[PotBS] Death Knell- Foundering, Listing and Taking on H20

taolurkertaolurker Registered User
edited March 2010 in MMO Extravaganza
PotBS Death Knell- Foundering, Listing and Taking on H20
aka The Pirates of the Burning Sea Manifesto +pages of bilge pump instructions


It was some time ago that I first became excited about Pirate of the Burning Sea, and with excellent ship combat, plus PvP, in a historically accurate Caribbean with 3 Nations (Spain, England & France) fighting Pirates... As well as 24 vs 24 port battles as the PvP end game... Surely it can't lose, right?

Although I was an early adopter and long time subscriber of the game, it's sad to say but PotBS appears to be SINKING!.

The game announced with it's Second Year Anniversary (on Jan 22nd, 2010) that they would be releasing an expansion, but also that they were reducing the number of servers from 5 to 2 {(1 US and 1 EU) when at release there were 11 servers (7 US and 4 EU)}!! The expansion, "Power and Prestige", doesn't have much meat to digest yet, but the current plans are to finally include Port Governance and for it to be a free expansion to subscribers. As of right now there aren't really firm details anywhere, excepting some interviews right after PAX in Sept 09.

Not only did they announce the server merge and expansion, but they included a month Free play time (from Feb 5th to Mar 5th that I didn't get an email about) so everyone could transfer their characters. There definitely was dwindling populations as reasoning behind server merges, but including the new ability to have multiple nations on one server, there were also many other changes worthy of testing out.

Just some of the changes include:
  • Avatar Combat completely redone
  • Changes to port contention and PvP balance
  • New port battle maps.
  • New ships
  • Additional town overhauls
  • More missions including daily ones for big $$ (doubloons)
  • Changes to Pirates making them two classes (Buccaneer and Cutthroat)
  • No more language barrier between Nations & global Nation chat for everyone

Unfortunately, playing the game made it even more evident Flying Labs Software was failing at manning the bilge pumps, and even worse, the Ship may be abandoned even before the expansion launches, IF THINGS AREN'T CHANGED...

Many of the ship sections of the game still remain (mostly) the same... The ship combat is still a battle of consumable repairs, tactics, and cannons firing different types of shot; in a fun, graphically pretty shell. Ships are still fully customizable with personalized sails and flags, and the graphics still have a very polished look with an arcady type feel.

Raa.jpg

The ship to ship battles (1v1), PvP and larger Skirmish battles were all still running flawlessly, but many of the same issues still remain. The combat had some minor tweaks or balances since my last playing but overall the National classes haven't really changed. Some changes that were just made live when I'd last played were the Pirates having two classes, and overall this was balanced pretty decently since release, but Pirates can still steal any ship they can defeat in boarding combat, while Nationals need to build or buy their ships (only to have them stolen).


Sailing Against The Wind AND Taking On Water

The game has had numerous changes since launch, and since I last played, but most of these seem like sailing upwind in that they hurt populations more than they help.

One of the major changes, that had gone live since I was gone, was Pirates being able to take class specific ships and not have them labeled invalid (they used to be open to attack anywhere -not just pvp areas). This allowed Pirates to amass fleets of 1st rate Naval ships (free!) which they never sail through PvP red zones. During the Free play month the invalid tag was being put back into testbed, and was just returned to live yesterday (3/10/10).

Another change that also was being tested (& patched live) was reducing overall mast damage from Bar, Chain and Star Shot because of this being part of the preferred tactic currently, Tackling and Ganking. These two changes, mast damage and invalid ships are not likely to be received well by people continuing to play.

The majority of PvP is still dominated by higher levels, with low levels or solo ships being gank targets (usually meaning new players likely don't enjoy their early PvP experiences). The Port Battles and Conquest system seems to have been balanced somewhat, but PvP is only balanced with strong populations in all Nations and I foresee populations only dwindling more, not increasing.

The Avatar Combat was completely overhauled, adding arcs allowing players to hit more than one enemy, but the melee fighting is still sword-play with one shot muskets, and three different schools of Swashbuckling (Dirty Fighting, Fencing, and Florentine). Other than new arcs and not fearing groups of 3+ NPCs anymore, it still has the same single move, single queue, with strange costs from pools (Guard and Initiative). It doesn't feel any different and still suffers from a stuttering and animation problem (I posted additional Avcom suggestions on the FLS forums).

Another new change was reducing the labor costs and consolidating economy structures, which seems to have balanced the economy somewhat... However, these changes were possibly negated by new Daily missions that allow players to accumulate doubloons (in game money) almost too quickly. The devs posted about "Inflation" during the free month, and this is another thing being adjusted by the most recent patch.

Originally FLS was going to cut Daily missions to about 40%, but this was adjusted cutting their reward to a little over half what they were when it went live. I do agree that the Daily payout was sort of excessive, but the economy badly needs other sources of income to replace this, as well as other ways of removing coins from the system. (More from me about the Economy on the FLS forums).

Overall, nearly all of the recent changes seem destined to drive away more players than they actually attract back, and many changes the player-base has been leaving because of are still not even in discussion.


Man the Bilge Pumps and Ideas To Patch Leaks

This game seriously had so much potential, but has been hemorrhaging players since release, and it's mostly because of the hardcore nature of the PvP. The game focuses almost entirely on PvP (in the high level game) and because of the grind involved and ganking there are very few lower level players anymore. The new, level 20 player, losing his ship may not ever return, especially when most of the players remaining are 50. Back during the first year of play, nearly all players were leaving for 3 main reasons: Being ganked, the level grind, or no Society/Shared character warehousing.

Expanding warehousing should be the first thing FLS works on, and in fact is 2 years overdue. Not being able to get items easily between characters of a society is a huge barrier to this game and something most MMOs provide for. Goods always need to be handed directly to a character in person, which was why half of my society left the game. This is not including the need to already move crafting resources all across the map, as well as through PvP red zones, or having a port change Nation ownership, making most of the game inconvenient at best (tedious at it's worst).

Sharing a warehouse for Societies, based in a specific port in their Nation should be added ASAP, and FLS needs to work on a solution for character warehousing too. Characters of the same nation share economic lots to build different economy structures, but can't easily get things from one character to another. The game should allow characters with warehouses in the same port, on multiple characters, 2 "trading slots" in the warehouse for a stack or individual items to be traded. These kinds of warehousing changes would be something players would return to the game en masse for, and them not being worked on or even discussed is extremely depressing.

Another glaring problem that desperately needs a solution is the extreme amount of time sinks present in the sailing mechanic. The moving of crafting goods from port to port, (not even counting through PvP areas) is a huge time sink, and a method for paying to ship goods without sailing is not only overdue, but necessary. The Freetrader class is the only one who can effectively haul things, and if you aren't one plan on making multiple trips or finding (creating?) one.

I also think groups should have a mechanic to be able to move their ships closer, and would reduce the amount of time spent waiting for groups to form from all across the ocean. This mechanic could obviously be abused, so possibly this should only allow instant movement to the closest National Port near your group and only be allowed once every 2 days. This mechanic also would help getting crafting items out of "blockaded ports", at least once during the time it was under seige. I also think characters should be able to instant travel to any port they have a warehouse in, not just the ones where their ships are docked.

One of the real issues causing this game to not retain players, is a problem with the Free Trial that might be preventing the game from gaining new players. The trial page had an older Station Launcher download that completely fails installing the game. I don't know how long this was happening but I discovered this Feb 7th, and to present it still isn't fixed. The only way to actually get the game is by getting the Station Launcher right from SOE, and anyone who doesn't use that version is in for issues.


There's a Hole in the Hull? Where?

Instead of focusing on these glaring issues, the FLS team has instead focused on balance changes, new "gathering halls", city layouts, and new ships, quests or content. Revamping cities to be unique or adding quests are something I could've lived without, especially when there are thousands of quests already (and only a small fraction are required to reach level 50). For a game with one of the most in depth combat systems, and an MMO without the usual fantasy fare, I expected this game to at least retain a niche following, but even that seems to be slipping away.

The game had a slight bit of it's old luster during the free play time and now I don't really see anything stopping the sinking. Nearly all the people who've canceled their subscriptions would tell FLS how their vision of the game isn't really working, especially if they can't see where the "hole in the hull" is, let alone that there is one.

The only real future I see for this game currently is populations continuing to shrink until it forces another (final?) server merge. Right now, I don't see this game approaching an expansion as a good thing, and instead see it slipping slowly towards Davey Jone's locker.

I wonder if when the ship is underwater, whether FLS will still be swabbing the deck.

taolurker on

Posts

  • EliminationElimination Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I loved the idea for this game when it came out, subbed a couple times in the past. But they just can't seem to get their PVP right. The fact is that they should have looked at EvE a little more for their PVP. In EvE all ships of all sizes have their place in PVP, even the people just starting out. They should have looked at that and sort of modeled their PVP like that so everyone could get in on it. It would have lessened the grind considerably and PVP wouldn't be such a boring slug fest between the same handful of ship types (The big max level ones.). Each ship should have its place on the field in some manner or another.

    Elimination on
    PSN: PA_Elimination 3DS: 4399-2012-1711 Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/TheElimination/
  • PelPel Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    This is a pretty good OP, you should play some other games and do more critiques. Problem is, you have completely convinced me not to try PotBS, although if I had gotten in during the free month I might have.

    Pel on
  • taolurkertaolurker Registered User
    edited March 2010
    I actually have written on the internets since around 1999, and had numerous forums I visited, only joining here recently after lurking for a long time. I have had articles like this before that were on various pages under this same name (most of them on sites that no longer exist).

    taolurker on
  • ArchonexArchonex Registered User
    edited March 2010
    I played this a couple of months ago. The artistic direction of the game, and base gameplay was great.

    I was surprised that they hadn't fixed it so that lower "level" ships could compete in PVP, though, like they originally intended. You'd think that'd be a priority thing given that it would scare new players off, since PVP becomes a grind between people who can devote far too much time to the game otherwise.


    That, and when I played it looked like new content hadn't been added since release.


    Shame it's going down, if it is, really. The game itself was relatively enjoyable in small bursts.

    Archonex on
  • taolurkertaolurker Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Archonex wrote: »
    I was surprised that they hadn't fixed it so that lower "level" ships could compete in PVP, though, like they originally intended. You'd think that'd be a priority thing given that it would scare new players off, since PVP becomes a grind between people who can devote far too much time to the game otherwise.

    This is likely one of the larger reasons the game is losing players, is the inability for lower levels to really PvP effectively along with the amount of grinding required to get to max level (50).

    These are huge barriers to being able to retain players, and currently what tiny percentage of lower levels there are, become little more than PvP gank targets or spend much of their time PvE grinding (usually as alts). The game still has some really intense ship fighting, but the majority of PvP has become an only lev 50 activity, that lower levels and solo players aren't able to be part of because of the Play to Crush, 3v1 (or a lev 50 vs a lev 30) gank mentality.

    There really aren't new players, even with a free trial, and those who do try it find the barriers, penalties, and grinding as a low level to make the experience frustrating, driving them away from the game.

    That, and when I played it looked like new content hadn't been added since release.


    Shame it's going down, if it is, really. The game itself was relatively enjoyable in small bursts.
    There has been a bunch of new content since release, but this is honestly NOT the game's problem. The content at release had hundreds of quests, and content has been trickled out in small bursts, but the problem is more with FLS not concentrating on what's really needed instead of content.

    Simple mechanics all MMOs have, like instant travel, guild warehousing, and methods for lower levels to be involved in or protected from PvP would go a long way toward getting this game off life support, but instead they are releasing an expansion with content and even more mechanics that will weigh the game down (and maybe cause it to sink faster). I don't see their expansion causing a huge returning population either, which makes it wasted development time IMO.

    I agree, it's a shame, and the combat engine was excellent, but without the correct decisions (+ hull patches) this game is going to Davy Jone's locker.

    taolurker on
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