Everyone has had their say on Dungeoneering. Whether you feel the skill is good, bad, or if you are completely indifferent, chances are that you’ve shared that opinion and explored those feelings already. That said, there is a second element, an underlying theme, which is perhaps much more important to us as players that has not been pressed upon nearly as much. My contention is that the greatest value of Dungeoneering to Jagex is the number of holes this still entertaining skill has. There are literally dozens of spots for expansion, and this expansion offers Jagex the opportunity to roll out new rewards that entice people to new quests, minigames, and all new content for years to come.
Think of the evolution of rewards over time. The expectation of the player community has grown in leaps and bounds; the same experience rewards that were sufficient three years ago are now useless, due in large point to the dilution in value of free experience from such distractions and diversions as Penguin Hide and Seek and Shattered Hearts. Items which are rolled out come in a delicate balance; rewards which underperform are quickly discarded, whereas items too valuable destroy the worth of other existing items, creating a dent in the balance of the game.
This brings us to the gloriously underwhelming experience of Dungeoneering. While many agree the game is fun, few can argue that the experience is better than horrific, or those that gain good experience need either outstanding coordination of the community or performance of some extremely annoying practices (such as the rapid prestige building practices common today). Any item which boosted experience for Dungeoneering would be quickly gobbled up by the community at large, making even the most trite or poorly written quest more appealing.
Alongside experience, actual content is wide open. The current floor scheme is incredibly repetitive, largely because the floor layouts and design vary very little. New dungeons, new floors, and new layouts could easily be offered, perhaps as rewards for grandmaster quests (or additional premium content, in expansion pack form). Again, new content is only valuable due to the obvious weaknesses of an otherwise enjoyable skill, and to this content the masses would flood. Lest we forget, there are also no new floors which become available after level 69, leaving a huge range of room for growth.
Of course, there’s more! Consider your items: currently only a scarce few items can be bound; with 3 items at level 99 you’re offered a very small bump in base value over your returning value at level 50. Additionally, there are no items of legitimate value offered presently in the amulet, cape, or ring slot. There are very few compelling items which can’t be recovered very quickly, as only the rarely dropped primal items carry any legitimate clout.
Like it or hate it, Dungeoneering offers Jagex the opportunity to offer new content to the community in another slowly introduced wave of updates. While many compare Dungeoneering to Summoning and expect “Wave II” to hit and offer huge improvements, a quick glance across the community and the number of people down in those rooms indicates that perhaps no such update is coming. Instead, Jagex has created an open platform where the developers can continue to offer carrots to prod players to explore new content.
Further, Jagex has given itself the ability to expand easily without any impact on the “real” game. As Dungeoneering occurs in almost a complete vacuum, the remainder of the game exists presently without any needs for the windfalls of the new skill’s rewards. While some of the purchasable items are very attractive, nothing there is critical for enjoying the remainder of the game at a high level. Lest we forget, the entire skill came up literally on an island, consuming precisely none of the free space available on the Misthalin map.
I’d expect to see similar updates of this nature frequently as other content closes, with updates closing out existing quest storylines or finishing off long promised updated content (I’m looking at you, Zanaris). By creating open, underdeveloped content such as Dungeoneering, Jagex has creatively solved one of their long existing needs: the desire of players to seek out content, and enjoy rewards which are both hugely valuable and do not tip the delicate balance of the overall game experience.