Eurogamer recently chatted at length with Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard and designer Henrique Olifiers about both RuneScape and its upcoming sci-fi spin-off, MechScape.
Eurogamer: What things did you learn from making RuneScape that will make MechScape better?
Henrique Olifiers: We found out that players are fed up with grinding, and most MMOs are built on top of that because they need to be a long experience. If you have a team of a thousand people who are working overnight, a player can still go past that content faster than they can create it. The only reason why RuneScape is always ahead of the curve is because it's updated weekly and it has nine years [of content] behind it. If you started playing it back then you will run out of content eventually. But the grinding mechanics take your time, keep you there and interested in the game. So we had to be very clever with that and find a way to remove it.
Another thing we found about the game was how the users interact to one another and, as strange as it can sound, in an MMO not everybody wants to play in a multiplayer environment. Most MMO players, they like the multiplayer environment, but solo. Why is that? What is the drive? How can we cater for that? All that we learned and applied to MechScape.
Eurogamer: You're hinting at a lot of clever mechanics hiding under the MechScape blanket. Can we have a peek under your blanket?
Henrique Olifiers: Oh, OK, let me see: one of the things that was very successful in RuneScape were player-owned houses and creating them. That was very big for RuneScape. And so that's something we need to start with. So all the players start with their own bases [in MechScape].