Post-Launch Pirates of the Caribbean Online Interview

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Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Mike Goslin, VP of Disney Online

Just a few weeks ago, many fans and gaming press veterans were stunned to see that Pirates of the Caribbean Online had been released with relatively little fanfare compared to many other recently marketed MMOGs. The Ten Ton Hammer staff was instantly interested in the background behind this sort of decision, and we put together an interview for Disney Online VP Mike Goslin to allow him to sort out Disney Online’s process behind the release. His answers are clear and concise, and we hope you enjoy the interview!

Ten Ton Hammer: It seemed like the launch of Pirates of the Caribbean Online was incredibly sudden. Why wasn’t there more “build-up” to the games release, or perhaps a large marketing campaign to draw people into the world?

Mike Goslin: It was very important to us to launch with a solid, fun game.  Even though we have conducted extensive beta tests, we wanted the additional security of a quiet launch so that we can make sure everything is just right for when the large crowds start to arrive.  The Disney theme parks call this a “soft launch”.  We do have a large marketing campaign that will ramp up over the coming weeks, so the build-up is starting now.

Mike Goslin

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of response did the games release have from the player community? Have you seen a large influx of players? What have they thought of the game thus far?

Mike: Even with limited promotion, we have received an amazing response from the player community.  Traffic is growing rapidly through word of mouth and players are logging serious hours and having a great time in the game.  They seem to really appreciate some of the unique aspects of our game such as sailing around with a crew sinking ships and gathering treasure.

Ten Ton Hammer: With the release coming upon everyone so quickly, was there anything that you wanted to include in the final version of the game that didn’t make the cut? What are some of the first additions that you’re going to be putting in the game for players?

Mike: We are really happy with the features we were able to get in for launch, but there were still some things that were not quite ready to go, so they will be coming soon.  In addition, we have a significant amount of expansion content planned throughout the year.

Ten Ton Hammer: Player communities are a big part of any games success these days. Are there any plans to further develop the community for Pirates of the Caribbean Online through message boards, social networking, etc.? Or is that not possible with such a young age group?

Mike: We definitely plan to expand and nurture the community for Pirates of the Caribbean.  Currently, most of the communication and social networking happens in-game, but we have some significant web-based tools around individual pirates and guilds that will launch in the coming weeks.  All of our tools are designed to help players meet up with friends easily while at the same time being mindful of the safety of our younger audience.

The POTCO team is committed to bringing a kid-safe game to the general public.

Ten Ton Hammer: To me, the Parental Controls for Pirates of the Caribbean Online seem pretty extensive especially with the movies being rated PG-13. Why are initial options for players so limiting?

Mike: We really want to empower parents to maintain the level of safety for their kids that they feel comfortable with.  This shouldn’t limit the options for our older players, however.

Ten Ton Hammer: On the other side of the coin, what can parents do in PotCO that helps them protect their children? Is their anyway to limit play time or what a child can see on the screen?

Mike: We are committed to creating a safe and fun environment for families online.  In addition to the extensive parental controls, we have aggressive chat filtering and monitoring to keep the experience safe and enjoyable.  Pirates of the Caribbean is rated E10+, so we worked hard to ensure the content is appropriate for that age range.

Ten Ton Hammer: The voodoo abilities seem to be an interesting part of Pirates that hasn’t been explored thoroughly in an interview before. How does the voodoo system work? Is it similar to magic we find in our other MMOGs? Do you have to be a specific class to cast a voodoo spell or is it simply based upon your “Voodoo Power?”

Mike: Every pirate has the ability to use voodoo once they acquire the voodoo doll and later the voodoo staff.  The doll works by first “attuning” it to a target, so you start by getting in close and tagging an enemy.  Once you attune, the player can run away and hurt the targeted enemy from a distance by poking the doll, setting it on fire, or swarming it with insects to name a few of the attacks.  Using the attacks consumes voodoo power, which needs to be replenished over time.  As players use voodoo weapons, they earn new attacks and improve the effectiveness of existing attacks.  Pirates of the Caribbean does not have a class system – you just get better at the weapons as you use them.

Voodoo powers are neat, especially when you're dishing out the damage.

Ten Ton Hammer: How does Pirates of the Caribbean Online compare to other MMOGs that are on the market? What sets the game apart? Do you see the game attaining a massive amount of popularity or will it simply prove to be a solid game with a good chunk of players?
Mike: Pirates of the Caribbean Online is the only MMOG where you get to live the exciting life of a pirate in the world established by the POTC films and the beloved theme park attraction.  This means you get to interact with Jack Sparrow and the other characters, visit places like Port Royal and Tortuga, and match wits with enemies both familiar and new.  Being a pirate and having the chance to set sail on adventures at sea in a pirate ship with a crew of other players blasting away at other ships and gathering treasure is one of the things that sets our game apart.  Another big difference is how easy our game is to play.  We put a great deal of energy into making the game fun and accessible.  I think all the effort will pay off as we begin to attract a broad audience of gamers, casual gamers, and fans of the POTC movies.  Also, because a large portion of the game is free to play and due to the popularity of the POTC franchise, we think we’ll have a very large number of players.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of overall plans do you have for Pirates of the Caribbean Online? How do you see the game evolving and what sort of changes will be taking place over the next few months?

Mike: This is a long term property for us, so we have extensive plans to expand and evolve the game in the coming months and years.  In the short term, we plan to focus on giving players new ways to customize and personalize their avatars and ships.  We’ll also focus on adding new game play, new PVP maps and game types, new enemies, and new stories.
Ten Ton Hammer: Anything else you’d like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers? They always love a good piece of news….or a hint of what’s to come. *smiles*

Mike: All I can really say is we’ve got some great stuff in the pipeline already and that you’ll be seeing some familiar friends and enemies showing up in the game in the coming months.

Have you taken a chance and met with the online version of Jack Sparrow? What did you think of the soft release? Voice your thoughts on the forums!

Ten Ton Hammer is your unofficial source for Pirates of the Caribbean Online news and articles!
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