Exclusive Pirates of the Burning Sea interview

Pirates of the Burning Sea is the first online massively multiplayer pirate game ever created. But you don't have to be a pirate - here you can choose to be a greedy merchant or a noble naval officer for one of the three nations in the game: Spain, Britain and France. Pirates of the Burning Sea is all about being sucessful, and getting there any way you see fit. Step over bodies to get to the money pouch, or step over bodies to save your country. You'll be doing a lot of stepping over bodies anyway, because Pirates of the Burning Sea is a merciless reconstruction of the 18th century Caribbean.

As a captain of your own ship you'll set your own course in an enourmous online world where every man makes his own luck. You'll be able to hook up with other players to form trade routes, pirate gangs and fight against a common enemy - the opposing nations. As a player you build up your own reputation within a political system, and if you decide to live the life of a pirate, you can expect to see alot of rum, sea salt and annoyed gouvernors.

We had the chance to talk to the lead designer, Taylor Daynes, who were able to answer a lot of different questions ranging from Valve's Steam system to advanced graphics technology, and from economy interested merchants to salty, ghostly pirates. Sounds interesting? Read on. First off, please introduce yourself to our readers. Tell us something about yourself, your role on the team, and your experience with online games in general.

TD: I'm Taylor Daynes, lead designer of Pirates of the Burning Sea here at Flying Lab Software. It's my job to do the core design work on the project, pushing the game to be what it deserves to be. I've spent a lot of time playing a variety of online games, including Asheron's Call and Star Wars: Galaxies. I want to make a different kind of game, and learn from the strengths and weaknesses of what earlier games accomplished. Pirates of the Burning Sea has not been too much present in the media so far. Please tell us something about the game, what players can expect, and the goals you have set for release.

TD: It's a MMOG set in 1720 in the Caribbean. Each player is the captain of a sailing ship, free to chart his or her own destiny in the midst of war and intrigue. Pirate games has been around for a while, with the most popular one being Sid Meier's pirate adventure. Online pirate games is something totally new. How are you going about developing a new type of game? What pitfalls are you trying to avoid, that previous online game developers stepped right into? And most importantly - what other pirate games are acting as inspiration to you?

TD: Sid's game is a big inspiration that we've all spent a lot of time playing. Early in the project we even set up an old Amiga here in the office just to play it again! But our realtime multiplayer play means we're designing something very different from that game (or its upcoming sequel).

One thing we've been dissatisfied with in other online games is what the early player experience is like. There's such a level treadmill, where you're highly vulnerable and spend your time beating up on chipmunks. Our gameplay style is very different. You start as the captain of your own ship, and a good captain in a starting vessel can still sail and fight very effectively.

We also don't do levels -- your character develops through skills, not levels, and we give you the freedom to explore different skills over time without locking you into bad decisions.

And combat in our game is very tactical. You don't select an enemy ship, press the attack button, and go make a sandwich. You're maneuvering, picking targets, changing ammunition loadouts, and delivering broadsides all in real time. It's not twitch gaming, and it's not fire-and-forget. It's white-knuckle decisions, planning ahead, and reacting to changes in the wind and in your enemy's tactics.

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