Long Live the Endgame of RuneScape

posted by on 26th February 2020, at 2:41am

The discussion of the PvM hub brought forward a discussion about how to buff the Max Guild. There’s a discussion going on about how to improve the Max Guild, but that’s a topic for another day. One of the ideas that I came up with for this would be to allow repeated levelling by siphoning experience away into a cape or other item. I didn’t submit this idea because it’s beyond the scope of the project, but it brought the idea to the forefront again.

While I would personally love for this to be an alternate form of progression, it’s not a viable endgame. The endgame as its known in many other games is where the bulk of the game content begins. The endgame should be novel and rewarding in its own right. It should also be something that everyone wants to strive for. The endgame should be one of the aspects that sells the game. Put simply, levelling and repeating does not do this.

The siphoning mechanic would work as follows. The player would use a stand (perhaps in their Player Owned House, since the POH was designed to show off) that would allow them to craft a cape for any skill in which they have 200m experience. All XP gained would be tracked into the pet (secondary trackers already exist, see: RuneMetrics). Every time the player passed 13,034,431 experience the cape would become just a tiny bit more elaborate in terms of garnish. This would show off dedication to that specific skill.

While I would enjoy having this mechanic in game for my favourite skills, it doesn’t produce a good endgame experience. If this mechanic were to become the primary activity players engaged in after achieving max and then the completionist cape, how deep would our game be? What would a player who is considering playing RuneScape think who has come from somewhere else such as World of Warcraft The Elder Scrolls Online? And ask yourself the fundamental question, does RuneScape want to be known as the game of endless grind?

To prove that we’re not into asking rhetorical questions and not answering them, I’m going to provide answers for the questions above. It’s my hope that in answering these, a better view of what RuneScape’s endgame should be will emerge.

How deep would the game be?

The answer to this one is that it becomes dependent on the existing skills in game. If all of the skills in game are engaging enough with content from 1–99 (and 120 in some cases) are replayable enough that players won’t get bored, that’s good. But here’s the catch, most of the skills in game have about a max of 3 viable training methods at the high end. Some are locked into one for maximal experience (Woodcutting) while others are more filled out (Mining, Smithing, Farming, and Herblore). Fishing provides a diverse set of training methods while Thieving’s sky high safe cracking experience rates make safe cracking the best option. There is not enough depth in all of the skills to provide the repeatability to make this the official endgame mechanic.

What would new players think?

RuneScape has always been a unique breed in terms of its gameplay. Its style showcases the journey rather than the end. A player spends 50% of their first trek to 99 getting to just level 92. The player’s first 99 experience is something that they never forget and is memorable in its own right. RuneScape is often divided up into 3 categories of gameplay: skilling, questing, and bossing. There are of course more but these are the big three. Not everyone likes questing and not everyone likes bossing. But does everyone like skilling? No. If a new player arrived and had to choose one of these and saw the option of endless skilling or bossing with quests thrown in, would the endless nature in itself be compelling? No. New players need to know that the game is dynamic and has a solid core of content from hour zero to day one-thousand.

Does RuneScape want to be the game of endless grind?

In most other games grind is used for harvesting materials in order to make weapons or advance on your quests. While on the podcast I often reminisce about the days in RuneScape Classic where it would take forever to get a 99. The prestige around 99s existing in RuneScape 2 as well but with more 99s on the field has slowly drifted away for experienced players. Getting the first 99 is still a major achievement for every new player in game. 2020 sees a different gaming atmosphere focused on short play sessions and living games. This is why mobile factors so hugely into Jagex’s strategy. RuneScape grind is disappearing, skills are becoming faster, and tools becoming more powerful (though this is an entirely different topic). The short answer is no, in 2020 you do not want your game to be associated with grind.

This thought process combined with learning that RuneMetrics does track experience beyond 200m has spurred me to move away pushing hard for a prestige like siphoning mechanic. Instead I want to re-address my efforts in this space to finding an appropriate endgame for RuneScape and ensuring it doesn’t get met with power creep. As with most things RuneScape-commentary related it’s a collaborative process. I first got on thinking about this after a talk with Cireon on endgame and power creep. Discussions this weekend on the monthly roundtable pushed it a tad further which Patreon members can learn about here. Prestige is dead. Long live the endgame.

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