For quite some time, Flying Lab Software has been refining and improving upon the core of Pirates of the Burning Sea. Then, at PAX, they announced their first major expansion pack - Power and Prestige – which marks a shift in development towards new, themed content. FLS CEO Rusty Williams and Associate Producer Janice Von Itter recently discussed this announcement with MMORPG.com.
Everything in this free update – due out next year – revolves around its title. They want to make players feel more important, more legendary. And what’s more legendary than being a governor of a port?
That’s the core feature of Power and Prestige. Players can submit themselves for the post and then must campaign within the game to secure the votes of other players. Whoever wins the voting is declared the governor for a period of time and put in charge of the port’s economic and defensive decisions.
They’ll even have access to their own governor’s office and a fleet of NPC “advisors” who help them set their agenda in action. As this is a democracy, players will have to run a careful balance between outright corruption and self-interest and the wishes of those who put them there. If they don’t do as they promise, people can eventually cast their vote elsewhere and put the governor out on his ear.
This is accomplished through influence. Players generate influence as they play Pirates of the Burning Sea and can then pledge it towards someone who is a candidate for governor. Societies (guilds) can also pledge on behalf of an entire guild. Whoever has the most pledged to them can then use that to grab the post in a bidding system.
A governor can only be removed from power in two ways. The first is if a foreign government takes over the port by force. At that stage, the old governor is of course deposed. The second is if an opponent challenges him and then gains more influence to win the election.
To begin, governor powers will be divided into three areas: economic, cosmetic and tactical.
Economic powers include the ability to change tax rates, infrastructure rates and generally tweak the port’s economy for whatever purposes they want.
Cosmetic powers include the ability to set a tagline and make subtle little changes that leave the Governor’s own personal stamp on the place.
Tactical options include upgrades to defenses or port offensive capabilities that will make it harder – or maybe easier if treachery is afoot – for it to fall in battle with enemy nations.
Another form of prestige is in-game NPC factions. They exist at the moment, but many of them are quite barebones. Of course, players can be Pirates, French, English or Spanish, but there are all sorts of groups out there that are really under-developed.
“There’s a number of different factions within each nation in Pirates,” said Von Itter. “Until now you could progress to celebrated status with each of these, but there wasn’t a cohesive system involved with that where you got really good rewards.”
Williams told us that he wants players to be able to explore those stories and content more fully and to support this they’re expanding these factions to include more of their own missions and rewards. Players will be able to see more of a benefit to getting in good with one group or another.
For example, if players are getting along well with the Sons of Cortez that might limit their options with another faction.
Von Itter also noted that progress with these factions will unlock new content that would not otherwise be available for the player to enjoy as well as some snazzy new rewards, although she wouldn’t budge on what those might be.
One area of housekeeping, although you could argue it is about power, is the addition of Brawling as a combat line. There’s nothing more Piratey than smacking someone in the head and they’re reflecting this as a purely self-sustaining combat style. So expect some fisticuffs.
It was already in the game, but as a supplementary skill to the core combat skill lines. Power and Prestige will break this out onto its own, so people can specialize in pummeling their opposition with their bare hands, something Von Itter notes that the community seems especially excited about.
Along the way, they’re also going back and looking over all the art in the game.
“It’ll look different and feel different,” noted Von Itter. The game will be about two years old by the time it comes out and this gives them a chance to really polish the visual look.
There are a lot of details left to be explored in this expansion, both Von Itter and Williams were somewhat tight lipped, but expect those details to trickle out in the coming months as they move to a launch in the middle of next year.
Power and Prestige is a free expansion that will be available to all subscribers.