As you know, Leagues II - Trailblazer has been officially revealed and has been very well received by a large portion of the community. We couldn't be happier!
In Leagues II - Trailblazer you start off locked to the Misthalin area (roughly including Lumbridge, Varrock and Edgeville) and as you complete tasks you'll unlock more areas. Choose wisely though, as you can only unlock so many areas, so think carefully about which areas or Relics will work best for you and how you can use them to tailor your League experience to your liking.
For a more detailed look, head here.
Learnings from Twisted League
Twisted League was a huge success from our perspective and many of you have asked us if we can run it again, or even run it permanently. Clearly we did some things right to have such an overwhelmingly positive response, but there were also several issues brought forward the community, both during Twisted League and in the months following its end. Ultimately the goal when designing Leagues II - Trailblazer has been to keep doing the things you guys liked from Twisted League and to change the things you didn't.
Things to keep doing:
Relics/Tasks. The combination of completing tasks to unlock powerful buffs was the biggest draw of Twisted League, allowing you to play the game in new and exciting ways.
Having creative restrictions. The restrictions didn't feel bad at all - in-fact, they elevated the gameplay experience. Dragon was the highest tier of armour outside of CoX and meant that there was a lot more choice in the gear people would be wearing. Optimal setups from the main-game were not obtainable meaning players had to figure out which items to use on their own.
The new-game experience. Starting off with a fresh account and competing against other players in a new HiScore table was an exciting experience. It's one of the many reasons players love DMM so much and it's why seasonal content in Old School Runescape is so exciting.
Things to fix for next time:
Kourend/Kebos. Starting in Kourend/Kebos was exciting to many but off-putting to some players who felt like they didn't know the content well. Some were willing to take the plunge, but perhaps we would've seen even more of you excited about it if you had started in a more familiar starting zone (like Lumbridge).
Relic Choices. Some Relics seemed way too powerful compared to their competitors, and there weren't as many diverse Relic choices as we expected. The biggest offenders here are Endless Endurance and Xeric's Wisdom. The aim with Trailblazer has been to better balance which relics are grouped together and to reduce the feeling of 'buyers remorse'. We've also made conscious effort to avoid creating Relics which only excel in one niche area. A good example of this in Twisted League was the Spirit of Dinh relic.
PvM. We heard you loud and clear in Twisted League. Going for a 'PvM focused strategy' was very off-putting for several reasons. Drop rates of items were not modified, a lot of the tasks were too RNG (especially compared to some skilling tasks) and PvM tasks had questionable difficulty ratings. We've endeavoured to better balance the task difficulties this time, and to do what we can do reduce the amount of RNG required in getting the drops you want. If you put in enough time you should reach near end-game setups by the end of the Trailblazer.
With so much to cover from areas, tasks, Relics and rewards, we felt it was important to split up the work among our developers in the Wardens so that each team member could specialise in one aspect. Mod Ed primarily worked on tasks, Mod Flippy on Relics, Mod Husky on areas and the art team on the rewards. We've also had support from Mod Mack since he joined, and Mod Lenny gave us a hand implementing a few of the trickier Relics affecting code. Finally, the QA team oversaw everything, ensuring that each component would work together seamlessly. Also, every step of the way we've had feedback from the rest of the team, presenting our work every other week in order to get as much feedback as possible.
The biggest decision when designing Trailblazer was how we were going to split up the map. How big should these areas be? How are we going to balance each area against the others given the diverse nature of their content?
Generally, lots of smaller areas means substantially more work is required to set up the boundaries between them, but larger areas meant less choice for players, reducing the impact of their decisions and customisation options. In the end we decided to go with 'kingdom' sized areas (with a few exceptions) so that each area unlock would feel substantial and gameplay changing. We currently have the game world divided into nine areas (including Misthalin), of which players will be able to unlock five. This means that just over half of the game world will be available to each participant. Allowing additional unlocks would result in it just feeling like the main game. Being restricted is actually a good thing as it forces the player to be creative.
Another advantage of going with kingdoms is there are already a lot of natural borders separating them. In a few cases we have added blocking scenery where there wasn't any in order to prevent players from accessing unlocked areas. Generally speaking, instances of an area you have unlocked are allowed and any dungeons with an entrance in the above ground will be included in that area. For example, Varrock Sewers is included in Misthalin because Varrock is! The hardest part of development was cataloging every single map square into their appropriate areas - the QA work to make sure none were missed was a massive task. As a result, however, we now have a piece of code which will return loosely which region of the game a particular coordinate is in (we're sure will be useful for future projects).
However, each area has its quirks (like region-spanning dungeons) and we had to draw the boundaries somewhere. This does of course have the risk of making it quite confusing to you the player - how can you be expected to make such a choice without knowing everything that is included? In order to help with this we have developed an interface displaying all the information you will need to know prior to unlocking an area.
Area Details Interface
- Overview: A general overview of the area and its boundaries including which shortcuts are restricted to nearby areas. For example, the grapple across the River Lum is disabled because that would take you to Al-Kharid which is not part of Misthalin.
- Key Info: A summary of the various PvM and skilling activities in the area, as well as which Slayer creatures will be added to your Slayer list upon unlocking the area.
- Unlocks: A list of the quests and Diary tasks that will be completed upon selecting the area.
- Drops: A list of the drops from creatures which will be affected by the passive Relic effect drop rate modifier (described in the Relic Design section below).
- Map: A slideshow map clearly showing which parts of the game are included in the area.
- Teleport Button: I'm sure a few of you keen-eyed readers have noticed the button at the bottom right which says Teleport. This will be available for all areas you have unlocked and can be used to teleport to a pre-determined location in that area chosen by us. The casting time of this teleport will be the same as your home teleport spell. It is only there to easily get you to a new area you've unlocked, and will not be a game-changing way to train skills more easily.
And lastly, the biggest part of this is deciding how many tasks are going to be in each area, and how many points those tasks should give. We want players to make choices based on the content they want to do and the Relics they have picked, as opposed to gravitating toward areas with the most points. As of the time of writing, each area has roughly 10,000 points and combined with the general tasks (explained below) we're sure you'll find more than enough activities to complete over the course of Trailblazer.
All in all, tasks are a key part of League identity, and were very well received in Twisted League. However, there are a number of improvements we'd like to make in Trailblazer.
The biggest was how repetitive these tasks were. During Twisted League we spent a lot of time making the interfaces, meaning there wasn't much time left to develop a lot of the tasks. So instead we often used the same tasks again and again, increasing the numbers as they progressed. We thought this was fine at the time, but after playing the League it became apparent that the gameplay became a little stale and repetitive, especially towards the mid-late game. Instead, we are now aiming to have more unique tasks. Here are a few examples:
- Reach level 20, 40, 60 Woodcutting
- Reach level 20, 40, 60 Fishing
Leagues II - Trailblazer:
- Chop 200 willow logs, chop a tree using a rune axe, build a waka canoe
- Catch an anchovy, catch 100 lobsters, catch 100 raw shark
The levels may not line up exactly, but the activities are a lot more varied. Don't worry though - we're still going to celebrate you getting 99 in each of the 23 skills with an appropriate amount of League Points. We're even going to celebrate you getting 25m in a skill! However, that's where we draw the line in this League. We want to discourage doing one activity for a long amount of time simply because it offers high Points per hour.
By the nature of Trailblazer's rules, one of the biggest changes to the task system is that tasks can only be completed in specific areas. This means players may be incentivised to level their skills to certain thresholds to complete tasks dependent on the areas they have accessed - that will be a huge factor in the planning and strategy. Don't worry, though, as there will also be a plethora of what we call 'General Tasks' - tasks which don't require a specific area. These tasks total around 30,000 points, but while they are not tied down to a specific area that doesn't mean they can be included in every area. For example, 'Catch 100 Lobsters' cannot be offered everywhere.
Having so many tasks to implement can be quite time consuming. Fortunately, we have means to create the data for these tasks really quickly. A task in the back-end system looks like this:
'Catch 100 Lobsters' Task in the back-end code.
Plugging in the completion of the Catch 100 Lobsters Task.
Because all of the tasks have the same parameters, we can quite quickly write a script in Python that takes an Excel document of all the tasks and then get it to write this very repetitive RuneScript for us. Then it's simply a matter of going into the appropriate script and adding the following code to complete a task should the player satisfy the conditions.
This is of course still a lot of work from both a developer and QA perspective, but using tools like Python to speed up some of the more menial tasks makes big difference when it comes to development time.
And lastly, we've added new filters to find tasks relevant to you. In Twisted League you could filter by task difficulty and completion. In Trailblazer there are filters for the task's area and the type of the task (skilling, combat, quest, achievement, minigame or other). We are still considering adding the ability to search and sort tasks, but we're unsure if we'll be able to deliver that in time - perhaps for the next League!
Tasks are great and all, but for many players they are simply a means to an end - a way to earn points to unlock powerful Relics which render the gameplay unlike anything in the main game. Relics were by far the most fun part of the design for Trailblazer, with a ton of interesting effects pitched and only the best chosen. Let's look into that process as a whole!
Looking at the Relics in Twisted League, ultimately we came up with two pretty interesting philosophies that informed the decision to have passive Relic effects.
"If a Relic is so powerful that none of the other Relics can compete and that all players want it, it either shouldn't exist at all, or everyone should get it."
"Every Relic should be fun and powerful. At no point should the player feel like they are choosing between the two."
The first quote is what led to the decision to give everyone infinite Run Energy at the start of the League. The second, however, was more interesting. Players enjoyed having really, really high XP rates that increased throughout the League, but many regretted missing out on fun relics like Xeric's Focus. Now, your passive XP will increase passively as you unlock Relic tiers, leaving the Relics themselves to be completely fun and game-changing without you having to worry about your XP rate. However, we didn't want to increase your XP/hr after every single Relic, so instead we alternate between offering more XP and modifying the drop-rates of certain uniques.
Passive Relic effects and Relic Categories for Leagues II - Trailblazer.
||Your Run Energy will never drain while running
||Your League XP multiplier will increase from 5x to 8x
||Your drop rate modifier will increase from 1x to 2x
||Your League XP multiplier will increase from 8x to 12x
||Your drop rate modifier will increasefrom 2x to 3x
||Your League XP multiplier will increase from 12x to 16x
Probably the most substantial change to Relics is grouping Relics into similar groups so that they can be more easily compared. Skilling Relics up against skilling Relics and combat Relics up against combat Relics. Last League we saw a huge imbalance in power across accounts between people who picked only combat Relics or skilling Relics. The new system means that everyone will have two skilling Relics, two combat Relics, one teleportation Relic and one utility Relic. This then allows us to make the specific skilling or combat Relics more powerful without worrying about people stacking too many effects together.
Since our initial blog we have revised the first three Relics we revealed, and are fairly happy with the balancing going into launch. Here are the changes:
Tier 1 Relic Choices for Leagues II - Trailblazer.
||Reason for Change
||Resources gathered from Fishing, Woodcutting and Mining will be multiplied by 2. Resources generated this way will not provide any additional experience. The resources you gather are sent directly to your Bank if you have space. If not, they will be placed in your Inventory.
||Resources gathered from Fishing, Woodcutting and Mining will be multiplied by 2. The resources you gather are sent directly to your Bank if you have space. If not, they will be placed in your Inventory.
||This was probably the weakest Relic among the three, but is naturally very strong for those who would prefer a more afk-centric playstyle. However, during internal playtesting we noticed that you'd end up at significantly higher levels in your production skills than the gathering skill counterparts. Now the gathering/production counterparts will level at the same natural rate relative to each other, much how players are accustomed to in the main game.
||When doing the following activities, all items will be processed at once, awarding full XP: 1) Smelting ores, smithing bars and making cannonballs, 2) Fletching logs and cutting bolt tips, 3) Cleaning herbs and making potions, 4) Cooking food and making jugs of wine, and 5) Crafting leather, uncut gems, glass, jewelry, pottery, battlestaves and spinning flax/wool.
||This was considered to be the strongest Relic, and the changes to the other two Relics are intended to bring them up to this Relic's strength. This will still remain a really strong choice if you get a lot of your gathering supplies from PvM sources.
||All non-combat skills will permanently be boosted by 10. When skills are boosted beyond 10 levels, the boosts will over time drain back to the standard +10 boost. By the same token, when skills are drained down, they will eventually restore.
||All non-combat skills will permanently be boosted by 12. When skills are boosted beyond 12 levels, the boosts will over time drain back to the standard +12 boost. By the same token, when skills are drained down, they will eventually restore.
||This Relic is probably the most flexible of all, and it was always a consideration for many. It starts off strong and falls off hard, we were relatively happy with its power level. But after buffing Endless Harvest we decided to give it a little push, so that it has a slightly stronger early game impact - really leaning into the benefits of picking this Relic.
Mysterious Relic Sprites.
And lastly, one of the best parts about designing Relics is picking cool sprites which represent their effects! For Leagues II - Trailblazer we've changed the colour scheme of the Relics to be blue/sandy as opposed to black/green as they were for Twisted League. Here is the Relic which we had the most back and forth over - can you guess what the effect is?
And last but not certainly not least, the rewards! Naturally, many of you are going to pour much of your time into the League and ensuring that there are enticing rewards for you to carry back over to the main game is one of the unique appeals! Early on in development, Mod Husky tweeted asking what you all liked and disliked about the Twisted League's rewards. While we got a ton of cool ideas, the overwhelming response was to keep them cosmetic and to ensure that the rewards had a theme that made them identifiable.
Originally this left us quite stumped. With Twisted League, we essentially did this by name: Twisted. Unfortunately, this logic can't be applied to Trailblazer. We originally designed a bunch of rewards so that we had one from each region of the game. However, they ended up feeling disconnected from one another. For example, would a Prifddinas Wall-kit and a Verzik Slayer Helm be awesome? Of course! Would they feel like they came from the same content? Absolutely not. For those of you who are disappointed these aren't the rewards, don't worry - we have added them to our rewards backlog as potential ideas for the future.
Early on in design, the placeholder name for this League was 'Explorer League'. So when it came to the rewards, we decided to instead focus on this theme. This lead to art team favouring browns, yellows and blue as a highlight that can be seen in all of the rewards in the original Trailblazer blog.
Leagues II - Trailblazer Colour Scheme
Fortunately for us, we seem to have got it right, because all of the rewards passed the poll. So you can expect to see all of those lovely in-game rewards in the League Reward Shop once Leagues II - Trailblazer has ended. If you have any left over Twisted League Points, you can also spend them here. You can spend your Trailblazer League Points on Twisted League rewards, too!
Now let's talk about League-to-League rewards. We previously spoke about giving players who did well in Twisted League their own worlds and a boost to their starter items. At the time we thought this was well received, but now with the next League coming upon us we've heard your concerns loud and clear. We're not going to scrap the rewards entirely because we don't want players who earned them to feel like they've lost something they worked for, but we've instead re-worked them so that the advantage isn't quite so large.
Twisted League Rank Worlds are instead going to be Twisted League Participation Worlds. Instead of a Mithril, Adamant and Rune world we are going to have two worlds that are only accessible to those of you who received a trophy in Twisted League. We feel like this still gives players who participated an advantage over those who didn't, but it's significantly less exclusive.
Twisted League armour sets are now purely cosmetic. We'll instead be handing out Tier 1,2 or 3 Twisted Relic Hunter armour depending on the rank you achieved. These will be awarded as such:
We're also deciding internally if we should give Twisted Blueprints and Twisted Horns to players in Trailblazer to compensate them for us nerfing the other rewards. Here is what we are proposing:
- Bronze, Iron and Steel trophy players will get Tier 1 Relic Hunter
- Bronze, Iron and Steel trophy players will get Tier 1 Relic Hunter Mithril and Adamant trophy players will get Tier 2 Relic Hunter
- Rune and Dragon trophy players will get Tier 3 Relic Hunter
- Mithril, Adamant, Rune and Dragon players will get Twisted Blueprints
- Rune and Dragon trophy players will get Twisted Horns and have the Twisted Vision Slayer perk unlocked so that they can attach them if they do earn a Slayer Helm in the League.
Where we are now? What left do we have to do?
And finally, to those of you who made it this far - I bet you're all dying to know when the League will be released! Unfortunately, we're not ready to announce a release date just yet, but you will be pleased to know we don't actually have all that much work left to do.
Firstly, we've got to finish implementing and testing the last few Relics and tasks. Then we have to implement a few of the extra features to make the League run smoothly, such as increasing certain shop restock rates and implementing League Firsts. Finally, we'll move onto our final playtesting/balancing, making any necessary tweaks and, more importantly, testing every single area as if it's our first pick to try and identify any bottlenecks. We wouldn't like to run into situations like the plough fields in Hosidius!
Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks.