Pirates of the Burning Sea: Bi-Weekly Q&A SeriesPirates of the Burning Sea: Interview #4Pirates of the Burning Sea: Bi-Weekly Q&A Series - RSS 2.0
WarCry: The game world itself is clearly based on the actual Caribbean, but obviously not to scale. Take us through the translation of real places to a compelling video game world.
Jess Lebow: There are really three different levels of scale for PotBS. The first is the instances. In battle, the game world is pretty close to scale, that is to say, the ships are in rough proportion to the waves and the coastline as they would be in real life. The second is the towns and persistent avatar areas. These are mostly proportional, but since we don't want players to get lost, we've provided spaces that fit the needs that players have in towns (buy goods, talk to trainers, interact with other players, visit the tavern, etc...). The third is the open sea. This is our fast travel zone, and it is in no way to scale. It would take days to sail across the entire Caribbean, and I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like fun to me. So we've truncated the whole thing to make it take anywhere from 30-minutes to an hour to sail from one end to the other-which you won't likely never do in a single play session.
No matter which of these scales we're working in, we start with several different things in mind. Playability is the largest factor. Each of the "rooms" as we call them (a room could be anything-a fort, water from horizon to horizon, an indoor tavern, the outside courtyard of a town, etc...) is designed to fit a particular need inside our game. Once we know what sort of gameplay is going to happen there, then the artists and world designers will spend a fair amount of time researching what the area looked like in real life. Sketches are good, when we can find them. Pictures of ruins are examined. But oftentimes we have to rely on written descriptions of what the area looked like, and work backward from what a town or local looks like now.
What we're really looking for in our research are elements we can use to flavour the area so that it feels right. For example, we recently redesigned Port Royal, the British capital. In real life, Port Royal was hit pretty hard by a couple of earthquakes (one before 1720 and one right after). So we incorporated some of the destruction into the town art. The docks that players encounter when they first arrive have been built out from the remaining ruins of the front part of the town.
We give this same treatment to all the environments in the game. Our environment team is really great. They've done some super cool stuff. Wait until you get a chance to run through Tortuga. :)
WarCry: One advantage of a pirate setting is that a lot of the lore that makes it popular is old enough to now be in the public domain. Tell us about some of the famous pirates and situations the game has in store?
Jess Lebow: To round out the four "nations" in the game, we've created what we're calling the Brethren of the Coast, which is really just a loose affiliation of pirates who have allied to collectively fight the European powers. While France, England, and Spain all have their respective heads of state, the Brethren have instead William Kidd. (Okay, so in real life there really wasn't a pirate nation and William Kidd was hanged, but play along for a moment.)
While facing the gallows, the rope used to hang Kidd broke (this part really happened). The lucky pirate was said to have received the "Lord's Pardon" and with the help of some sympathetic folk, he managed to escape (that's the part where we diverge from history). In PotBS, Kidd has returned to the Caribbean and has become the head of the Brethren. Players will eventually get to meet him and run missions for him in the name of the Brethren of the Coast.
We have plans to run live events with many of the other famous pirates you know. Be on the lookout for Blackbeard sometime in the near future. And at launch, Captain Blood can be found creating trouble at select locations all over the Caribbean.
WarCry: Sailing has been simplified for ease of gameplay. Is there anything there for the nautical purist to enjoy?
Jess Lebow: Oh sure.
Wind plays a huge factor in sailing and combat tactics. There are several different types of rigging in the game, and each changes the way a ship handles along with its angle of attack. Trying to sail close-hauled will reduce your effectiveness, as it would in a real ship. The sails will actually turn when you move through the point on the compass where the wind hits them in a different direction. And, among other things, our ships have been created using actual plans from sailing ships of our time period.