This week saw the introduction of a new slayer master, Kuradal, for high level slayers. She was introduced as a full NPC on the 8th December but prior to this she had been spotted around Runescape by various slayers that had completed the Smoking Kills quest. A lot of speculation grew around her in the Runescape community, including on our very own Tip.It Forums. The next week, she came out as a new slayer master.
At the start of 2009, Jagex announced that they would stop releasing their monthly Behind the Scenes news posts. Now for those of you who don't know or remember, these were a monthly post on the Runescape homepage that detailed some or most of the updates that would be coming in the next month. Jagex removed these, and with good reason too. They claimed that the BTS were putting too much pressure on getting updates out when they are said in the BTS, meaning more bugged updates or updates that Jagex weren't pleased with were being pushed out into the game. They replaced these with Developer Diaries (now Blogs). Developer Blogs detail the processes that are gone through when creating new updates and game aspects. And although these were intended to replace Behind the Scenes, I think that the BTS has found itself reincarnated in another fashion.
During the summer of 2009, Jagex jumped onto the bandwagon that is known as Twitter. For those of you who don't know. Twitter is a form of social networking where users write a short message (under 140 characters) about what is going on in their lives. Celebrities, companies, everybody and their grandmother seems to be 'Tweeting' at the moment, as are Jagex. Two days before the new Slayer update, Jagex released this Tweet: Next week in #RuneScape: Will she find her final destination? ~Ems(RSDev). To those of us who had heard of the travelling Kuradal, a lightbulb switched on over our heads and we let out a collective 'aha!' as we made the connection. This isn't the first time, in fact almost every week Jagex make a cryptic Tweet about what the following week's update is going to be.
Deciphering these clues is quite a fine art, as some of us Forum users know. It seems as though every week we are convinced that this week will hail the release of Fairy Tale Part 3 and the new Zanaris graphical rework. I remember when we were, well at least I was, completely certain that the next skill was going to be released. It turned out to be Personalized Shops, not quite what we had guessed. But it's often the case that people can work out the week's update before it's released. This gives you, in a manner of speaking, a Behind the Scenes type idea, though it's being done weekly rather than monthly.
Then of course there are the letters to the Chaos Elemental sent through Postie Pete. The Chaos Elemental responds in a cryptic and often confusing way, but a lot of what it says is actually carefully constructed by Jagex to contain hints about future updates. They are difficult to decipher and decode, but provide hints on the content that is to come in the next few months. These combined with the Developer Blogs, Question and Answer sessions that are done with Jagex Mods, and the Twitter hints give a fairly accurate picture of likely content to come. They can provide us with basic ideas of distant content with the Chaos Elemental. The Developer Blogs allow them to go into more detailed and descriptive information about projects as they're being worked on. Then finally there is their Twitter feed, which allows them to tell us week by week what content we are to be expecting. Of course Jagex like to surprise us with some content, but I think that since the removal of Behind the Scenes, they have managed to construct themselves in a less pressured way in which they can reveal future content, and while people were disappointed all those months ago - I have to say the system we have now isn't all that bad either.