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This Developer Blog is copied verbatim from the RuneScape website. It is copyrighted by Jagex.
It is written by Mod Tytn and is dated 26 November 2009.
Subtitle Yet to Be Approved

I’ve just finished the development work on Fairy Tale 3 and I should be happy, relieved and pleased with myself. But I’m flummoxed, perplexed and generally vexed; the most challenging task is yet to be completed! A fairy quest’s subtitle is generally the most difficult thing to invent. This isn’t as simple as it sounds - it requires a subtle, humorous, tantalising and yet revealing insight into the quest, but shouldn’t give too much away. Perhaps I need to go on a course to improve my quest naming skills.

This project has taken more than the usual number of twists and turns on its unique trip through production - let me explain. The initial developer, Mod Greg, passed the Fairy Tale quest series on to Mod Ingrid. Both developers did great work and created a wonderfully whimsical world. The honour of writing the code and developing Fairy Tale 3 from the design brief came my way and I’ve done my best to realise Mod Ingrid’s vision for the final chapter of the Fairy Tale series.

Military madness

Dev blog fairy generals

Fairy General

Dev blog orks

NOT the bosses

Dev blog godfather

We want your feedback...

One of the new characters in the quest has a slight tendency towards military speak and getting into this character and writing the dialogue has been very interesting. Having done some amateur dramatics and also experiencing the old school pencil-and-paper role-playing games, I know what a difference it can make to ‘act the part’ in a story.

Writing dialogue for characters can be fun, I really try to put myself in the place of the adventurer having to deal with this person and imagine the kind of verbal interaction that would happen. But at least I don’t take my work home with me. For instance, it’s rare you’ll catch me barking orders to imaginary fairy soldiers - "Get into line, you numbskulls; we’ve got a job to do!" That never happens.

Orkish military precision

Mod Chihiro mentioned in his Design Review blog that a significant element of this quest was the boss fight. He wrote, "designing a boss fight for this was challenging". Well, the boss fight certainly is challenging, not just from a player's point of view, but very much from a coding perspective too.

In this particular challenge, we really wanted to do something a bit different, really explore the tactical possibilities for a boss battle where the player has the choice about how to take out the enemies and which enemies to take out first. Yes, that's right, multiple hard and tough enemies, all of them not liking you very much, all at the same time. Don't worry, though, we'll give you a few allies, though they may be a bit long in the tooth.

Initial feedback

The project has completed development and is getting initial feedback. This means that QA and some of my RuneScape Content colleagues have written what they think of the project with an aim of making it better. Most of the comments have been positive, but it's clear that more improvements are possible. I've compiled this list of suggestions and have started implementing them into the code. That which doesn't kill a project only makes it stronger. I'm enjoying this phase of development, seeing the slightly raggedy edges being polished and wrought into shape.

Implementation

What I really love about developing RuneScape projects is the mixture of different skill sets it requires. It requires a technical mindset to force this chaotic creativity into the very particular constraints of a binary computer system, and it needs creativity to solve those technical problems. So, here's a silly, but not too dissimilar example of a conversation I might have with myself:

"Do I need to store all this information in so many variables, or can I just assume the player is going to do this specific thing?"
"We can never assume anything of our players! They'll always do something slightly odd that we hadn't expected."
"Okay, so I have to use all these variables then? Seems like a bit of a waste for the end result?"
"Hmm, maybe you're right; but what if you put a nice PINK FAIRY in that space there, wouldn't it look nice?"
"Oh yeah! Yeah, it would... but hey, that's not answering the question..."
"But it was a boring question, just store the information in another way!"
"Yeah, but what other way?"
"If you had a PINK FAIRY, right there, she could remind the player of all the stuff that you needed to store in those variables."
"Oh yeah!"

And, of course, I'm sure that every other developer does exactly the same thing, and if they don't, they ought to.

Once all the initial feedback for the project has been implemented, the project will go into QA for a thorough testing. I've already done a lot of my own testing, so I'm hopeful that the few issues that QA always find will be minor. This is usually the point at which I start to get a little nervous, even though I've developed content for years; this is the start of the countdown for the project being ready for release.

And release means players, and players means feedback. I like to take a balanced approach to player feedback; read and accept all the positive comments and ignore anything negative - that works well for me! ;) But that's not exactly true, I'm far too interested in doing better next time to ignore any critical comments, I always want to make my next quest the ‘best quest ever!’.

NB: No PINK FAIRIES were harmed during the development of this blog.

If you'd like to discuss this blog on the forums, please visit this forum thread.

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