Gunnar's Ground Quest Interview

Last week, Jagex offered us an interview with Mod Jack, one of the developers behind the newly released Gunnar's Ground quest. We opened the floor for all members of the community to submit questions, and today we got the completed interview back! Many thanks to Mod Jack for taking the time to answer our questions, and thank you to everyone who posted their questions!

Published on: September 27, 2010 10:52 PM UTC

The Interview

General Questions

Do you feel 5 quest points was appropriate? Why not fix that balance problem of R&J with this quest as well? – Thomas
We do think that 5 quest points is too many. We have a plan to deal with this in the future, but for now we kept it at 5 to make sure no one loses out on those extra few seconds in Tears of Guthix.
Why wasn't the tower graphically updated with the rest of the village? – Whiskas
Hunding actually wouldn’t let anyone into his tower to make the necessary renovations. He kept shooting arrows at Mod Marx0i0 yelling “I LIKE IT THIS COLOUR!” I hear someone has lured him away with a stack of pies now though, and they’re making the changes while he’s distracted.
What will happen to Juliet's house? – Satan
Dororan is living there now. I assume he’ll spend most of the time wandering about, musing on the subjects of why the ceilings are so high and why the walls are that colour.
I believe that Romeo and Juliet were removed because, as Italian legendary characters, made famous by Shakespeare, they seemed out of place in the Runescape world. Gunther (Gunnar), Gudrun (Kriemhild) and Haakon (Hagen) are all Old Norse/Germanic/Burgundic heroic figures, made famous by Wagner and Tolkien. Why did you replace Romeo and Juliet with equally famous, legendary characters? – Merch Gwyar
Gunthor and Gunnar are pre-existing characters in the RuneScape world. When I was naming the new NPCs in the quest, I looked up a list of Norwegian names (actually a list for parents to name their baby) and picked ones I liked.

I chose Gudrun because it came up frequently as a random soldier’s name in X-COM. I chose Haakon because it sounds a bit like hack. True story. 
In your developers blogs you write that you assumed people didn't find the quests exciting because many didn't complete it. How did you come to this assumption? How do we know that they simply weren't able to finish it? They are new players and in many cases they may not understand where the characters are or how to use the world map etc. – djpailo
You’re right that the raw statistics don’t give us specific information on why people aren’t finishing a quest. However we can tell whether, for example, they have completed other quests of greater complexity and get an idea from that.

In this case “didn’t finish it due to not enjoying it”, “didn’t finish it due to poor rewards” and “couldn’t figure out how to finish it at all” result in the same problem: the quest needed improvement. Combined with the other issues that we’ve explained in blogs and news posts, we decided that replacement was the right way forward. 
How long was the lead time for this quest? – Simple013
I got the original design brief in July. Content Developers on RuneScape work on multiple projects at once so we can be efficient while we’re waiting for e.g. graphics work and similar to be done by other departments so it hasn’t been in continual development since then. As a primarily story-based quest Gunnar’s Ground went through several rounds of story and dialogue feedback.

The quest was originally scheduled for release in November but in order to avoid a dreaded no update week (we don’t like them either!) it was moved forward almost two months and we all had to work hard to get it polished up in time. Imagine the work of the translation teams translating a sonnet in iambic pentameter!
Any news about Preztel Bert?(I know is not bout barbarian village, but it came with the update.) – Number88
All I can reveal right now is that his name is definitely Bert, and not Pete. Probably. Personally I find it likely that he’s associated with pretzels in some way but you didn’t hear that from me.

Future Updates

Any other quests you plan on basing around Barbarian village; perhaps an S.O.S one? – Number88

Are you planning to release any sequels to this quest? If so, will they be F2P? – Joyful Lemon

Do you plan any new, higher levelled quests to be based within this area? – iAntilopi
We don’t have any plans at the moment, but I’ll tell you a little about our development process. Contrary to what some players think, we don’t just add things to the game as we feel like it. Any new content has to be approved by the senior designers at the design stage, and again before it’s added to the game.

This means that when someone has a cool idea for content, we go through a rigorous process of discussion about what we need to achieve right now, how we’re going to achieve it, and whether the proposed idea is going to fit those goals. Certainly I’d like to expand on Gunnar’s Ground, but it’s much too early to say whether that’s going to happen. 
You have set the ball rolling by implying this could happen again in the future with other quests. One of the most important quests in RuneScape is Dragon Slayer. It is the biggest F2P quest and even higher levelled players still use the useful Rune platebody. What assurances can you offer that this quest (mainly the storyline) will be left untouched? – djpailo
Nothing is totally set in stone, but Dragon Slayer doesn’t fulfil any of the criteria that caused us to reevaluate Romeo & Juliet. It’s not a low level quest that players see early on. It’s not a parody of a famous story. It does form an important part of the gameplay and progression for free to play players. Dragon Slayer is a good example of a quest which we updated rather than replaced. We certainly have no plans to remove it. Romeo & Juliet’s removal was an exceptional circumstance; we’d much prefer to update than replace. We love the old content too!
Will Romeo and Juliet ever be reverted to a mini-quest (for nostalgic reasons)? – djpailo
No. We have no plans to bring the characters of Romeo & Juliet back into the game.

Other/Humorous Questions

Why does Gunnar dress in such a, erm, provocative way, doesn't she get cold? – Easl
Assuming you mean Gudrun, that’s how she dresses around the other barbarians in order to fit in. You can see that by comparison to her female tribemates she actually dresses fairly conservatively. Once the quest is over you can see how she chooses to dress around more civilized company.
How exactly did they inherent a mansion with gold trimmed furniture? – Ambo100
Gunthor gave it to Dororan. Where did Gunthor get it? Gudrun has a theory.
Why won't Gunthor remember that I've passed the Fremennik Trials even though I've told him several times? – Whiskas
Every time you tell him, he has another two drinks. Why do you think he has a red nose? Skål!

Post quest dialogue is an interesting design problem. The weight of tradition gaming culture has built up through hundreds of different RPGs and adventure games is that once an NPC has nothing more of consequence to say, they repeat something over and over to signal that to the player. While there may be more realistic ways of providing more dialogue, you also risk confusing the player into thinking there’s a lot more there than there actually is.
Why can't I tell him [Gunthor] my Fremennik name? – Whiskas
He doesn’t care! He’s too drunk. Anyway, the barbarian invaders respect the people of Rellekka but they don’t practice all the same traditions.

Speaking more mechanically, we want to keep our options open for voice acting in quests. This means that some lines which include random or player generated options just can’t be used. You’ll notice that nowhere in the new quest does anyone refer to the player by name – with one notably awesome exception which is sadly going to have to be changed. This means that if we do decide to add voice acting in the future, we have to do less restructuring of the dialogue when we do.
If Betrayal at Falador is considered canon, what happened to their hospitality? – Whiskas
Betrayal at Falador is semi-canonical. On the rare occasions where the book and the game do disagree, the game takes precedence.

You’ll notice that with the Gunnar’s Ground update, the barbarians actually did get slightly friendlier. It’s actually possible to back out of a conversation without getting into a fight now.
Do you plan on re-decorating Dororan's house seeing as he now has two big bedrooms and the bigger one upstairs has a lot of pink in it? – Whiskas
Dororan is very lazy. I can’t imagine him redecorating. I also can’t imagine any of the barbarians doing it for him. I think it’s very likely to stay as it is.
Was it intentional that Dororan be staring at Gudrun's chest? – Helm Lardar
No, he has neck problems. He’s quite bemused by the whole controversy.
Why are the two races of dwarves and humans cross-breeding? Isn't that incredibly odd? – Helm Lardar
I don’t believe their relationship has advanced to anything so intimate. Gunthor has complained to me that Gudrun spends more time at the house than at the village, but they’re still just courting. 
Not truly to do with the quest itself, but why do the barbarians have horns on their helmets and why do they call themselves “barbarians”? – Whiskas
I assume you ask about the horns because in reality, Vikings didn’t have horns on their helmets. Fremennik are inspired more by mythical Vikings than real ones.

In any case, if you were headbutting a Dagganoth, wouldn’t you want all the help you can get?

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