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This Developer Blog is copied verbatim from the RuneScape website. It is copyrighted by Jagex.
It is written by Mod Osborne and is dated 9 July 2010.
Back in Session

Very occasionally, you get something curious to do as a RuneScape editor: as an example, you might get asked to name the fishes in Daemonheim, or you'll be requested to make a Scottish squirrel less intimidating. With the court cases, we were approached by Mod Nancy in October 2009 with the question "who in RuneScape would end up in a court case and why?". This is the kind of creative question that we love answering, so we threw ourselves into the task with a hop and a skip. If you're like us, you're already thinking of ideas and suggestions yourself.

We presented Mod Nancy with several dozen suggestions, and she quickly began to strip away the more...um...unusual ones. If it wasn't for Mod Nancy's uncanny ability to tell the difference between quality ideas and rubbish ones, then you might have been defending the following NPCs for crimes in RuneScape:

- Bob for J-walking
- Cowkiller7331 for Grievous Bovine Harm
- Prison Pete for Squatting
- Sir Vant vs The Squire's Family for Negligent Knightery
- Evil Chicken for Assault and Battery (or Fowling)
- Grim Reaper for Manslaughter
- Freaky Forrester for Poaching

Mod Nancy then spent the best part of three months putting together roughly 150,000 words of content for 16 court cases, to be split into two batches and released in 2010. To give you an idea, that's roughly the length of The Hobbit AND The Fellowship of the Ring sellotaped together, so you can imagine the amount of time and effort that was spent on writing, editing and localising it.

On the subject of writing and editing, we adopted a slightly different approach for this project. To split the gargantuan workload, it was decided that Mod Nancy would produce a basic structure for the text, and the editors would write over the top to produce the court cases. So, if there's some dialogue you loved or loathed, we're often the ones to blame!

Court Case 1 vs Court Case 2

Partypete

A party 'fro-zen in crime

The first batch of court cases were designed to be shorter and less complicated, so we could get everyone used to the mechanics of prosecuting or defending a case. With Court Case Batch 2 we can add more complexity, to truly test the skills that you built up while defending or prosecuting Mugger Level 6 and the other Batch 1 NPCs. While you were limited to fingerprint comparison and talking to witnesses before a case in Batch 1, Batch 2 will have true crime-scene investigation and on-the-scene interrogation. It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that these 11 more difficult cases will come with greater XP and item rewards, plus an item for those who complete them all.

As writers, we gained more licence to be creative and humorous with Court Case Batch 2. Where the first batch was necessarily simple, Batch 2 will be twisty and over-the-top to make the case that much more difficult to crack. Players who like their dialogue to be rich and full of puzzles will find 11 diverse cases, focusing on more humorous issues (is Evil Dave truly EVIL?) and serious, intriguing cases (should the barbarians pay reparations to the wizards for past invasions?). I had particular fun working with Evil Dave and Party Pete again, who have always been a joy to write for in the Postbag from the Hedge.

There have been obstacles to overcome, of course; for example, in each court case, some dialogue questions are delivered four times: by the player, when gathering information from witnesses; from the player when in the courtroom; from the NPC Prosecution lawyer; and from the NPC Defence lawyer. This introduces an interesting problem: should the NPC witnesses reply in an identical fashion in each instance? If you said 'yes', then a player might hear the same dialogue three times in one case, which would test any player's patience. If you said 'no', then the NPC will be changing their story and delivering inconsistent evidence, which would be unfair on the player. Writing dialogue for the NPCs involved walking a fine line between character variety and consistency of evidence.

To give you an idea on the project's status, work has just finished on the writing and editing of Court Case Batch 2 (with translation in progress) and we are working towards a release date within the next few months. Personally, I plan to wear double eyepatches while investigating crime scenes, to make it feel like I'm in CSI: Miami. I might even have some well-timed puns and quips ready.

Visit this forum thread if you want to discuss the content of this blog.


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