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  • Jason Everett, Executive Producer, Disney Online
  • October 5, 2007

Beta phase 2 is here, and like everyone else playing I've started from scratch with a new pirate. I'm getting a feel for all the changes and polish that have gone into the tutorial and the early quests, and it's looking great. The tuned-up combat system is working really well, too. Here's a sampling of how I spent some of the first week of Beta phase 2.

SUNDAY

I watched my younger brother play for a few hours right after the Beta opened - he's a big Pirates fan and a college student living not too far away. It was interesting to watch him play and observe what came naturally to him and what was confusing. Now, when I say watch, I guess what I really mean is hover anxiously and jump up every 30 seconds or so to yell something like "WHY DID YOU JUST DO THAT??!!"

For awhile he just rolled his eyes, and after the tenth or twentieth time he said something like "Back off before I smack you with my Chemistry 101 book." I calmed down at that point and just watched him play. He had a great time and most everything in the game came naturally to him.

MONDAY

The Pirates Online staff meeting takes place every Monday morning at 10:30. Think of it as the meeting of the Brethren Court, but Jack Sparrow is only there in spirit, it's not in Shipwreck Cove and there's a really fast computer and a big projector. We took a look at the latest build of the game, reviewed the team's current issues list - then everyone dug in for the week.

For me that meant work on the Web site, work on some pretty cool leaderboards stuff we haven't told anyone about yet, reviewing the game's test plan, and playing the latest Beta game build.

WEDNESDAY

I took some time to look over the lists of words in the ship naming system, and thought maybe it could use a little help. So I researched the names of famous pirate ships, navy ships, and I'll admit it, even Star Trek ships. Within a few hours had come up with a few hundred new words and even created a spreadsheet complete with a little test script that generates random ship names from the name parts.

I sent all this over to the developers, and got a pretty hilarious e-mail back pointing out that A) some of the possible combinations that could come out of the words I'd put in the list were a little "problematic," and B) if I could code a random ship name generator, why wasn't I busy fixing bugs? Anyway, they've said they're going to add the new words in. At least, most of the new words.

FRIDAY

Today we spent a good deal of time working on the player's guide for the game - something else we haven't told anyone about yet. I also invested a little time "testing" PVP with Allan, and got thrashed. His pirate might be bigger than mine, but I will get revenge.

We also took a look at an early version of the October game newsletter (it's the one you're probably reading now), and decided it was time for some fresh screenshots. I asked the big question.

"Who's going to take them?"

Everyone took two steps backward and pointed at someone else.

Don't get us wrong, we all love the screenshots, but getting good ones is deceptively hard. It's sort of an art. Michelle was up, so if you like the latest screenshots you can thank Michelle for her hard work.

That's all for now - if you're playing the game Beta, don't forget to give the lookout system a workout. It's great for getting into a PVP match or a quality poker game. Also, take the quest system as far as you can. You never know what you'll find!

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