GameOgre.com recently had a Q&A session with Daniel James of the Puzzle Pirates team about this colorful MMORPG. Questions by GameOgre.com are in bold.
Puzzle Pirates gives players a chance to play a portion of the game for free but the game is not completely free. Can you explain the various payment methods for the game?
Players can purchase Doubloons or a Subscription with credit card paypal Target pre-paid cards premium SMS in some European countries and a whole gamut of payment options through some partners.
Do you feel that Puzzle Pirates is more targeted towards solo players or grouping?
Puzzle Pirates is a ‘strongly grouped’ game in that membership of a Crew opens up the heart of the game Pillaging. However we have made pains to make it possible to enjoy solo play too.
When Puzzle Pirates was released in late 2003 there were no major pirate MMOs so what was behind the decision to make the game based around puzzles instead of a regular MMORPG with a pirate theme?
I had wanted to make a pirate game for a while but I knew that I didn’t want the core gameplay to be ‘wack-a-monster’ as I personally find that activity to be tiresome. When I hit upon the idea of combining Puzzle games which have a tight short-time period ‘fun loop’ with the long-term fun loop of MMO progression and community it seemed like an obvious marriage.
I’m surprised that five years on nobody else has copied the idea. It solves a lot of the problems with tiresome repetitive and ‘grind-based’ MMO gameplay.
What role does PvP play in the game?
It’s possible to attack player ships at sea but few people do it and there are strict rules against ‘ganking’. Lots of players enjoy challenging each other to swordfights and other puzzles including lots of board and card games on land. Every weekend there are blockades of islands often battles between coalitions of player Crews called Flags. Hundreds of simultaneous players will be sailing around on big ships (40+ players on each) puzzling away and sinking each other. There’s also a very competitive player-driven economy.
Which is to say that interaction and fun competition between players is a key part of Puzzle Pirates but it’s not usually non-consensual PvP in the traditional sense.
How much involvement do players have in the economy and how does the economy work?
Puzzle Pirates has a complex economy. Commodities are produced by islands and must be purchased and shipped to ports by player traders. Shops are owned by players and utilise player puzzling labour to convert commodities into finished goods often through a few stages (for example a weavery turns hemp into cloth using dyes an apothecary turns herbs into dyes and then a tailor takes the coloured cloth and makes finished clothes). Often players collaborate in running shops and some mighty trading coalitions have been formed!
How is your combat system different from other MMOs?
All the core activities in Puzzle Pirates; swordfights sailing bilge-pumping firing the cannons etc. are driven by skill-based Puzzle Pirates. So instead of a fairly predictable ‘click to attack select spell wait repeat’ combat routine battles are a gripping skill-based challenge.
Do you think your game appeals to the casual gamer or the hardcore gamer?
Surprisingly PP’s appeal crosses between casual and hardcore players — younger and older. It is unique as a skill-based MMO with substantial depth and lots of hardcore players love it as such but of course it has a casual look and feel and remains accessible to the occasional less-skilled player.
How often is new content added? Is there any type of schedule for updates?
We are always adding new stuffs. Although we have internal schedules we don’t promise release dates usually as things always take longer than we hope! However we try to get something new and juicy into the hands of the players at least every three months.
Unlike when the game was released there are now several different pirate MMOs like Pirates of the Burning Sea Pirates of the Caribbean and Voyage Century. What is the biggest advantage that Puzzle Pirates holds over other pirate games?
The community-oriented and ecoomy depth and unique puzzle-based aspects I alude to above put Puzzle Pirates in it’s own category. Quite simply I would say it’s more fun for both a casual player and a hardcore player who’s interested in their personal skill managing a group towards grand objectives or the economy. My impression of the other pirate games is that they tend to deliver a more traditional MMO experience (beating up on monsters etc.) or some new gameplay (sailing battles in PotBS) that tends to be more solo-oriented. That all said I think there’s plenty of room for lots of Pirate games!
Are there any future plans for Puzzle Pirates that you would like to mention?
I’m afraid they are all top secret right now!
Thank you for your time!