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Introductory Interview

William Murphy Posted:
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MMORPG: Wind of Luck is being billed as the “true pirate game”. What did you mean by that?

Al Gourtou: First, I should say that almost all the actions in WoL are possible: you can capture any ship you can encounter; there aren’t any level- or class- or skill-based restrictions (in fact there aren’t any “skills”). You can use false money (or mix false money with good mint), cheat NPC quest-givers (and this will have certain consequences), deal with pirate power barons and honest governors, use different flags to avoid attacks in hostile waters; fit your ship with cannons and pirate equipment as you like, etc, etc.

MMORPG: There’s no level or skill system? Really?

Al Gourtou: Yes. Although it looks like a “revolutionary” decision, it’s basis is pretty clear. Players can’t be kept in the game ONLY by a carrot on the stick; I can’t remember any such game. Instead, players remain in MMO’s that have good gameplay.  We’re sure that the reason behind leveling carries more of a tutorial purpose - it provides a smooth and good tutorial to huge open world with plenty of various magic skills (or techs) to learn.

MMORPG: But some would say that a skill system provides a good variety to gameplay - different specs means different gameplay experiences. How then does WoL have any sort of variation between players and in combat?

Al Gourtou:  First of all, Wind of Luck’s mechanics are more similar to shooters than to RPG’s. A player’s skills count, not a player character’s skills. In something like Counterstrike, the PC with legendary “+ A Zillion HP” vest and “+96.5% to hit” AK-74 isn’t the one who wins, but rather the player with better mouse handling skill does. In Wind of Luck, we tried to make gameplay as easy to learn as it can be and we’re hoping that we found the right approach. Basically you just raise/fold sails (use oars), turn, fire (from left/right board, bow or stern) and use special weapons (gatling guns, catapults, harpoon cannons).  Furthermore, we made Wind of Luck as a “realistic” seafaring world and skills like “+10% to speed” or “-20% to enemy HP” are quite unrealistic and magical. We even removed entire class of NPC (shamans) because still can’t make it both realistic and useful. It’s not historically accurate, but we intended the world to be based on real ships and weapons, and not rely on fantasy.

MMORPG: In short, can you tell us how Wind of Luck is different than, say… Pirates of the Burning Sea?

Al Gourtou: There are really a lot of differences; the most important ones are as follows… rant ahead!

The mechanics of ship battles, primarily. In WoL, there isn’t any artificial “targeting” – cannons shoot in direction they face, with added vertical angles for chain and grape shots. I.e., if in PotBS you will name your target, see a pre-calculated a percent to hit (which isn’t affected by target size) and then fire (with no friendly fire and you can’t fire to several enemies from same board). In WoL you just turn, see if the enemy is in range and hit fire – each cannon fires independently, and damages first solid thing it hits, be it friend of foe or some poor passing-by spectator. And as cannons fire straight forward, you just can’t unleash full broadside of a first class ship to the stern/bow of an enemy vessel. 

Ships are much more maneuverable, and smaller vessels have some chances against bigger warships. While in PotBS, a level 50 third-rate ship will sink level 20 Brig 100 times out of 100, regardless of player’s skills, in WoL a well-handled Brig really has a chance against 2-decker because of maneuverability and proper fitting.

Speaking of fitting, contrary to PotBS, you can change the actual armament of your ship. Moreover, you are limited only by the number of gun places/ports and total gun weight. You can fit on your Gay-Bao, say, 16 Sakers (9-pounder) or 4 enormous Double Cannons (54-pounder). The latter fit will have considerably less DPS, but much better range and alpha strike.

There are also two very different classes of cannons: long cannons and carronades. Carronades have much shorter range and much lesser weight for same firepower. So, you can fit your ship according to your fight tactics preferences.

There are also no magic-like skills – you just maneuver, fire, and board. Of course, there are a good bunch of dirty tricks like harpoon cannons to slow your enemy, catapults with smoke reagents to blind him for a while, barrels with oil to create burning spots on the sea, anchor drops for quick turning and so on. But we removed all things for which we couldn’t create a realistic explanation. So there aren’t any “I kill half of your crew with my voodoo” things in our game.

You can capture and sail any ship. Period. You can use anything you find in the game. No restrictions.

NPC’s have memories. You will be attacked by those you cheated if they found you cheating, you can kidnap governor’s daughter, but you will be hunted by bounty hunters then.

All quests can be handled in at least two ways – for instance, even if you are asked to deliver a package (early common quest) - you can deliver it, or just steal and use its contents. Or if you’re really rotten, give it to opposing faction authority, or sell it to some player, who can then complete original quest.

There are also going to be three really vast regions – not only Caribbean, but Mediterranean and East Asia with its architecture and charm. We don’t only have classic ships, but a number of Galleys and Junks: ninety really different types of ships from Polynesian Hokuleas to late European 4-deckers. NPC’s will talk to you on 15 different languages as well. And lastly, though we can’t comment too much on it yet, our economy is designed as an adaptive system and market price is dependent on the behavior of players. But there can’t be such thing as a player-driven shortage, as the NPC’s provide all usable materials.

MMORPG: Thanks so much for your time, Al!

Al Gourtou: My pleasure! Looking forward to getting more players into Wind of Luck soon!


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.