Strykewyrm Interview

Earlier this week, we were offered a chance to interview Jagex Mod Chris L. about the recent Strykewyrms update. Like our past content update interview, all of the Forum Staff, D-Members and Chat Mods were involved in contributing questions in order to keep this interview a surprise, and we're now proud to present our Strykewyrm Interview!

Published on: February 12, 2010 10:40 PM UTC

Table of Contents

The Interview

What was your main reason for making the Strykewyrm update? – Emanick
We had told the community last year that there wouldn’t be a 90+ Slayer monster update, but we didn’t say that we weren’t developing one for 2010. The aim was to provide some creatures of the same type to the higher end of the Slayer spectrum, to keep interest and variety for those leveling up the Slayer skill.
You've released quite a few Slayer-related updates recently. Is this something you attempt to do at relatively frequent intervals, or are you simply in "Slayer mode" right now? – Emanick
I’m always in Slayer mode =D As the Slayer skill curator, it just so happened a few projects came down the line in the back-half of last year. After making the Within the Light quest for my elven curatorship, we wanted to then focus on a few areas of the Slayer skill to help relieve stress on those who were trying to train it. This started with the introduction of Kuradals dungeon and then a new monster to go shortly afterwards to introduce a bit of variety too. (as Kuradal’s focused on existing NPC’s) Even when I’m not actively on a Slayer project, I always like to think of small improvements that could be made to make peoples lives a little easier, such as auto-setup & reload on the dwarf cannon.
It's been over four years since you released the hitherto highest-level Slayer update, the Dark Beast, and also quite some time since you gave them their key drop, the Dark Bow. Would you say the Ice Strykewyrm is a worthy successor to the Dark Beast? – Emanick
I’d like to think so. I was trying to think of contrasts to the Dark beasts for a monster that would be above it, Thinking of the “Darkbow”, the “Staff of Light” was the obvious decision (and magic based due to the Whip & Darkbow catering for Melee/Ranged). We also aimed to pitch the Staff of Light at mages who felt the Godwars update missed them out. On the topic, I’ve seen a few people chatting about the looks of it and that we just ripped off the Saradomin sword... This might have been by design, as I wanted to put some character into the staff and provoke some thoughts of who might make such an item...
I very much liked the idea of incorporating the Fire Cape as a requirement for the new Slayer monster, are there any plans to give Minigame rewards more uses in other skills? – Donovan
I’m glad you like it, but I can’t really discuss future updates and plans, but linking any game content together is something many developers think about. It was done in this case for a variety of reasons.
Are the recent high level updates (e.g; Strykewyrms, Kuradal's Dungeon, Elite Diaries) coming out to balance the past majority of lower requirements, or are you simply giving back to the skilled and long-time players? – Donovan
It might be a bit of both – last year saw many updates aimed at the higher-levelled players to ensure they still have something interesting to do, a new way of doing it, or a new area to train in – such as the Living Rock Caverns, Agility extension courses and Curses.
So now that we have Jungle, Desert, and Ice Strykewyrms, what about some other elements like Lava or Water? Earthwyrms maybe! – Donovan
I’ve already seen a Lava Strykewyrm request thread... but I have a feeling its just because people want an Ice cape! Even before the project began, I was thinking of what I might try if I could make a new NPC and was thinking of tunneling NPCs beneath the ground, which is where I got the Strykewyrm idea from later on.

Back then, when it was just an idea, I even had a (maybe crazy) idea that all the wyrms would drop a common item (like a vial of liquid that gives off a foul stench). I was then thinking there would be an uber-strykewyrm (like a boss-sized mound) somewhere in the world of RuneScape and when a few people stood on the mound (all with the lure item on them), it would come out of the ground and eat them (Star wars meteor monster style!). Inside, it would be shaking about and you’d have to find and loot corpses for a chance of your “real loot” drop. Then you’d all go and attack the teeth and be spat back out somewhere else in the world! -Just an interesting way of collecting your loot after you’d finished a task.

That would have been an interesting graphics request meeting ;-)
Who is the (secret) Dune fan on the team who came up with the desert wyrms and the thumping? – Egghebrecht
Haha, that wasn’t the only tie in we had. It was early on when we were in a GFX meeting one of the guys pointed out about the old helicopter game “Desert strike”.. I reminded him there was also a “Jungle strike” and we also found there was an icey-ish version “Solviet strike”. Aside from that, there were plenty of “omg its Tremors” comments during the project’s development.
With the Hexcrest and the focus sight, you finally got rid of the melee dominance in slayer equipment. Are you planning to expand this further to other parts of the game? – Egghebrecht
I can’t say about future updates, but a key point of the update was to bring back that balance in regards to what the black mask bought to melee based slayers. With the new items it was of course the perfect opportunity to combine them all together to save the dedicated Slayers a bit of bank space and gear-changing.
In order to be able to kill the Ice Strykewyrms you need to have a TzHaar fire/lava cape, a reward from a minigame. Lately lots of minigames have gotten more attention and became prerequisites for other parts of the game. Why have you done this? – Egghebrecht
In fairness, the other recent updates (such as Nomad’s requiring the minigame played) was a coincidence in the release schedule. There was a distinct tie to the feeling of Fire & Ice to the Ice strykewyrm, and trying to promote the higher-level/exclusiveness of fighting them, so it was more about the cape than the minigame, it just so happens that is the method of obtaining the cape. Whilst this may be frowned on by some players, it is something that is already deeply tied to the Slayer skill already – Quests. Many of the Slayer creatures are locked to Quest requirements, another part of the game which is essentially a pre-requisite.
The new magic item "staff of light" looks like the equivalent of the godsword for magic; will you be making a ranged equivalent too? – Egghebrecht
There was a lack of magic equipment with the Godwars update (excluding the steam battlestaff) and with Slayer already providing a Melee and Ranged weapon, it was great chance to help plug two “gaps”. As for the question of a ranged equivalent, I can’t really say at that time. For now Godwars provided the Armadyl armour set and Slayer the Darkbow.
With their special attacks, the Strykewyrms are the first slayer monster that really needs attention; you need to dodge or you get killed. Is this a sign of the new direction RuneScape is taking for the future? – Egghebrecht
A direction for the future? Maybe – for now, I just wanted to make the NPC a bit more interesting to fight rather than the same old “hit and wait for it to die”. I was worried it might make the xp rate slower if the npc was diving towards the player which is why they are still fairly easy to actually hit. Aside from this, it was so players would learn how to bypass their special attack – if you fight whilst standing next to a wall or something that blocks the strykewyrm from surfacing, it’ll know not to dive at all ;-)
In the last 2 slayer updates both provided creatures which could only be slain when on a slayer task. Why did you make this change? – Egghebrecht
The first update was of course Kuradal’s dungeon – which was distinctly based around creating something that Slayers can only access on-task. The idea and mechanic was well receieved on the whole, so we decided to use a similar mechanic for these new creatures. This doesn’t mean all future Slayer creatures will follow this trend though.
As a high level player on your normal account, how much does 'elite' content such as this affect the time you spend in-game? – Neo Avatars
Elite content has a bad effect on the amount of time I spend ingame! Just like many others, I was at Kuradal on Monday after work, hoping she’d bless me with some Ice Strykewyrms. After spending 500 slayer points, 7 slayer tasks, 2 days and 3 Ice strykewyrm tasks later (around 500 kills), I finally get a staff of light. It’s always interesting to have access to something on the day of release though – I was next to a player I’d never met who got a staff drop. He came over showing it, said he loved me and was shaking - before running to bank his loot. I think he was happy he got the drop ;)

I guess the answer to the question is it just means I play more :P
When creating high level content, how much of the decision making is based on what you'd most like to be able to do in-game and how much is meeting specifications set by The Powers That Be? – Neo Avatars
Good question. Generally it all starts with a concept brief – which might say (in more words than the following) “A new Slayer creature is required to fill levels X Y and Z where we’ve identified players might lose interest. We also haven’t had a jungle update recently so if something could be themed towards that it could help. The slayer creatures should require a unique item to kill and drop something appropriate to the skill/level we are aiming it at.”

Basically, some of the specifications might be straightforward, some might be distinctly required or some might be flexible. For example with the Ice Strykewyrms, I felt that the next 90+ monster should be 95 to recognise the gap. It was originally asked to be level 92, but we compromised on 93 and already discussed that a higher slayer creature maybe considered this year too. From that, it is down the developer to work with what they’ve been given to think of the creature, where they might be located and how they might fight a player. After the concept brief is created, it gets submitted and we have a round of feedback on how well it satisfies the core aims of the project – sometimes parts of the core aims might even be changed to better fit a good idea.

As for “what you’d most like to do in-game” usually, after I’ve received the core aims, I think from that approach – “given these core aims, what would I most like to do that is like that?” Then I get some ideas down on paper, and flesh out the best for submission.

A huge "thank you" to Chris L. for taking the time to answer our interview questions!

Concept Art

Additionally, the Jagex Graphics Team has given us a really cool piece of concept art showcasing the different types of Strykewyrms -- Check it out below!

Strykewyrms Concept Art

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