It's a strange thing to say about your job, but a RuneScape editor wants their work to be invisible and unnoticed. You don't want typos to be found in game, and you certainly don't want Knowledge Base errors to be highlighted on the forums. In fact, by just mentioning the editor role, you are probably scouring my text for grammatical inconsistencies (I'd do the same, by the way).
That's not to say that we're the shadowy word-ninjas that the introduction implies, no matter how much we want to be. We get involved with some enjoyable projects that are visible, and these can be appreciated by a large number of people. For this dev blog, I'll reveal our work in a couple of them: the Postbag from the Hedge and the Players' Gallery.
Postbag from the Hedge
Every month or so, we comb the Postbag inbox for your letters. There are oodles to read - we have 618 waiting right now - and it can take many hours to pick the best.
If you've ever sent a letter into the Postbag, you'll want to know why some are picked and others are unused. Personally, I prefer succinct letters to interesting NPCs, or letters to NPCs we haven't heard from in some time. We also like a varied tone in the Postbag, so we pick a mixture of humorous letters, letters that explore RuneScape's history, and those that allow us to reveal a little about future content. We're suckers for Evil Dave, Party Pete and the penguins, but don't all send your letters to them; they're lovely to visit occasionally, but can you imagine living with them?
I hope we're not shattering illusions by revealing that we, the editors, write the replies, and not the characters themselves. We do, however, submit all letters to the character's parents (i.e. the developer who created them or, if that developer has left, the one who ‘curates' that content) to guarantee that all text is in the character's voice and suitable. We'll also pass the Postbag under the nose of Mod Mark, who makes sure that the quality is strong and the spoilers aren't too spoilerific. He has a definite plan for RuneScape over the coming years, and we have to adhere to it in the same way that game content does.
We couldn't talk about the Postbag without mentioning the Chaos Elemental. For any fan of the Future Updates forum, the Chaos Elemental is the Postbag, and on a personal note, it is the best part of my job. We see the Chaos Elemental's letters as a battle of wits with you, the readers. Each and every time, we will try to use new methods of confounding you - the periodic table and Teeline Shorthand was used this time round - but we get beaten repeatedly. Sometimes it can take a couple of days for all the hints to be found, but the Chaos Elemental is generally decoded on the Future Updates forum within hours. Next time, Future Updates, next time.
Like the Postbag from the Hedge, the Players' Gallery is collated once a month from its individual email alias. There are fewer submissions for this feature, but that is understandable when you see the quality of what we receive; often we receive artwork that must have taken hours, days even, to create.
Unlike the Postbag, however, the Players' Gallery is nearly all your work: we just get the enviable job of picking our favourites. The Gallery also causes more arguments than the Postbag, as the definition of a good gallery image is different for each editor. I will lean towards unusual images, a variety of media and more colourful depictions; previous curators have leaned towards cuter artwork or dark and epic images. Still, a stunning image will knock any Gallery curator's socks off: just look at this month's Bandos Armour image.
Once chosen, the images are input into HTML, tested and translated. We'll then do a plagiarism check, where every employee of Jagex takes a minute to scan them for anything they recognise as traced or scanned from another source (one Yu-Gi-Oh dragon managed to escape us last year). Unfortunately, there have also been occasions where players have taken another's artwork and submitted it as their own, but we attempt to catch these as soon as we can.
To a RuneScape editor, the Postbag and Gallery are a joy to work on, but the priority is and always will be in-game content. Hundreds of thousands will play the newest piece of content, while a Postbag will see a fraction of that. We do get to edit the dialogue for some hugely interesting characters (imps are Cockney, by the way), so the Postbag and Gallery aren't sorely missed.
You may also have noted a few months when the Postbag and Gallery went AWOL, and we'd like to apologise for that. A huge backlog of edits and Knowledge Base pages meant that they had to be delayed, but we've got a steely determination to make them more regular from now on. You can count on your loyal and shadowy word-ninjas.