A lot of the originally planned aspects of RuneScape are now complete, so you might well be wondering what we are now working on, and how we intend to keep improving the game, other than just adding more quests.
The really good news is that we have lots more planned, and due to the success of RuneScape members we have been able to put together a larger development/support team, (we now have 11 full-time staff), which means we are finally able to do some of the really big RuneScape updates that we've also wanted to do, but previously weren't possible when just Paul and myself were working on the game.
Over the past 3 months I've been doing a lot of absolutely essential work behind the scenes, and laying the groundwork we will need over the coming year, so it's not necessarily been apparent where all the effort is going. I've been working on things such as:
- Reprogramming the system to allow us to setup interlinked RuneScape worlds at different locations. This allowed us to setup the uk and new-york servers, and is essential to allow RuneScape to keep expanding.
- Interviewing and employing new staff. In the short term this takes up a surprisingly large amount of my time, and actually slowed development whilst things were sorted out. However obviously in the long term this will allow us to do so much more.
- Designing the billing and support software that we need to efficiently keep track of who our members are, what payments are due, customer queries, ideas, spot problems quickly, etc..
- A much faster 3d engine, which will be used for one of the massive updates we have planned, (see below).
Things like this sure take a lot of time, and that's in addition to the usual bug-fixes, updates, and new features we've been adding at the same time. The good news is that most of this 'behind the scenes groundwork' is now complete, and now I'm looking forwards to working on the exciting bits that build on this.
Next we will be working on:
- Finishing the new new database driven customer support system. I estimate this will enable our support staff to deal with queries at least 2 or 3 times as fast at the moment, and should really improve the quality of our service. It will also allow us to really effectively stamp down on trouble-makers and cheats.
- Vastly vastly improved graphics. We've had two 3d-modellers working on redrawing all the 2d sprites as glorious 3d models for some time now. These really do make the game look a lot better. To work properly this also needs a faster 3d-engine (which is luckily nearly complete). I still need to do quite a lot of work to integrate the new 3d-engine into the game. I hope to get some preview screenshots of some of the new models on the site soon.
- Interactive music, which changes depending on what you are doing and where you are. To stop the music getting annoying and repetative too quickly our musician is going to have to write an awful lot of it! Wish him luck :-)
- Player owned houses. This is a very complicated feature to add because we don't just want the houses to be empty buildings which do nothing. We are trying to implement all the best ideas we've had from players regarding these, so they aren't just a big disappointment. Making them interesting involves making the maps a lot more interactive than they currently are which is a lot of work, but worth the effort.
- The new interactive map system I am developing for the player owned houses is also going to be used for an all new 'scenario' system. This is going to be a really fun feature wherby the game can randomly generate entirely new areas of map on-the-fly. These areas will be tailored to match the abilities of the players entering. This will allow players to form small adventuring teams, and then get away from the crowded training areas and go on their own private adventure. As a result will allow us to add a lot of clever content in these areas which isn't possible at the moment.
- The usual new quests, new maps and new monsters, etc... Both Paul and Thomas will be working on this, and I believe they have another two quests nearly ready to go online.
There's even more planned after this, but these aren't small updates, :-) and so will certainly keep me busy for the next few months.