Herblore Habitat Interview

With Mod Raven


Can you leak the equation for the weekly bonus XP for catching all God-Jadinkos and Normal-Jadinkos? Pretty please with a chinchompa on top?

I prefer to avoid giving out the formulas for things, it reduces an interesting activity to numerical values, which is rarely as much fun as just doing the activity yourself. I’m sure you can work out the formula if you wanted though, you’ll just have to experiment by catching the creatures each week. ;)

Where did Papa Momba's Zombie Farmer assistant come from?

Papa Mambo isn’t entirely the most, shall we say, moral character and his intentions can be dubious at best. He may have dabbled, and by dabble I mean gone slightly overboard, with the art of necromancy and there is a small chance that he raised a few choice labourers from nearby graves. These are all just rumours of course, I couldn’t possibly comment. ;)

It’s probably best not to ask what he feeds the vine to make it grow so quickly.

Are the Herblore Habitat herbs going to be used for more potions? I mean, currently the only herbs used for multiple potions are Samaden and Shengo.

There are no immediate plans to increase the range of juju potions, but the future can often be a tricky thing to predict, I wouldn’t write it off, but I wouldn’t bank on it either.

It seems some Jadinkos only drop certain types of seeds. Carrion Jadinkos seem to only drop Herb Vine seeds in my experience for example. Are certain Jadinkos actually restricted to certain drops? Or perhaps this is just a matter of personal luck. If they are restricted, can you provide information on what types of drops each breed of Jadinko offers?

Certain jadinkos only drop certain types of seed and you can find out which jadinkos , drop which type of seed , simply by reading the knowledge base article on Herblore Habitat. ;)

However, because I’m a largely benevolent evil overlord, here are some choice examples for you.
Amphibian jadinkos always drop fruit tree seeds.
Draconic jadinkos always drop herb seeds.
Aquatic jadinkos always drop flower seeds.
Igneous jadinkos always drop bush seeds.

The rest you can find by reading the knowledge base, or experimenting a little yourself.


Papa seems to be rather greedy with his prices. Is he planning to do something specific with all that money?

Who knows, the whimsy of a witchdoctor is rarely a predictable thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he used that money for some scheme in the future. Nothing is planned yet, but you never know.

What is the story behind Papa's exile and/or retirement from his service from the former community?

It is a well guarded secret that Papa Mambo only tells to a few. Suffice to say that his dabbling in the darker arts was not well received by the village. Exactly what he did is mostly rumour and hearsay, but perhaps we will find out more one day.

Witchdoctor's equipment does not provide magic defence at all. Is it correct to suppose that they are therefore cursed, or just simply too weak to inhold magical attributes despite their name would suggest otherwise?

It’s a different kind of magic. The witchdoctor magic of Papa Mambo is tuned to the habitat and the enchantments woven within only really benefit someone using it for its intended purpose. Papa Mambo seems to have little fear of death and so hasn’t thought to give the witchdoctor robes greater resistances, after all a dead body is just a helpful farmer waiting to happen.


What inspired the tribal theme for these kinds of perks?

We wanted to use an area that wasn’t used as much as we’d like and then we wanted to do something interesting with it. I’m a fan of the whole voodoo imagery and I thought the update would be the perfect excuse to get some awesome witchdoctor gear into the game (so that my choob can look like a witchdoctor largely). There’s also this amazing backstory in Karamja that has a similar feel to the tribal imagery that I wanted to get into the game, it seemed strange not to call on this backstory to enhance the area. Also, the zombies fit quite nicely into the area, particularly given the local zombie infestation.

In short, tribal themes are cool. :)

How closely will this new idea be tied to quests?

Now that would be telling. ;)

Herblore and farming are both skills that require obscene amounts of money to train efficiently. Was this update an attempt to give the more casual players (who don't merchant/boss hunt) a fair chance at leveling these skills? Do you believe this update has effectively helped, in that respect?

Mostly this was created to be a self contained area where someone could come and train those three skills using only the tools obtainable in the area. I think it’s worked quite nicely and you can certainly spend comparatively little money to make some really nice potions and get some nice effects out of it. I’m a casual gamer at heart and so I’m always happy to give the casual gamer a little bit of a helping hand, without being at the expense of other types of gamer. I think Herblore Habitat does that fairly nicely.

Content such as the Herblore Habitat, which makes training skills more player-involved, is obviously more fun than traditional means of skilling. But often times this type of content goes unused because the experience rates are too far below those traditional means of training. Do you believe that the Herblore Habitat offers sufficient enough experience rates to become a commonly-used method of training Hunter/Farming/Herblore? And, in relation, have the content developers recognized this trend in previously released content?

I think the Herblore Habitat offers some very good rates of XP, if you play it right. In playtesting we were able to get some very nice xp rates out of it and the addition of the potions that provide an xp boost also helped out substantially. I think it’s fair to say that many players have already discovered some good ways to get the most out of the area, so I think it has what is needed to be a commonly used training method.

The problem with the second part is that we have to take existing content into account when we make new content. We don’t want to make a traditional method of skilling obsolete in order to bring out new content, so we focus on different ways of doing things. In Herblore Habitat, we wanted to focus more on the potions as reward, rather than XP. The XP rate was essentially an added bonus. The real benefit, in my opinion, are the special effects that each potion can give you, allowing you to make your other skilling activities more fruitful or more efficient. However, different people like content for different reasons and some people may only be interested in the XP rates, we try to cater to them as well, but they aren’t always the sole focus of an update.


Will this update have an impact on the herblore economy?

Will this update have an impact on the herblore economy? It may have some impact, particularly the juju farming potion, but we tried to limit the impact as much as possible. It may increase the interest in herblore however, so we could see some temporary changes.

While this is the only mini-game on herblore, Herblore Habitat is still inaccessible for a lot of players (high Farming and Hunter level requirements). Do you plan to look at the level requirements again or adding future alternatives to Herblore?

Runescape is constantly evolving and updating, this time round we wanted to make something for the players with higher levels in those skills. In the future we may choose to create lower level updates using similar skills. I can’t say for certain what would happen, but we update a lot so watch this space. ;)


In Herblore Habitat, you can train your Farming, Herblore and Hunting skills. Why did you not add more skills to make this place a 'hot spot'. Wouldn't it be a good idea if you could train your Mining and Smithing skills here, for instance?

We wanted to focus on the three skills mainly, there are other places for the other skills. Living rock caverns gets your mining for example. There’s also the fact that adding in all the other skills would just make the whole thing cluttered and confusing and therefore would not offer a huge advantage. There are benefits for the other skills in the form of the potions, however, so it’s worth looking into how useful some of those potions can be to training other skills.

How many developers worked on this project?

1 content developer, but there were several artists and several members of the QA team helping with it. There were also other developers involved in the design process (Mod Mark mainly). Then of course we have to remember the editors and the translators. So, depending on what you mean by working on this project, we had several people working on it, all of whom were vital to making it what it is.

What is involved in preparing for developing an update like this? What steps do you take?

First we have the concept stage, where we pitch the basic ideas to the design review team. When they like a concept we flesh out the design somewhat more and make sure that the graphics and audio team both like it and that we can do what needs doing in the time allotted. Then we code it, plug in the graphics and then we QA it ... lots. Whilst we’re designing, coding and testing it, we have the balancing looked at, constantly refining it to make sure we have the xp rates that we want and that the rewards aren’t going to ruin existing content.

That’s obviously a really simplified version of the process we go through. We have stringent procedures in place for getting content out, but I don’t particularly want to bore everyone by listing them all here. ;)


Would you regard Herblore Habitat as part of the Distractions and Diversions, as an activity or as regular content for training? The same question applies to the charm sprites. Can you please explain to us how you see this?

I see Herblore Habitat as a skilling area, much like Living Rock Caverns. You can go into the area whenever you like and work on those three skills. As an added bonus, once a week you can get a special bonus if you find all the creatures, but you don’t have to in order to enjoy the area. I can see why people think of it as a minigame or activity, but I personally don’t see it that way. I see charm sprites in the same way, but that’s my personal opinion.

With the Herblore Habitat update you revived a part of the Kharazi Jungle which used to be isolated and deserted. You did something similar to the wilderness in the past– as can be seen if you compare old maps to the current one. Don’t you think you’ve gone a little bit too far with this ‘reviving’ of unpopular areas? The world needs less populated areas as well. Also, are there similar plans for the eastern continent? This was meant to be released when the current world is finished, but what exactly do you mean by ‘finished’? Isn’t this too loose a term?

This is several questions in one really, some of them aimed a little bit above my level as they refer to the grander overarching schemes and plans of the game, as a new developer I’m not quite as clued up on those as some of the more senior designers.

However, in this case we wanted to add new content, without creating an entirely new area, as there wasn’t a lot of point in creating an entire new area of the game. I looked at the world of RuneScape and saw that the section the herblore habitat currently occupies was largely unused and yet was perfect for the needs of the project. It’s not that we went “Aha, this area is a quiet spot, let us undo that”, but it was the best place for this particular piece of content.

As for the eastern continent question, I’m afraid that’s not really a question for me and you should probably wait to ask the senior design team that one instead.

The new items for Herblore Habitat use up many bank slots. The ‘allrounders’ who train more or less every skill of the game now face the problem of running out of space in their bank again. Are there any plans to adjust the bank space according to the number of items introduced to the game? We were thinking of something similar to the bag in which you collect rocks for building the statue – why not make do the same for vine herbs, perhaps an item to store all vine herbs or seeds in one slot? (We realise you have already increased the bank space for dungeoneering and email registration, but we think that’s only a drop in the ocean.)

At this point no, there is no plan to provide extra bank space or some storage options within the herblore habitat. Whilst it can be frustrating, you can still create the potions without needing to bank anything. Store the potions you need with the leprechaun and then get a good number of the herbs you need and the secondary ingredients (which stack, so they won’t use up much space) and make what you need. There’s no actual need to bank everything there, although I do understand that doing so can be convenient.

Thanks for reading!

The discussion thread can be found here. Jagex has also included some exclusive Herblore Habitat concept art with this interview. It can be viewed here.

RuneScape 2007
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