Og Blog: Skill, Variety and Fun

In my last Og Blog, I promised I’d explain a little more about the challenges we set ourselves during the Evolution of Combat development. In this blog I’ll be talking about the first 3 of those challenges: making combat about skill, encouraging variety in equipment, and making it fun.

In my mind, the best combat systems reward a player for truly understanding the game. If it’s an FPS game, it’s about knowing your environments, likely patterns of enemy movement, and quickly being able to choose the right weapons for the job. If it’s an RTS game, it’s about efficiency and how to adapt to enemy tactics, while being smart with your troop assignments. In essence, it’s knowledge. That’s part of what I define as the skill of the player – in modern games, knowledge IS skill. Some can be taught; most must be mastered by the user. All this is separate from the physical speed of the user, or their ability to click faster.

Right now, skill in RuneScape combat tends to be measured by things like how quickly you can switch between interfaces; odd features like “prayer flashing”; keeping your combat levels artificially low; or timing the click of when you eat food to avoid missing a hit. While those things are skilful (and I admire those players that have mastered those strange arts), none of them are about combat itself, or knowledge of combat. There’s nothing about what weapons to use and when; nothing about how to respond to your opponent in PvP – none of it relates to tactics used in real battles… and I think it should. It’s often a case of being lucky, or just having the GP to buy the best equipment, which brings us nicely to our first point…

Encouraging Variety in Equipment

“The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.”
– Sun Tzu

Mostly, you can take the best weapon or spell available to you and always do the best rates of damage. While we have factors like damage types (stab/ slash/ crush, for example), they rarely make a huge difference in combat, and are mostly selected due to the associated XP generation. We are changing that.

Firstly, every NPC will have specific weaknesses and strengths, reinforcing the combat triangle and genuinely making a difference which equipment and which styles of combat you use to fight them. To help you identify these strengths and weaknesses, we are adding a combat tab that shows you exactly what your target is all about. That applies to PvP and PvE combat and will show you any potions, abilities, effects, prayers and weaknesses affecting you and your opponent. Fighting NPCs will require you to take the right gear, not just rely on your standard setup. The best fighters will need to plan.

Secondly, several of our brand-new basic, threshold and ultimate abilities are not only bound to the method of combat you’re using (melee, magic or ranged) but will have equipment requirements to use: so, defensive abilities will often require the use of a shield, or ranging abilities the use of a bow, for example.

Thirdly we are de-coupling XP generation from the type of weapon you are using, so you’ll be able to choose what sort of XP you generate rather than having it chosen for you. This means, for example, that players will be able to train strength with an abyssal whip. All the “xp modes” still exist, you’ll just be able to select which one you wish to use. We are also adding a new “defensive only” mode to magic.

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