Adding A New Skill: Sailing Refinement Survey & Stages Summary

Adding A New Skill: Sailing Refinement Survey & Stages Summary

Today we’re looking at the results of the Sailing refinement survey!

Sailing Refinement: Survey Results

If you can’t see the video above, click here to watch it!

Old School RuneScape players and statistics – name a better combo!

Keep reading for a top-level summary of the Sailing refinement survey results. Please note, this analysis doesn’t include data from the free-form text answers, as we’re still reviewing them!

Before we get started, don’t forget to join our Discord Server, which will be our primary tool for sharing info about each of our refinement topics.

Now, let’s get this show on the road!

Executive Summary

As Old School RuneScape’s first new skill, Sailing has a lot of potential! The 17,000 responses to our refinement survey have highlighted some key areas to focus on throughout the next few months. Here are the stats:

  • Sailing was the first choice of skill for 48% of respondents.
  • Players would like to see more information in order to visualise Sailing as a skill, particularly regarding navigational mechanics and fine gameplay detail.
  • There’s no overall consensus from players on how navigation should work, but point and click remains popular because it’s familiar and intuitive.
  • Integration with other skills and areas is a must – how much is still to be determined.
  • There wasn’t a consensus on how Sailing should integrate with other skills, just that it should to some degree.
  • The Reward Space for Sailing could include any of the options we presented – they were all well-received.
  • Despite Sailing not being instanced, there are still concerns that the concept feels better suited to a sea expansion or minigame.

We also discovered that the navigation mechanics are even more important to you than we first envisioned. For this reason, we’re going to make a small change to the schedule and make ‘Navigational Mechanics and Sea Scale’ our first topic instead of ‘Core Gameplay and System Loops’.

Now, let’s look at each of these findings in detail.

We’ll start by asking a very important question: who answered the survey? Good news – it’s clear that your feedback is coming from a very good place.

Survey respondents were from highly-engaged members of the community – those of you who log in actively throughout the week and stay logged in for long periods of time. Now, skill totals are not a scientific measure of game experience and knowledge, but they’re a great starting point!

  • Largest skill total cohort was between 1,800-2,100 and 2,100-2,276.
  • Maxed players made up 9% of total responses.
  • 44% of respondents actively play Iron accounts.
  • 45% of respondents play for over three hours a day.
  • Enjoyable activities were mixed and the most popular was PvM (30%) and Skilling (27%).
  • 81% voted yes to the new skill when we polled it back in December.
  • 48% reported Sailing was their first choice between the three pitches and 52% said it wasn’t.

The largest cohort are pretty much the same as when we ran our Community Consultation Survey in February.

About that last statistic: it’s heartening to see that nearly half of you supported Sailing as your favourite skill. For the remaining 52%, we’ll be working to change your mind. If you’re one of them, please do continue to engage with the refinement process – your ideas are the most valuable of all!

Navigational Mechanics and Sea Scale
We asked tonnes of questions about navigation and scale, and the impression we got from your feedback is that the community has mixed views about it all. That’s not surprising – we’re aware that this is a controversial topic, and even our most supportive sailors are struggling to visualise how navigation will work.

Our navigation mechanic is of critical importance – it’s going to shape how people will feel about the entire skill. For that reason, we’ve decided we should nail it down before we talk about core gameplay, so we’ve swapped the order of these two key topics.

With that admin out of the way, let’s get talking!

There isn’t yet a consensus on how the community would prefer to do the sailing part of Sailing. It would be great if we could run an open beta and try out lots of different navigational mechanics – but that would mean committing a lot of resources to a skill which hasn’t yet passed a poll, which is something we promised you we’d avoid. Besides, we know you’re hoping to test out the whole skill, not just one mechanic.

So, instead, we’re going to give you an in-depth look at our ideas to help you visualise how exactly navigation is going to work. There’ll be a variety of options to look at – from your feedback, we learned that point-and-click controls felt the most familiar and intuitive, but we’re also looking at how we can make WASD controls run more smoothly for players on mobile. Players on Discord have also highlighted some hybrid options we can explore – it’s exciting stuff!

The bottom line is, we know this topic is going to be make-or-break for a lot of you, and that’s why we’re putting all our efforts to creating a navigational mechanic that feels great to play.

We also noticed you had mixed opinions over how important it is to be able to walk around your ship as part of navigation – so that’s another thing we’ll be looking at closely as we enter the first refinement topic.

Core Gameplay and System Loops
Although we’re shifted our priorities around, core gameplay is still a key part of the refinement process, so it was great to have your feedback!

The majority of respondents favoured a variety of unique training methods (like Hunter), as opposed to one main training method with minor variations (like Slayer) – although on balance, both options were quite popular!

The team would also like to introduce a variety of training methods, but if we take that approach we have to ensure that all methods are relevant in one way or another. In the survey, we gave Hunter as an example of a skill with a similar core gameplay loop – but as anyone who’s racked up thousands of hours trapping Chinchompas can tell you, the wide variety of training methods available are outshone by one method that provides better XP and GP rates. That’s not what we want for Sailing, and we’re confident that we’ll find a way to bring you a selection of fun training methods that won’t be DOA.

Obviously, we also want to balance the different training methods for different player groups – so there’ll be plenty of opportunities for players of all levels and experience to get stuck in and start training!

Speaking of variety, 80% of you answered that you’d like a mix between high- and low-intensity training methods.

Our initial suggestions for low-intensity training were well received, with the favourites being ‘fishing expeditions at sea’ and ‘exploring and charting reefs’. Sounds fun – but what about the other ideas?

Those of you who were gunning for ‘Slayer tasks on islands’ will be relieved to know that we think this would fit nicely into the Sailing reward space. This is something we’re keen to discuss further!

‘Courier missions between ports’, however, didn’t receive nearly as much love, and we want to know why! If you’ve got an opinion on this controversial training method, please let us know so we can figure out why it didn’t resonate as much as the others.

Now, onto the high-intensity training methods, where we had a big surprise coming!

We thought that ‘navigating challenging sea terrain’ would score much higher than it did – after all, it’s a key part of Sailing in real life! Plus, we really believe in this idea, and think it’d be cool. Now, we don’t mind dropping this idea, but we do plan to present some more concrete ideas before writing it off completely.

To be clear, Sailing will not be ‘sea Agility’ – but think of the Hallowed Sepulchre! This was a fun, high-octane take on a movement skill, and we believe that navigating challenging sea terrain could do the same thing for Sailing! Imagine carefully weaving around a whirlpool or cutting through a dangerous storm – there are all kinds of challenges you might face on the open sea!

In an ideal world, we could fill the whole sea with dense patches of content to enjoy. More realistically, we have a time limit to stick to, so we asked whether you’d prefer lots of content packed into smaller areas or a lighter spread of content across a wider area.

It seems that many of you favour small areas packed with enjoyable content. We’re also keen to avoid the classic ‘huge space with nothing to do’ problem, so that works out nicely for us! We envision the sea as a place where anything could happen, with a few hotspots filled with specific activities for players to try.

We’re interested in learning your thoughts on whether these activities should be more social or more competitive. After all, we don’t want you to feel like you have to world-hop every time you see another ship on the horizon!

If you see yourself as more of a lonely mariner type, you’ll be pleased to learn that we intend to make Sailing to less popular climes just as rewarding. Any number of things might inspire an epic maritime adventure! Treasure maps, anyone…?

Lastly, we asked respondents to rate the following features based on importance:

  • A navigational system that is NOT entirely dependent on an interface
  • Feels good on both desktop and mobile
  • Being able to see other players on land
  • Being able to see and/or explore existing areas
  • Being able to see and/or explore new areas (e.g. islands)

Unsurprisingly, being able to see and explore new areas was top of the list, although we were surprised to see that the least important thing was being able to see other players on land. We’re keen to find ways to make Sailing feel integrated with the world, and being able to see landlubbers lubbin’ about seemed like a natural way to do that. That said, we now have a good idea of which features our engine team should prioritise first – and if it’s not that important to you, we have plenty more fun features to focus on first!

Reward Space
All the top-level ideas we floated for the Reward Space were well received, with the most popular being ‘meta-progression’ – we’ve heard you loud and clear, and will get right to work on a design. This includes the amount of cargo we expect ships to hold, how strong the cannons should be, how fast ships should go… and lots more! The point of any skill is to get better at it as you train, so this will be a big part of our design proposal – although we’re still pinning down what ship upgrades should be. This will become clearer as we move through the other refinement topics, so watch this space!

Interestingly, cosmetic rewards were more of a nice-to-have than a core focus – you’re definitely more interested in how Sailing will progress your account.

Bosses on islands were another popular pick. Now, we can’t promise the world here – we know that your standards for bossing are very high, and having a unique boss for every island would increase our workload significantly. That said, thanks to your feedback we know that island bosses are a feature you’re all very excited about, so you can expect to see them in the final pitch.

Luckily, you were also excited to see other activities on islands, including skilling, combat, quests and exploration. One thing you definitely didn’t want to see were minigames – we get it! You want Sailing to be as far from ‘mini’ as possible.

On that topic, we’re also discussing how big islands should be, if we’re going to pack all this exciting stuff in. If you have an opinion on this, we’d be delighted to hear it when we reach this topic!

Integration and Lore
Sailing is essentially a massive content expansion which allows you to travel to a hitherto unexplored part of Gielinor – the ocean! It’s not surprising, therefore, that you want Sailing to be well-integrated with the rest of the game, especially when it comes to other skills.

The key takeaway from these results is that we need to strike a tricky balance. You want Sailing to have its own core identity, but we also need to consider how much it will feed into other skills and training methods.

The prospect of Sailing PvP has sparked the dev team’s interest, but from our initial discussions we’ve decided that if it were to be implemented it would have to be opt-in only. Please bear in mind that this feature is entirely dependent on how much time we have and how much the community actually wants it – if the majority of players tell us we should be focussing on other aspects of the design, we’ll do that. We’d really like to hear your suggestions regarding Sailing PvP so we can prioritise accordingly.

Questing and lore have come up time and time again in our surveys, so please rest assured that we’ll be discussing how Sailing will integrate with existing lore and introduce new adventures as part of this topic. Stay tuned!

We also asked how many existing ports should be part of Sailing, and many of you said you’d be happy to see all of them included! We have some exciting ideas about how we can use ports to recruit familiar faces into your crew, further integrating Sailing with quests.

Other Feedback
Believe it or not, the results of the survey are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your feedback. We really appreciate the time you’ve taken to engage with the refinement process, from contributing on social media to painstakingly filling out all those free-form text response boxes.

We’d like to highlight the following points of feedback, which we’re currently discussing among the team:

  • Visually, the size of the Ship hasn’t yet been discussed and there are a few misconceptions around how it could work in-game.
  • Players are unclear about our design philosophy behind creating a new skill vs a simpler sea expansion.
  • We also need to give more detail about the potential for ship battles and other PvP.

A new skill is a massive undertaking. The last thing we want to do is rush the process, so the majority of our conversations during refinement will be narrowing down which features the community feels are most important at launch. Luckily for us, we have a super-engaged and receptive community to help us out! Keep reading to see how you can contribute to the discussions surrounding our first new skill.

Discord Stages Questions
Our first Discord Stages call was on May 3rd, where we ran through some of the stats above and gained extra insight from the development team. Here’s a transcript of our Q&A session:

Question from SkillSpecs: Do you plan to do anything beyond the Wilderness in the world of Sailing or any PvP with Sailing?

A: We would love to do some form of PvP but this will be much later in the refinement process, after we’ve figured out how the skill works. Piracy fits thematically, and would suit PvP, but we can’t say exactly how it might work yet.

Firing cannons at other players, for example, will largely depend on how we implement navigation. Since that’s such a key part of the skill we’ve already bumped it up our priority list, and navigation will be the first thing we talk about during the refinement process.

One of our core design pillars is for Sailing to appeal to a variety of player types, including the PvP community. However, if we do implement PvP, it must be optional, so that players who aren’t interested can enjoy the skill, too.

We’d love to know how the PvP community sees Sailing integrating with existing PvP modes like Bounty Hunter and Last Man Standing – or perhaps Sailing should have its own kind of PvP? We have a great opportunity here to give players who maybe aren’t interested in the Wilderness a whole new way to try PvP – maybe they’ll like it better!

Question from MorkSkugga: Will there be beta-testing for navigation specifically? It’s really hard to conceptualise what the feeling is, so having a beta-test specifically for navigation will help a lot.

A: We plan to release a Sailing beta once the skill has been greenlit, but not before.

Players have high expectations from a beta release, and the last thing we want is to scupper our new skill by showing off an unpolished version that players may mistake for the final design.

We’re experimenting with ways to help players understand what the navigation mechanics will feel like, especially visually, and we’re taking on board all your feedback.

Question from Dratch: When it comes to Sailing, I’ve seen two camps for its reward space… is sailing going to impact the entire economy, or is it going to be self-contained? Additionally, a follow-up question, is Sailing going to be an Elite skill which requires other skills to train?

A: We want Sailing to feel completely integrated into the rest of the game – not just through rewards, but with lore and skill integration as well.

Right now we’re looking at how we can utilise ports as a Sailing training ground. We could use a crew system to recruit crew members locked behind quests – perhaps after completing Demon Slayer you could ask a specific Varrock citizen to join your crew? This naturally imbeds Sailing into the wider world, and lets players reconnect with stories and characters from their adventures.

We’d like to avoid hard requirements to get started in Sailing. We don’t want any of our skills to feel ‘Elite’ – and besides, we’re really looking forward to the inevitable ‘Sea Man Mode’ series!

Upcoming Events
We’re continuing the conversation on Discord Stages, with several planned dates to discuss each new refinement topic.

These calls will take place before each topic gets its first blog. The idea is that we’ll be able to preview what we’re sharing with a small dedicated audience before releasing it to the wider community. With that in mind, we’d like to hear your questions in advance so we can address your feedback proactively.

If you’re not already in the Discord, make sure to join! We’ll be setting up a server FAQ shortly which will make the answers to your most popular questions more accessible. There’s so much information to share, and we want to avoid clogging up the blog!

Here’s the event schedule so far:


Date Event Description
May 12th

16:00 BST

Discord ‘Stages’

Navigational Mechanics

A means to discuss our design doc with you and get some feedback before the Navigational Mechanics blog goes live a few days later.

We’ve swapped navigation and core gameplay around, as it’s clear from your feedback which one is more important to the community.

May 15th

17:00 BST

Twitch Q&A Hear more about our Game Jam project to get the conversation started around Sailing’s navigational mechanics!
May 26th Discord ‘Stages’

Core Gameplay Loop

To discuss our design doc with you before a blog goes live around Core Gameplay.
June 9th Discord ‘Stages’

Reward Space

To discuss our design doc with you before a blog goes live around Reward Space.
June 23rd Discord ‘Stages’

Integration and Lore

To discuss our design doc with you before a blog goes live around existing game integration and lore.

Please bear in mind that we may need to make adjustments to this schedule based on unforeseen circumstances. We also plan to host more ad-hoc AMAs and streams when we can!

That’s all for now! It’s time to raise our anchors and set sail to the first topic of the refinement stage: navigational mechanics! Keep an eye on your radar for another blog soon…

You can also discuss this update on our official forums, on the 2007Scape subreddit, the Steam forums, or the community-led OSRS Discord in the #gameupdate channel. For more info on the above content, check out the official Old School Wiki.

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