- Vince, Community Manager, Disney Online
- April 17, 2009
It seems like just yesterday that we shared our plans with you for the future of Pirates Online, in fact, it was a little over three months ago. During that time we've been hard at work improving the game based on your feedback and are eager to update you on our progress.
You've seen many changes in a short time and your response to them has been great, but there is still a lot of work ahead. Sure, there are more bug fixes and updates on the way, but we're also plotting a course for the future. It's an exciting time to be a buccaneer! Let's take a look at how we got here and what you can expect from Pirates Online in the future!
Extreme Pirates Makeover
Port Royal, Tortuga, Padres Del Fuego, it should be no surprise that all have been re-designed. On the surface the towns feel more like towns of the era - with winding side streets and alleyways - but underneath, by redesigning those environments we were able to get MUCH better frame rates and improve the way those environments are displayed on your computer.
Part of that performance improvement also included optimizing your Pirates. We have a lot of players, uh, Pirates running around in the Caribbean, and each one is made up of lots of graphic triangles called polygons. Displaying all these polygons can really slow down your computer! By optimizing in-game characters we reduced the polygon count so the game runs much better on everyone's computer.
Now we know several of you have been playing the game since the beginning - and you want us to focus on new content, Story Quests and raising those Level and Gold caps, we'll talk about that in a moment. Please understand we used player feedback to determine what to work on, and game performance was the main thing that is brought up over and over again. Since game performance is the foundation to everything, it just makes sense that we fix that first before adding new content, Story Quests and raising those Level and Gold caps.
The Player Experience
Right behind game performance, the Player Experience was your next concern. Now there are many things that encompass the player experience, but again based on your feedback, this primarily meant the tutorial and what Pirates encounter when they first enter the Caribbean. For example, the tools you're given, like the compass and how those things work. But this also included other improvements and interface enhancements, like the new Player Profile. In addition to shortening the tutorial (to get players into the action quicker), we also wanted to clean up some of our player menus and improve things like the Ray of Light. The response to these changes has been overwhelming and we're very happy to see you're enjoying them, and more importantly, using these improved features.
The Test Server, Bugs & Behind the Scenes
As I mentioned, all of these changes are a direct result of your feedback. To that end, you should have noticed that we've stepped up our efforts to fix bugs quicker and get you on our Test Server (where we test many of these updates before they go live to the public). The response here has been phenomenal too, thank you.
We're going to continue to make improvements in this area too - getting things up on the Test Server sooner and for longer periods of time, so you can really pound away and test out the new stuff.
Behind the scenes we've made other changes to our Crew and the way we do business to give you better service. (This is your game - we work for you and want you to have the best experience possible.)
The Web site, the Community & Events
We recently launched a new Pirates Online Web site, while the response has been great; this is just the first phase! In the coming months, you'll see the site get even more polish as we add new sections, such as monthly and weekly columns. So that players can comment directly on news, we've made the Grog Blog into the News section - but look for lots more improvements to the site in the near future. It will truly become a destination for all things Pirates Online.
In the past few months, we've also seen events become a vital part of Pirates Online. Not only do these events propel story points (like the recent EITC conspiracy and attacks) but they've really helped to bring our community together. I encourage you to get involved in these events - they're a great way to meet your fellow buccaneers and release your inner-Pirate. In the future, these events will offer some pretty unique Pirate experiences, and we'll be rewarding those that participate in really special ways. As I've said before, while it's great to meet GM Captain Walter, what if he had a Quest for you the next time you met him or what if you came face to face with Captain Jack Sparrow?
The Kraken, Inventory System and New Content
While improving the game performance has been a huge focus for us, it hasn't taken us completely away from building other stuff we know you want. You may wonder why did we work on game performance first? Because game performance is the foundation for everything, if the game isn't working properly you won't be able to enjoy new content, like...
- Inventory. Our inventory system is still undergoing a dynamic overhaul. As I've said before, Pirates by their very nature collect stuff, so having more slots for storage, is definitely something Pirates could use, and of course that will mean new clothing, hats, and other items to accessorize your Pirate.
- The Kraken. This beast has proved to be a real challenge. Why? Well, it is basically our next story chapter, many things will be tied to it, such as *Notoriety increases, new Story Quests, and so much more. So we ask for a little more patience while the dev team wrangles the monster. I know, I know, we keep saying that - I promise you, the Kraken will be more than worth the wait.
- New Content. Alright, I can't give away all our secrets - that would spoil the fun! But I can tell you our Crew of craftsmen, shipwrights, and blacksmiths are working on some amazing stuff and other surprises that are going to blow you out of the water!
As the Community Manager, it's my job to make sure the messages that you're sending us reach the right ears. You can send me feedback through the Grog Blog, just make sure you put "Attention: Community Manager" in the first line of the message. My job is also to make sure you know where we're heading, for that you'll see more updates like this in the future.
I know that this doesn't address every concern, question, or comment you may have - so in the months ahead you'll get a chance to talk directly with me and crew members from the development team. 2009 is shaping up to be our best year yet!
Every player is important to us - we're working every day to make the game all it can be - and we're really excited to be on the journey with you!