Today we’ve released the technique for something a little different: all-purpose tools to help players make their own games.

As the project goes from the design stage into implementation, this article talks about the goals of this unusual project, and the curious challenge of coming up with a clear design for something without limiting what it can do.

We know that to some of you, RuneScape is home to various pastimes that we didn’t really plan for you. Besides all of the quest,minigames and other features that the team has worked hard on over the years, Gielinor has plenty of room for you to organise scavenger hunts, races and all kinds of other activities, and we’ve seen that some of you like to do just that. Now, we’ve decided to set aside some time for a small update aimed at the players who come up with those activities.

There’s a slightly different update on the cards for the not-too-distant future. It won’t suit all of you, but, then, juggling all the different things RuneScape players like to do is always our biggest challenge. What it will do is make some little differences here and there, with new features that you can use in several ways that we’ve thought of…and hopefully a few we haven’t.

I was asked to come up with some items to help out, some little trinkets for the freestyle gamers among you. It’s an interesting challenge: if this stuff is all about the things we didn’t design, how can I deliberately set out to develop it? If I over-design these objects they’ll be really good for whatever I had in mind, but give you much less freedom. That would completely ruin the idea of helping you with the gameplay that you want to make.

With that in mind I’m working on a range of simple objects, each of which does something a little useful. Most of the objects are pretty simple, some a bit more complicated, but all are versatile. Hopefully, you’ll look at each item and think: “I know what I could do with that!” Just as people in the real world make dice and don’t worry about what games people will use them for, we can provide some helpful tools for you to use however you want.

As you might have guessed, there will be dice; I’m a big fan of dice. You can keep the rolls to yourself, or you can send them to your clan and everyone will know the result was genuine. Other items will help you start races fairly, run votes of clan members and check that nobody is cheating at collection and scavenging games.

We thought long and hard about what to include, seeking suggestions from fan sites, the forums and Jagex staff. We had many great suggestions – far more than we could ever use – so we picked out a selection that were particularly suitable. The number of objects we’re going ahead with is relatively small, but the intention is that each of them has plenty of potential there for all kinds of things you might think of.

Involving clans and keeping things fair are two of the main things I’m keeping in mind while developing this project. We want these tools to be good for groups, and the best way we can do that is through the Clan Chat system. That way, the game remains yours and you can invite the people you’d like to play with. Fairness is important because once you have come up with rules for your events, I want you to have ways of knowing that they are being followed.

All of these player-driven activities are part of emergent gameplay which games developers refer to. It’s a broad and interesting topic and I encourage you to click on the Web if you are interested. 

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