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Massively interviews Jagex on RuneScape's clan citadels


In July of this year, browser MMO RuneScape celebrated the launch of its latest blockbuster expansion, Clan Citadels. RuneScape has been home to clans for most of its current 10-year run, but until recently they've always been unofficial groups organised using external websites and mutual friend lists. In the absence of game mechanics to support competitive gameplay, clan leaders even organised wars and other competitive games with other clans.

The Clan Citadels update changed all that by introducing the infrastructure clans need to support their in-game endeavours. Clans can now build huge floating cities to be used as a place to meet, throw parties and discuss organisation. The expansion was sweetened by the addition of a completely new free-form battlefield creator, allowing players to develop custom minigames with hand-designed maps. Clans can even invite other players to their battlefields or challenge other clans to a match on their own terms.

Massively recently caught up with two of the developers behind the Clan Citadels expansion to find out how it has been received by players and what we can expect in the future. In this in-depth interview, Senior Content Developer Ashleigh Bridges delves into RuneScape's innovative battlefield creator and Senior Game Designer Chihiro Yamada gives us the lowdown on the future of clan content.

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Massively: What do you think about the uptake rate of Clan Citadels? Has it been a popular feature?

Ashleigh Bridges: I saw on the internet clans posting videos of their tier 3 citadels to proudly show everyone else what they had achieved. Clearly there's been a decent uptake.

What's the most creative thing players have made with the new battlefield creator?

We're kind of going on what we find on YouTube, to be honest. I've certainly seen a lot of ice rinks, possibly because they're places where you can hang around with your clan without having to put any effort into fighting. After that I think the most common thing is a capture the flag arena where you're either running around after flags or running around after balls.

The balls have a certain novelty factor because they're different to anything we've had in RuneScape lately. We first used the idea of players kicking balls around for a random holiday event a couple of years ago. It was quite well received at the time, and the players have often suggested we bring back balls for a minigame.

Does Jagex showcase the best battlefields players come up with?

It's certainly a natural way to go considering the things we've done in the past with clans before. It's not rocket science to say that if you're going to allow a way for players to generate their own content then they should have a way to show it off, advertise it and encourage other players to get involved.

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Players found an XP exploit in the Battlefield system at the end of July. Can you tell us about that?

The original idea was that we would allow players to get experience for damaging other players in battlefields like we do in our other clan vs. clan arenas like the clan wars minigame. When it comes to multi-way combat areas, magic spells and other things that do damage to multiple targets, those produce the highest rates of XP gain but have historically been fine in our clan vs. clan arenas.

The thing we had overlooked is that you can recharge your special attack much more rapidly in the clan battlefield than you can anywhere else in the game and without any associated cost. This meant players could now grind melee as well as ranged and magic, which was faster than expected and needed to be nerfed when we saw what was going on.

You can set other clans as enemies. Does this have any effect in the game or is it more of a friendly challenge?

"In the battlefields, at the moment, you fight for the fun of winning. I suspect that there's a lot more use of it for people having fun than for formal competition."

For the moment, we do have the ability for a clan to list another clan as their enemy, but this does not have any in-game effect. In the battlefields, at the moment, you fight for the fun of winning. In a way, this is how clans have been operating for many years now; we have a clan vs. clan rating system with a high score system, but uptake has not been great. For the moment, the battlefields are sticking to fighting for fun. I suspect that there's a lot more use of it for people having fun than for formal competition, although that is now possible.

What kind of changes can we expect to see in the battlefield creator in the future?

Within the battlefield, we've seen requests from the players for additional elements. So while we currently have goals and flag markers, they'd also like teleporters and caves you can hide in. From a technical point of view, these things will be considerably harder to implement than the existing set of elements. If there is a demand for it, then we will certainly look at adding more elements in the future, but at the moment we aren't in a position to say for sure what we would do about that.

Looking at the battlefields, we've seen a lot of suggestions for a way to let players share their ideas with friends. It's actually quite difficult to take a screenshot of your battlefield layout at the moment, so I could see us wanting to add support for exporting, importing and sharing your battle designs. The level of work required to do these things is substantial, and we are not currently sure that's the way that clans would like us to go.

Skip over to page two to find out what the future holds for clan content both inside and outside the clan citadels.

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