MMO dev explains why we rarely get to see games early following feedback on the first new skill in 17 years: “It doesn’t look finished because it’s not finished”

Old School RuneScape’s senior designer says that studios prefer not to share early footage of games and updates in development “for a good reason.”

Ahead of the MMO’s first new skill in 17 years, OSRS developers answered fans’ questions about sailing while showcasing their progress thus far in a stream. One question caught the attention of Mod Elena, a senior designer at Jagex: “How do you all feel about the feedback so far from the recent video and blog?” Elena answers that “like many other players,” her feelings are “mixed.” While she’s excited about “all the hype” and positive responses from players who voted for sailing, she’s aware that there’s a “fair bit of misunderstanding” and “scepticism” from fans concerned about what they’ve seen.

“I now realise why most game studios don’t really show their games this early – it’s for a good reason,” Elena says, going on to explain why early footage isn’t an accurate representation of a final product. “When you’re developing things, from a dev point of view, 99% of the time this is what it looks like behind the scenes. You work with placeholders every single day. You work with unfinished parts, and most of the time it doesn’t come together before really close to launch.” The dev then describes that as a player seeing the process, “your point of view is going to be this looks bad – because it does.”

2007scape from r/2007scape

Elena clarifies that it doesn’t look “bad” because it will play that way, though. It only appears underwhelming to fans outside of the dev team “because it’s not finished yet.” Despite the studio’s knowing that new content like the sailing skill “doesn’t look finished because it’s not finished” to the public, Elena says Jagex wants to take the community on its developmental journey “with us” and show progress on the upcoming skill “as early as possible.” The dev explains that by doing so, Jagex can collect useful feedback from fans at each stage of the process.

“We want to make this with the community and for the community,” Elena states while acknowledging how that “naturally comes with that backlash of people seeing something, expecting it to be final, and then it’s not.” This kind of scepticism is what game devs “just have to accept” when showing their progress early on. While she understands why other studios choose to shy away from sharing such unfinished footage, Elena concludes that she thinks “it’s still worth it.”

Love OSRS? Learn more about this new MMO from the RuneScape creator himself.

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