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Portalus Games | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Historical | Status:Final  (rel 01/22/08)  | Pub:Portalus Games
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Hybrid | Monthly Fee:$14.99
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Developer Journals: Non-Exclusive Devlog - Introducing Bey's Retreat

By Guest Writer on February 26, 2008

Non-Exclusive Devlog - Introducing Bey's Retreat

Welcome to Bey’s Retreat

Bey’s Retreat is the unapproachable stronghold to which the Corsairs of the Main escape when the national navies and Brethren pirates chase them down. It is a series of powerful fortresses built into a small island near Caracas, watched over by the most ruthless and dangerous Corsairs in the Caribbean. The Spanish have attacked it. The Brethren of the Coast have laid siege to it. But the defenses of Bey’s Retreat and the massive Corsair fleet that protects it have repelled every incursion.

As players prepare to enter Bey’s Retreat, those defenses have just shattered yet another major attack and the Corsairs of the Main are in pursuit of their routed enemies, leaving the fortresses defended by a minimal force. It could be years before another opportunity like this one presents itself, but even so, the Corsair bastion is hardly helpless. The Corsair fleet’s most dangerous captain still patrols the local waters and under the command of Aga Irena Ballesteros, the land-based defenses can easily reduce even a powerful ship to splinters.

Formidable as Bey’s Retreat may be, it has its weakness, and you will have the chance to discover it. You won’t be able to get near the place without help, and a lone ship has no chance at all of breaching its defenses. You will need allies as strong as you are to have any hope of victory.

Defying Expectations

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Dungeon run. WoW raid. Loot treadmill. Fight grunts to reach the boss. Fight the boss. Rinse. Repeat. Seen it before. Meh.

Take my word for it, that isn’t what’s going on here, and you haven’t seen this before.

Groups in Pirates of the Burning Sea work differently than groups in other games. Most online games force each player into a clear, pre-defined role. This role is simply built into your character from the time you create him. In Pirates of the Burning Sea there are no necessary classes or play styles a group needs to win. You will never need to turn someone away from your group because they arent the tank or healer that you need.

We’ve taken great pains to ensure a totally random group of people will always be viable. A balanced group with six different specializations has its virtues, but it doesnt necessarily have an advantage over any other group. A group of six sturdy, defensive types can outlast their enemies and keep each other from being overwhelmed. A group of six aggressive damage-dealers can focus their efforts watch their opponents drop like flies.

In most cases, these three groups (and the possibilities arent even remotely limited to three types of groups) will approach the same challenges very differently. There is never a single, perfect strategy. There are pitfalls to every approach, and they can all be avoided by working together.

Figuring out how your group can organize and succeed is challenging in and of itself, but it presents no challenges that cant be overcome with good communication. All of the varied gameplay elements that weve added to Bey’s Retreat can be overcome, or even turned to the groups advantage, in the exact same way.

Looking for Group

An oft-quoted statistic floating around out there in the ether: 80% of MMORPG players favor solo player vs. environment over other types of gameplay. I don’t know where this statistic comes from, but I know that in every online game I’ve played, I’ve spent at least 80% of my time soloing missions and running around by myself looking for trouble. When I see other people online, they’re generally doing the same thing.
So, why make content for groups? Why not make an MMO game in which people can just exist in the same space as everyone else and play solo to their hearts content? In Pirates of the Burning Sea we provide economic and player vs. player gameplay for people who want to group up and make their mark on the world. Why not just let people who want to PvE keep their heads down and do missions, maybe grouping up for missions once in a great while for some variety?

The answer is pretty simple. Online games are exactly as strong as the communities that play them. I’m not talking about big guilds, I’m talking about every single person who plays the game. The purpose of group content is to encourage people to take themselves out of their comfort zone long enough to meet some other people, and team up to accomplish something that’s truly challenging.

This is what the Epic Mission strike team had in mind when we came up with the idea for Bey’s Retreat, our first really large-scale group mission. Many players have played our first group mission, “Red Tide”, and enjoyed it. Bey’s Retreat is in a similar mold, but it’s much, much larger, the content is at a higher level, and it’s chock full of challenges that players have never encountered before.

Whether we’re talking about PvE, PvP, or the economy, groups are forged by the challenges they face, and succeed by working together to overcome them. Bey’s Retreat is built upon the idea that we can get players to have a lot of fun together by creating game mechanics that reward efficient coordination over strong individual skills and great communication over great outfitting.

We want players to explore together, strategize together, experience adversity together, and hopefully triumph together when they go into Bey’s Retreat. We want them to have fun together and come out the other side better players than they were before. Most of all, we want them to feel the exhilaration of accomplishing something difficult together.

So when you hear John Eldredson’s thundering guns, or Escobar Dezs maniacal cackle, or Aga Irenas orders to her men, keep your wits, keep your cool, and remember youre not alone.