As some of you may know, it's been roughly a year since Dungeoneering was released (which astounds me; the time has flown). I figured now would be a good time to reflect, not on the next skill, but rather the nuances that the next skill may hold. Jagex has released a great variety of skills, with a large degree of experimentation apparent in the two most recent, and they have been met with varied success. The question struck me, “What would be Jagex's best characteristic combination to attempt in order to assure positive community reaction?” And so the evaluation (no, that's not a play off my name) began.
The first thing that came to mind as a definite point of interest was the group-oriented nature of Dungeoneering. The ability to not only be able skill with your friends, which many people already do, but have your experience rates increase while helping your friends increase theirs is where a lot of the garnered affection for the skill comes from. It helps friends be drawn closer to one another as well, as I've learned from my experiences in the skill, which is always a positive.
One major flaw, however, is the system carried out by Jagex to aid in finding group members. Not everyone has friends logged on all the time to Dungeoneer, which I'm glad Jagex recognized and tried to fix. I can honestly say though that I've never seen a single person actually use the portals for what they were intended for. Perhaps they could have made the entire main “room” for the ice floors, then branched a room off that one for the next set, and then continued so on for each realm of floors. Perhaps a nuisance for those wishing to go to higher level floors, but it may have been better. This, of course, is just one suggestion, but the fact remains that the group aspect of a new skill would likely be positive, as long as proper organization was applied.
Another point to consider is a skill’s usefulness. Summoning put a revolutionary spin on a lot of activities, involving virtually the entire P2P player base. The skill provided assistance for essentially any situation you could think of, and led to increases in experience rates and changes to boss hunting setups alike. It offers content all the way to the very last level, with Magic and Construction being the only ones that could really be compared. Due to these traits, I can't say I have heard much negative feedback about Summoning, aside from the minor nitpicks that are nearly a necessity. This huge variety, shared also by Dungeoneering, though in a different sense, has proven to be much appreciated by the community.
Once again though, there is a counter point. The problem with creating such a skill is that it's hard to do multiple times. While Jagex essentially has as long as they want between skill releases, realistically they're on a time frame in order to keep their players happy with skills to play. With a skill like Summoning, they can take their theme and then just use things they get as suggestions, like a bigger inventory, and apply it. Once they have added that bit to satisfy the suggestion though, the idea can't really be reused. How many more content packed skills can Jagex release without saturating the game with pouches and equipment to take, thus inevitably making a certain skill deemed not worth training in favor of another?
I'll add just one more quick point for discussion in the form of my opinion of the “batch release system” that Jagex has employed for Summoning and Dungeoneering. I personally am a fan of it, as it allows Jagex a little extra time to tweak things before releasing them completely, while still giving the community what they want. Plus, with the batch system, unless you are unreasonably stubborn, you'll go back and at least attempt the skill with each new batch. That way you can at least make an informed decision on the skill instead of criticizing it immediately.
Of course, it will be interesting to see what the next skill Jagex releases is, but what will interest me most is what factors, like the ones I've mentioned, Jagex takes into account. I have no doubt they can make another skill received as well as Dungeoneering. I await it eagerly.