This week, the results for the vote on Old School Runescape's first new skill in 17 years came in, and the winner by a razor thin margin was Sailing. The natural next questions are: what does this mean for the skills that lost in the poll, and how likely is it that Sailing is ultimately added to the full game after testing? GamesRadar+ sat down with Jagex recently and got some answers.
"Shamanism isn't necessarily dead. It's almost certain, if we do this skill, we'll probably do another," said associate design director Kieran 'Mod Kieren' Charles. "I think that's fair to say. Who knows when, but certainly, if we come around, let's say Sailing moves forward and everyone's on board with it, polls, refinement, we deliver Sailing. Hell yeah Shamanism is going to be on the cards. I mean, clearly people liked it."
That's good news to nearly an equal amount of Runescape players as voted for Sailing, which beat out Shamanism by a mere 600 votes out of 178,000. Unfortunately, Taming's prospects are less optimistic, as it lost by a much more significant 34,000 votes.
"Taming? It's not to say it's dead forever," Charles added. "But obviously, there's bigger changes that would need to be made to get that up to a place where people do have more favorability for it. I think we already know that from the feedback we've received over the course of the poll, as well as from what we read on social media, that we needed more meat on that bone to really capture Taming and address some of the problems people raised with it."
Despite the closeness of the race, Sailing is the clear winner for OSRS's new skill, but it's not set in stone just yet. It first needs to be refined and then tested in beta form, after which Jagex will poll the community once more to decide whether it gets the green light. We asked what happens in the worst case scenario, in which folks decide they don't want the skill implemented in its current form. Charles responded with an encouraging optimism.
"So if Sailing doesn't do so well, we'll have to understand why and then consider our options when it comes to that," Charles said. "But I mean, based on this poll, I'm pretty confident. We're not exactly worried about it at the minute and we'll see how the next stage goes. But we're pretty determined to do a new skill. Players are telling us they want one and we want to do it."
To understand just why this matters so much to OSRS players, you have to understand the whole point of OSRS: nostalgia. If the community wanted all sorts of new skills and updates to the meta, they'd simply play Runescape 3, or simply Runescape, as it's often called.
The same 23 skills have made up the foundation of the game since 2006, back when the game was just called Runescape, and adding another is an extremely delicate operation that will undoubtedly affect the way OSRS is played and balanced and send ripples across other skills and systems. The fact that Jagex is being so thorough and careful about adding a new skill is a comforting thing, not an annoyance, for this particular community.
Our full chat with Jagex is coming next week, and it dives even deeper into the big vote and what it means for the future of OSRS.
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