Gamer.no: Compared to another recent pirate game, Pirates of the Caribbean (or even the original, Sea Dogs), could you mention a few features present there, that will be carried out in Pirates of the Burning Sea? Could you make any sort of comparison to the gameplay offered in Pirates of the Caribbean?
TD: Most obviously, of course, we're a massively multiplayer online game, not a single-player adventure game. Our game's initial release is focused on ship-based gameplay -- there are no human avatars running around. Because of that focus, we can really amp up the intensity and the challenge of sailing and naval combat beyond what you've seen in PotC.
If you liked the beautiful graphics that Akella delivered in both PotC and Sea Dogs, you're going to be very happy. We hired Akella to create our ship models for us, and we turned them loose to build super-detailed ships. We're making this game for gamers with the latest systems, and this gave Akella the freedom to make the best-looking ships ever.
Gamer.no: Is it true that Pirates of the Burning Sea will be entirely downloadable from the Internet? How will this work in practice? And will you still be able to offer retail packages for those not wanting to download an entire game?
TD: Yes. We have teamed up with Valve Software to use their Steam system for downloading, patching, and login. You'll subscribe online, and Steam will stream the game to your hard drive. Patches and new features will be streamed down in the background, then activated whenever they're ready. There won't be a retail box -- we require players to have a broadband connection, so the initial download shouldn't be too painful.
Gamer.no: Obviously, players will be able to own and navigate their own ship. What does the role of a captain involve? And Will players be able to own entire fleets of ships?
TD: You'll hire and manage your team of NPC officers, outfit and modify your ship to suit your style of play, and build your reputation in the game world through your actions.
Players won't own multiple ships in the initial release. We expect players to team up and form fleets, trade convoys, and pirate bands.
Gamer.no: Will every player be a captain of a ship, or are there any other professions available to play? If so, please tell us a bit about each of them and what their responsibilities will include. One of our readers were wondering about the possibility of players being crew members on other player's ships. Is this possible?
TD: Every player is the captain of a ship. You can ally yourself with the British, French, or Spanish nations. You can join the navy and work your way up through the ranks, work for a trading company as a merchant, be a free trader with your own ship and cargo routes, get a letter of marque in times of war to be a privateer, or renounce your citizenship to become a dastardly pirate. And your character can do all of these things in time -- you aren't locked into a character class. A pirate can earn his way back into legal citizenship, and a naval captain can turn pirate. Your character keeps growing and changing as long as you want.
We have talked quite a bit about having multiple players on one ship and have some ideas for how this will work, but there are some very obvious problems as well. We plan on working through these problems and introducing this gameplay after our initial release.
Gamer.no: It's been stated before that the game will include a functioning trade system. How much of a factor will this be, and how will the player economy work?
TD: Every port has a population of citizens that put pressure on supply and demand, causing prices to fluctuate in real time from port to port. Our economy is very real and very live. Players who put time into commerce will reap the rewards.
We know dynamic ecnomies have caused problems in other games. Our approach is to include a lot of NPC merchants, who are moving goods to and fro. They generate enough churn in the markets that a single player can't wildly skew prices at will. But large market shifts will be visible over time, and canny players will make the most of them.