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Gameogre Interview with Toby on Behalf of Picaroon

Discussion in 'MMO Interviews' started by GameOgreVideos, Nov 4, 2010.

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    Gameogre recently had the chance to chat with the team behind Picaroon and ask them some questions about their new upcoming MMORTS game.

    Gameogre.com: It is evident that Picaroon’s settings are mostly in the oceans and islands, what came into the mind of the developers for creating such unique strategy game? Can you tell us more about the background story of Picaroon?

    Toby: Hi! Picaroon is played out in a grim water-world of the future where all that remains of the Earth’s surface are thousands and thousands of small tropical islands – most of them volcanic in nature. Now tidally locked, half of the planet is in perpetual darkness and no-one knows what is there (yet!). The remaining people battle it out for control of the land that’s available to feed the power of a few massive warlords descended from empires of times gone past.

    At least that’s the story as told around camp fires these days! What we really wanted was an excuse to mix old and new and apply a little odd styling of our own. If we based a pirate sea game in the past we’d not have been able to have groovy submarines, dirigibles and weapons of alarming destruction. We wanted some familiarity and the ability to continue to uncover cool new things in future games: the tidally locked thing is part of that—there’s a whole half of the world that is dark and unexplored…

    Gameogre.com: What makes Picaroon’s stand out against other MMORTSs? Will there be a Story to follow as you progress throughout the game?

    Toby: Picaroon is unique for a couple of reasons. Firstly it’s got this end-game thing where players who tribute the most resources to the warlords get access to some pretty amazing extra weaponry at the end of the game which is designed to encourage some pretty vast wars. Secondly, we also think that the sheer scale and quantity of units you’ll see are pretty impressive for an MMO.

    We have worked very hard to establish a path of development that lets us introduce new game types that allow the game to appeal to more and more people. Obviously we’re also in the situation where unlike RPGs, RTSs tend to have a single winner. That can make for a lot of losers – so it’s vital that we have many, many ways to win, both small and large. We’re proud of the results of that work and we’ve yet to scratch the surface. Think of the Picaroon that will come out of beta before Christmas as being v1.0 of a product that we have grand plans for!

    Gameogre.com: What kinds of quests and leveling systems if any are incorporated into Picaroon? How much battle or PvP is integrated for the players/fleets? Will the players be able to view their rankings like win or lose statistics?

    Toby: Most of the game is PvP. We find the best way to get exceptional AI is to make every player human! We collect all sorts of statistics for players including a comprehensive achievement system that awards specials (more on those in a tick), a huge number of individual numbers about play (average positioning, kill rates, etc.) as well as a stack of per-game awards such as “played on the winning alliance†and “largest empireâ€. All of these stats are shown for players and many can be seen by all for bragging rights. Each of these achievements, awards and ranking positions results in experience points that provide an overall ranking for all games.

    We intend to show this in the forums, in-game and everywhere else where the player is seen.

    The specials system is perhaps the biggest area of persistence for players. All players can purchase specials using in-game gold raised by taxing settlers or by our micro-transaction system. All specials are available in both ways but in-game gold buys you packs of random cards. It’s possible to play for free forever with access to everything every other player can get but if you’re in specific need of some specific cards (such as a stack of 72 hour double damage for your weaponry to help protect the empire during a weekend away) then you can buy specific packs should you not have a stock from in-game conquests and taxation.

    Specials are persistent so if you get them in one game, they are available to you in all games of Picaroon that you play.

    We’re also going to be adding a little more PvE into the game in the coming months including independent pirate ships that’ll raise various bounties for sinking and the terrible, terrible weather that one can find near the border between night and day. We also love the idea of treasure maps and specific missions that could provide the player with incredible riches such as powerful specials. It is these maps and specific missions that could eventually form the basis for quite a comprehensive quest style system, but we’ll develop that depending on the kind of feedback that we receive from our players as we go.

    Gameogre.com: Can players work together and create a team or alliances?

    Toby: Yes you can work together in alliances. We believe that alliances are a vital part of MMO RTSs as they offer players a way of protecting their empires and being considerably more than the sum of their parts. The alliance system is an area that we have exciting plans to enhance further in the future, too.

    Gameogre.com: For new Players, since it would be hard for them to build a navy if someone more powerful would attack them from the start. Will there be an immunity time for new players to build their own fleet capable of defending themselves?

    Toby: All players get “Beginner’s Protectionâ€. This protects all of a player’s assets for a few days OR until they’ve taken control of their fourth island. That way, you can build a small empire of a few islands and work to defend it and get involved in alliances before you’re exposed to attack. We also have a “Last Chance Protection†that kicks in when you’ve only got one island remaining which protects it against attack so that you can work out a way of getting your revenge…

    Gameogre.com: As said in your website, sometimes things happen like a giant squids attack your ship, Will they destroy the ship? Or does the ship have the chance to escape? Can the players kill these types of attackers?

    Toby: All the various attackers can be killed by the players’ ships but some are more vicious than others. Usually, there is a warning of such an attack or particular areas of the ocean that are more dangerous than others.

    Gameogre.com: Are there any else that you wanted to tell our community about Picaroon?

    Toby: Absolutely! Come and help us make this a great game. We know that we need to keep our ears open and we are aware that the game has only progressed as far as it has already because we’ve listened hard to what our players are telling us. In a few weeks, for example, we’re introducing a session-Picaroon setup where players can create their own game for an hour or two, invite their friends, configure it accordingly and have a super-fast massive battle. We expect that this kind of configuration will attract players who much prefer the shorter RTS type games but enjoy the idea of a grand battle and hundreds of units. Our players will be able to play in these kinds of games as well as the main, long-term games. We’re always open to advice and if any of your community feel that Picaroon is the game for them, then we’d be delighted to have them and to hear what they have to say!
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