by Cody "Micajah" Bye,
Managing Editor

The high-class suites at the MGM Grand aren't typically the place where
you'd find a pirate, but at 2008's Consumer Electronics Show there was
definitely a salty scent in the air. Sony Online Entertainment
(complete with a contingent of pirate swag and skullduggery) were the
folks responsible for bringing the smell of the sea to the
show.  In full force at CES, the online game company was
proudly displaying each of their respective games - including style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea
- in a suite that made the associated press feel like kings.

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At CES 2008, we
discussed player skirmishes and raiding with the PotBS developers.

Along for the ride were the developers at Flying Lab Software, and they
certainly weren't going to allow a bunch of Ten Ton Hammer staffers to
visit the SOE area without sitting us down and discussing the latest
features being implemented into the game. With our cameras and laptops
in tow, Ten Ton Hammer's Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and Cody "Micajah" Bye
met with Jess Lebow and Rusty Williams to document our excursions into
the Caribbean.

While many of the dramatic scenarios and events played out visually
before our eyes (which we proceeded to capture with our high quality
video camera - more videos to come!), there were a few important
details that leaked into our conversation concerning the first few
updates that would be coming into the game after the January 22, 2008,
launch date.

To be precise, the two developers mainly focused on a pair of upcoming
features for the game: the player skirmish and the raiding systems.
Lebow was adamant in letting us know that these additions to the game
would be going active in the game world just a few weeks after launch,
so end-game pirates wouldn't have to wait an absurd amount of time
before trying their hand at some of the nastier scenarios.

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Players skirmishes
will be organized, scheduled PvP events. If someone isn't invited, they
can't join.

First on Lebow's docket was the player skirmish system, which focuses
on scheduled fights with controlled variables. "It's going to be a
system where you're essentially scheduling a battle against an opposing
force," Lebow said. "You basically say, 'On this day, we're going to
meet up and fight each other!' As an example of one of the objectives,
you're going to be protecting this convoy that's moving from point A to
point B, and your opponents are going to try and destroy it."

But what if you don't want particular players (or opponents) trying to
enter the match? "You can password protect the whole thing, so only
players that you designate can enter the match," Lebow added. So if
your guild leader doesn't send you the password for a particular
night's player skirmish, you know that it might be time to practice a
bit more with that 52-gun ship and really lay down the law.

When asked to expand further on the whole concept, Lebow thought for a
moment before answering. "Do you remember style="font-style: italic;">Goldeneye: 007? The
old FPS for the N64?" he asked. "Do you remember how you could go in
and set all the variables in the game before initiating the multiplayer
sequence? That's what we're trying to do on a broader scale. Perhaps
you want to set-up a fort battle where two guilds are battling it out.
Or maybe you want to do a practice scenario where your guild fights
itself in one of the skirmishes, because there may be consequences to
losing these battles and you want to make sure your strategies are all
sound before initiating the combat."

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After you best your
guildmates, make sure you lift their morale by buying them a drink in
the tavern.

This brings up some interesting situations for the guilds found in
Pirates of the Burning Sea. Rather than having to test your guildmates
mettle in PvP combat on the open waters, instead you could set-up
player skirmishes to get your players ready for the bigger battles.
Perhaps you could hold try-outs for the "A" squad or the "B" squad,
determining who gets on either team by seeing how they perform in the
naval battles. Once the teams have been established, your guild can
way-lay opponents on the elite and casual level alike!

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the game the PotBS developers
discussed, however, was the end-game raiding content that they have
been meticulously building for the post-launch period. The conversation
initially started with a conversation we were having about the normal
time it takes to defeat a combat scenario in style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea.
According to Jess, the average time it takes to go through ship versus
ship combat is around 20 minutes, but he noted that the raid content
they were putting in the game featured ship combat that was along the
lines of two and a half hours in length.

"It's more involved and you will definitely need to be more organized,"
Lebow said. "You will need a guild of people to really take these
enemies down."

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Ship versus ship
combat in the raid scenarios may take up to two and a half hours to

When we asked Jess to elaborate on the situation - whether it was going
to be one monstrous raid boss or something else entirely - his answer
was very direct. "The players are going to enter a cove," Lebow said.
"There's a pirate fleet inside and you - along with your friends - are
charged with sailing in their and destroying this fleet."

"However, we've made this particular encounter tougher than anything
else you'll face in the game," Lebow added. "We've tweaked the boss AI
in this mission, so he'll fight harder than anything you've ever fought
in the game. In the particular raid I'm talking about, you'll be taking
on an incredibly nasty jailer because you need to free some important
individuals he's holding prisoner. However, even though you will
have him outnumbered, he has tons of different ways to bleed
you and will direct area-of-effect attacks your way."

"But, the prisoners hate him, of course, because he's their jailer,"
Lebow continued. "So if you can drive the jailer back into the
prisoners, they'll actually shiv, cut, and generally harm him in any
way they can. We're trying to do a lot of this 'environmental' type of
action to add a bit of flair to the experience."

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One of the initial
raid bosses is a jailer who probably didn't go through the criminal
system to lock up his captives.

Even though the raid is certainly on its way down the pipe, the
developers at Flying Lab wanted to insure that this scenario was done
correctly. They're pulling out all the stops to make it a fun and
challenging experience, including devoting a solid chunk of man hours
to the design and implementation of the encounter. "This is literally
taking a team of six people over two months to build," Lebow said.
"We've never done this before, so we wanted to make sure it was done
right. We haven't attempted this style of gameplay, but we wanted to
add that one more dimension to Pirates for players at higher levels.
Once this has gone into the game, you'll definitely be seeing more
raids going live."

"That said," Lebow continued, "we're always pushing the limits on what
we can do with our tools. The entry of the raids in the game will be
slow at the beginning, but once we ramp up you'll begin seeing them all
the time. After the first one or two raids are thoroughly played by our
player base, we can judge what they like and dislike and begin
implementing more and more of these encounters into the game."

Fear not, high level pirates! The developers at Flying Lab haven't
forgotten about you! If you don't believe me, take the words straight
from the developers mouth. Raids and player skirmishes are coming, and
it won't be long before we'll be fighting for glory and booty alike!

Will the addition of
raiding to Pirates of
the Burning Sea
improve your desire to play the game? Do
you anticipate large guilds moving to the game now that a raid system
is on its way? href="">Let
us know on the forums!

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016