Dateline: March 30, 2007
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, not really, it was just an ordinary night but I’ve always wanted to use that as an opening line. Anyway, the night watchman at Jagex Towers was dozing quietly in front of the video displays, kinda sorta almost watching. It wasn’t as if the screens really needed watching, nothing ever happened here. At least not after the last of the programmers went home at about 2:00 a.m.
The night watchman rather resented the hours the programmers kept. He thought they should stick to regular office hours, like proper workers, instead of disturbing the first half of his shift with their pizza deliveries and occasional shindigs.
But back to this particular night. It was dark, even though it was not stormy. The moon was showing its dark side and much of the starlight was obscured by clouds. The night watchman glanced at the bank of video displays, poured himself another cup of tea and went back to doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper:
5 Across: mythical half man, half beast inhabitant of the labyrinth (8).
The night watchman snorted: "Mythical indeed. That crossword writer’s never seen what they’ve got in the basement here. Minotaur." He filled in the answer and took another sip of tea.
"Ah! Nothing like a nice cup of tea." He thought to himself as he sharpened his pencil.
It was at this moment, had he been paying attention to the video screens instead of musing on minotaurs, he would have seen several figures slip stealthily into the shadow of the building by the rear entrance. Once safely out of sight of the cameras, the leader of the team spent no time at all picking the lock on the door (at level 99 thieving he’d had plenty of practice!). The group entered the building very quietly. They were rather strangely dressed, their pale blue boots and capes of some odd very spotty fur seemed to make them almost weightless. They all wore outfits made of some very tough yet flexible black hide, along with masks and gloves that seemed to deaden any sound they might make. Strangest of all, they carried bows that appeared to be made of crystal. One of them wore a purple paper hat that looked as if it had come from a Christmas cracker.
The leader consulted his map.
"Right", he said, "we’ve got plenty of time. It’s at least an hour till the watchman makes his next rounds. We need to get to R&D on the 13th floor. Unfortunately we’re going to have to use the stairs at the end of this corridor. So let’s get going!"
The party set off at a run, moving quickly and quietly through the darkened building. They reached the stairwell and, without pausing to catch their breath, ran effortlessly up the stairs. The time they’d spent at the training course on Ape Atoll had been worth it – despite the way the monkey suits stank after getting wet.
Once on the 13th floor, the leader again consulted his map.
"4th door on the right!" he whispered and set off down the corridor. Just like the rear door of the building, this one didn’t stand a chance against his lock-picking ability. The unmarked door opened in seconds and they were in. This was it! The research and development office of Jagex. This was where the new skills and quests were designed. The Sanctum Sanctorum. If they could succeed in getting away with copies of Jagex’s secret plans, they’d be so far ahead of the game they’d be invincible. Not only that, they’d be able to keep their fansite out in front of all the others by having the best guides and maps. They’d be able to appear omniscient in their predicitions of what Jagex was going to be doing. This was better than winning the lottery.
The Crew (yes, you’ve guessed it – it was indeed an elite special operations team from the Tip.It Crew) whipped out digital cameras and began copying every piece of paper they could find. Even the wall calendar was copied, though that might have been as much for the artwork as for the appointments scribbled on it. A couple of Crewbies pulled out thumbdrives and started downloading data from the computers. Their high level thieving skills and knowledge of computers made the operation a piece of cake. Eventually they were done.
"OK guys, I think that’s it," said the leader finally. "Let’s get outta here. We’ll all teleport out to different destinations and meet upstairs in the monastery on world 132. We need to sort through all this and see what we’ve got."
The room was a sudden blur of purplish light and odd noises and the adventurers vanished. Downstairs in the security office, the nightwatchman stood up and stretched, picked up his flashlight and master key and headed off to do his final rounds.
About the same time the night watchman was concluding his rounds, far away in the monastery the Crew and the Admins were having a wonderful time going through the loot from their raid on Jagex Towers. For a while there was nothing but the scribbling of quill pen on parchment as the crewbies analysed the data. Then:
"Oooh! Look at this!", someone passed round a thick stack of paper. "This is why they brought out Hunting when they did. I thought it was rather unfinished. This explains why."
"Oh that's cool! These guys are good. I thought they rushed it out to keep all those levelled out players in the game."
Everyone took a good look, then got back to work. Until:
"Horses! We’re going to get horses. And carriages."
"What? Not from Diango again?"
"No, real ones! Hajedy and his buddy who run the cart to and from Shilo village are getting the first ones. Then player-owned horses will follow."
"Don’t tell me we’re going to be able to keep a horse and cart in our inventory! I don’t think my back could stand it."
"No, silly -- there’ll be livery stables where you can leave your horse (for a small fee) or you can build a stable at your house."
"But I thought Jagex was adamant that we were never going to get horses!"
"Well obviously, they've been working on it for a while - they've probably been telling people that just to keep them quiet."
"Wow! Look at these quest outlines! Some of these are going to be really difficult, but some are going to be amazing – especially this one: it’s got hang-gliding trolls!"
"Hang-gliding trolls? Do we get to hang-glide as well?"
"We sure do! That’s part of the quest reward."
The team couldn't believe what they were reading. They all read quietly for a while, the only sound breaking the silence being the ruffling of parchment and an occasional grunt or gasp as some nifty new addition to the game was discovered.
"Yep. Same sort of principle as Dwarf cannon and the boats up in Keldagrim. The skill’s going to be called Engineering and you’ll be able to build all sorts of steam powered machines to speed up training. Like tractors for farming, and powered mining equipment."
"Nice! Wonder if we’ll get whole trains as well."
"Probably not, though it would be nice if there was a railroad. Might get steam powered cars though. Oh wow! Steamships. Look at how much smithing XP you’ll get from building a steel battleship!"
"That’s phenomenal! Can you imagine what it would take to build a Runite battleship?"
"That’s a great Clan or Team operation. And crewing the boat. Do you suppose there’ll be player vs player naval battles? Or will we just be able to take on pirates or the Karamjan navy or something?"
"Dunno. It doesn’t say here… I guess we’ll have to go back again in a few months. Still, now that we know the layout it won’t be so bad."
"Wait – here’s something that will make our next raid much easier – one shot comeback teleport tablets that they’re calling them boomerangs. You drop the tablet where you want to come back to. Teleport away, then you can boomerang back to the tablet. Oh wait. That won’t help us. They’ve got a 10-minute window. After that, they disintegrate. Nice idea though. It’ll make banking from remote locations so much easier. No more running back and forward when you’re training Slayer or something like that. Run out of food, drop a tablet, teleport to the bank, restock your inventory, and boomerang back to your training spot."
More papers were shufffled. There was much muttering about graphics upgrades, engine upgrades, sound upgrades. Eventually all the papers were sorted and the lists of upgrades compiled. The new monsters were all catalogued and ready to be added to the Bestiary, new armour and weapons were readied for the items database, and the blank guide templates for the new skills and other new content were prepared. Finally, it was all done. All that was left was formatting the pics and writing out and inserting the text into the draft guides.
"Right guys", said Kiara_Kat, "we’re done. Let’s go over to my house to celebrate. My beer barrel is full and my cook makes a pretty good pizza! And remember...don't breathe a word of this to anyone. The last thing I need is for Andrew to find out what we've been up to! I don't want him on my back again - remember how he reacted when we issued the Mourning's End - Part 2 quest guide too early? No sir, I don't want to go through that again! Let's go, guys!"
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