Last Updated 4/1/2020
1. What is the nature of this FAQ?
This is the official DEVELOPMENT FAQ for RUNE II. It is part status report, part progress report and part vision statement, so it covers live, in-development and future versions of the game. Things are moving extremely fast behind the scenes right now, so this FAQ is intended only as a snapshot of progress heading into April 2020. While we will do our best to keep this document up to date, it is entirely possible that some of the information, particularly pertaining to the status and nature of certain features and updates, possibly has changed, might change or will change.
2. What is the purpose of this FAQ?
This FAQ is intended to provide direct and transparent communication about team Ragnarok’s ongoing, post-launch development push for RUNE II. Taking stock of where the development of the game is at, detailing the changes we’ve made, the changes we’re in the process of making, the changes we want to make, the rationale behind those changes, and ultimately laying out our vision for the future of RUNE II.
3. What isn’t the purpose of this FAQ?
This is not a traditional game information FAQ. If you’re looking to find an answer to a non-development related game question, please head over to the official RUNE II FAQ. That FAQ will be periodically updated in conjunction with this one.
4. Why is a development-specific FAQ?
Because RUNE II is still very much in development. Behind the scenes the development team (Ragnarok) is working diligently to deliver a dramatically recalibrated, rebalanced and we believe, greatly enhanced experience. We are committed to improving RUNE II, and we want to keep anyone that is interested abreast of our ongoing development.
5. Why such major revisions post-launch?
We’ve received a great deal of constructive feedback since launch, and there have been a lot of similar responses and requests, a majority of which we agree with. We want everyone that has supported RUNE II to be satisfied with their purchase, so we’re toiling, with regular input from the RUNE II community, to deliver the quality of game our players deserve.
6. How are you getting regular input from the RUNE II community?
Ragnarok operates a Public Test Realm version, open to all RUNE II players, that offers a frequently updated development version of the game, testing the latest features before they are made widely available. All RUNE II players are welcome to participate in test sessions, and we greatly value the community’s feedback. If you’d like to know more, head on over to the official RUNE II forums. There is no requirement to participate, and all tested features will roll out to all players once they have been balanced, tested, and the Ragnarok Dev team signs off.
7. What’s the plan?
We’ve digested a Valhalla’s feast’s worth of feedback from players and critics alike – positive and negative. We considered all that feedback in relation to where the game’s development stood at launch, what the consensus of opinion was in terms of priorities, what the team could realistically accomplish with the time and resources at our disposal, and then crafted a multi-stage, community-influenced, development plan.
That plan entails – in addition to a lot of bug fixes – a major renovation, rebalancing, and in some cases top-to-bottom overhaul, of many of the game’s core systems. Everything ranging from combat to resource management to character progression has been reassessed and revised, all with the goal of aligning the player experience closer to our original vision for the game.
8. What was your original vision for RUNE II?
When we set out to make RUNE II we wanted to take the foundation of what made classic RUNE so great — the mythic 3rd person action/adventure, the brutal, melee-centric combat, the epic Scandinavian-influenced environments, the unique take on Norse mythology — and build upon those core elements to deliver a more expansive, non-linear, open-world, PVE and PVP survival-adventure.
9. Is that still your vision?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is mostly yes. In creating RUNE II we made some conscious design decisions – with sound justifications at the time – that ultimately just didn’t connect. A good example of this would be the balancing of simulation-style survival mechanics. The response we got is that we went too far and have dialed this down. So we’ve taken that feedback into account. We’re not going to completely eject survival mechanics, but we are going to simplify condition-management to bring it more in line with the concept of RUNE.
10. What are you hoping to accomplish with this post-launch development push?
Simply put: We want to deliver to you, the player, as best we can, the game we wanted you to play. We know no one gets a second chance to make a first impression, but we can do our best to make sure our second impression isn’t left to chance. The team remains passionate and committed to ensuring that all owners of RUNE II, and anyone else that buys into the potential of RUNE II as an ongoing service, gets their money’s worth. We still believe there is an exciting, unique, combat-driven, open-world action/adventure to be cooked with the ingredients on the table. Now it’s up to us (and you, if you so choose) to refine the recipe.
11. When can I play an official version of the game that includes all the new features?
All solidified changes will roll out into official builds as soon as they are ready. However the reality is that many of the game’s systems are intricately interconnected, so significant development changes in, say, combat, have a ripple effect that requires the adjustment of many other systems and values in the game. We don’t want to promise our players any dates that we aren’t positive we can hit. But rest assured, we want every RUNE II player to get their hands on these new features as soon as is humanly possible.
12. Are there any changes planned for the ‘tutorial’ sequence on Old Wotenkeld Island?
Yes. We are working on a new plan on how the game starts. Subject to change, but here’s a couple of options we’re considering for the opening ‘guided and gated’ portion of the game.
13. What was your evaluation of old combat, heading into the redesign?
A majority of feedback we received on the core combat loop fell into the same buckets of poor balance and development issues: Most enemy encounters would quickly devolve into a ‘too fast to strategize’ click-fest, and victory was determined not through skillful fighting, but by button-mashing and support item use.
In other words, battles were being won, more often than not, in the preparation and use of support items (health items, stamina items, runes, god powers, etc.) than in the execution of melee. Weapons seemed largely interchangeable (always use the weapon with the highest damage) and what little skill was required, was largely used to con the enemy AI so players could land a ‘safe hit’; AI, that with few exceptions, all seemed to behave the same way: Charge towards the player, relentlessly attack, and, if the player attempts to retreat, chase them down like a rabid wolf.
Enemies level-scaling with the player meant grunt combatants that higher-level players should be able to easily overpower, were still a nuisance. Difficulty artificially existed in poorly communicated enemy power disparity, or in large groups of enemies spawning near the player and immediately swarming them. The poor screen placement and low visibility of the health and stamina bars made it hard to keep tabs on your physical condition without taking your eyes off the fight.
Finally, when the player did die, there were no real consequences built into our development. You didn’t lose anything, except time. The design was lacking in other areas as well; for example, enemies would even retain the damage you inflicted prior to death, so they were easier to finish off upon your return. No consequence meant no challenge. No challenge meant no gratification. No gratifaction meant no engagement.
In summary, there were low stakes, battles didn’t involve enough moment-to-moment skill (outside of knowing when to use the right support items), enemy AI was bland and dumb, different weapons didn’t perform particularly differently (or require different tactics), there was no reason to use the full move-set available to players, and as a result, combat just wasn’t very fun.
14. What is your new vision for combat?
Our original vision for combat has yet to be realized in the game’s development. The key words we’ve kept at the forefront of our minds as we’ve been forced to revise combat development and balancing are ‘focused’ and ‘intentional’. Intentional movement, intentional attacks, intentional blocking. Upon the initial launch, the combat was far from what we had planned. Instead of being acting and reacting with purpose, it was just clicking a lot and hoping it all works out. We’ve spent a lot of development time reworking combat for what was originally envisioned to be. We have placed the focus of combat back on situational tactics, smart use of weapon archetypes and optimally utilizing your available move set. The execution of the fight should be more important than the preparation and use of support items.
This approach has resulted in a large number of significant changes to the entire combat system, too many to list individually (don’t worry, everything will be detailed in the patch notes). But for now, here’s an outline of our vision combat, a lot of which will be functional in the RUNE II update.
15. What do you mean by ‘Campaign’?
We use the term ‘Campaign’ to encompass RUNE II’s central, single player (or co-operative), PvE, story-driven, linear, progressible, questline mode. There is a beginning, middle and end to the Campaign. It tells a complete story, chronicling the player character’s adventure to defeat Loki, free both mortals and gods from Loki’s aberrant time loop, and decide the future of Midgard.
16. Will there be changes to RUNE II’s Campaign?
Technically, every gameplay or system change we make (like improving combat) impacts the Campaign. But in regards to the Campaign as a ‘mode’ of RUNE II, we are prioritizing it above all others right now. During this current development sprint, we are focusing almost all our available resources on RUNE II’s single/co-operative player Campaign mode. Making sure it is functional, balanced, tuned, well-paced and fun.
17. What about PvP modes?
PvP is still very much on the agenda, and we have *big* plans for RUNE II’s PvP content down the line. That includes implementing a unique, many-player, tribe-based PvP mode (codename Onslaught) in the future. However, for now, we are putting a pin in PVP. The deathmatch that did previously exist wasn’t utilized by many players and for good reason: It wasn’t very fun. When PvP returns we want it to align with our overall vision for RUNE II, not just serve as a perfunctory distraction that players engage with a few times then never visit again.
However, PvP fans can rest assured that, as we revise and implement new elements in RUNE II’s Campaign, we are consciously doing so with future PvP functionality in mind. The new Campaign content (like enhanced villages and NPC villagers) is simultaneously laying the foundation for PvP modes to come.
18. Is the Campaign story going to change?
Not much, although the delivery of some of the story beats may be altered.
19. Is the critical path of the Campaign going to change?
Yes. While this area is still very much work in progress, the critical path, indeed the entire structure of the Campaign, is getting a literal and philosophical game-changing overhaul.
20. What was RUNE II’s old critical path?
Previously RUNE II’s critical path objectives were mostly related to early, ‘hand-held’ training objectives. Once players left Old Wotenkeld Island (i.e. completed the tutorial), visited the Divine Summit and pledged allegiance to their choice of god (i.e. chose their character class), then found, collected and deposited their first Artifact (i.e. core loop training), the game considered them ‘off leash’. All other objectives – essentially all player progression from that point on – was technically optional.
At the end of each of the game’s seven Ages (each around an hour and a half of play time), players experienced Agefall, and were then transported to the Vidgrid Plane to fight Loki. If you vanquished Loki, you finished the game. If Loki defeated you, you returned to Midgard at the dawn of the next Age, and stayed there till the timer ticked down to the Agefall, another Loki fight and most likely, the next Age.
I say ‘technically optional’ because without any character progression, your chances of defeating Loki were extremely low, even for the most skilled player. But they weren’t zero.
21. What will the new Campaign critical path look like?
We are in the process of revising the flow of the Campaign. This is a big task. The critical path objectives will be changing, both in terms of player onboarding for new game systems and, more significantly, to work towards our vision of delivering a more linear, structured, thoughtfully-paced, point-to-point, goal-to-goal adventure.
22. What is the role and function of Ages in the game?
The original intent of the seven Ages are distinct world ‘eras’ that alter the environment conditions in some thematic and tangible way. Age of Night means permanent night time, in Age of Frost, the ocean freezes over and sailing is no longer an option. Things didn’t quite work out as planned, so we are revising the Ages systems as well.
We’re working hard to revise the Ages so that each one looks, feels and plays uniquely, offering varied environmental challenges to the player. We’ve also attempted to soften those environmental challenges, so that the survival component of the game is less obtrusive than it used to be.
There are now Age-specific Artifacts that can *only* be found and collected during specific Ages, encouraging players to explore them all.
Finally in occurrence with the many, MANY requests, one of the biggest changes we have planned for Ages is that we are going to replace the Age timer with a new system. In norse mythology the Norns were women that ruled the destiny of gods and men. In RUNE II, the Norns have been held hostage by Loki and are being forced to cycle through the different Ages of Ragnarok. If you can free the Norns, they’ll grant you the ability to decide when the Age should change and what Age it should change to.
23. Is the main world map going to change?
The plan is for the world map to change significantly. The map we have had is admittedly not great. We want to increase land mass (i.e join islands) to reduce long distance sailing, and re-position key world locations to fit our new vision for word-map point-to-point progress. More in this soon.
24. What was the evaluation of RUNE II’s old character progression system?
The feedback was that most players found character progression frustrating, inconsistent and hard to track. We agree. Like several of the systems we already discussed, this was simply not well executed. We spent a lot of time talking about player progression, but it did not get properly implemented. The character level system was offset by level scaling enemies, so while players needed to level up to face more powerful combatants, you never felt like you were truly growing in power. The increase in your character’s attribute points was largely intangible.
Artifacts, the key objectives of the game, simply offered additional revives during the Loki fight. Players absolutely needed those revives, but it wasn’t a very exciting measurement of primary player progression, and not having many Artifacts could be offset by players maxing out their level and acquiring the best gear in the game to defeat Loki.
The most critical feedback we received was leveled at the ‘Paths’ sub-quest system. The game intermittently assigned players an ever growing — and overwhelming — number of optional side-quests with varying, largely intangible, rewards. It was difficult to discern and keep track of the few, actionable Paths that would be most beneficial to a player’s short-term, character-growth goals.
Loot drops were often wildly inconsistent, and due to the large number of weapons dropped, the recipe and crafting systems were largely redundant. There was no real sense of good loot or bad loot.
25. What’s the new vision for player progression?
We’re always iterating and discussing player progression. It’s not final, but our current thoughts look something like this:
26. What about loot?
The entire loot economy must be fixed.
The first major change you’ll notice is that there are no more enemy corpses to loot. We got too many complaints about corpse loot including too many ‘junk’ items filling up precious inventory slots. So now enemies explode like a pinata into individual, visually identifiable, item drops. Just collect the items you want.
In general, enemies will now drop more resources, fewer weapons and armor, and only very occasionally recipes. Since one of our upcoming changes will be removing the player’s ability to salvage weapons and armor for recipes (salvaged gear now rewards some of the resources required to craft said gear), recipes are now an extremely rare commodity. The tougher the enemy, the greater the chance of a recipe drop. Finding a recipe is an event to be celebrated.
It also means that different players will end up with a different assortment of recipes, creating a unique replenishable arsenal of weapons and gear that they will have to work with till their collection expands.
This aligns with our vision that players should care more about the gear they currently possess – repairing weapons and armor more often, being extremely judicious with finite magical weapons – rather than being overwhelmed with a constant influx of new gear that eliminates the need for equipment management.
In the new loot economy, weapons and recipes will now typically be obtained as rewards for World Quests, God Quests or through Leveling Up.
Finally, the enemy-specific loot tables have been reworked to drop loot corresponding to both their archetype, and taking into account the player’s current level and location.
In general the loot that drops in RUNE II is now more balanced, more useful, more focused, and more fun as a result. As we continue to refine RUNE II’s loot system, this will only improve going forward.
27. Is resource gathering changing?
Resource gathering is changing in a few ways.
Number one, we intend for the most economical, efficient way to collect wood or minerals is to use a specific, resource gathering tool – a pick-axe or wood-cutting axe. The game will provide players with the common-component recipes for both of these items right at the start of the Campaign. You can still chop down trees or mine minerals with your combat weapons, but you’ll receive less of that resource than you would with a gathering tool, and you’ll degrade your weapons’ condition faster. Due to popular demand, yes, you can still punch trees and rocks, though you’ll still receive less resources than a dedicated tool.
Number two, we are considering implementing a system where structures further away from the center of the map require a lot more, or more rare, resources to construct. You can’t just arrive at a building site, chop down a few trees and erect the structure. So how do you gather enough of the correct resources to build distant structures? This is where your God Villages and NPC villagers will come into play. We are working on a system where players can direct villagers to auto-gather compounded resources over time, allowing for more demanding construction projects to be completed without too much of an arduous resource gathering grind.
28. Are there going to be new structures I can build?
Yes. We are developing new structures that players can build in their God Villages. In addition, as previously mentioned, structures in God Villages can be developed beyond the standard point of completion.
Well for now, to generate Villagers with an increased capacity to gather resources, and to unlock new World and God Quests. In the future, let’s just say these villages may need to withstand attack, so the inclusion of defense mechanisms would come in handy?
29. Is swimming and sailing changing?
Yes. We really only want players to swim near and around the coastlines of the world. The ocean is now always freezing cold, so we don’t recommend attempting to swim long distances.. Try building a raft instead. In the near future you also won’t need to use raft’s as much, as we redesign the world map to include more land mass and less sea.
30. How about sprinting?
The amount you can sprint before depleting your stamina (and thus needing to let your stamina regenerate) is changing. We don’t want it to be frustrating, but we also don’t want players to be constantly sprinting – for a variety of reasons. This is still being tweaked.
31. Any changes to health and stamina?
Yes. In time, the presentation, on-screen location and functionality of the health and stamina bars will change.
Since we fully intend death to be a bigger deal than it used to, we have also reworked the players ‘critical state’ warning, to give players a ‘louder’ heads up that they are hit away from death and they might want to retreat.
32. What’s happening with player death?
Going forward, we want there to be tangible penalties to dying. We don’t *want* players to enter a fight thinking it doesn’t matter (or matters very little) if they die. The whole Campaign is predicated around the concept of staying alive. We are currently contemplating the exact nature of those penalties, but assume it will involve item loss.
33. What’s happening with the survival mechanics?
The survival systems are in flux. Currently we still have a hunger system which reduces your character’s overall performance if they don’t eat regularly. We’ll have more on this soon.
34. Any changes to fast travel?
Currently, when players discover a Bifröst Gate, it is unlocked for instantaneous fast travel forever. The entire system of teleportation is being re-evaluated, to make sure world travel isn’t so easy that it removes any sense of adventure, scale or exploration. We’re still developing what is a fair cost to the player in exchange for fast travel. More on this to follow.
35. Any changes to Open World Events?
Open World Events (OWEs) are what make RUNE II interesting. OWEs encompass the vast majority of game scenarios, active and passive, combat and environmental, that players will experience as they traverse Midgard throughout the campaign.
OWEs are at the heart of the RUNE II experience and we acknowledge that they were not in a great place when RUNE II launched. The team is dedicated to improving and refining this system to provide the most thrilling, varied and entertaining encounters possible. It is an ongoing process and one of our main areas of focus. We’ll have a more thorough write up of how OWEs are being improved soon, bust rest assured, we are on it.
36. What’s happening to the main inventory screen?
We’ve given it a major overhaul to better reflect what we wanted in the first place.
On the right of the screen you will now see a ‘paper doll’ model of your character. It reflects the armor they are wearing, the weapon (or weapon/shield combo) they currently have equipped and the Artifacts they are carrying (if any).
Below the paper doll are your character’s attribute statistics (or ‘stats’). The presentation of stats has been revised to make your character’s base numbers much clearer, and the cumulative effect of any plus or minus modifiers that influence those numbers (e.g. from any gear you have equipped) highlighted.
We have also implemented a ‘mouse over’ system where players can now easily see key information about any inventory item – from gear to resources – at a glance.
Crafting is currently accessed from this screen, to the right of your character, though we are contemplating a new menu interface system.
37. What’s happening to the Quest and Path screens?
When finished, the current Paths screen will be separated into two individual screens, the Quest screen (detailing World Quests) and the Yggdrasil Skill Tree screen (detailing God Quests).
We are looking into implementing an active Quest/Branch ‘pursuit’ tracking system, wherein players can select a limited number of quests they want to focus on as immediate pursuits, and be provided on-screen information as to the progress of that pursuit and potentially the location of the subject of the pursuit.
The core Quest screen is being transformed into a Campaign Objectives screen, indicating the critical path objectives that *must be* completed in order to progress the Campaign.
38. What’s happening to the map menu screen?
You can now see the level range of enemies at any given location.
As and when we redesign the overall world terrain, the map will obviously be updated to reflect those changes.
39. What’s happening with campaign co-op?
The setup and structure of campaign co-op remains largely unchanged. One player hosts a game, creating or reopening their own world instance (with their PC acting as a server for that instance) and other players can then join the host’s server at will.
40. Can I bring a character from my own world instance to another host’s instance?
41. If I create a character in someone else’s world instance, can I keep playing as that character whenever I want, on my own PC?
That character is unique to that host’s world instance. Currently the only way to continue to play that character is to log back in to that unique world instance, whenever the host makes that instance/server available.
42. How are you going to handle level disparity among co-op players?
We’re not. Now that we’ve removed level scaling this is no longer an issue. A level 5 character should not be fighting level 20 enemies, period.
43. What about PVP?
As previously stated, at this time, our primary focus is making the Single Player and Cooperative Campaign experience the best it can be. When we started working on RUNE II 2.5 years ago, we envisioned the final product as a great game, that was an update to RUNE Classic. We wanted a great Single Player and Cooperative experience that was linear but within the ‘open world/sandbox’ gameplay. So the player could follow a general story but also branch off and have new adventures and experiences. In our original GDD (Game design document) we had mounts, pets, dungeons, ship combat, dragon fighting, base raiding, etc.
Instead of the above, what was delivered to us on launch did not come close to meeting our expectations. Since the initial launch, we have worked tirelessly to make huge updates to systems like combat, enemies, ages, and loot. We want to continue to improve RUNE II and we have to fix the basic systems for RUNE II’s campaign first. Once we sort out the campaign, we can begin looking at PvP. We have some great plans and ideas for PvP that will ideally utilize some of the latest and greatest new tech available. When there is more information to share, we will do so.
SECTION 12: IN CONCLUSION
44. That is, for sure, a lot of changes. Are you realistically going to be able deliver on everything you’ve discussed or presented in this FAQ?
Well the good news is that a lot of these changes and new features are not hypothetical propositions. They’re already in a development version of the game. A live version of RUNE II, with all the currently completed and tested features, should be deployed within the next few weeks. When it drops, you can check the patch notes to see exactly what’s in there.
In addition, even more of these changes are currently in active development. Players that wish to test the latest development features need only visit the Public Test Realm to try out the most recent build. Let us know what you think by giving us your feedback on our forums!
Finally, in regards to some of the more ambitious changes, we can only say, with hand on heart, that’s the plan. The team is trying their darndest to make them all happen. The reality is that there are only so many members of the team and hours in the day.
45. What if I don’t like some of the changes you’ve made?
Then please let us know! Ragnarok is the vision keeper for RUNE II, but part of that vision involves respecting and responding to the community’s wishes. This is as much your game as ours.
46. What would you like to see happen?
The more people that purchase RUNE II, understanding that the game is still in active development, that the team remains committed to delivering on their vision, and that updates will be rolling out on a regular basis, the more resources we will have to execute our plan.
47. Why should I buy a copy now? If all these features are coming, why not wait and see how they turn out?
Our response to this line of thinking would be: The value proposition of RUNE II today is *much* greater than when it launched. The past few months of post-launch development and support have improved the game substantially. We stand by our work and believe the proposition on offer, factoring in the ongoing development, is one of great value.
This is also a unique phase in RUNE II’s development where we are actively working with the community to determine and shape the game’s future. By buying a copy, becoming part of that community, getting on board the train, you are supporting a team that is absolutely dedicated to doing right by their customers.
48. What if my question wasn’t answered by this FAQ? Or isn’t answered to my satisfaction? What if I now have more questions?
By all means, head on over to the official RUNE II forum or RUNE II Discord and ask them. We monitor the board and respond as often and as best as we can.
49. Is there anything you’d like to add in parting?
On behalf of the RUNE II Development team, we want to thank you for reading this long Development FAQ and for being fans of our game. We invite you to come along with us on this journey to make RUNE II the best game that it can be. Join the RUNE II community on our official Discord, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Forums.
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