It is written by Mod Ash and is dated 2 April 2009.
Hello. I'm Mod Ash, one of the RuneScape Content Developers. In this diary I'll be writing about a forthcoming update to the in-game world map: Dungeon Maps.
It doesn't sound complicated. At first glance, it looks like we just need to define a load more maps, add a menu for switching between them, maybe let players click on a dungeon icon to open the map of that dungeon... Easy, huh?
Well, it’s not quite that easy. The unusual thing about RuneScape is that it's a Java game developed by people who don't use Java. Andrew created a scripting language ("RuneScript") for Content Developers to use. His compiler turns the script into Java code. That's really great for my team, since it means we can create the content we design without needing to delve into the Java, but it also means we can't do things that RuneScript doesn't currently support.
Andrew's Game Engine team (Mod Michael, Mod Rushton, Mod Slake and Mod Chris E) are constantly adding new features to the scripting language and overhauling older bits of the game engine, such as the recent route-finding update. Recently, Mod Chris E has been creating new game engine features to let me produce this Dungeon Maps update.
- RuneScape's mapping hasn't always been laid out consistently. For example, Waterbirth Island's dungeon is spread across three separate areas of the game's space, yet we need to display it on one single map. Mod Chris E had to update the map definition systems to let me define maps composed of different areas all joined together.
- Sometimes we need to show separate levels of a dungeon. At the moment, the world map just presents RuneScape's surface – its ground floor. It doesn’t show upstairs or downstairs, but that's no good for areas like the Lair of Tarn Razorlor, which uses three levels. Mod Chris E had to make the map definition systems handle that. But now that maps cared about which level is which, I had to update the "You are here" arrow to handle players standing on a level that isn’t currently mapped!
- Mod Chris E also had to rewrite the way map icons work in order to let me make map icons that do stuff when you click on them. I'm using them for making links between different maps, such as the link between the maps of Lumbridge Swamp Caves and Dorgesh-Kaan.
All these new game engine features needed a considerable amount of testing, tweaking, adjusting, etc. For example, now that I'd got dozens of unique dungeon icons that linked to dungeon maps, I needed to ask Mod Chris E for more engine support. I wanted to make all these unique dungeon icons flash simultaneously when you click on the picture of a normal dungeon icon in the key.
Anyway, that's mostly done now, and the rest of the project is progressing nicely. I'm aiming to launch nearly thirty new maps as a start, focusing on training dungeons rather than quest-specific areas. Mapping all the stairways in the Lair of Tarn Razorlor and the portals in the Chaos Tunnels was quite a fiddly job! As a little bonus, I've added a button for toggling the “You are here” arrow on or off.
Finally, Mod Wayne and Mod Marx0i0 are working on graphical improvements to the dungeons that are being mapped. Many of these dungeons were never designed to be seen from above, so their edges looked kinda tatty. When they’re done, we'll send the project off for testing. Hopefully, it'll be with you soon and you'll find it helpful.
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