MMORPG.com: Tell us about the decision to make the new starting zone. What made you want the changes?
Lewis Macguire: We looked at the opening experiences of the game that our Members enjoy when first subscribing, and realized that although there was more content than anyone could shake the proverbial stick at, there was no easy way to point players to all this awesome new content, no area that offered an introduction to all the new gameplay, storylines and features that are available, and in the case of those that needed it, nobody helping the players interact with the new content. We wanted new members to have a well-crafted experience with a compelling narrative that let them sample the wide variety of content in the game. Once they’d found what they liked, we wanted to offer a quick way for them to get their teeth into more of it, which is where the Troll Warzone and its various skill masters were born.
We’re also constantly improving and updating the game so we needed to revisit the early content so it accurately represents the best of what RuneScape has to offer.
MMORPG.com: What is the story behind the new Troll Warzone?
Lewis Macguire: The trolls on Death Plateau had been massing their forces for an attack on the ‘stoo-ped hoo-mans’ to the south, with the trollish intentions of smashing all their homes, stealing all their stuff, and then eating them (and their smashed houses!). The Imperial Guard have mounted a defensive effort, and have for the most part held back the trolls due to the strategic layout of the area, however, the trolls have become more sneaky and are mounting underground assaults from a cave system. Holding back this new threat has left the resources in Burthorpe and Taverley stretched thin; people are starving, the army is ill-equipped, and the trolls’ attacks get more ferocious every day… The people need a hero. That’s where you join the action.
MMORPG.com: Are there perks for new players that can help them in the new zone? How do they find out about them?
Lewis Macguire: The new zone structured in such a way as to offer new players a rewarding experience and introduces them to a wide variety of our content. There are story-rich quests, powerful rewards and equipment; all woven in to the gameplay experience and narrative of the area. The players discover these by simply by following the story as it unfolds, and interacting with whatever they want to interact with.
MMORPG.com: Runescape is a massive world with a deep history, what would you say to a player first joining the game?
Lewis Macguire: Your journey into the RuneScape world is only just beginning in the Troll Warzone.
There’s the hilarious capers of the pirates of Mos Le’Harmless, the grim tale of the Vampyre-oppressed citizens of Morytania and their valiant Myreque champions, as well as the epic battles of the Mahjarrat who would steal the power of the Gods.
If you like the quirky humour of Let Them Eat Pie, want to save Sophie from the lake, slay your foes with a well-placed arrow between the eyes then jump right in! If you fancy ncinerating your foes with the effortless conjuring of a mighty ball of flame, or just plain love to suit up in plate armour then this is the game for you.
Perhaps combat isn’t your thing and you just want the sense of satisfaction you get from holding a blade forged by your own hands, made of metal you have wrenched free from the earth.
There's so much for you in RuneScape, it really has a storyline for everyone!
MMORPG.com: What is the player response to the free trial? Do you guys have success with these?
Lewis Macguire: The free trial has been a great success. There is so much to the members game that free players don’t get a chance to see, and so didn’t get the opportunity to make an informed decision over whether membership was right for them. Now, everybody can have a taste of the members’ game, and if they find they like what they see, sign up with confidence instead of having to pay for a trial.
MMORPG.com: From a development standpoint, what are your favorite parts of the new starting area?
Lewis Macguire: My personal favourite element of the starting area is, of course, the Baby Troll pet. I mean wookit him! He’s so cute! We all had a lot of fun with this guy, especially the way he takes his name the traditional Troll way – the first thing you feed him. It was amazing to see the obscure items players had fed their trolls on release day. Seeing a baby troll with the name ‘Baby penguin’ was a particular high point for me that raised a lot of laughs!
MMORPG.com: Will veteran players have access to this new zone, what can they do there?
Lewis Macguire: All players have access to the new starting area. The rewards are geared towards low-level players, but the new quests and Tasks, the gameplay and storylines that come with them, a loveable baby troll pet are available to all. The Recommendations system that allows players to see at a glance what content is appropriate for them and teleport them to it is also available to players of all levels.
MMORPG.com: What are some of your plans for RuneScape moving forward into 2012?
Lewis Macguire: RuneScape is a huge and constantly evolving game, with more content being added all the time. I can’t give away much about our plans; it would spoil the surprise!
I can give you a couple of teasers though. We’ve got some cool Olympic style events for the summer, a brand new quest and boss fight associated with the mysterious Queen Black Dragon, a new PvP minigame, a Runecrafting extravaganza called “The RuneSpan” and a behemoth aimed squarely at our more hardcore fans.
If that’s whetted your appetite and you want to know more, why not head over to http://www.RuneScape.com where you will find a monthly newsletter which reveals our short-term plans! Or better yet, try the game for yourself and experience all that RuneScape has to offer!