I know this is a long article, but I hope it gets a valid point across....
Jagex have recently given us some information on the Mining and Smithing rework they have planned for later this year. Unfortunately, this will not include increasing the levels for these skills to 120, according to a poll they ran, players do not want it?? (a mistake in my opinion, but nothing we can do about it now). This will include a rework of the current ores we mine, bringing them more in line with the defense levels of the armour we can create with them, as well as introducing new tier 60, 70, 80 and 90 ores. As usual, the player base wants to keep it as an "AFK" skill, which Jagex have agreed to do.
With these new ores are going to come some new armour, however, although they will be tiered much the same as monster dropped armour, their stats will be lower.
During the Q&A session they ran, they discussed an interesting idea, where they would introduce new content, called Mining Shafts, which would introduce risk vs. reward for mining skillers. These mines would introduce a sense of exploration and the deeper you go, the more dangerous it would be, with the rarest ores found entirely in the mining shafts. The mines would also be limited instances, with several players mining the same shaft, but it would not be universally identical and deaths can occur in these shafts and WOULD NOT BE SAFE!
This is the topic I would like to discuss. It is such a great idea to start bringing skilling back into the game and making it relevant again. At the moment, the main reason players train skills is to get their max/comp capes and to complete quests, however, the skill at its core is pretty redundant. Slayer creatures and Boss monsters drop most of the items required to max out the artisan skills, leaving Woodcutting, Mining, Fishing etc out in the cold. If we step back and take a hard look at the current non-combat skills, only Herblore for the untradeable potions is useful, with perhaps Divination being able to be squeezed into this as well for the memories required to augment equipment. I would even question this though, as realistically, augmentation doesn't add a huge difference to regular play. While some of the perks you can add are useful, there is really nothing there that is entirely necessary to fight the Bosses in game.
The PVM community are constantly getting regular updates to the game, that skilling community just haven't seen. The end of March saw Godwars Dungeon 2 released, which was a great update. New tier 80/85 weapons and armour were introduced for the combat community to fight for and make their riches. Then, just 3 months later, we see Telos released, with his new tier 92 weapons and this is where I believe Jagex may have made a mistake.
In the recent 2017 survey, we had a question asking would we like to see skilling profitable, at least partially competing against combat to make money in Runescape. This rework would be a perfect opportunity for Jagex to step up to the plate and begin bringing this into the game. The PVM community are naturally against this, since they feel skilling is more AFK and they should be rewarded more for the risks they take. So, how would they do this, with a lot of the rework still staying AFK? By fast-tracking the Mining Shafts idea and releasing Telos around the same time, with his weapon drops being tier 88 and allowing skillers the opportunity to enhance them to level 92.
Now, before you PVMers start screaming and calling for my blood, let me put forward my proposal.
I would like to see the Mine Shafts introduced in such a way that they are not an AFK area. Miners would have to create new skilling armour with the new tier ores that give greater protection the further they go, however, there will always be the risk of an unsafe death in the shafts, much the same as PVM community faces when fighting monsters. As the miner goes deeper, there is greater chance of cave-ins, rock golems (weak only to pickaxes) that can attack and need to mined carefully to kill them before they kill the player. In these tunnels the miner will be able to collect the new ores, but also have a rare chance of mining an enhanced ore, with a slightly greater drop chance when mining a rock golem. These enhanced ores could them be smithed into attachments that create the higher tiered armour from Boss drops. There could be a range of different types, from some that give greater defence stats to others that increase accuracy and yet others that allow harder hits. These enhancements should be tradeable, allowing skillers who work hard to finally make money in the game by selling to those pvmers who don't want to mine and smith these themselves. This also allows the all-rounder type players to mine and smith their own and attach them to their own armour if they do not want to spend gp on them.
You may need to have one enhanced ore, mixed with 4 of the new ore and perhaps require 10 or 12 runite bars to go with them, so as to keep the lower tier ores relevant as well. These enhancements should also be degradeable, so that the market will remain fairly steady once they settle into the game.
This is also where raising the levels of the skill to 120 would have been relevant. Certain enhancements could have been set at levels like 103, 106 ,110 etc. Also, they could have introduced a new amulet or ring players could craft at higher levels that would give a 2-5% chance of mining an enhanced ore. There is so much Jagex could do with this rework to really help revive skilling in mining and smithing and start the ball rolling for money earning equality in-game.
With luck, we will see more developments in the future regarding the rework, but I would implore the designers to start looking to the future NOW. Make the actual skills relevant for more than just gaining a max cape. Help bring the PVM and Skilling communities together and get them working side by side again. Break the stranglehold that the PVM community has on money earning on Gielinor and spread the wealth a little more widely. This can only help improve the overall health of the game. Runescape has such a unique skilling system in it and we don't want to see it fall to the wayside.