Analysing Skilling Variety

posted by Cireon on 23 May 2018 at 02:32 | Discuss on our Forums

Hey everyone, Cireon here. Some of you will know me from my appearances on the RSBANDBUpdate! or as leader of Clan Quest. As of this month, I’ll be wearing yet another hat: Informer writer. With many real life obligations and a lot of time spent on managing Clan Quest, I don’t have as much time to spend on the podcast as I'd like to. Many of you will know, I am super passionate about talking all sorts of game design, and I am hoping to use the Informer as an additional platform with easier time management.

I am originally a Quester (hence Clan Quest, duh!), but over the years I have grown more and more interested in the more mechanical side of RuneScape. The last few months have been a delight for the likes of me, with skills getting updates to their training methods across the board. Deep Sea Fishing, Safecracking, Line Firemaking, and Overgrown Idols. They are all there for one goal: skilling diversity.

It is sometimes hard to analyze a new skilling method. Just looking at the xp/h doesn’t quite cut it (that was not an intentional Woodcutting pun, btw). There is also afkability and gp/h to take into consideration. Every training method has to do a balancing act in these three attributes (and more). If an afkable method also is the best xp/h in the skill, all other training methods are obsolete. If the best xp/h requires you to constantly click and/or pay attention, then some people might prefer a method that gives less experience, but can be done more easily while watching a movie, the so-called Netflix and (s)killing.

Choice. That is what it is all about. Not every skill has that choice, and as announced during Runefest 2017, Jagex wants to change that. They have already delivered on that promise for Thieving, Fishing, Woodcutting, and Firemaking, with more to come.

Every time a new training method comes out, we want to analyze it in the context of the rest of the skill. The problem is: there is not really a clear context out there. It is hard to tell how exactly a new training method fits in with the rest. Is it overpowered or underpowered? It’s hard to tell without a framework to put the method in. That’s where I come in.

While thinking about a subject to write about for my first article as Informer writer, this problem came up. I decided to be ambitious: I am going to build that framework. I want to create an inventory of all training methods and how they compare to each other on three axes: afkability, xp/h, and gp/h. Once we have the inventory, we can compare them and get some pretty pictures, and hopefully some fun revelations as well.

As you do on the first month on a new job, I dragged in the rest of the RSBANDB crew to help. Still, this is going to be a large effort that will probably span several articles to complete. Don’t worry, I will not bore you with scientific data every month, but do expect this theme to come back regularly.

Thanks to the great crew here at RSBANDB, we have already brainstormed about how to make the data collection as scientific as possible. Here are some of our thoughts:

Experience per hour is something everybody connects to skilling methods. The problem is comparing methods from different level requirements. Power mining iron is absolutely fantastic when you’re 20-30 Mining, but it loses out on all aspects when compared to Seren stones at 89+ Mining. We can always make things linked to their level requirements, but it makes comparing methods such as chopping ivy and maple tree cutting hard. We haven't even talked about comparing methods of different skills yet...
Ideally, the rating of how good something is at gaining experience is directly linked to the xp/h, but even that is hard to get, since xp/h can vary wildly depending on your level.

Gold per hour is mostly the same as xp/h when it comes to the problems. You are expected to make more money at 99 Smithing than at 5 Smithing (oh wouldn’t we all want bronze helmets to be worth a few 100k?). For gp/h, we also have to keep in mind sinking gold (and no, I don't mean to say that gold can ever float). You can speed up your Invention training a lot if you’re willing to burn through a lot of gp in the process. You can also make money on Invention if you spend all your time disassembling. That makes the range of possibilities incredibly large.

Despite the “afkability” of a skill not having a solid number attached to it in the game, it might actually be the easiest to measure by estimating clicks per minute. Still, there are multiple ways of afking. You can complete the Hefin Cathedral Agility lap while clicking on the same spot in a very small window while watching a Netflix series, which is very different from doing a soul rune run, that requires you to pay attention for a minute between batches.

The first steps of this project consist of finding the solutions to these answers. We will probably double back on some of our choices later on, but we need some method to measure skilling variety to get started. Together with the rest of the RSBANDB crew (both Update and Informer), we decided to start an analysis on Woodcutting, Fishing, and Cooking. Together they form an important triplet in the early-game, and it covers both gathering and artisan skills.

Below I have put some of the most common training methods of these skills into a chart (the format of which kindly suggested by Tyco Elf). No numbers involved, just my gut feeling about where the different methods sit. Once we get the first results, we can figure out how well my feelings match the results, and vice versa.

Skilling variety outline - fishing Skilling variety outline - woodcutting Skilling variety outline - cooking
As you can see, we already run into some limitations. I think we can all agree that both fishing frenzy and sawmill training are completely focused towards experience (they are not profitable, nor afkable), yet the training methods are very different in nature. This is only one of the problems we have to solve as we work on this project.

So, what do you think? What are you interested in learning from this project? This project is currently in the scaffolding phase, but we know a lot of our readers are interested in this, so we wanted to get you on board as quickly as possible. If you have any thoughts, feel free to search me or another staff member out in-game or in the RSBANDB Discord.

Overgrown Idols appear for the Woodcutting skill but are they enough to idolize Woodcutting? And what updates would be needed to modernize Woodcutting. Also an overview of Player Owned Farms and the upcoming clan updates.

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This guest article comes from Earth! Earth is a forum moderator, general do-it-all guy, and occasional thorn in Shane's side.

Earlier this year, EA released a remastered version of the 2008 classic, Burnout Paradise. The remastered version, released for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and soon the PC, includes support for up to 4K resolutions and 60 frames per second. It retails for $40USD, $20 less than the standard price for a new game. It contains all of the DLC, it contains no microtransactions, and everything can be unlocked through gameplay.

It’s a return to the golden age of modern gaming. Burnout Paradise set the bar for racing games, and every racing game since, from Need for Speed to Forza Horizon, has tried to emulate its success. The exploration element has not just influenced racing games, but many other games as well.

The game world is incredibly well designed. It has a grid-like city center area, an interstate, and country roads. There are shortcuts all over the game world that you can find, and billboards to smash. The trick, however, is that you can see most of the boards easily, but some are way up in the air above you, and you’ve got to figure out how to reach them. Despite being a car racing game, the world is very much designed with vertical elements in mind.

Burnout Paradise Remastered Air Tactics

In the background, there are billboards in the air with advertisements. Some have criticized the inclusion of such ads, but I think they’re charming. They’re non-intrusive and they generate revenue for the company creating the game. It’s part of what allowed them to release the game at a lower cost, and without microtransactions. In other games, having such obviously placed ads might be intrusive, but in this game, they’re just billboards on the side of the road – something I see every day when I get in my car and go somewhere. It fits.

Burnout Paradise also brings a sense of nostalgia, not just because it is a game I played when I was younger, but the soundtrack. The soundtrack to this game is incredibly well done. Since the game takes place in Paradise City, the title song is, obviously, Guns n Roses’s “Paradise City”. You hear that as soon as you boot up the game, and it immediately puts you in the right kind of mood. The rest of the soundtrack takes you back to the mid-2000s. There are few feelings greater in the world than racing through a city at high speed, getting on a ramp and flying off, landing on top of another car to perform a “takedown”, while Avril Lavigne belts out “HEY HEY YOU YOU I DON’T LIKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND”.

[embed width="560" height="315"][/embed]

For me, a racing game is well made if you can just drive around, and then all of a sudden an hour has gone by. Burnout Paradise is that game. It’s a game like Sid Meier’s Civilization – you always have to take “one more turn”. In my opinion, racing games, namely Forza Horizon 3, have come very close, but none capture the signature element that comes with a Burnout game: the crashes.

Long ago, in 2007, a 12-year-old Colton found himself in the possession of a Treasure Trail clue scroll. He didn’t know what Treasure Trails were, necessarily. Well, he had no clue what they were. In all honesty, his assumption was that this one scroll (which happened to have been dropped from a hobgoblin whilst training near the Crafting Guild) was redeemable for the really cool stuff! Party hats, godswords, and that super fancy rune armour with the gold all around it (the only somewhat close assumption made) would be available to him whenever he found out what the heck this gibberish anagram meant. Once he had finally figured out this clue, he went with eyes as big as dinner plates to receive his grand reward from the figure alluded to in the clue.

Much to his dismay, no such treasure awaited him. Merely another clue. After four or five legs, the casket was finally in hand. Surely this was his time, his moment, his one shot at riches aplenty. The loot? A water talisman, 2500 coins, and 10 hard leather. This pubescent Colton was devastated and would never again seek a clue scroll until his time would come, much, much later…

Pictured is an old, terrible loot from an elite clue, but you get the point

Treasure Trails came out May of 2004 and, over time, have been given new coats of paint, new fancy puzzles, new rewards, and even new tiers. Yet even through those changes, the heart of this unique Distraction and Diversion remains. The Treasure Trail stands as one of my favorite in-game activities outside of questing for reasons which I will now unfold.

In 2015, the now 20-year-old Colton was still playing Runescape, yet still had not truly begun to value Treasure Trails for their engaging qualities. This long period between 2007 and 2015 was characterized by completing all the quests, achieving numerous level 99 skills, and engaging in just about every new piece of content imaginable (outside of a 2-year break in the middle). Finally, thieving was on the list to train and Prifddinas made it so much more convenient to train without constant clicking. Driven now by a desire to complete all tasks given to him, this more-recent Colton began completing each new clue scroll that came to him, learning more and more about them (elites, in particular) along the way. Eventually, I became quite good at clues and the thieving training became merely a means to find more scrolls. At the time of writing, I have completed over 260 elite clues and a smattering of those from other tiers. Although I no longer have the hours upon end of free time to spend in Runescape nowadays, the clue scrolls ever call my name.

One of the first reasons Treasure Trails really held an allure to me then and now is the fact that these are solo activities. I don’t need to coordinate with someone else to do this. I’m not competing with someone else for monster spawns, worlds, or mining rocks. It’s as though I’m the only player in the game when I’m on the hunt for treasure.

Second, my interest in Treasure Trails came only a year after I essentially burned myself out of high-level PvM after marathoning the Araxxor release to get a full staff in 313 Araxxor kills in a week. After pushing myself and probably taking a couple years off of my life by all the stress that high-level bossing puts on me, I decided to lay down the Razer Naga and instead take a much more lean-back approach to bossing, skilling, and all Runescape activities. Treasure Trails scratched this itch perfectly and they still do today. To get the first clue, all I did was sit back and pickpocket Prifddinas workers until I found one. Back then, I could usually get one elite clue every half hour at most. From there, the clue involves essentially no combat of any significance (for one who was maxed combat) and merely relies on your ability to do puzzles and run around, things I’m relatively good at! Doing an elite clue was a low level of investment, allowed me to be social/watch something else while I was doing them, and was not nearly the risk to my personal assets as compared to high-level PvM.

Yet even if it was less of a risk as opposed to bossing, Treasure Trails still offered insane rewards. Of course, there are the classics (God armour, 3rd Age, etc.), but now there were dyes and other fun goodies to get! I even got the ridiculous chance at one point at the height of my clue-ing to have received a shadow dye. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I did piss away the money soon after. No, I will not tell you how, that’s an embarrassing story for me to know, and for you to find out.

And lastly but possibly most important is that Treasure Trails are uniquely Runescape. It’s a game within a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, encourages experimentation, whimsy, offers fun through the journey itself, and most of all fosters a distinct sense of place and adventure. Unfortunately, that sense of adventure and discovery is somewhat muted in today’s game with endless teleports to everywhere and lodestones available at most important locations, but I still will sometimes take the backroads, neglect my teleports, and simply enjoy the landscape between clue destinations. So next time you happen upon a clue (elite and masters, especially), take the time to do it and try your best to forget that guides and teleports exist, just appreciate the journey for what it is. I hope you can enjoy this piece of content as much as I have.

We unpack the layers of You Are It. What it is isn’t what it appears to be… Also, patch notes, another look at Safecracking, and Google’s talking AI assistant gets smarter.

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