by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor

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Since the launch of Pirates
of the Burning Sea

on January 22, 2008, the developers behind the massively multiplayer
online game
have been pushing themselves to the limit to continue to improve on
the game's initial play experience. With update 1.3 hitting test
servers just last week,
players can expect a flurry of new and critical changes coming soon for
buccaneer-based MMOG. To learn more about the upcoming alterations,
“Micajah’ Bye sat down with the PotBS development
team and drew out
some of the details concerning the plans for the future of the game.
Sit back, relax, and learn about what's next for style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea!

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Update 1.3 will bring
huge changes for PvP in PotBS.

Ten Ton Hammer: You just
released a fairly extensive free update for style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea
How have players adjusted to the new changes and reacted to the
additional content?

I think people are
pleasantly surprised at how much is in the 1.2
update. We have a major/minor release strategy, shooting for releases
each 4-6 weeks, and 1.2 was the major release. Bey’s Retreat,
a new, epic, very customized encounter for groups has gotten rave
reviews, and people like the new missions in general and especially all
of the improvements to the user interface. And we’ve really
improved a lot of fundamental pieces of the game, all the way from how
people group to how they are positioned at the beginning of a fight.
They’re relatively small changes, but they have a huge

At the same time, we’re putting in some changes to how Ports
move into contention that will help PvE players reach ports that they
have missions in. Currently, some ports are such high value that they
stay in contention almost indefinitely. The new changes will fix that,
so that PvP moves around the map, creating more interesting challenges
for the PvP players and allowing PvE players to get at their missions

1.3 is going to Testbed today, and it has huge changes for the PvP
system. The goal is for players who want to PvP to focus on PvP,
without having to play as many PvE missions to afford their ship
losses. It also has a new structure called the Exchange shop which will
refine the turn in process and enable us to react faster with tuning
changes. And it also introduces Dueling, which is the harbinger of our
Player Skirmish system, which will appear in 1.5. That will allow
players to create custom fights for one another that will even let you
break our size limitation, so you can have epic fleet battles between

Ten Ton Hammer: Now that
there are several big patches out of the gate, what's next for the
game? Where will players be sailing next in Patch 1.4?

They’ll still be
in the Caribbean (though we’ve
started talking about other areas) but the 1.4 patch is nicknamed the
Patch of Pirate Love. We have some big changes coming for pirate
players, both with cool content rewards (such as the new Pillaging
system) and a big new change that we haven’t announced yet.

1.4 also has a lot of improvements for everyone. We have the first
revamp of how avatar combat works, we have the new supernatural epic
mission, improvements to port contention, and more.

Ten Ton Hammer: Since you
released the game, what's been the most surprising activity that
players have engaged in? Are there any actions that you didn't foresee
when you developed the game?

Everyone knows that people
play differently in beta than in release,
but it’s surprising just how different those playstyles are.
It’s required us to rethink systems all the way from PvP, to
the economy, to something as fundamental as appropriate concurrency.

What we really didn’t foresee was how easily players took
advantage of turn-ins to move a port into contention (what we call
econobombs), or play the system to keep ports in contention
indefinitely. This has bad implications for PvE players.
We’ve always intended for reasonably careful PvE players to
be able to avoid PvP, but that’s currently not the case. We
have the real fix starting to come in 1.3, and the rest of it will
appear in 1.4.

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The developers have
been surprised by the differing playstyles in the beta compared to

Ten Ton Hammer: There was
recently a dev log published that talked about exporting game date from
the game. What sort of things should players be expected to see in the
future? Will we see mostly player data, or other things as well?

Game data export is a
balancing act between giving players as much data
as possible so that they can take part in the game while on the web,
but without compromising the fun or the privacy of the players logged
into the game. We're starting with exposing macroscopic game variables
like port unrest state and server victory status because they are easy
starting points, but we do want to start exposing more specific data.
The next step will be exporting more PvP information like landmark
battle state such as who got invited, how they died or won, and
associated PvP leader boards. We also would like to expose online tools
for societies starting with society info directory. Beyond that, we're
thinking about exposing economic state like volume of goods sold, cargo
type information, etc. At some point we would also like to expose
character and ship stats that players can opt in to sharing. But this
is all flexible. More than anything, we want to hear what you want to
see exported because ultimately you are the ones that will use the data
we export.

Ten Ton Hammer: Since
open beta and early release, what has been the biggest change to style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea
Should players give the game another try?

The biggest change is
coming in right now (with 1.3) which is correct
incentives for PvP. The second biggest change is a gob of bug fixes and
general polish. The third change is a massive UI overhaul (which is
still ongoing). The fourth change is the new content that
we’re building which moves away from the template system
we’ve used before and goes all hand crafted.

Beyond that, we have a lot more improvements planned, including
shallows, which will promote more equal fights in the PvP while
retaining the open aspect of the world, Player Governed Ports, which is
the elder game for the Freetraders, the first stage of the avatar
combat revamp, the Player Skirmish system, and so on.

Basically, if you thought that a) the game needed more polish, b) you
wanted more balanced PvP fights, c) you wanted to avoid PvP, but found
you couldn’t, or c) you were sick of the chat UI, then
we’re addressing your issues.

Also, Bey’s Retreat is just super cool!

Ten Ton Hammer: What does
the current raiding system look like in style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea
Will we see more raids hitting the waters in the near future?

The current raiding system
(or what we call Epic missions) is
exemplified by Bey’s Retreat, which is a test to see what we
can do. It lets you take on a really, really tough challenge that gives
you a number of ways to solve it, and cool things to discover on the
way. It’s designed for a group of six, so that you
don’t have to wait to get a huge group together, but
we’re also going to create content for a larger scale.

The next Epic mission will be an assault on a huge fortress occupied by
supernatural forces. It’s very, very cool stuff.

Ten Ton Hammer: As a
developer, what's the most difficult aspect of working with a massively
multiplayer game after it has launched?

Balancing bug fixing
versus new features. When there’s a
significant problem with the game, you have to stop and fix it *now*.
When you’re developing, you can focus entirely on a new
feature and continue cranking on it until you get it done, and then go
off and pick off some bugs. As we roll out updates, we continue to kill
high priority bugs, so the interruptions become less frequent.

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The next Epic mission
will be an assault on a huge fortress.

Ten Ton Hammer: How have
things been going with the player-based community representatives? Have
they been able to attend any fan events?

The Boarding Party, for
those who haven’t heard of it, is a
team of Pirates of the Burning Sea players who represent the top
echelon of our community. The program allows for people who have
special interests in particular game features to provide feedback
directly to members of our development team.

We’ve hosted several gatherings for our Boarding Party
members, including events like PAX and GenCon, and we are planning even
more opportunities for that group throughout the summer.

Ten Ton Hammer: Since
launch, what has been the biggest hurdle for the development team to
jump over?

Deciding whether to roll
out a partial fix to a systematic problem, or
do the full implementation fix. For example, with PvP, it works, but
there are some aspects of it (the ability to move a port
instantaneously into contention) that we weren’t happy with.
We had a new design to address the problems, but rolled out some
partial fixes that the players quickly steamrolled over. It’s
hard to tell whether you should spend more time, but on the definitive
fix, or a less time on a fix that may not solve the problem.

Ten Ton Hammer: Thank you
for your time, and we hope to see even more innovation from the PotBS
team in the future!

If you could improve one
thing about Pirates of
the Burning Sea
, what would it be? href="">Let
us know on the

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016