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  • Vince, Community Manager, Disney Online
  • January 27, 2009

It's the start of the New Year, and the question on every Pirate's mind is "What's coming to the game and when?" To kick off 2009, we thought we'd tell you about some of our plans for the upcoming year and speak directly to some of your comments and concerns.

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We've got some great surprises planned for you but don't want to spoil the fun for players who look forward to those same surprises, so properly warned ye be - thar be spoilers ahead! Here now are some major updates planned for 2009.

Optimizing the Game

Over the past year, we've tracked every e-mail, question, and comment you've ever had about the game, and we've learned a lot about what adventures you want and what your frustrations are. Based on your feedback, the main issue that kept coming up over and over again was making the game run better and more smoothly on your computer.

That said, for the past few months, parts of our development team have been working to optimize Pirates Online. In short, we're significantly improving how the game runs on your machine. This means you'll see less lag, a better frame rate, and other graphical improvements. This also means you'll see some pretty significant changes to a few of our main environments -- like an entirely new Port Royal , and other revised locations. We're really excited about these changes and think you will be too. These new locales feel more like real Caribbean locations, but more importantly will make your overall experience with the game better.

We did this because everything in the Caribbean is directly tied to how the game performs. For instance, how can you enjoy a new feature, event, or new item if you're frustrated with the overall game performance? Your feedback told us time and time again that this was your number one issue with the game.

In the days ahead, you'll see performance improvements (and new a Port Royal) coming to the game - but keep a lookout on the Grog Blog or Current News for exact dates and more details.

We expect these improvements to solve many display and performance issues. However, please remember you should always close other programs running in the background when you play Pirates Online -- this includes instant messaging applications, music players, and other programs, like your Internet browser in order to have the best gameplay experience.

New Web Site

In addition to the game, we're also improving the Web site making it a Pirate's destination! We'll be adding new features like an Event Calendar and weekly columns. Plus, you'll get a chance to contribute like you never have before via the Grog Blog, Contests and more! The first phase will introduce redesigns while other additions to the site will roll out in the months ahead. Get a Sneak Peek at the new homepage and discuss it on the Grog Blog.

New Content and Notoriety

Pirates are a demanding lot, and we've heard you loud and clear! You want new content and new adventures, you want the level and gold cap raised, and you want it all now - heck, we all do! Well rest assured, we're working on all of the above as fast as we can - expect to see the first of these updates in the months ahead.

You'll see new content in the form of Quests and other event-based adventures, plus the gold and level cap raised too. Just remember, content takes time to develop, test, and balance with the existing gameplay. Take for example the Kraken , maybe you've heard of this mythical sea monster? As the right-hand squid for Davy Jones, we can officially say the Kraken is coming to the Caribbean this year. As soon as the development team can wrangle him with their fishing nets they will release him with specific orders.

Much adventure be awaitin' you ahead, Pirates. And to face it, you'll need much more experience than you currently have, and you'll need to be allied with strong and able-bodied crews.

New Loot and Inventory System

The Bandana Incident. Have you forgotten it? We haven't. As we've said before, our inventory system is undergoing a dynamic overhaul. Pirates by their very nature collect stuff, so naturally being able to carry more items - and possibly even trading these items with other players - are improvements that we're rolling out around the middle of the year. In addition, once you have more slots for storage, you'll need effects like clothing, hats, and other items to accessorize your Pirate.

Weekly Events and Special Appearances

The Caribbean is a lively place, but it's about to get a lot more exciting - events like the Founders Feast , Jolly Roger's Curse , Tavern Takeovers , and the Feats of Strength Contest are just the start. In the immediate future, you'll see weekly GM-hosted events like weekly Crew Parties, Tavern Takeovers, and much, much more. These events are great opportunities for us to come together and just be Pirates but they're also a great way to learn more about the Caribbean. And while it's great to meet GM Captain Walter, what if he had a Quest for you the next time you met him or joined you on your next sail? Or what if you came face to face with Captain Jack Sparrow or Will Turner?

Fixing the Fixes

We try to test new features and systems as thoroughly as possible before they go out, but as Captain Jack Sparrow will tell you, the Caribbean is a big place and nothing ever goes as planned. When new builds of the game go out, sometimes other things get broken in the process. During these times, we appreciate your patience and understanding - we're always working to squash bugs and fix things as quickly as possible.

In the world of MMO game development, we're forging new territory everyday, doing things that haven't been tried before. Like you, we get frustrated too, but we're all working every day to make the game better. Want to help? Then keep an eye on the Current News or Grog Blog in early February for details on how you could join our Test Server. On the Test Server, we test upcoming game features and other additions before they're released to the live game, you could help make a difference by sending us your feedback on the new updates.

There you have it, a look at what's on the horizon for Pirates Online in 2009.

We realize this might not address every single concern, comment, or question you have - so in the weeks and months ahead you'll get a chance to hear more about these plans directly from members of our development team and the rest of the crew who work behind the scenes to make the game the best it can be.

We want you to know, every player is important to us, and we are listening to you! Our first year was great, but our second year is going to be incredible! We appreciate your support and passion for Pirates Online - not only are you a Guest, more importantly, you're a fellow Pirate!

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