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Idle Adventures - Big Story in Bitesize Chunks

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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MMORPG.com: Will you have any tie-in to the MMO, or is it completely standalone?

Ogilvie: As I said earlier, it’s important to me that the story we tell in this game is the same story. They’re running at exactly the same time. Things that happen in the main game may appear in this game, as an event or something like that. And then there are influences from Idle Adventures that will definitely appear in Runescape as well. Why would you have a living, breathing world, and then have an element of it that’s unconnected to it? That doesn’t make any sense at all. We want to make sure that they’re one and the same thing really.

Even Chronicle, that is a game that exists inside the Runescape universe. From a narrative perspective, this is a card game that characters in the Runescape universe are playing. And we’re going to have locations in the game where Chronicle is happening. So there’s no reason why characters like our main protagonist in the Idle game shouldn’t be in Runescape. Maybe she already is and people don’t know.

MMORPG.com: On that point, with Chronicle you’ll be able to log in with your Runescape account, and there’s cross-pollination between the two games. Is there anything planned for Idle Adventures?

Vigue: Those are the least sussed-out. The explosive nature of idle game economies is not complementary to any other game experience, so it couldn’t be that. When we sure it wasn’t that, we said ‘let’s make sure that it works as an independent game first and foremost.’

I think ultimately, as soon as you say ‘Isn’t it exciting if there was something that you did in the idle game that you could import over here,’ as just a fan that sounds great. So it’s definitely a discussion point right now, but we just haven’t developed it right now. It’s not going to be a core component, at least not for launch.

MMORPG.com: The elitist end of the gaming spectrum tends to look down on idle games with a certain amount of snobbery. Do you think this will overcome that perception?

Vigue: The thing is, Idle games have existed for a long time. The origin was satirical – the first idle games were like ‘let’s take all of the interaction out of an RPG, and just make a game where you level up and don’t have to do anything. And people were like ‘this is actually fun.’ The hard-core market looks down on the casual market as it is, and that’s a thing that I think is going through some growing pains in the industry. But idle games in particular have this sort of satirical, silly past, that I think we embraced in Adventure Capitalist. You’re making money, and everyone has that lotto dream where you get that winning ticket and become a multi-millionaire, what will you buy. You’ve got your mansion and yaht, and we very specifically targeted that idea.

It’s honestly kind of silly, and that’s exactly why it will work with Runescape. It has this epic adventure storyline, but it also has all this humour baked into it. It never takes itself too seriously. If you make something of high quality, and treat it with your own personal respect and integrity, that’s ultimately what ends up on the phone, or shelf, or whatever.

MMORPG.com: Do you think this will start an avalanche of Runescape appearing in alternate experiences?  

Ogilvie: That’s been the holy grail for us for a while now. It goes back to the question of ‘how do you deliver a Runescape experience to someone who doesn’t have an hour a day, because that’s what their expectation is.’ There are lots of different ways that you can do that. And, let’s be honest, Runescape is a massive world with loads of things going on in it, and a huge community that has played it at some point over it’s 15-year period. They’re hungry for Runescape-oriented pieces of content.

However, this is a beautiful thing. We’re not going to sell out, come up with something, and put a Runescape sticker on it. We’ve had discussions with different groups, and they’re like ‘Here’s the pitch, you don’t have to pay anything for it, we’ll just use your name and do this.’ But it’s not a good game. It’s not about making money; it’s about treating products with the respect that it’s due. It’s got to be the right game, and it’s got to be something that the community genuinely feels is part of their world.

MMORPG.com: How does the player fit in? Is she a demi-god, or something else?

Ogilvie: When we first started talking about looking at the Runescape narrative in a different way, we were toying around with different ideas of having a character in the world that would look at Runescape in a different way. In the MMO, the player is a World Guardian, they’re a hero, so there’s a certain way they go about things. We wanted to do something in a different way, so that players could enjoy that Runescape lore in a completely different way.

Sally has a very interesting backstory, which is fundamentally linked to some of the biggest stories of Runescape, and we expect her to have a place in Runescape. She may already have a place in the world of Runescape, but people don’t know it. That will all be revealed in good time.

Vigue: One of the main plot points – and again, we’re going to be saving a bunch of stuff for later – is we’re revealing a new elder artefact in Idle Adventures, and it will become part of the main canon. It’s definitely part of that surprise, in that it’s a really big deal for the fans to hear that. You’ll start off with this new elder artefact, and we have this history for why it’s appearing now, and why Sally appears as the wielder of this artefact.

It’s crucial that the lore fits with the canon. Even with a character like Brassica Prime, it can be a pretty zany canon, but it has to be authentic. It has to be structured so the players feel it’s Runescape, and that’s our goal right now.

MMORPG.com: So why would such a person be a farmer?

Ogilvie: That’s the joy! One of the things about Runescape is you’re a hero, but you still have to do these things yourself. You don’t get to wander into battle, you have to make your own equipment and fish your own food, make your own potions, things like that. And I always describe Runescape as a very ‘jack-of-all-trades’, doing all these things. You’re doing all these mundane things as a hero, because that’s part of who you are. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with suggesting that a great big powerful thing could have something to do with the mundaneness of growing cabbages.

Vigue: The funny thing about your question, is that there’s a massively important reason why Sally is a farmer, and it’s the kind of thing we hope will blindside the fans, because they’ll go ‘Oh, you’re farming, right?’ but there’s implications that won’t be revealed till much later. We hope that the fans have a bit of a guessing game why she’s doing this. The only thing that she knows is that she feels called to do these things, and the reason why will become clear later.

MMORPG.com: On these adventures, will Sally be working alone, or will she be recruiting a team?

Ogilvie: Within the game, you’re working with these established settlements that work within Runescape. Sally has her own skills, but also each of the settlements have their own skills, levels, and things like that. You’re very much working with the townsfolk, and teaching the townsfolk how they need to be doing these things. So Sally will be interacting with these settlements, but also with well-loved characters, so she will develop her own rapport with characters that players know now, but in different ways that they wouldn’t expect.

Vigue: I think one of the best traditions of Runescape, and for the lore fans, is you can choose who you ally with. You can choose which God you pay tribute to, and those elements help to define the character in the MMO. We want a similar arrangement with the character in Idle Adventures.

We have intentionally written a story where the character can be neutral, and work with every faction in the game more or less. But they’ll also have the chance to pick if they want to go down a certain route. It’s up to the player to figure out what the best path to their objective is. We want it to have implications for the grander storyline, so here’s hoping.

MMORPG.com: How do you see the game evolving through beta and into launch?

Vigue: We’re targeting a Spring launch for the beta client on PC, and we’re going to roll out to every platform that we can that makes sense for us. But there is an ongoing strategy that we’re hoping to incorporate, which is when something major happens in the MMO, it’ll be very easy for us to incorporate those storylines into our game. And likewise, there’s stuff from the lore that we’re exploring, and stuff that the main character will do, which should affect the MMO. Our intention is that it will become a living, breathing product, just like the MMO.

Idle games especially seem to require a little bit of life in the wild before you know if you’ve hit all your touch points. The closed beta is a dress rehearsal; if we get good fan engagement, if people enjoy it, if they feel the balancing is correct, then we’re going to launch quickly. If the game requires some love first, then we’ll give it the proper time until it’s the game it needs to be. We’re willing to make mistakes, as long as fans are willing to tell us what they are and let us fix them.

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Gazimoff

Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.