Welcome to patch 1.5
What to expect in 1.5
Every month I write one of these “patch introduction” devlogs and every month it’s the same: Features! Features! Features! This one is different. After spending a few months packing a few big features into each patch, the 1.5 patch is about making dozens of small fixes that will each make an improvement to the experience people have in the game every day.
The one exception to this “many improvements” plan is our second Epic Mission. Fortaleza da Luz is a level 50 environment along the line of Bey’s Retreat. This series of missions has been in the works for a few months and we’re excited to finally be able to show it to you. Fortaleza will be the subject of a pair of devlogs in the coming week.
While Matt and Bryan are working on Fortaleza, the rest of the content team is spending their time in existing missions. Using data mined from the live game we have found a number of extraordinarily difficult missions. Some of these are being marked as group missions (a state that is much more visible in the UI after 1.4) and the rest are being adjusted so that they are of an appropriate difficulty. We are also examining the missions before level 15 to smooth out that experience for people.
In addition to work on the next epic mission, our environment team is revisiting two of the existing town environment and sprucing them up. Morgan’s Bluff and Charlesfort are both getting a facelift. We aren’t changing their layouts at all, but are improving the visuals. An upcoming devlog will give you a sneak peak at the upgraded towns.
This has been another good patch for the UI Strike Team. The most demanded change they’re making is an upgrade for the conquest UI. They have also added UChat support which enables cross-server messages as well as messages to and from all SOE games. These and many other UI upgrades are coming from the UI Strike Team. Fraxl’s devlog will have all the details.
Another devlog you’ll see next week is one from the character artists. They have added several new faces and some new hairdos for female characters. They are also making a pass through the NPC pieces to improve the way they look. Keep an eye out for lots of screenshots there.
In 1.5, we’re introducing the first steps towards addressing the level of risk in our PvP. The largest of these steps is the Insurance system. Insurance works very simply: when you lose a durability point, you receive an insurance payment that partially compensates you for your loss. The amount of the payment is set on a per-ship basis, and will be related to the production cost of a single durability point on that ship. It’s a direct cash payout, so if you don’t really want a replacement ship, you can invest that money in a different ship, or a different area of the game entirely.
There are limitations on insurance payouts, of course. If you’re sailing a captured ship, you don’t get the payout. This is true even if you’re a pirate who built the ship in a Careening Camp; not only are those ships extremely cheap to produce, but they’re also not exactly the kind of thing that Lloyd’s of London is interested in providing coverage on. Also, if you’re sailing a fallback ship, or your new player starter ship, you don’t receive the payout. For all other ships, insurance happens automatically; it is assumed that you have coverage at all time.
In addition to reducing the costs of PvP we are making a fairly significant change to the conquest system. Right now it’s very difficult for pirates to win a server victory because they don’t get to keep ports that they conquer. We are increasing the number of points that the Brethren earn to more per port than the 3 points they earn now. This will let server victories be the race against the pirates they were always meant to be.
All of these changes are in addition to the dozens of bugs that we’re fixing, the new tools we’re adding to help the GMs respond to people more easily, and the general polish the game is getting. Now that we’re a little further from launch it is nice to take a break from big features to work on a bunch of this little stuff. I hope you like what you see as you read the devlogs and get a chance to check out the new patch on Testbed in a couple weeks.
Producer, Pirates of the Burning Sea