With the HTML Beta and Runescape 3 well underway and a new skill, known as Divination, slated for the near future, players certainly have plenty to look forward to this summer. If all goes according to plan, this is the first of a pair of skills to be released this year. And although we have seen some teasers and expect more, the ultimate question is what the critical response by the players will be. Only time may tell for sure, but the best example just may be found by looking to the past in the form of the previous skill, Dungeoneering.
Although it has already been more than three years since this latest skill was released, the story can be traced back even further. Jagex initially billed it as an entirely new game with some connections to RuneScape. For one reason or another, that plan slipped through, and the concept integrated into RuneScape as the Dungeoneering skill.
How exactly does one classify Dungeoneering? There are, of course, some skills directly related to combat that we call combat skills. Others might feature gathering a resource, perhaps together with producing something, hence gathering and production skills. But Dungeoneering at its release date, and arguably still now, does none of that. In fact, its official designation is "Support" along with Agility, Slayer, and Thieving.
What is this support? It certainly doesn't sound as exciting or familiar as other terms, but the idea is that it's something extra that might aid with other skills. For instance, Agility helped run energy deplete at a slower rate to aid in traveling between locations more quickly-at least, before we had a thousand teleport items. Slayer allows you expertise to be able to attack and damage creatures, once you've trained it enough. Thieving provides an effective, if slightly immoral, method of obtaining a few basic free items.
And Dungeoneering? Well, there are some entrances to resource areas that mysteriously popped up some months after the skill was introduced, and recently a D&D that we all know as sinkholes was introduced. Other than that, Dungeoneering is trained in essentially one centralized location. Agility can be trained at various courses around Gilenoir, and Theiving can be used on a wide range of NPC's, but quite naturally, there just doesn't seem to be a requirement for spelunking into caves on-demand.
For numerous reasons, Dungeoneering never really caught on with more than a few people. I personally like the skill, and would even postulate that others dislike it for some of the reasons I might enjoy it.
1. "It's a minigame, not a skill."
Many players initially insisted (and perhaps still continue to contest that) Dungeoneering was a minigame rather than a skill. A small fringe may even refuse to train it. This is mostly due to the factors discussed above, but the fact that there is a reward shop with as broadly-reaching items as a scroll to save bars on smithing a great variety of items only reinforces this image.
2. It's complicated.
Dungoneering is profoundly different from other skills in that it forces you to think. Jagex tried their best (yes, they really did-even running a little contest for a guide and uploading Rogie's winning guide). Unless you read a dozen long Wikipedia pages, you find yourself thrown into a room with a bunch of stuff lying around and you have to try to figure out what to do.
Part of it is to blame for the introduction. Working through 6 increasingly difficult complexities sounds nice, but the concept of crafting runes or making armor from ores is not benign. Instead, a more clearly defined objective (open rooms and get to and kill the boss to get your xp) might have been presented. The whole prestige system is not so clearly understood either.
3. You rely on others.
Up until very recently and especially on the F2P side, experience rates for any kind of solo dungeoneering were close to nil. Through a party with a special setup, one could get better xp (and I mean a factor of several times as much), but this comes with consequences. Five people in a party dungeoneering together doesn't sound difficult, but when you keep in mind that each person can have a different idea of how best to proceed, it can get quite irritating. Maybe if the party leader had a bit more authority than marking a creature with a flashing arrow, it would help...but it's a bit late at this point.
4. Some rooms are a bit puzzling.
Yes, I'm talking about the little puzzles in the dungeon. While they are in principle simple, between lag, monsters trying to kill you, and trying to explain to half the other party to get over there faster and help, it takes a while. Furthermore the penalties for some rooms (making one emote wrong in the mime room or not getting to the center in the toxin room) could be quite harsh. With modifying Constitution and the like and nothing quite scaling evenly, I've lost track, but I know firsthand it was quite a challenge for a couple years. And let's not forget-some of us still have nightmares about mercenary leaders! Maybe some sort of practice mode outside could have alleviated this.
So what can we expect from the new skill? We've learned that although something like Dungeoneering isn't necessarily bad (although it could be seen as unbalanced), it's not quite suitable for the general RuneScape community-particularly the less hardcore players. I wouldn't be too surprised if we had a two-step process to train it. More specifically, one might be required to gather up resources (whatever the gods might need?) and then perform some task to send them off. This would allow some player interaction without completely forcing it down people's throats.
Even though more details remain a mystery or now, I foresee (no pun intended) that Divination, whenever it comes, will be a lot of fun. I'm certainly looking forward to it!