Summary: On the eve of the third movie's release, John has information about the Pirates of the Caribbean Online game straight from the horse's mouth.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea of doing an MMO based on Pirates of the Caribbean come about?
Mike Goslin: Over 10 years ago in 1996 I got the chance to work for Walt Disney Imagineering. Our group was called the Virtual Reality Studio, and our mission was to design and build virtual reality attractions for the Disney theme parks. Over the next several years, we forged a new kind of experience that combined the physical thrill of a theme park ride with the cutting-edge graphics of a video/computer game.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the kinds of characters people will be able to play in the game?
Mike Goslin: Our character creation system is extensive with a wide range of choices for players. Pirates of the Caribbean is a very character-driven property, so we thought it was important to capture the wide range of personalities of that world, from the heroic to the humorous and from the beautiful to the grotesque. I think this gives players a broader palette to create their own character from and makes the game more interesting both visually and from a role-playing perspective.
FiringSquad: How will the game introduce the player to the game world in the beginning?
Mike Goslin: The game opens with the player regaining consciousness in a jail cell shared by Captain Jack Sparrow. This sets the tone of the game and establishes that the player is following in Jack’s footsteps as they begin to build their own legend as a pirate. We wanted to start with the fantastic world and characters developed in the POTC films and build upon it by adding our own original stories, characters, and settings.
FiringSquad: How will the quests and missions in the game be handled and what sort of locations will be available to explore?
Mike Goslin: Quests play an important role in POTC Online since they are the way the player can advance the main story arc. We have a large number of quest types including smuggling, capturing, stealing, and other activities you would expect to be doing as a pirate. We’ll keep the quest element fresh by adding new types and continuing to evolve our epic storyline.
Mike Goslin: POTC Online allows players to join a crew, which is a temporary group. Crews work together and treasure is split according to the pirate code. The game favors group play over soloing, but it will be possible to go it alone. We will also support pirate “bands” (guilds), which we think will be an important way that players stay connected with each other over time.
FiringSquad: The game will feature real-time combat with the player's avatars. Can you tell us more about that and how hard was it to get real time combat to work in an MMO setting?
Mike Goslin: We decided that for our audience it was important for the combat system be active rather than passive. If you fight with a cutlass, you can “chain” a sequence of increasingly damaging cutlass moves together by timing your swings. To fight with a pistol, you must aim at your target. The voodoo doll weapon must first be “attuned” to a target by striking them with it, but once attuned you can run away and attack that target from a distance by poking the doll or setting it on fire.
FiringSquad: What sorts of vessels will be available to pilot in the game and will some of them take more than one player to command and pilot them?
Mike Goslin: POTC Online will have nine classes of player ship available at launch, grouped into fast Sloops, hardy Galleons, and powerful Frigates. Although players can sail any of the ships alone, seafaring is much more fun and profitable with a crew of friends manning the cannons. Crew sizes will range up to eight players depending on the size of the ship.
FiringSquad: What sorts of weapons will players get to use in the naval combat of the game and can you describe a typical encounter?
Mike Goslin: The primary weapon of sea combat is the cannon, and POTC Online features a variety of cannon ammunition including “Round Shot”, “Chain Shot” for taking out masts, grappling hooks for boarding disabled ships, and the devastating “Flaming Skull” to name a few. To keep the action going, cannons have very fast reload times.
Mike Goslin: In addition to all of the great features and weapons that players utilize at sea, we have built in a variety of great weapons to be used on land including cutlasses, pistols, grenades, and throwing knives. Since POTC Online is more skill based than item based, weapons will be upgradeable. For example, you will be able to upgrade from a rusty cutlass to better cutlasses, but your skill level with the cutlass is also important. A newbie can use a better cutlass but it will not be very effective until they have the skill to use it properly.
FiringSquad: How would you describe the game's graphical and artistic look?
Mike Goslin: POTC Online has a slightly stylized look inspired by the production designs for the POTC films as well as the original theme park attraction.
FiringSquad: Disney's previous MMO was for younger gamers. Will Pirates of the Caribbean Online appeal to an older audience?
Mike Goslin: Yes. We think POTC Online will appeal to fans of the POTC films and the theme park attraction, which includes a range of casual to more serious gamers. We’ve designed the game to be fun for a range of different types of players. I think serious MMO gamers will want to check us out because we offer some new twists on the activities they enjoy as well as some things we think are fun and different.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
Mike Goslin: We’re currently in beta and have been for several months now and expect to launch this summer.
FiringSquad: Are there plans to add content to the game following its release?
Mike Goslin: After launch, we’ll continue to add new content from the movies as well as original content. We’ve got a lot of great new features queued up that we’ll be able to discuss soon.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Pirates of the Caribbean Online?
Mike Goslin: All in all, our primary goal was to make the game fun, so we focused on the things that make the POTC movies great: blasting away with cannons in epic ship battles, battling undead pirates, exploring creepy and fantastic islands, curses, and seeking treasure. We also added parlor games, so you can play poker or Blackjack while you socialize with other players. For the more competitive types, we have a variety of PVP games and maps. Much of the game-play is designed for crews working together. I think the POTC world itself is unique, and we’ve added a number of things that we think set us apart including an action-oriented combat system, flaming cannonballs, crew-based ship boarding, cheating and “tells” while playing cards, and digging for treasure to name a few.
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