Kevin Maginn is the Lead Designer of Flying Lab Software’s Pirates of the Burning Sea and the subject of an interview series ran here on WarCry every other Monday. Today we get answers on mini-games, fan reaction, the story-arc and more.
Answers by Kevin Maginn (Lead Designer)
Questions by Michael Bitton
WarCry: What has been the reaction from gamers at conventions who have never heard of the game before and are seeing it or playing it for the first time?
Kevin Maginn: Almost universally positive. We’re aware of issues we still need to address in our game, but one thing that’s always been true is that Pirates shows very well. I credit the amount of time we’ve spent polishing and re-polishing the ship combat experience; it’s intuitive and easy to learn.
WarCry: Talk about some of the mini-games or social activities available to aspiring pirates.
Kevin Maginn: Something we’re planning to do as we go forward is to really make the tavern experience central to social gameplay. A big part of this is players having the ability to own and manage their own social spaces. That’s not going to be in the initial release of the game, but it’s on the horizon.
WarCry: What features or feature did you have to leave on the whiteboard that you’d like to implement someday?
Kevin Maginn: The list goes on and on. Luckily, ‘someday’ translates directly into our post-launch schedule, so I don’t despair of ever getting to add these features. Off the top of my head? Crew management, officer training, RSS feeds from the gameservers, guild halls, player-owned social spaces.
WarCry: What was the most challenging feature to implement and why?
Kevin Maginn: For me, the difficulty of designing a feature is directly proportional to how much fun I have working on it. That said, the economy has been, and continues to be, an endless source of stress and challenge. Ultimately, I suspect that boarding combat was harder for the programmers, but even at 50+ pages of design documents I still don’t believe I have a complete grasp of all the complexity of the economy. It’s the problem with designing systems that only ‘come alive’ when players start interacting with them.
WarCry: You’ve said the game features a “choose your own adventure” style story-arc for each class. How different will the experience be from class to class?
Kevin Maginn: What we call the ‘roleplaying story arc’ is not defined by your career at all. However, we also have long story arcs that explore your career specifically (the Career story arcs); each of those is, like the roleplaying story arc, comprised of hand-crafted, custom mission content. Those missions really define, in terms of the content, what your career is all about.