This week’s roundtable livestream focused on the Osmumten’s Fang and our recent polling changes! Topics included:
- Changes to Osmumten’s Fang
- The Future of Restricted Voting
- Revisiting Past Polls
- More Detailed Polls
Thanks to Mod Ayiza (Lead Community Manager) and Mod Kieren (Associate Design Director) for their insights!
DISCLAIMER: Livestreams are a glimpse into the ongoing creative process at Jagex. JMods are speaking off-the-cuff and their comments are not intended to be read in the same way as prepared updates from the company. Please keep this in mind when discussing the Q&A!
Missed the live stream? Check out the transcript below!
For those who don’t know, a hotfix went out today that changes it so outside the Tombs of Amascut; it will now re-roll only the player’s accuracy and not the monster’s defence during combat calculations.
However, whilst you’re inside the Tombs, the previous behaviour, which allowed both the player’s accuracy and the monster’s defence to reroll, will apply. So it essentially works as it did before the change whilst you’re inside Tombs of Amascut. Outside, it has had a slight change which has effectively reduced its overall DPS as it is less accurate than before.
There have been a lot of versions of the Fang, from the original blogs to what it ended up being. As much as we might have messed up in terms of communication, what we’ve said and how it has been interpreted, we should try and set the record straight, but the Fang cannot be left as strong as it was.
At the end of the day, I believe there are two perspectives. If you’re on a main account, the item was sitting not far over 100 mil. It’s not intended to be the Scythe or the T-Bow of ToA. That position is taken by the Shadow, and that’s where we want the Shadow to be. We want the Fang to be good – not incredible. It shouldn’t be useless, and its only use shouldn’t be ToA.
I realise that’s ambiguous, but we want it to have some utility. In fact, what we said in the blog was that we expected it to have a few places, but not many. We want to open up space where we can start adding monsters that have higher defence, and this would be a use for the Fang in future.
Ultimately with the changes we’ve made, if we feel that it hasn’t met that criteria and hasn’t got decent utility across the game where it’s the go-to weapon, we can make more changes. However, we cannot let an item that’s 150 mil and only going down at the time be a general-purpose best-in-slot weapon. It was out-DPSing – or competing with, at the very least – the Dragon Hunter Lance on Dragons! We can’t have it sit at that price range and that rarity and do that.
In all the cases where the Scythe was better than it, or other weapons were better than it, it was a small enough jump that players wouldn’t spend a billion on an item that was only marginally better than the Fang.
Looking at this from the perspective of Ironmen, it just broke the journey of the account. Suddenly there was less need to go and get a rapier. There was less need to do all these other bits of content. You could just go to ToA straight away; get your Fang, and you’re basically set for 90% of the content! That couldn’t be left as it was.
I realise maybe 90% is an over-exaggeration, but we had to address it, and we had to be strict because we care about the future of the game; the future of PvM content that we’re going to launch and the future of reward space for future PvM content as well. We need to get it in the right spot.
A lot of comments that I’ve seen – that the team has seen – have been to ‘make it rarer’; to make it suitably rare. If it was the same rarity as the Shadow, maybe it would have a price that warrants its power. That ship sailed, which is the problem with this. It’s already live and has been pumped into the game and the economy at the rate it has been at. A lot of players have already earned it at its current rarity. It would be a big middle finger to those players who haven’t gotten it already, to the Ironmen who have missed out on getting it at the common rate, or to main accounts who missed out on getting it at a lower price.
We can marginally change drop rates, and we are open to doing that, but a drop rate nerf where we make it four or five times rarer is quite extreme, and we can’t do that lightly. Right now, we feel we’ve made the right call to try and set the Fang on a better path where it’s not so universally strong, but it does have utility.
We expected it would be one of the lower-end items in ToA. That’s how it’s been positioned in its rarity, but it ended up being way more powerful than we thought it was. We made an assumption about the way it was implemented, matching our intent, and it didn’t.
The DPS was way better than we thought it was going to be, from confusion internally, and as seen via the latest blog as well with what we said about double accuracy versus double defence ruling. So that’s our stance for now.
Obviously, we’re not turning a blind eye and saying, ‘that’s it, shut up shop, we’re done, we’re never ever going to contemplate a tweak again’. If it isn’t good enough in what we’ve outlaid – not amazing, but not good – then we can look and see what else we can do. But we’ve got to take a tough stance on this. I realise it’s not good news. Nerfs are never good news!
They’re not, but believe me; it’s better to get them out of the way earlier than it is to leave them ongoing for a long time. I’ll remind everyone of the Blowpipe and how difficult of a pill that was to swallow. It had been embedded in for years, so I think it makes sense.
I saw a lot of people in chat commenting on nerfing the rarity, and I think the start of what was said was glossed over a little. The reason that the Fang is sat at the same as something like the Lightbearer, is because it was never meant to be a super rare, super strong endgame item. It was meant to be a niche filler that had a few uses – as it said in the blog.
That’s why it was originally set to be a relatively common item so that its price would then reflect its commonness. Obviously, the power side of it, as Kieren explained, was a little too off.
What we have done is that we have left it to be as powerful as it was in ToA. We did that with the Shadow as well – it’s cool that the item can be good at the content itself. It’s not ideal – we’d prefer the functionality to be the same across the entire game, but that’s the situation we’re in.
I think it would be wrong to change the spirit of the item. Doing a double accuracy roll is in the same spirit as what we were originally thinking with the Fang. It is quite different, and it’s quite a unique behaviour – we have nothing else that acts like that.
You saw the original Fang pitch – it was to have a really high accuracy stat, but that’s not as interesting. It doesn’t give you a different DPS curve. We wanted to create something different, which meant that the Fang could excel in different situations. Hopefully, that’s where it now rests. To reiterate, we don’t want it to be the be-all and end-all weapon. We want it to be a good weapon. It has a few places where it’s really strong. We expect with future content; we will add more places that it’s good for as well.
Like we’ve said, it’s never an easy thing to have to consider, but I think in time, it will hopefully all make sense, especially as we now have the option for high defence monsters for it to excel in and a little bit further down the line.
We do appreciate that this isn’t the best of reasoning right now because you’ll have to wait for something to come out in the future, but at least it will remain powerful and useable within Tombs of Amascut, which will provide somewhat of a niche that we’ve mentioned originally in the first blog.
You’re designing every aspect of XYZ. With Guardians of the Rift, with Giants’ Foundry, we’re doing all the work to calculate XP rates and try and get an understanding of how we can do those. It’s quite difficult to really get all these details together without spending weeks and weeks of designing, reviewing, prototyping and starting to put things in place so you can get a grasp of where it’s going to sit so that we can communicate it in the detail that players have come to expect in the current Polling process.
Shifting to the new one where it would be Polling concepts and directional elements are left to later will allow us to Poll before we spend significant time on an idea. I do believe that’s what our players already largely thought was happening! But you can’t do that. It would be impossible for us to Poll all the aspects of a project without spending a lot of time on it. I think this will be really helpful for our approach and will save the dev team time – save wasted time.
The directional elements will put a lot more power in the player’s hands instead of us trying to second guess what direction players would want us to take for pieces of content. We now have an official process via this Polling booth to get input from players, and that will be so valuable.
Before we’ve already made a decision, before we’ve maybe even developed and prototyped it, having that say will help forge the content in a way that will be best for everybody. It’ll be best for the player base and the devs because we’re getting something that, ideally, players will like the first time.
I’m glad that at least it definitely comes across as a positive to the dev team! I know that many in the team are looking forward to having a little bit more creative freedom now, especially when it comes to those initial pitches and keeping a little bit of the mystery locked behind them.
We have our first Poll blog going out in the next few days for some new content, which is following the new system a little bit. Keep in mind this is the first time we’ll be using the new system, and we did already have designs in mind, at least for what we wanted to offer with this poll. It’s going to take us a bit of time to adjust to the new process ourselves internally, but I think when it comes to next year’s roadmap with all of the new content that we’ve not yet spent time on, that’s when players will start to notice the biggest difference.
I’m keen to see how the next Poll that we have going out goes down with the players because it’s very different. Thankfully, it’s some exciting side-content that everyone enjoys, so I don’t feel like we’ll have any issues with it.
We’ve never said explicitly ‘this is what we Poll, this is what we don’t Poll’. I think the biggest, valuable thing out of this is that the community can point to the Chart and say ‘hey, you said you’d normally Poll this sort of thing and you didn’t’, or vice-versa. That’s a good thing to have.
It’s a good thing for the players and it’s a good thing for us because we spent how much time in the last several years in chats talking about ‘do we need to Poll this?’ when debating a quality of life change. This should help speed it up for us as well, so I think it should be good for everybody to have a Charter because it’s explicit; it’s out there, and it’s public – it’ll be on the website! You can go and read it anytime you want.
That’s a good point. I don’t think I mentioned it in the blog – it was mostly in comments – but we are getting the Polling Charter, or a form of it, uploaded to the Old School website, where it will remain as a permanent piece of content outside of the blog. You’ll be able to check it at a glance. We just wanted to make sure there was enough time to address any feedback that players may have had if we had to make changes.
There’s one thing I want to clarify, in terms of this question in particular, because I have also seen this, and I think that players are right in pointing it out because it may come across as quite contradictory to the fact that we have recently added or looked to add or change content under the guise of game integrity without a Poll.
This was before we even announced the Polling Charter, and the example that I’ll give is the Wilderness Boss rework. That’s something we decided to do without a Poll. Stuff like that would likely continue to happen if we felt it was necessary. For the Wilderness Boss rework, if you’ve not seen the blog already, I highly recommend checking it out. The team did a fantastic job of putting everything together for that!
That was essentially looking at the health of the game and what the content was offering at the level of quality we’re at now. Those two were so severely mismatched that we needed to step in. We knew players had been unhappy. We’ve said it’s something that we’d do for around four or five years so, and it just never happened. That was something we did lead the charge on and looked to change without a Poll.
In the Polling Charter, we do specifically mention that we will look to Poll changes to existing content that will have a significant impact on players. An example we have on there is reworks to existing content in areas. We used the Isle of Souls, and the Shades of Morton reworks because they offered a significant amount of new content.
Obviously, with the Wilderness Boss rework, we Polled all of the rewards, because that was quite a significant change in terms of what’s coming into the game. But outside of that, it was mostly just about making the content way better than these really weirdly abused, safe-spotted encounters that just were never intended to have been done that way, but they had to be because they were so strangely implemented. I just wanted to clarify that part.
Hopefully, as you’ve seen with the Wilderness Boss rework, we’re very open and honest when we do that. We’re not trying to shy away or force things in without you realising. We know that you’re going to know, there’s no point! We just want to say it for how it is. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s what we’ll continue to do, so if there are instances where it feels like that line has been crossed too much, then just let us know.
That’s why we have these channels open. That’s why we’re very much in the mindset of talking to you, giving opportunities for feedback, and making changes based on the things that you are and aren’t happy about – within reason, of course.
I don’t see why not. We’ve repolled things before; this may be a better excuse to do so and see what the community thinks. There are many things people jump at, and they have their favourite issues that over the years just missed out. I look back on the reordering and resizing of the Prayer buttons and scale icons. At the time, I never got a grasp of why people did not want to be able to reorder the Prayers however they wanted. But this is the joy of the Poll process. We can revisit some of these things. I realised the Spec Orb that narrowly met failed on a recent poll. Is it right to repoll something that just failed like a few weeks ago? I feel that I’m ‘um-ing and ah-ing’ on that.
That Poll closed the day that we released the Polling Charter. So I sat there thinking, ‘this is going to look so awkward when three hours after the Poll closes, my blog is going out, and we’re talking about reducing the pass rate!’.
But we stayed true to the whole Polling as it was then, and it did fail. So we would need to repoll it. I think it would make absolute sense to repoll it, and I do not doubt in my mind that it would pass going forward. For that one, in particular, I saw comments of people feeling like it had failed because it would make PvP easier because they will be able to spec faster than they can currently and that’s just not the case. It’s just a bit of misinformation being spread around.
That specific change is a prime example of something we would have needed help to decide on. Should it be Polled, or should it not be Polled? Because I could very easily make an argument to say we shouldn’t be Polling that; we should just change that spec or behaviour because that makes it consistent.
It makes the game easier to understand its integrity. The problem is that we’ve never had the Charter in place, and we never had these clear, realistic rules to follow.
The point is, it was confusing before. Now we do have that list of things to look at and say ‘okay, it fits in that category!’.
Exactly. Maybe the next Poll, maybe Poll 78, can be a revisit of past Polls that failed by a small margin. There’s enough content to warrant it, or we can do it in addition.
That’s how we will look at things going forward. The ‘if not’ doesn’t have any relevance, because it would be ‘if’, but let’s just say, if not, what process will we take regarding community feedback on designs?
If you look at the Polling Changes blog, have a look at the community consultation/refinement stage. That is essentially how we’ll be looking at taking on community feedback with designs. We’ll put something out to you, we’ll ask whether or not you want it, and we will then start working on it.
We will then come back to you and ask ‘Hey, we’ve started working on this. We know roughly now how difficult the content is going to be; how accessible it will be, and where it will sit. We now have a good enough idea. Here’s a bit more fleshed-out design. What else do you want? What rewards do you want to add to it? Do you think this thing should work this way? Or should it actually work this way? Or do you have an entirely different suggestion that fits the current design?’.
Then we’ll Poll it, and if it passes, we’ll develop it and release it. In its most simple form, that’s basically how it works.
For new stuff, imagine that we do everything that we’ve been doing recently – it’s just that the item making its way into the game is dependent on whether or not that item passed the Poll in the first place, not whether or not its appearance passed the Poll.
We know that art and design are very subjective, and sometimes people have some really good feedback on how things should be changed, how things should look, or how things could fit better into the game. There have been a lot of examples where following that process has led to a really, really cool design of an item that the entire community has been really happy with.
It doesn’t always work out that way! Sometimes it’s 50/50, and sometimes it’s like a 60/40 split. For the most part, the feedback that we get from you players, especially when it comes to art and design, is super valuable. We’re not looking to change that at all. When we’re at the point of having designs and concepts, we’ll share concept art with you as early as we can, just like we’ve been doing in all of our recent blogs over the last 10 months. This whole year has really stepped it up with sharing designs early on.
We’ll look to incorporate feedback as much as we can, and then whenever we do make feedback changes; we’ll also share those with you and get your feedback on them. Let’s use Torva as an example with the new system. Say everyone unanimously hated the Torva design that we put out, but it’s passed its poll, and we know that Torva is going to be added to the game.
So we look at redesigning, and the conversation around it is so big that it warrants us to focus solely on that as a specific topic. We can just spin up a new blog that does not touch on the design of the actual content it’s coming from, that is literally talking about the design of the armour and offering opportunities for players to give feedback through surveys and specific comments on threads that are dedicated to this particular issue.
Then we continue iterating until we’re at a point where one of the two things happens: We feel like we’re in a good enough place where the majority of the community agrees that the item itself is in a good state and that players will be happy with it released into the game as it’s being offered, or we go back and repeat the process until we get to a point where we feel like it’s acceptable and in a place that everyone likes.
We’ve shown that with multiple different things. I know that recently with the Voidwaker, we offered two different concepts in a blog, and they were disliked. So we went to the community, we looked at what designs they were putting out, and then we made a third one, and yes, in this case, we did Poll the three options.
That may still happen, in all honesty! It may still continue that way. We might feel we don’t know because there’s too much feedback on multiple designs. So we’ll let the community decide. We can put that to a multiple-vote Poll, but the results of it aren’t ever going to dictate whether or not it gets added to the game. That’s the change. We won’t be stopping items from being added because of their design.
Hopefully, that makes sense! TLDR is that we’re still going to work with you, we’re still going to get feedback, and we’re still going to want to make sure that everything feels Old School so that we don’t lose that charm.
Ultimately, the items will eventually be added to the game because being added is dictated by the first question as to whether or not we should add them. It’s not ‘should we add them based on them looking like this?’. It was more just to provide clarity rather than to say that we’re taking away anything because we have also in the past been a little bit inconsistent with our approach on item designs too – where some things have gone into those multiple choice polls, some things haven’t. Some items just got added without us even sharing concept art.
So the Polling Charter there is to help explain the process. It does go into detail that we will share designs, we will get feedback and we will iterate.
In general, we want to take popular ideas. If something that’s popular in the community, of course we’ll want to put it into the game!
It might be the case that with these changes, fewer of those need polling based on the rules. Some of them will almost certainly still need Polling, but what we set out to say is, it’s player power, right? We want to be player-driven!
We want to be more player-driven than we’ve been able to do because of the Polling process. There’s nothing I love more than being able to look at a popular idea – it’s not just Reddit, as much as people might see Reddit and think ‘oh gosh, they never say anything smart’ – all social media, wherever it’s coming from, we will look at the value of the idea.
We’ll take that on board if it’s a good idea. We haven’t done it for a long time, but I’d love to do more of the user-generated competitions for content, like Rooftop Agility and Motherload Mine. These are player-driven updates at their very core. We’ve done bits of that, but never quite to that extent. I love doing this, so I’m all for this kind of thing going forward; it’s not going to really change in that sense.
We know that we want to do more Summits going forward, where we announce what content is coming out for the next few months. Let’s say we follow this Summit up with a Giga Poll – a Mega Poll that has everything that we announced in the Summit.
Then we know safely that the next three, four or five months of content is locked in. Do you think that would open up a little bit more space and accessibility in the roadmap to fill in those gaps so that we could look at the community content, which we’ve maybe not been able to do in the past because it has been so fluid and unknown as a consequence of how long it takes us to actually Poll content?
100%! The idea of having the Polls locked in earlier will make it so much more possible. If something has failed, there’s an obvious gap, and then the community can be involved in filling that gap.
On a smaller level, if we’ve poll a concept like ‘hey, here is our new epic boss!’ and all we’ve said about it is a new team boss. We don’t really know even where in the world it might be at that point, perhaps. That presents a really obvious timeframe for players to be able to respond with their favourite boss ideas.
Wherever would you like to see a boss added? Would you like one in the middle of Karamja Jungle? That area may be lacking. Would you like a new vampire boss? It opens up space for those questions because it would only sometimes have all been entirely predetermined by us, with all its rewards, designs, and every other asset worked out. It’s more space for more suggestions from players.
That’s a really, really good point. That whole community consultation and refinement will look so different for so many different pieces of content. As I said before, we’re going to have to get used to it, the players will have to get used to it, but I can fully see a future where we do just say ‘Do you want us to release a new team-based boss?’. It’s then the next Poll that you get is asking 20 or 30 questions on what makes that boss the boss, and you will get to input and decide on that. I think it’s really cool.
So that’s the basic requirement there; we’re not planning to change them. If we have any reason to add a feature, obviously, it’s not set in stone. These are things that can be discussed.
That was a multiple-choice question, which we’ve never had in the Poll system before! It was exciting when Ash told us that it was possible and we noticed we had never really thought about doing it. I know it sounds so simple and minor, but it was a pretty big deal for us.
That kind of opened our eyes to ‘you know what, now that we’ve got that community consultation phase as part of the content approach, what can we start doing differently that we weren’t able to do before?’. Before, it was just a case of, we need to know whether the content is going to pass because otherwise, it’s not going to come out in time, or we’ve just wasted three or four months’ worth of development time.
I imagine there’ll be a lot more open-ended feedback and consultation-like questions in the Poll system and in surveys.