Runescape isn’t purely an MMO any more. With the announcement of Chronicle: Runescape Legends, the franchise is expanding into collectible card game territory, but with a few unique twists. The central experience is unlike anything else, offering a different take on competitive play. For a quick recap, check out our gameplay videos from both TheHiveLeader and RipperX.
But with closed beta now over, and open beta starting on March 23, it was high time to get a status update. As it happens, Jagex was throwing a celebration for 15 years of Runescape, so we managed to grab some time with Senior Producer Mark Killey and Lead Designer James Sweatman to get the latest on how the CCG is progressing.
During the course of the interview, we dug deeper into a number of topics, such as the recently announced Dungeoneering mode for drafting play, and a new Campaign single player mode that will arrive later in beta. We also took a closer look at character customisation, and just why you’ll want to have a character that personifies your unique approach to the game.
MMORPG.com: Is any tie-in planned to the MMO proper, like a Runescape account?
James Sweatman: Once we move into open beta, you’ll be able to log in with your Runescape account. We’re also looking at ideas at the moment for connecting the two games more directly. So XP sharing, card drops, pack drops within Runescape as well. That’s a really interesting challenge for us. Making sure the Runescape community are happy with that, and also balancing it so that our CCG community that comes in and don’t play Runescape have the same benefits as well, so they’re not alienated by having to play it if they don’t want to. We’ve got a whole bunch of ideas, and are going to be looking at some of them them over the next couple of weeks, and getting some in for the open beta.
MMORPG.com: Are your themes with Chronicle going to be tied in to Runescape’s as well?
Sweatman: That’s been really exciting for us. We’ve only really started talking about it in a lot of detail over the last couple of days, actually. What we want to do is root Chronicle into Runescape. The game’s actually based within a part of the world called the Legends Guild, and we’re building a new part of that, which is going to be the Hall of Legends, which is where Chronicles is going to be stored.
We’re going to be bringing it out across the game world as well. We’ve got lots of cool ideas, and we’re going to be working with the community as well, to see what they’d like with Chronicle within Runescape.
MMORPG.com: What would you say is the strength of the game?
Sweatman: For us it’s the core gameplay. The reason we started making Chronicle is because we discovered this new way of playing the genre, which is creating your own quests. Fighting your own cards is completely different to everything else out there, and I think that’s what makes it such an exciting premise for us, and why we wanted to work on the game. We wouldn’t want to go into something if we weren’t doing it differently.
We could have just made a Runescape version of other games that are already out there, and a lot of people expected us to do that when we announced the game a year ago. And that’s not what we want to do. We want to make sure that if we go out there, we do something different, we’re going to try something new, and that’s what drives us to make the game.
MMORPG.com: Is the core gameplay done?
Sweatman: Yes. We’re still making iterations, that’s why we’re moving into an open beta. We’re going to be bringing more people in. The closed beta was invitation only, so we kept it relatively small. With that we made our small iterations on things, and we’ve got a couple of things we’re already working on in the office that aren’t in the current game, that change the core experience a little.
We’ve built the game in-house – we started with a core team of about 4 or 5 people when it originally started off. We’re still just over 20, so it’s still a small team in comparison to Runescape with hundreds of people, but we have a lot of stuff still to do?
MMORPG.com: How was the transition in moving away from your core competency of MMO building?
Sweatman: It’s good because the team that we have aren’t just Runescape. A lot of people we have on the team are multidisciplinary, they come from different backgrounds. Myself, I’ve worked on everything from sports games to RPGs. I think that breadth within the team has helped us a lot. Most of the team are massive Magic and Hearthstone players from years ago, they play all sorts of board games, so we’ve got a good understanding of the genre already.
What the Runescape and RPG elements brought us was a different view on that genre. We could take what was special and different about Runescape and apply that to the genre. I think that was a benefit to us more than anything, and part of the process of why Chronicle is the way it is.