Melvor Idle Interview: Turning RuneScape Into An Idle Game
RuneScape is a grind. As we chase the dream of getting all of our skills up to level 99, we ignore the monotony of it all. The towns, the music, the NPCs, they all serve to dress it up a bit, but if you boot up Old School RuneScape now, it’s staggering just how much time we used to spend cutting down entire forests, and setting up a mile-long line of campfires, just to reach that magical level 99 in every stat.
The serotonin boost is undeniable - that’s why you sink so many hours into it. Every MMO has a gameplay loop like this, of course, but RuneScape is more honest about it. It knows the appeal of seeing those numbers go up. In that sense, Melvor Idle is the natural progression for an entire generation who grew up on the popular free MMO. Because while it takes a lot of inspiration from OSRS Gold, it’s first and foremost an idle game - a game that’s played by clicking on various menus, grinding away without much player input.
“I took the best elements of RuneScape, the ones that I personally enjoyed, stripped them down and put them into an auto form,” Melvor Idle creator Brendan Malcolm tells me. “Being in a full-time role prior to Melvor Idle, I didn't necessarily have the time to play an active game. So auto games are really good to give you the sense of progression and the joy and the fun while not necessarily having to pay attention to it. You spend a lot of time getting to that glorious level 99, which makes you feel like you've taken a journey.”
Playing both games back-to-back, it’s clear RuneScape’s sense of progression is captured in Melvor Idle, completely in spreadsheet form. It’s RuneScape without having to boot up the game and actually play it. Who wants that? Just make the numbers go up, please.
We’re not making all of these RuneScape comparisons just because we’re both fans. Melvor Idle made headlines this week following the news that it will actually be published by RuneScape creator Jagex itself, following an extremely successful stint on Early Access. Dream partnerships like this don’t get announced often - usually I’m reporting on fan projects being shut down, not being offered funding.
“Having Jagex come and want to work with me is basically a dream come true,” Malcolm says, having been a fan of its work since 2006. “For the company that inspired me in the first place, the company I've looked up to since the beginning, to want to work with me and get this product out there and help with my vision of Melvor Idle - It's just absolutely amazing.”
Melvor Idle will, on the face of it, look like a very different experience to typical RuneScape players. But what you actually have is a fantasy game that drops you into the world, letting you do whatever you want. Aside from that, you have this story of an indie dev who took a bold leap and is having it all pay off.
“The community that I interact with every day, they're basically the reason I'm sitting here with Jagex and working alongside them,” Malcolm says. “Being able to see so many people enjoy and love a product that I have created brings me so much joy.”
Melvor Idle’s full commercial launch is scheduled for November.