Hello, tGM here.
As a few of you are aware, over the last couple of days I have been visiting Jagex's HQ up in Cambridge, UK.
I am an old player, part of the previous staff team and a part of the Classic Mode Development Advisor (CMDA) team that has recently been formed in the last couple of weeks. My reason for visiting was relating to the Classic Mode, and finding a little bit more about how Jagex works internally and meeting the faces behind the names.
Like many veteran players, the content of the initial release version of Ace of Spades came at quite a shock - a drastic change from the game we'd all been so involved in for over 1 and a half years; It became clear that it was going to be a sharp change for those people, as it was a whole new game under the same name. These days, there's the new Classic Mode - originally it was planned to be more of a content (map/skin) pack, but due to community response it grew into almost a new entity; While talking to Arash Amini (Producer) and to Rob Kinder (Marketing Director) it seemed like the two lines will be taken with different approaches and styles.
As said in another blog post, the Classic Mode will be based upon the 0.1-0.4 era of the Voxlap beta - back in a place where the gameplay was much slower, more tactical and war-like. Jagex appears to appreciate that it is something they don't have much experience with and that the community has people that do have experience with it, and that is the beginning of the CMDA team. The advisory team will be sending direct and appropriate feedback to tune Classic Mode back to the core gameplay that was much loved back in the early days. It is being seen as a Community Development Build, the table is open and almost anything can be considered as a possibility - the CMDA team's job is to make sure that the suggestions and ideas from the community are debated, refined and potentially put forward for implementation, if it fits with the tactical gameplay that the classic mode will allow us to hopefully achieve - we plan to be pretty public and upfront about these things.
As part of the visit I was able to speak with the Quality Assurance (QA) team, the testers who play the game searching for issues and giving input of their own. Other than seeing a couple of the changes that were recently released in the latest build released on Friday, it was a great chance to show some of the beta gameplay and what was important - one of which being generated maps. It seems that they are looking into adding generated maps into the game, which personally is a great thing as those maps allowed the full range of tactics to be used. The game used to be quite based around the importance of using your terrain effectively, whether through building or tunnelling - so this type of map should take centre stage.
One major topic while talking to them was, of course, private servers. They are very aware of the community voice regarding the wish for the custom maps, server hosting/moderating etc. There will be announcements coming soon regarding their first steps regarding this - renting server space with moderation and server options. While speaking with Arash we seemed to agree that the best solution would likely be along the lines of the tf2 style 'official' centrally hosted servers with the 'third party' community-hosted servers as their own space, but there is a whole load of improvements and alterations that would need to be done in stages for this to be achievable. The idea is for Jagex to first provide the best possible service they can to players using their own services and then hopefully getting the infrastructure there to support the possibility of third party hosting - it's no easy process but it's one that's certainly being considered.
So there's a little snippet of what went on while I was in their building meeting people - hopefully Jagex can develop their Classic line, with the help of community discussion and CMDA feedback, into something that us oldens can enjoy once more - we shall see what the coming weeks and months hold.