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June 17, 2019 - Song of the Elves: Progress Blog

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Song of the Elves: Progress Blog

Song of the Elves: Progress Blog
Song of the Elves: Progress Update
 
The Song of the Elves team have been hard at work developing the quest and its surrounding content. In this blog we'll give you the details of the progress we've made!
 
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At RuneFest 2018 we revealed the Song of the Elves quest as the second major release for Old School in 2019. This grandmaster quest will conclude Old School's elven questline and give players access to the city of Prifddinas for the first time! The city also comes with lots of new content including two brand new challenges. The first is the Gauntlet; a unique PvM challenge with powerful rewards in the form of crystal armour and a legendary sword. The other is the demon Zalcano who has been trapped by the elves for you to test your skills using Mining, Smithing, and Runecraft. 
 
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The Development Team

Mods Ed and Lenny are the content developers behind Song of the Elves. Both of them have found some time to talk about the quest and Prifddinas: 

Mod Ed has three roles for the project. Firstly, he's the lead designer behind the quest as well as some of the city (Prifddinas) content. He is also the main content developer working on the quest while Mod Lenny works on the city. Lastly, he's the team leader of the team working on Song of the Elves. The team consists of two content developers, four artists, two audio designers and one QA analyst. Contributions are also being made from other members of the Old School team and Jagex as a whole. 

At this stage, the overall structure of the quest is in place and most of the combat and dialogue is complete. The remaining pieces are the puzzles and cutscenes as well as a final polish. Currently, Mod Ed is working on the main puzzle for the quest: 
 
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A work in progress image of the new light puzzle

"Previous quests in the series are known for their challenging puzzles and this quest will be no exception. Without giving away any spoilers, this is one of the most challenging puzzles we’ve ever created in Old School." 

The puzzle is also complicated from a development point of view. There are hundreds of unique pieces of scenery required for it to work and ensuring they all function as expected is a big undertaking. Once the puzzle is complete, Mod Ed will move onto creating the cutscenes for the quest. After that, the quest will be mostly finished. 

"Working on the story has been very enjoyable. This is the first time we've ever concluded a storyline in Old School which allows us to do some different things when it comes to storytelling." 

~ Mod Ed 
 
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Scenes from the quest

We also asked Mod Lenny about his time spent on Song of the Elves. 

What's your role in the project and what responsibilities do you have? 

"I’m one of the two content developers working on Song of the Elves and Prifddinas. While Mod Ed has been working away on the quest itself, I’ve been working on just about everything else: the city and everything that goes in it, from The Gauntlet and Zalcano, to the little amenities around the city like various shops, and everything in between." 
 
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The latest version of the Prifddinas map - including Gwenith and surrounding areas

How is progress coming along? 

"Both The Gauntlet and Zalcano, the two largest pieces of content in the city, are mostly finished. The only the exception are some final bits of feedback, from both internal and external playtesting, as well as little bits and pieces to just polish them off. The city itself already feels alive and as a city should in Old School. The majority of the rewards are also in place." 

What are you currently working on? 

"Right now I’m working through the things that were offered in the second Song of the Elves poll. I've just finished work on things like the Crystal Implings, Divine Potions, the Crystal Tree, and so on." 

"I'm constantly acting on feedback for work done earlier in the project as well. We have a constant cycle where we ask other members of the team to play around with every increment of the project and let us know what they think of it all." 
 
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The concept for a house in Prifddinas

What will you be working on next? 

"Next I’ll be looking to finish off the last of what was offered in our second poll, things like the Agility course, and once all else is said and done, hopefully taking the time to look back over everything that we’ve done throughout the whole project and give it a little polish." 

What challenges have you faced while working on Song of the Elves? 

"One of the biggest challenges has been ensuring that everything feels rewarding enough. No matter how much fun I might make The Gauntlet and Zalcano as two pieces of content, to appeal to a lot of players they need to be worthwhile. I think we’re in a good place now with the rewards for both of these things. Zalcano especially was always going to be a difficult one, since we didn't want to offer great amounts of XP from it. We didn’t want it to become a new way of training while also gaining other rewards." 

"There have also been a couple of technical challenges faced in various jobs. Some of these have been in large pieces of content like The Gauntlet as you might expect, and others in obscure places, that you wouldn’t expect to be particularly complex." 
 
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A crystalline Dark Beast from the Gauntlet

What's the most enjoyable thing in the project you've worked on to date? 

"That would have to be The Gauntlet. I started work on the system behind generating it way back in December, before the project really kicked off. I did this since we weren’t sure whether what we wanted was technically possible within our engine. Though it was a long journey to get where it is now, developing a system to randomly generate a dungeon like The Gauntlet was an exciting challenge to take on, and it was amazing to see it all coming together as time went by. Hearing just how much everybody enjoyed it when players come in for playtesting made it feel so worthwhile." 

~ Mod Lenny 
 
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The Gauntlet environment
 
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The Artists

Mods Ghost, West, Gee and Ry have all worked on the graphics for Song of the Elves. 

Mod Ghost's focus for Song of the Elves has been creating the models and animations for the content's bosses. He has also been modelling, building and animating the environments for the Gauntlet, Zalcano's prison as well as a very peculiar library. 
 
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The Crystal Hunllef - the final challenge in the Gauntlet, created by Mod Ghost

Mod Gee took some time to talk in depth about her graphics work for Song of the Elves: 

What has been your focus as an artist on the Song of the Elves project? 

"My focus has been on creating awesome elves for the players to interact with both in and outside of Prifddinas." 

How is progress coming along? 

"Progress has been really good! Throughout the whole project, I’ve managed to keep a pretty steady pace, balancing speed and quality, including time for iterations and community feedback. So far, I’ve completed all eight of the elven clan Leaders, as well as all the key NPCs for the quest, and all the elven citizens." 
 
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Lady Hefin, leader of the Hefin clan

How do you go about producing your work? 

"When I design a character I always start with research. This can be anything from investigating the character in the lore, checking out RS3 versions or just looking at their role in the world. Once I have an idea of what kind of character I’m making, I’ll start mood boarding my inspirations, visual cues, reference and colour plan to make my life easier when I begin concepting. The concepting phase usually consists of quickly sketching a few ideas, fleshing out features and maybe applying colours. The most important part of concepting for me is the time I take to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t, choosing what looks good and combining ideas together to make the finished design I want to take into 3D. When I model in 3D I’ll either work from scratch or (for a humanoid) work from a base mesh; and then it’s just a matter of translating the 2D design into 3D, considering forms, applying colour and making sure all the labelling and joints work for the animations." 

What are you currently working on? 

"At the moment I’m re-working the crystal armour using community feedback to see what needs changing. I’ve gone all the way back to the concepting phase for this design as I think there are a few fundamental beats that are wrong which I can visualise fixing more quickly by drawing than modelling in 3D." 
 
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Conceptual images of crystal armour shared for player feedback

What is the most enjoyable thing in the project you’ve worked on to date? 

"I absolutely loved designing the clan leaders, especially Lady Hefin and Lord Iorwerth. There are certain characters whose personality and backstory are so rich and strong that they seem to design themselves, and those two leaders definitely fall into that category. Lord Crwys is one of my favourite finished models, but designing him was a frustrating process with a lot of false starts and iterations. Not all design processes are smooth, but if you just keep hammering at it, you’ll eventually get there." 
 
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Lord Crwys

What challenges have you faced during the project? 

"The biggest challenge has been marrying the old and the new. Certain older elves had to be updated to fit with the newer elves coming in, and I had to adjust my usual process to accommodate a faithful representation of older characters. One of the strongest ways to link the old and new character art together is with the Old School animations, so making sure that everything designed can work perfectly with those retro movements is super important. It’s certainly been a challenge and whilst I’ve definitely not nailed it every single time it’s a learning curve and the communication with the community and players is invaluable." 

~ Mod Gee 
 
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Lord Iorwerth, the main antagonist finished (left) and at the concept stage (right)

Mod West also describes his work on the project: 

"My involvement with Song of the Elves was more of a side role than previous large scale updates due commitments to other projects. The first thing I did, however, was right at the start - a greybox of the city. We already had a planned layout of the city which was designed last year in the run up for RuneFest, so I quickly assembled a rather basic temporary wall kit and spent a few days building the city. It was a rough layout that was likely to undergo a lot of changes once the final art assets had been created, but getting down a foundation as early as possible is important so that a developer has a place to work in." 
 
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The map of Prifddinas coming to life

"My next job was to create a wall kit for the houses inside Prifddinas. We wanted to keep the style of Prif similar to RuneScape, but with an Old School vibe. We spoke with the concept artist who worked on Prifddinas for RuneScape, Mod Neil (@Zephusees). He showed us a bunch of different house designs and created some paint overs of the grey box so we could get a feel of what the houses would look like in-game." 

"I began work on the walls first, figuring out how to turn the houses into a wall kit. Old School, as you may have noticed, is built upon a grid. This means the walls need to be 1 tile wide and in various shapes and styles. I placed the walls on the outside of the tile so I could make them thicker and avoid clipping with any scenery put inside the houses. To create variety, I created two versions of the wall kit - a white stone variant and a dark wood variant." 
 
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A house from Prifddinas

"Another way to add diversity is with the roofs. The paint overs we received from Mod Neil had a few variants, ones with a pitched roof and one with a bonnet roof. Initially I tried to make these in larger chunks to save time, but once placed in game it turned out large roofs had too many rendering issues so they were cut up to fit in a single tile." 
 
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"One of my final tasks for the project was to create an area north of Prifddinas that houses a quaint little town called Gwenith. It seemed odd that Tirannwn had only two elven settlements (Prif and Lletya) so we wanted to add another one here. It came together quickly with very few new assets needed. I adapted windmill assets from elsewhere in the game to match the colours of the elf wall kits and moved onto mapping. The new mountain located in the north-west of Tirannwn was never intended on being explorable, but I got a little carried away… Once you’ve unlocked the city, be sure to explore it! The top is quite spooky and has a great view of the surrounding area." 

~ Mod West
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Gwenith, a small elven village north of Prifddinas

Mod Ry also gave some insight into his own contributions to Prifddinas. 

"My role for Song of the Elves has mainly revolved around the city of Prifddinas. With environments being my core focus on the OldSchool art team, the great crystal city was something I was cautious about when first coming onto the project back in January. Thanks to Mod West, I already had a basic blockout to work with which is the backbone of the city’s infrastructure; that being building placement and size, path layout and amenity locations such as the market and sawmill." 
 
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"The first aspect of Prifddinas I looked at was the outer wall. In Old School this is the iconic, jagged white crystal that’s well known for hiding the vast emptiness that currently sits within its boundary. The decision to change this wasn’t taken lightly but due to our vision of the city being centred around nature, it wouldn’t fit in it’s current state. Our concept artist, Mod Neil, designed a wall much more fitting with nature. The new wall prominently features wood encrusted with crystal to better convey the idea of it being sung from crystal seed." 
 
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Combining the naturally occurring woodland and crystals of the elven area - the updated version of the walls surrounding Prifddinas

"You may notice some new trees that surround Prifddinas in the image below. The new tree models that came with the Farming Guild earlier on in the year had a really positive reaction so building on the philosophy of big, chunky silhouettes I created the crystal sprouting trees that are native to the city. These are one of my favourite new additions I’ve made to Old School (yes, I know it’s just a tree), and I’d love to hear how you’d feel about having more trees of this style in the future!" 

~ Mod Ry 
 
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QA

Mod Curse has been the lead QA Analyst on Song of the Elves and Prifddinas and it's his job to ensure the content is enjoyable, bug free, and balanced. which means having eyes on every section of the project, whether its audio, art or content. As this is the largest project that OldSchool has released to date, he’s taken a slightly different approach, and got a lot more of the team involved in playtesting the content after each section of development. 

The work has been strategically completed in sections every fortnight, and after each section, Mod Curse will host a playtest for the entire OldSchool team alongside people around the office that are passionate about the game that wouldn’t usually get a chance to have any input on the content. This involves providing a lot of information so that people can easily hop in and test specific sections of content. 

This has assisted him a lot when getting reactions for how content plays out, as well as seeing how each person reacts to the balancing to see where any tweaks can be made. But has also proved just how valuable it is to get as much internal feedback as possible, as it gave a good understanding of what to expect from the player testing sessions. Alongside running the testing and balancing for the content, he has also had to maintain all relevant documents, test plans and test cases, as well as update information on any jobs so that other people are able to jump in and find any information as quickly and easily as possible. 

It’s easily one of the biggest challenges and there’s been so much going on, but it wouldn’t be fun without a challenge ~ Mod Curse 
 
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Audio

Mod Ian and Mod Surma are the audio designers behind the many new tracks that feature in the quest as well as in the city of Prifddinas. 

Our audio designers wrote lots of music for Song of the Elves and Prifddinas. The project was one of the biggest that's they've done so far. For the city itself, each clan has an individual track reflecting their styles. The Amlodd clan for instance are a mystical clan and Mods Ian and Surma have reflected that in their theme. Doing this ensures that travelling through the city won't feel repetitive and gives each clan its own identity. 

Mod Ian explains that he was in a particularly good mood approaching the project which allowed the music to flow. Once he'd created the first few tunes, that formed the backbone for the other pieces to come later. When asked, he clarified that each track is original and separate from the ones found in Prifddinas in RuneScape. Mod Ian tells us that his inspiration can come from anywhere including films and what he reads, as well the design of the content. Each of these feed into each other throughout the creative process and come out the other end in the form of a song. He points out that not all the songs in the quest and around Prifddinas are jolly tunes - there's a mixture of moods. He made sure to include moments that are dark as well as light and hopes that the players will enjoy them. 
 
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Zalcano - created by Mod Ghost

Mod Surma goes on to say that the art of the content often inspires the music that accompanies it. In the case of Zalcano, he says, when he saw the environment and boss' graphical model, it was clear he'd be putting together music that needed to sound dark and sinister. Then of course, being a boss fight, the music has to sound epic. For a chance to hear Zalcano's theme early, make sure to watch the Song of the Elves stream from June 5th here! 

That all from the Song of the Elves team. Mod Curse, the lead QA analyst for this content was not available to give his thoughts but we want to thank him for his work. His role has been to make sure your experience playing Song of the Elves is as polished and enjoyable as possible. 
 
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Competitions

What would a major expansion be without some competitions to run alongside? For our last major release, the Kebos Lowlands, we ran two competitions to test your creativity and talent. For Song of the Elves, we're doubling up and running four! 

Login Screen Design Competition 
 
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Fan artists! We want you to design a thematic login screen to be displayed at the release of Song of the Elves! Feel free to use any theme relating to the quest, the city of Prifddinas, or the extra content. 

The Old School login screen works by taking the image above and mirroring it. When you submit your entry, make sure it is half of a full image just like the one we have linked so that it can be mirrored to create a full login screen. This means any image you create will be symmetrical so bear this in mind when designing it. Here are some other things to be aware of:
  • The image you submit must be a JPEG
  • It must be 545x671 pixels in size
  • The flames and window boxes (where players enter their login details) will be placed on top of your image in the positions they currently exist - these cannot be moved
  • The image is automatically mirrored
Send your submissions to oldschoolcommunity@jagex.com and make sure to:
  • Have "Song of the Elves - Login Screen" in the subject of the email
  • Attach your image in .jpg format
  • Include your RuneScape display name in the body of the email.
The deadline for this competition is Sunday 7th July 2019. The winner will be selected by the Old School team and announced on stream as well as in the update post on the day of release. In addition to having your own login screen design in-game, here are the prizes up for grabs:
  • 1st place - 12 months membership + £200 Amazon Voucher
  • 2nd place - 6 months membership + £100 Amazon Voucher
  • 3rd place - 3 months membership + £50 Amazon Voucher
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Elven Questline: The Story So Far - Video Competition 
 
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The iconic Plague City quest kicked off RuneScape's oldest questline. After an epic tale full of action, excitement, deceit and despair, the story is finally coming to its conclusion. 

For our video competition, we offer you the theme of The Elven Questline: The Story So Far. Your video could take the form of an overview of the events leading up to Song of the Elves or focus on one specific portion of it. Whichever direction you decide to take; gripping, comedic, or informative, make sure to have fun and create a video you think others will enjoy. 

Submissions must be sent to oldschoolcommunity@jagex.com and must:
  • Be no longer than 6 minutes
  • Have "Song of the Elves - Video Competition" as the email subject
  • Have a link to the video you submit on YouTube in the body of the email
  • Include your RuneScape display name in the body of the email
The deadline for this competition is Sunday 7th July 2019. The winner will be selected by the Old School team and announced on stream as well as in the update post on the day of release!
  • 1st place - 12 months membership + £200 Amazon Voucher
  • 2nd place - 6 months membership + £100 Amazon Voucher
  • 3rd place - 3 months membership + £50 Amazon Voucher
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The Gauntlet - Fastest Completion Competition 
 
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Hopefully by now, you'll have heard of The Gauntlet - the PvM challenge due to release alongside Song of the Elves. Those of you who complete the quest will have access to the dungeon where you'll gather your supplies and equipment against the clock and use them to defeat a brand new boss: the Crystal Hunllef. 

Once Song of the Elves has launched, we'll be tracking your completion times for the Gauntlet. We'll be keeping a close eye to see who's the fastest and reward the top three players in the opening two weeks. If you find yourself in those top three, you can expect an inbox message offering you one of the following prizes:
  • 1st place - 12 months membership + a custom Old School GT Omega Racing Pro gaming chair
  • 2nd place - 6 months membership
  • 3rd place - 3 months membership
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Write Old School History! Lore Building Competition 
 
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Ever wanted to have your stories become canon in Old School? Completion of Song of the Elves will grant players access to the fabled crystal city, capital to the elves: Prifddinas. To compliment the range of content that will be available in the elven capital, we want to include lots of lore. 

For our final competition, we challenge you to write your own piece of Old School history. If we like your contribution, it'll be immortalised as a book in the game. To enter, make sure to do the following:
  • Submit your entry to oldschoolcommunity@jagex.com
  • Have "Song of the Elves - Lore Competition" as the email subject
  • Include your RuneScape display name in the body of the email
  • Include a summary of the story at the top of the email
  • Have the story as the main body of the email
  • Make your story fit with established lore
Our favourite entries for this competition will receive crystal trophies featuring a design custom-made by the Old School graphics team.

That wraps things up for our Song of the Elves progress blog! Thanks for reading - we look forward to seeing your competition entries and seeing you enjoy the content upon release! 
 
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Mods Acorn, Archie, Ash, Bruno, Curse, Ed, Gambit, Gee, Ghost, Husky, John C, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Maz, Nasty, Roq, Ry, Sween, Tide, Weath, West & Wolf 
The Old School Team

 

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