing rework was how well Jagex used the player’s feedback. This doesn’t always happen at Jagex. It seems like in many cases the community doesn’t even know what it wants or even worse its design by a committee by the community. That didn’t happen this time. At first, players were given a choice between a high-level rework or a ground-up full rework. That was the right time to solicit that feedback. Of course, we choose the full rework. Then when Jagex had an idea of what to do they showed everyone the design docs and voted again. This time players were not impressed and didn’t want the initial concept. Once again this was just the right moment for feedback. Nevermind the fact that most of that design doc is in the final version that we have now and love. Then Jagex did something they don’t usually do and didn’t say anything until it was time for the first beta. The first Mining and Smithing beta was the best beta I’ve ever seen Jagex do. It was limited in scope and size and really let players give real feedback without having too many idiots running around just goofing off. Once again we didn’t get updates on the rework constantly and they weren’t asking players to develop it or anything. It wasn’t until the second beta when players again could participate in the beta and give feedback. This was the right time and just the right amount of cooperation between Jagex and the player base.
Finally, the Mining and Smithing rework was a success because Jagex took their time and did things right. They didn’t rush and they methodically went through and dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’. There were no game breaking bugs, nor were there any rollback bugs. The size and scope of this update is like nothing I’ve ever seen. From drop tables to new ore to new mechanics and even messing with the bank, they did it correctly. It’s amazing to me they were able to do that and those guys seriously threw down the gauntlet to the other teams. This is what can be done when they want to. This is what we should demand and expect and we should always give them the room they need to work. Mod Jack is a proven badass and whatever Jagex has to do to keep him they better do.
To be honest I expected this update to be good but I had no idea it could ever be this good. I really hate to use this phrase but it’s true they made skilling great again. This needs to be the blueprint going forward. Balanced input and feedback by the community along with thoughtful and well-done betas and the guts to think outside the box and not be cowed by groups of vocal players. Jagex you have done a great thing for us here and you’ve raised the bar. Now as players we need to recognize if this is the kind of update we want we have to be more patient. That’s not the kind of thing that can come out weekly or even monthly for that matter. I for one am willing to ease up on my expectations and let Jagex work. Like it or not they have earned our praise and support. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping.