It is written by Mod Mark and is dated 26 February 2010.
Hi! I’m Mod Mark. Hopefully, you recognise my name from the forums or from my Clan Chat in-game (everybody’s welcome), but if you don’t, I’m the Lead Designer and have worked with RuneScape for seven years. I wanted to take this opportunity to chat about something I’ve often seen being discussed in game, especially recently: quest difficulty levels.
One of the most challenging parts of designing content is deciding how ‘difficult’ something should be. We try to ensure that we have a real mix of content on our release schedule, some of which we want to make hard to complete.
Doing this isn’t easy. If you want a quest to be challenging for a player with the minimum stats required for it, then it isn’t going to be as big a challenge for players whose stats are much higher. But then, if the player has a higher level account than the quest was intended for, why shouldn’t they breeze through it? They earned the stats, so they should be allowed to one-hit a boss if they really want.
One option is to make puzzles that have nothing to do with an account’s stats. We do add those quite often, but in many different formats. Some might be more ‘traditional’, like a sliding tile puzzle, whereas others might be more complex like the one in Mourning's Ends Part 2, where you’re interpreting a 3D light puzzle across several floors. Of course, some people find these sorts of puzzles very easy, whereas others will quickly dive for the QuestHelp and spend their points on being given a solution.
With our Grandmaster quests (GMQ), we want to challenge the avatar (the character you control on the screen) AND the player. This means using lots of the techniques described above, often combining them and removing the ability to ‘brute force’ content. By that I mean making sure the challenge can’t be bypassed with prayers or lots of cash. We’re trying to give the player a different kind of experience than they are used to, and hope that the player has a real sense of achievement when they have completed it.
The things that difficulty does NOT incorporate are length, storyline and game knowledge. I simply do not believe that a difficult quest has to be long or story heavy - far from it. Our first GMQ (While Guthix Sleeps) was quite long and plot heavy, whereas our more recent GMQ (Nomad's Requiem) was quite short and plot light. Future GMQs will also vary wildly, with some being giant, behemoth-like, plot-waving extravaganzas and others being considerably smaller.
Regarding game knowledge, both of these GMQ contained very different sorts of puzzles and challenges: one required lots of Quest Points, whereas the other required that you knew how to play a minigame and to plan well for a tough fight. These are very, very different prerequisites indeed, and we intend to continue to release a range of GMQs appealing to different types of players.
They do share many traits too. For example, both quests feature monsters that modify attacks based on player combat strategy. Both quests offer access to new top-end gear, both cosmetic and practical. Both quests hugely penalise the player for not paying close attention to what’s going on around them.
As far as skill levels are concerned, we generally feel that all GMQs should contain multiple skills over level 70, with slight tweaks on that depending on if it’s what we consider a hard skill (like Slayer) or an easy skill (like Woodcutting). It also depends on what the top quest requirements are at the time of launch - for example, right now, we have some skills with a top quest requirement of 75 (like Ranged, Magic, etc), whereas others are only as high as 45 (Summoning). Therefore, if a quest needed a Summoning requirement, it’s more likely to be a 45+ Summoning requirement than a 75+ Summoning requirement. This means that, right now, GMQ level requirements are quite low, but they will continue to rise as we release higher and higher-levelled quests. One day, I would love to see a quest with multiple level 90+ skills, but we have to fill the gaps up to 90 first.
If you'd like to discuss this blog on the forums, please visit this forum thread.
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