Pirates of the Burning Sea: Black Sails Anniversary Event
MMORPG.com Pirates of the Burning Sea Correspondent Ernest Ross writes this recap of the Black Sails Anniversary Event to commemorate the gam'es first birthday.
As you may or may not know, Pirates of the Burning Sea passed its one year anniversary January 22. To celebrate this significant milestone FLS made a number of great celebratory announcements including a new recent trial , a new affiliate advertising campaign,eye-catching banner ads, further exposure through Valve's Steam library as part of a deal brokered by Sony Online Entertainment, and a new series of podcasts called "Ask Rusty!"
In the new pod casts, Flying Lab Software CEO Russell "Rusty" Williams and other members of the dev team will answer select questions from culled from the forum and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Ask Rusty!" in the subject line. I have it on fairly good authority that the questions will be prioritized by members of the community management team, part of whose job it is to read the forum and keep an eye out for hot topic discussions such as what they're doing to try and draw in more players from Down Under, including a specially targeted ad campaign in addition to the new Population Incentives which will effect not only Spain and France on Defiant, but all four nations.
One thing that a lot of people may not realize at first about Pirates of the Burning Sea is that there are no benefits or drawbacks between the three Old World Nations (France, Britain and Spain). That is, unlike other games you don't have special skills or traits based on what side you choose. An example would be the difference in spells available to a Dwarven Priest as compared to an Undead Priest in World of Warcraft. In PotBS, a Naval Officer is a Naval Officer and has access to the same skill tree and the same ship models/outfittings, regardless of what flag flies atop his mainmast. The only differences between the game experience of different Old World Nations are in the story elements - there's a wealth of good writing in PotBS to satisfy any player inclined to enjoy it.
There is, however, a difference between Old World Nations and the Pirate nation, particularly that Pirates don't have access to Advanced Economy Structures like the Nationals' Freetrader does and Nationals can't take command of or scavenge deeds from derelict ships like pirates can. There are also differences in the way RvR is carried out with the Pirate nation being at a substantial disadvantage when trying to win the map against Old World Nations who care to prevent it from happening. But, as many pirates will tell you, such is the price for free ships and stress-free economy.
While all of this is great news, even greater news was the special Anniversary Event: Black Sails on the Horizon! PotBS's first ever Live Server event was hinted at weeks in advance but the official announcement offered only four days' notice. Fortunately, it took place on a Saturday so few players had to miss out due to scheduling conflicts with work or school.
The event marks the beginning of a new story arc for Pirates of the Burning Sea called "Black Flags and Dread Saints," involving a sinister new faction of pirates called the Order of the Dread Saint. The identity of this Dread Saint remains shrouded in mystery, but it's a certainty that he and his motley band of scallywags represent an imminent danger to all the peoples of the Burning Sea! Also shrouded in mystery was the exact nature of the event and all of the most active Player-to-Developer communication resources were a-buzz with unanswered questions; all they would tell us was, "Keep an eye on your chat window during the scheduled event hours!"
Our nations called for our help, and they received it! I've seen some pretty active areas since I joined Pirates of the Burning Sea including Cayo red every time it's flipped and dozens of players standing about on the docks at popular ports like Havana and Matthew Town. But never before have I seen so many player ships gathered the way they were during the Anniversary Event! Shortly after the event began, information started coming across the chat in the form of System messages hinting at where these Dread Saints might be found.
When I arrived at Carlos Harbor, I saw that the event wasn't stopping folks from PvPing. Captain Kidd might've called on all nations to fight the unknown threat, but that didn't mean everybody was best friends for a day. What I didn't realize was that that battle wasn't your normal Pirates vs. France PvP battle - it was a part of the event. After hanging about near Carlos Harbor for a time, I decided to go investigate the reports of Dread Saints off the coast of Sisal. Again, nothing but blue triangles indicating player ships on the minimap and as far as the eye could see. But then I happened to pass by a battle instance that was ringed in blue, indicating that I could join. My ship was a 30-degree xebec, so I'd gotten to New Spain against the wind well ahead of the rest of my society group and decided to pop my head into the 6 Spain vs. 4 Pirate battle and take a look - I had no intention of committing, I just wanted to see who was doign what and to whom. What I saw was 6 Spaniards from "Redemption" in heavy frigates plus a 3rd-Rate or 4th-Rate ship of the line making their best speed from a reinforcement point.
They were racing toward a battle between three Brethren pirates from "SEEK N DESTROY" and "It Burns When I P-V-P" societies, an assortment of Level 1 NPC pirates in Heavy Frigates and 4th-Rates, and one Dread Saint by the name of Sister Beulah (played by FLS Danicia on Antigua). The action was two thousand yards downwind, so I toggled all the speed buffs I've got and tried to join the pirates in trying to take down the Dread Saint all the while keeping an eye on the Spanish players. The S-N-D pirates promptly invited me to join their group so that I would share in whatever rewards were to be had. At first, I wasn't sure if it was going to be an impromptu collaboration between us and them to reap the rewards of sinking Sister Beulah or if it were going to turn into a three-way brawl. When I saw cannon balls fired at pirate Matthew Darksteel by one of the Spaniards, all doubt was removed and I immediately shifted my focus toward sinking Spanish frigates only checking on Beulah's status from time to time to see if there were a cheap kill shot to be had.
Sister Beulah was more than happy to watch us kill each other while she and her NPC minions showered random targets liberally with roundshot. I'm a PvP-minded player, so any opportunity for PvP is a good thing for me. Bonus if it's against developers and GMs. Extra Bonus if it's unexpected! When sunk, the GM/Dev ships dropped Marks of Victory and Marks of Trade, just like any other PvP victory; I earned five in the battle I took part in, thanks to some superb improvised teamwork with "SEEK N DESTROY" and Burns' Matthew Darksteel. Without Crypt Keeper's blocking, I might have been sunk twice over!
One of the things that made this event so much fun for those who were able to participate was the steady stream of banter between the players and the Dread Saints on Local and Area chat. It really lent a personalized flavor to the entire affair. The only downsides were an apparent lack of exclusive event-related loot and that, because there were only so many GMs and developers to go around, not all of the people who turned out for the event got to participate directly. Afterward, the developers acknowledged certain things that could've been handled better and seem to have taken away a good bit of knowledge from their first ever Live Server event, and a great time was had by all who were fortunate enough to get a broadside facing a Dread Saint!