Guild Q&A Log
Since that lazy colonial type known as Aether is off somewhere celebrating his Independence Day, it is down to me, the hard working Brit, to file today’s news.
A couple of weeks ago we held a small Q&A on IRC with a few large gaming communities / guilds who had shown an interest in Pirates of the Burning Sea. This was the first of many such events (we hope), and it was a great success.
Three of us attended the chat. David “Taelorn” Hunt (Game Designer and ship extraordinaire), Troy “Aether” Hewitt (Director, Community Relations) and yours truly (skivvy).
A lot of very pertinent questions were asked, and so we have decided to share the log of the event with our beloved community.
<[SK]Tiber> How are you going to represent personal achievement?
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ships are one of the simplest and most visible ways. You can identify a lot about a player based on the ship that they’re sailing.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are several ships that come post level 50, that are prestige items that help players stand out.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ships of the Line are the primary post 50 ships, and they have massive amounts of firepower and armor but they are poor hunting ships.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Beyond that, we are working on unlockable costume pieces.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There’s a variety of costume options that will be locked behind accomplishments
<[FLS]Taelorn> For example, navy uniforms based on your rank, a hook hand or an eye patch
<[FLS]Taelorn> We have a system of player titles planned out, but it won’t be in at launch. Title rewards will be given throughout the game for various achievements (once we add them)
<[XoO]Yarinn> What about PotBS will entice GW players, how expansive is the PvP system?
<[FLS]Taelorn> In GW, the PvP takes place in a separate world from the PvE game. It’s very precise and competitive.
<[FLS]Taelorn> In PotBS, the PvP will be entirely in world at launch.
<[FLS]Taelorn> It all revolves around our conquest system.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are around 80 conquerable ports in the Caribbean.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The goal for each nation is to conquer the Caribbean by earning a certain number of victory points. Every port you control contributes temporary victory points, and the first time you capture a port you get permanent victory points.
<[FLS]Taelorn> PvP zones are all player-created.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Initially, there’s no PvP in the world. Player activity around ports generates unrest, and creates PvP regions.
<[FLS]Taelorn> That way, players can choose where they want PvP to occur.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are two main types of PvP: AdHoc battles and port battles
<[FLS]Taelorn> AdHoc battles are encounters between groups of ships on the open sea, and comprise the bulk of the PvP battles
<[FLS]Taelorn> Port battles are 25vs25 (or probably 24vs24) battles between opposing nations to contest ownership of a port
<[FLS]Taelorn> When a port battle is won, one side claims the port for their nation and gets access to various services and reduced taxes.
<[FLS]Taelorn> In the end, when one nation achieves victory the nations all sign a treaty and return the ports to the original owners and go at it again. We had out tokens to everyone with a reset.
<[FLS]Taelorn> *hand out tokens
<[SK]Eelill> Can you explain how the ship durability system works (ships sinking and getting ressurected, etc)
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are a few types of ships in the game world.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are pirate captured ships, civilian ships and player crafted ships.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Pirate captured ships and civilian ships have 1 point of durability.
<[FLS]Taelorn> You lose a point of durability whenever you sink or lose a boarding battle on defense, which means those ships are gone.
<[FLS]Taelorn> For player crafted ships, they all have a set number of durability points. Higher level and most expensive ships have less durability. Merchant ships have more durability.
<[FLS]Taelorn> You can negotiate a surrender with your opponent in an attempt to save your durability.
<[FLS]Taelorn> We’re also looking into a system that allows you to combine deeds for a ship to increase the amount of durability remaining instead of having to wait until you lose your last point.
<[FLS]Taelorn> That’s a feature high on our list and it will probably make it for launch.
<[FLS]Taelorn> When you lose your last point of durability, you lose all the permanent outfittings on your ship.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are 6 slots for outfittings – 3 general, 1 hull, 1 gun, 1 sails
<[FLS]Taelorn> The hull, gun and sail slots are permanent – which means you cannot unequip them (but you can destroy them)
<[FLS]Taelorn> If we add the liquid durability system, you will lose the main outfitting everytime you sink, but we will make outfitting much cheaper than it is right now.
<[FLS]Taelorn> As with anything I’m discussing here, these systems are bound to grow and change as we continue development.
<[FLS]Taelorn> So there’s always a chance it won’t be identical to the way I describe it
<[FLS]Taelorn> Oh, one other thing
<[FLS]Taelorn> When you die, you go to your nearest friendly port in your current ship. If you have no durability left, you go to your nearest ship.
<[FLS]Taelorn> If you have no ships left at all, we give you a free ship that is weaker than the ships you should be using, but it is strong enough that you can earn another ship.
<[SK]Sobe> Guild Organisation: In how far are players bound to the towns they have their building slots in? For a guild would it be better to operate out of a single town or have numerous outposts? (pros/cons)
[FLS]Taelorn> There are two ways that players are bound to specific towns.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The first is your warehouse. You need a warehouse at any port where you want to produce economic goods. Every warehouse you add is increasingly expensive, so you need to be careful in that regard.
<[FLS]Taelorn> If you scrap a warehouse it will decrease the price for your next warehouse. Keeping structures in two ports is cheap, because the warehouse cost is small.
[<[FLS]Taelorn> Three ports gets a little bit more expensive, and four is very expensive.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I should note that our building system uses lots – you can have 10 lots, or buildings, per account. Some structures (such as a large shipyard) might require multiple lots.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Warehouses are independent of the lot system.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Assuming youre in a good position with your warehouses, its relatively cheap for an efficient business to scrap its current production facilities and build new ones.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ive done this several times in the course of the beta. Since my business was always profitable, the financial strain of making new buildings did not matter.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Its costly enough to prevent someone from jumping around and making whatever they want whenever they want, but it doesnt prevent adapting to changing markets.
<[FLS]Taelorn> This really depends on what you want from the game. A huge portion of our endgame content is PvP centric, because the game is centered on the conquest of the Caribbean.
<[FLS]Taelorn> However, we’ve designed the game so that players do not have to participate in PvP if they really don’t want to do so.
<[FLS]Taelorn> It’s possible to avoid all the PvP regions and find plenty of missions and economic challenges.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Our missions have a difficulty slider, so you can always make it harder if you want to fight more difficult battles. They’ll never be on the same level as PvP battles, but it makes them much more interesting.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Also, it’s possible to contribute to PvP through PvE actions.
<[FLS]Taelorn> You can take PvE actions to help generate unrest and throw ports into contention. You can also do things to help fuel the war effort for your nation.
<[FLS]Taelorn> We’ve had a great response to the PvP battles in our limited beta, but we also have lots of players who only PvE.
<[FLS]Aether> In a different vein, weve got a rather extensive User Content program that allows players to create their own flag designs, sail insignias. That program also allows players to create and submit ship designs of their own creation.
<[FLS]Aether> Weve found the peer-review driven process very successful for us, and you can learn more by visiting this section of our site: http://www.flyinglab.com/pirates/review/index.php
<[FLS]Taelorn> Over half of the ships in game at launch will be user-created.
<[FLS]Aether> Something we are very proud of. :)
<[FLS]Taelorn> In many cases, these UC ships are higher quality than the ships we contracted out.
<[MH]Blame> How will 24v24 fights go? I understand its random slection 24 people, so how will you prevent those fights from becoming zerg fests? And how will you bring in the type of high end team play of GW? Do you sail in fleets?
<[FLS]Taelorn> It’s semi random. An organized society can work to ensure they are the bulk (or potentially all) of the participants in a port battle. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Some parts of this question are hard to answer because we’re currently transitioning the way our port battles work in beta.
<[FLS]Taelorn> We have a simple slugfest that’s a placeholder right now. Each fleet forms lines and blasts each other to bits. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that in practice, but it suffices for a description.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The port battles we are working on are much more detailed and have a variety of objectives. They mix fleet battles with avatar combat, as the attackers have various goals such as taking over the enemy fort.
<[FLS]Taelorn> A lot of the high end team play will come prior to port battles in the contention phase, when there is AdHoc PvP in the region.
<[FLS]Taelorn> One of the features we want shortly after launch (which is probably the highest one on my list) is Society Wars
<[FLS]Taelorn> Society Wars would encompass aspects similar to Guild Wars, with different societies being able to fight over ports. It’s also related to player port governance, which is something that is not in at launch.
<[FLS]Aether> Societies = guilds in Pirates of the Burning Sea.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Willing societies can arrange battles by going into a PvP area or using a PvP flag, but they cannot find a random opponent.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The most interesting battles involve full groups of opposing, coordinated players.
<[FLS]Taelorn> As for fleets, there is no specific fleet mechanic but players form their own fleets. They move together, often in formation.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Positioning is extremely important in PotBS battles and in the Open Sea prior to the battles.
<[SK]Alex> Given that the end game content is pvp based, how do crafters fit into the plans for end game?
<[FLS]Taelorn> We don’t have a crafting economy. We have a production economy.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The difference between a crafting economy and a production economy is mostly on the scale. You run a business, instead of building the individual parts yourself.
<[FLS]Taelorn> PvP is the primary source of resource consumption in the game.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Fleets need ship deeds, consumables and outfitting to fuel their war effort.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Crafters and economic focused players need to exist to provide those tools.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The PvP around the Caribbean has an impact on the crafters in the form of price changes and taxes.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Most players will participate in the economy to some extent.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Those who aren’t interested in the nuances often produce basic materials, and the traders use those materials to produce higher tier goods.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Eventually, it all turns into ships and related goods for use in PvP and high-end, dangerous PvE content.
<[XoO]Yarinn> Why withold so many features from launch? Looking at failed launches like Vanguard or Asheron’s Call, wouldn’t it be safer to release a finish product than counting on recovering from a less-than-quality release?
<[FLS]Aether> Every game releases with a long list of fantastic ideas that dont make it into the final product. We have always had a commitment to releasing a polished, playable game when it was read- and not rush our game out the door with half-working features.
<[FLS]Aether> Weve developed an internal process that evaluates what features go in where, and why. I could explain it to you in detail, but Id rather direct your attention to a recent Devlog by our Executive Producer, Paul Robespierre Caniff.
<[FLS]Aether> Youll find his Devlog here: http://www.burningsea.com/pages/page.php?pageKey=news/article&article_id=10330
<[FLS]Taelorn> As Troy said, this is a symptom of the eternal development of the MMO. It’s not leaving stuff out so much as it is wanting to have more than we can possibly fit. We have a complete product, but we have countless ideas and ways we want to expand. If we waited until we had every feature we wanted, the game would never release.
<[FLS]Taelorn> At this point, we’re already more complete and polished than many MMOs are at launch.
<[SK]Darkfin> How limited are we in choosing pirate though? Me I’m a businessman, I don’t wanna have to deal with every navy in the world trying to mess up my enterprise, sometimes I don’t wanna constantly fight.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The primary limitation on pirate business is that you cannot take the Freetrader career. Freetraders have a variety of benefits that help them in the economy, such as larger cargo ships.
<[FLS]Taelorn> It does not prevent them from creating ships and other items.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Although pirates don’t have direct access to the big merchant ships, they can capture any player ship in the game
<[FLS]Taelorn> That means they can get galleons and Indiamen and use them for economic purposes
<[FLS]Taelorn> However, if a pirate sails a ship that is not normally available – whether it’s a specific trader vessel or a Navy Ship of the Line, they are flagged for PvP
<[FLS]Taelorn> And can be attacked anywhere.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Overall, a pirate functions like a navy or privateer player in another nation. They’re fully functional in the economy, but they don’t have all the advantages of freetraders. They do get access to a fix economic skills, though.
<[SK]Sobe> Crafting: Is there a in-guild auto-sale function? (player A produces cut timber and auto-sells it to player B for a fixed amount?)
<[FLS]Taelorn> That’s something we’d consider adding.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Most trading takes place in the auction houses. It’s hard for me to describe them right now, because they’re undergoing an extensive revision that will hit beta soon.
<[MH]Blame> Another question about SvS: I have looked over the ships and in terms of PvP it seems you are primarily working between a balance of gun power/type and speed. If that is so, how will you ensure all types of ships scale with skill? (In GW, MANY skills play the same whether you are a vet or a noob—you just mash the buttons and it works or not—ie, big ships that just tank and dish it out. But in GW, other skills get much better with skill—distracting shot, etc. I see this as small, maneverable ships. How will you balance this to make all types of ships viable and skill based?
<[FLS]Taelorn> Good question. The most important point to mention is that by saying ships are balanced, it does not mean that all ships are created equal.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There are definitely ships that are better as you get higher in level. A small 6-gun starting schooner is not intended to compete with a 30 gun frigate.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ships are generally split into different types. These types aren’t visible in games, they’re just how I lay out the stats
<[FLS]Taelorn> Scout ships accelerate fast and have moderate firepower, but they often have less armor integrity.
<[FLS]Taelorn> They tend to cap out at lower speed than the bigger warships.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Warships have high top speed, but it can take them a very long time to reach those speeds. Anytime you maneuver (turn), you lose speed. This makes it very difficult for warships to sustain maneuverability.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Scout ships are more popular than warships in beta. They’re just really easy to use, but warships are rewarding to master.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ship balance is aimed at making all ships contribute, and, in the case of the weakest ships, at least making it so they can escape.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Where a lot of the player skill comes into play is matching up your ship, outfitting and career skills to take advantage of your opponent’s weaknesses.
<[FLS]Taelorn> For example, I lurk in the beta and sail around fighting other players when I have a chance.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I like to target big high level ships, while I sail an upper-mid level frigate.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I’ve been able to sink multiple ships that have over twice as many guns as mine and more armor, but none of them have sank me. I do this entirely by the combination of my career skills and tactics to exploit the weaknesses of my opponents.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I close it to absolutely minimum range – where I am in the most danger to their big guns – and constantly maneuver around them and do things to disable their maneuverability, kill their crew and weaken their vessel
<[FLS]Taelorn> It’s risky and it’s exciting, but so far it’s worked great. The opposite tactic is possible by combining different types of ship skills and outfitting.
<[FLS]Taelorn> In fact, the ship I’m using to do this is a warship, not a scout, so it has poor acceleration.
<[FLS]Taelorn> In large battles, knowing how to use an agile ship can give your side a huge advantage
<[FLS]Taelorn> When players don’t know how to sail the ships well, they go into battle and they quickly sink.
<[FLS]Taelorn> When they know the rules of engagement, they can harass the enemy in a way that the biggest ships cannot do
<[FLS]Taelorn> Historically, fleet battles take place in large lines of battle
<[FLS]Taelorn> As two fleets line up to face each other, and big ships fire their guns
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ships are extremely vulnerable on their stern (rear), and moderately vulnerable on their bow (front)
<[FLS]Taelorn> The best way to sink a ship is to rake it – to hit the stern and the bow
<[FLS]Taelorn> Lines of battle are exposed on their sides. Fast ships can maneuver to those sides and harass big ships.
<[FLS]Taelorn> If the big ships change their position to deal with the fast ships, they expose themselves to the enemy lines
<[FLS]Taelorn> Most players will take a big ship over a small ship, but the small ship has the benefit of extremely low risk. It’s cheap and readily available.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There is one legendary case in beta in which a Cutter – a level 12 ship with 12 guns – sank a First Rate Ship of the Line
<[FLS]Taelorn> The SoL had 104 guns
<[FLS]Taelorn> That’s an extreme edge case and I don’t expect it to happen much, if ever, again.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I don’t balance ships by speed as much as I use acceleration. Acceleration gives ships more consistent speed and maneuverability.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Realistically, the bigger the ship is, the faster is moves. That’s somewhat true in our game, but it’s not exact.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Lighter ships also handle the wind different. Ships like the cutter at good at beam reach angles – 90 degrees off the wind – and close haul angles (close to the wind)
<[FLS]Taelorn> Frigates and SoLs are best at Broad Reach – 135 degrees off the wind, and Running – wind at your back
<[FLS]Taelorn> Any player who is moderately skilled in the game needs to understand the different in sail rig types and use those to an advantage in PvP. It also means a slow ship can find a way to outrun a fast ship in the right circumstances.
<[FLS]Aether> Blame really pulled Taelorn’s string on that one. :)
<[FLS]Taelorn> I could have said a lot more… but I can’t state it verbally, so there’s a lot I have to leave out :)
<[FLS]Taelorn> Skills that affect enemy movement are similar to distracting shot in functionality and use.
<[SK]Tiber> What am I supposed to do as a lowly level 17 ship when I go up against a level 50 Ship of the Line and I’m not 1337 at life like that cutter?I don’t want to be running away all the time… Am I still able to participate in PVP?
<[FLS]Taelorn> You’ll have trouble with the SoL opponent. If you have a few friends in the game, you can work together to sink him – but it’s unlikely he’ll be alone. Once you have a Frigate, you’re much sturdier.
<[SK]Eelill> Is there friendly Fire in the game? Say I manuever in between ships and they blow each other up :D
<[FLS]Aether> No friendly fire, but friendly ships will block your shot.
<[XoO]Yarinn> If there’s only 25 vs 25 combat, and 80 ports, does that mean only 4000 people can PvP at once… or are there multiple instances or multiple servers…?
<[FLS]Taelorn> There’s PvP around the ports and not just in the port battles.
<[FLS]Taelorn> There will b
e multiple serves.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Port battles are the finale of a bunch of PvP, not the primary source of PvP
<[SK]Darkfin> Will Europeans and Americans be able to play on the same servers?
<[FLS]Aether> Darkfin: Yes, they will.
<[MH]Blame> Will there be smaller rivers or shallow coasts where larger ships cant go?
<[FLS]Aether> No shoals, shallows or reefs.
<[FLS]Aether> If a little ship can get there, a big ship can follow.
<[FLS]Taelorn> No. Draft is a heavily discussed topic that comes up frequently and isn’t in the game for several reasons
<[FLS]Taelorn> It requires massive amounts of work because of the system we have, and it didn’t add enough to the game for that work.
<[SK]gimpy> how many hours of grind for 1337 ships?
<[FLS]Taelorn> Most players can get in a cutter in a couple days, and a frigate after a week or two. It depends somewhat on what leveling changes we make between now and launch.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The leveling curve isn’t terribly long.
<[MH]Blame> Thanks for coming! I loved the tactics discussion! I can see a lot of potential for depth there! This begs another GW parallel—in GW, PvP builds and tactics varied wildly by forum (tombs slugs, gvg focused on movement, etc). In Pirates, will there be varied conditions and how do you anticipate those affecting tactics?
<[FLS]Taelorn> Blame: I don’t expect most people will experience this at the level you describe, but it exists. It’s somewhat similar to planning GvG builds in GW, which I rather enjoyed.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Right now I’m speccing out the developer fleet for a 25vs25 battle against the beta testers before we wipe.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I’m planning what ships we have, what careers and skills we want, etc, and it’s pretty fun.
<[FLS]Taelorn> We’re sorely outmatched by the beta testers, so the only chance we have is planning :)
<[FLS]Taelorn> I expect most planning will be on smaller scale – single groups
<[FLS]Aether> Sadly, our last attempt at a battle royale with our beta testers ended poorly for the developers- so we’ve been practicing our tactics.
<[FLS]Rhaegar> I would like to point out that if I had taken part things might have been different!
<[FLS]Taelorn> We sank one of them. :P We overloaded our internal network and they killed us badly… in my case, I died twice due to the server crashing. But we found lots of bugs there and fixed them.
<[FLS]Aether> I was excited because I was the last ship standing- but as it turns out it was by design. The beta testers just wanted to demast and board my in a show of ultimate shame.
<[FLS]Taelorn> We have a video that shows 24 testers swarming around Aether’s poor, lone ship…
<[FLS]Aether> Yeah, it was pretty tragic.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I can’t release any information on avatar crafting and whether we will have it or not.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Cyxult: Outfitting is obtained a few ways. One is by producing it in the economy, the other is you can occasionally loot outfitting. Outfitting production uses the same system as ship production.
<[SK]Alex> Once the game launches will you have monthly or bimonthly patches updating content? Or will that be saved for expansion packs?
<[FLS]Taelorn> Alex: We have several content updates planned. I don’t know what the timeframe or delivery system on those content updates will be.
<[SK]Darkfin> Are auction houses going to be the only means of selling goods or will there be other ways such as a vendor?
<[FLS]Taelorn> Darkfin: You can always sell it to a junk vendor, but that’s only if you want to discard stuff. Selling to players is the only way to make a profit on goods you produce. You can trade in person with players, and we have quite a bit of personal trading in the beta.
<[MH]Blame> Will you include tournaments or observer mode to promote the high end pvp community?
<[FLS]Aether> Blame: Yes, we’ve talked about offering that kind of transperancy, but we can’t speak to the mechanism at this juncture.
<[SK]Darkfin> How are the user created flags and sails going to be worked into the game?
<[FLS]Aether> Each ship has two places for flags- your nation, and then your personal flag.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Flags and sails get votes from players. Then we have people at FLS who bring flags into the game if they’re good and we approve of them.
<[FLS]Aether> A person who creates a flag that is accepted via the UC process owns their own design.
<[FLS]Aether> Taelorn is right, but the system is automated. Once we approve it, you get to see your design in game, share it with others if you wish, or even sell your design.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Ships are a huge undertaking. We have a forum dedicated to ship building, and a steering committee that helps them out.
<[FLS]Taelorn> The UC Steering Committee helps people find the right plans and points out all the things to work on and fix in their model.
<[SK]Darkfin> Will a guild flag be used as a nation flag or it is considered a personal flag?
<[MH]Blame> One more question—from what I read all the ships are wind powered, and most are ocean rigged—any chance of galleys?
<[FLS]Aether> I should elaborate on the difference between ships and flags and sails..
<[FLS]Aether> Flags and sail designs are sent to use once they pass the peer review process.
<[FLS]Aether> We then approve or reject them.
<[FLS]Taelorn> I don’t know.
<[FLS]Aether> Ships however are entirely different.
<[FLS]Aether> There is a 3D steering committee made of fans that works with Taelorn and I to identify appropriate projects and assist them as they build it.
<[FLS]Aether> There is no popular vote for ships :)
<[FLS]Aether> You’ll find more information about the ships available to players in game here: http://www.burningsea.com/explore/library/ship-guide/
<[FLS]Aether> Our ship guide is of course a work in progress.
<[FLS]Taelorn> Meaning, don’t make ship comparisons based on the stats. :)