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Monday, December 23, 2013

Pirate101's Class Gear and Its Significance


Class gear? What's all this? Much to my surprise, this slipped in right beneath a lot of people's noses, and they're still not sure what it is or where to get it today. The addition of this new gear is much more than fancy looks, however. It suggests a few exciting... and horrifying things.

Privateer Gear

The Privateer gear pieces, like Privateers themselves, are questionable. You have to enjoy a certain style to enjoy this gear set. The hat is something anyone might wear.

The outfit is a different story. It has an interesting collar that, if viewed from a straight forward perspective, looks like it might cover the mouth completely. (Good, I like Privateers that way)

The boots are also pretty universal, those they have some elements that match the outfit. The leather (brown) and metal (silver) come standard, but you can die the rest how you please - as you can see, this set is black with gold trim.



Buccaneer Gear

The Buccaneer set comes with a pretty great hat, though I can't say the same for the rest of the set. 

The robe is lacking something and doesn't quite have the bulky Buccaneer feel that some others do. While it isn't a bad robe, it's my least favorite of the five sets.

The boots I actually like, however, they're largely light brown leather, and that can't be dyed, like the gloves and leather on the body, as well as the breastplate. 





Swashbuckler Gear

Swashbucklers made out the best here, with a set that looks great all around. The hat is very general and could be effectively worn by any class. In fact, I own one for my Musketeer now. The hat is a little bit backwards in that the trim color is actually the base color, while the base color will change the trim on the hat.

The robe, like most Swashbuckler gear, is truer to the pirate theme we all know and covered in intricate straps and lace. 

The boots go with the pants on the outfit and for that reason they actually only have trim dye options, if I remember correctly. You cannot change the base color. Overall, an impressive set.

Witchdoctor Gear

The thought in most pirates' minds when they received this hat was of Thanksgiving and pilgrims. However, with the full set, it doesn't look too bad. 

The robe is one of the highlights for sure. It's definitely one of the tougher pieces to come by because a lot of the drops that have the look are no auction, but its trap with a concealed dagger and multiple skulls make it a must-have outfit... for any class.

The boots are pretty plain and would got with any outfit, but work with this one in keeping the focus on the robe without ruining a good outfit. I'll definitely be looking into this one when I play a Witchdoctor.


Musketeer Gear

Usually, they save the best for last. I wish that were the case with the Musketeer gear. It about average in comparison with the other sets, but not unimpressive. 

The hat is actually pretty great, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of people wearing one, especially given the fact that it seems to be a pretty common set drop even for non-Musketeer classes. 

The robe just isn't quite big enough for me, but it's a nice robe with a moderate amount of armor and a couple of small pouches and a strap to hold additional ammunition. It also has a smaller cape in the back.

The boots have some leather that cannot be dyed, but make for a nice set.

Where Do They Come From?

These new all dropped by lower-level enemies in Skull Island - even non-bosses! The most common farming area for them is Finn in the Temple of Gloom, as he is confirmed to have dropped all five sets. You only have to defeat him for the battle, and may get loot from any chest. Because hits are scaled, it will take three to kill him (from higher-level pirates), and the battle can therefore be completed in a single round.

At these lower-level areas, drops work a little bit differently. Too avoid any player getting too much junk, you're more likely to receive gear you can use. That means that if you want a certain item, farming with that class might be smart.

New Gear Sets... So What?

Around the community, there hasn't been a ton of excitement for the new sets. In fact, some players were even demanding some "real" updates from Pirate101, especially after November's teasers promised something new before the end of the year. (Is it suspected that these updates have been delayed.)

My feeling is that Pirate101 is still in a stage where it's going to have a lot of bugs and fixed yet to be made. But beyond that, this gear is significant. I'm going to move to Wizard101 for a moment, so stay with me. In Wizard, Jesse Scoble signed on as "King Artorius" - the story writer. This was the same time that now Lead Concept Artist Dave Greco joined KingsIsle. And it shows, too. The worlds improved significantly from there on out, if only with a few irritations due to drop and health rates, which would not correlate to the story or design.

I asked, once if KingsIsle ever planned on returning to the Malistaire arc to retexture some of those worlds, or even redo the old "street" designs in favor of unique locations used from Grizzleheim onward. The answer was no - these changes would not bring about a profit. 

This is where Pirate101 is set apart. They went back and had art, models, and all done for five new sets dropped in a free-to-play area. This brings them absolutely no additional profit, and yet, they added them anyway. This tells us that Pirate is willing to go back and listen to player feedback on old content. They'll make changes even after something has hit the live realm. And that's a big deal.

With the update notes in mind, though, the issue came up on Pirate101 Central that Pirate101 hasn't had major content updates since Marleybone and Aquila. And it's been over a year with that single (technically double) update. This was an interesting quote from "bgmacaw" on that thread:

I suspect that Pirate hasn't been the money maker that KI expected so they're cutting back on developing content for it. That's why we're seeing a lot of non-content related bug fixes. The team has time to work on these bugs since new content development is on hold while Wizard, their cash cow, uses the lion's share of the creative budget/time. 
Before you say "Wizard and Pirate have different teams", that appears to be true for the core development and graphics teams. However, a lot of the creative work, such as voice acting, is outsourced and subject to budget constraints based on revenue streams. So, if the choice is to spend $500K on voice actors for a new Wizard world vs. spending that sum on a new Pirate world, guess who gets the money.

It's also likely that the Pirate team is smaller and that some people may have been shifted back to Wizard or even let go. This is common in companies where a new product doesn't live up to management's financial expectations.

Business-wise, it's probably a good move for KI but, for us who like the game, we find is disappointing.

That brings up an important point and an interesting thought. We know that KingsIsle has been a hugely successful company with Wizard101. Clearly it's not going anywhere. I am hoping, however, that KingsIsle holds on to Pirate101, because it's an awesome game, but beyond that, has a great community manager, great team, great community, and a number of other elements that'd be a shame to see minimized in any way. And what about those other couple of games they're working on? 

Updates like this reinforce my thinking that Pirate101 is built to do well... and I'll be there supporting it all the way. So what do you think of these new gear sets? Will you be mixing and matching? Let me know!

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral! Credits: Thanks to Beatriz Abbott for showing and allowing me to photograph her Buccaneer... after many an hour of farming with me and receiving every piece of gear expect for the Buccaneer robe... on my Buccaneer.

7 comments:

  1. First, I really like all the gear sets equally. The Witchdoctor set is a little weird and I'm not sure if it really captures what Witchdoctor's look like, but I like the set anyone. The Privateer, Buccaneer, and Musketeer sets really stand out. I'll definitely look into farming Finn to get these sets.

    I loved your point about Pirate101 possibly not being a major cash cow at this stage. It's a real eye opener. I don't think Pirate101 will be dropped (heavens, no) but I suspect KI will make the heavy choice to cut back severely on updates to the game. By the time Wizard101 gets into it's 4th Arc, Pirate101 will most likely be 1 or 3 books away from completing the El Dorado story.

    I do think, unlike Wizard101, Pirate101 is more geared to please. KI can't really afford the big mistakes in Wizard101 (like Azteca or Hoard Packs) in Pirate101. They pretty much have to work twice as hard to make sure each update works the first time. I also liked your point about going back to fix or improve past content. I remember they added a new basement stage in the Govenor's palace on Port Regal that had Bonnie Anne and Ratbeard talking over what the consequences would be of stealing the daughter. This was not there before, even in early live questing.
    I like that KI listens much more in Pirate101 and really reassures with the players that they are listening, while in Wizard101, they'll listen, but it's more like they listen to popular complaints or don't give feed back to the players (or at least not often).

    I really like this post!

    ~Cunning Finnigan Sharp~

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    1. I agree with what you said about the WD outfit. It seems more like a Marleybone Pilgrim outfit and that really isn't WD, witchdoctor is more dark arts, like Gypsies and those New Orlands Witchdoctors, so bro, you were spot on.

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  2. See it is things like this where I fear Wizard101 is coming to a downfall and quickly. Marketing has made some pretty questionable decisions lately on the W101 team's part and they can't be too cocky about how much their team makes opposed to Pirate101. I get they have the higher revenue and mechanics but you need to face that facts that eventually Pirate101 will be far supperior all around in addition to the aspects already supperior. I do indeed think that instead of working on a third arc, give the older worlds a "revamp". Literally just take the budget of the first third arc world and use it towards boss and texture upgrades for KT-DS and add some more fun things like rides, cooler house drops, houses, higher level dungeons to the upper worlds CL-KR. If KI would focus on newer players opposed to feeding the demand of higher level players they wouldn't be losing so many people so early on. The number one issue I have seen with people quitting early on is the fact of money, the game get's too repetitive before you even reach MooShu and people lose interest. What they need is to stop focusing on hoards, bundles and worlds and more on the "fun" aspect Pirate has. Was Cool Ranch that great of a world theme for Pirate101, no, but they added some cool characters, stories and other aspects that made me say in the end, it was a fairly nice world. Was it as nice as something like Avalon, no but theme isn't everything. But in the case of Wizard101...they are slacking. Although I am enjoying Khyrsalis...a bug..mice...weird mesh of the last 4 worlds isn't really that great of a theme...I hope Part two is nicer but Wizard101 really just needs to listen to some of the ideas of their sister because there will come a day where we will have a hundred boring Wizard101 worlds and like no players and Pirate101 have all these cool fun things for all sorts of levels and tons of players. I could see the few that then branch off from the Pirate101 team move onto one of the other games and eventually that will be better. Point is, Wizard101 is on thin ice and should start focusing on what J Todd Coleman originally set out for Kings Isle to create.

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  3. I know I'm going to be using the Musketeer hat in one of my gear sets! I'm not too big a fan of Swashbuckler or Buccaneer hats because they have too much untextured color. Nice post!

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  4. This was a most interesting and informative post, Swordroll. But I don't really think that Pirate101 is KI's "red-headed stepchild" (as people in my area tend to say), for although it may have fewer players than Wizard, it is a game little more than a year old. Rather, I expect Pirate101 is more experimental and pushing development boundaries. Blind Mew has indicated that in the next chapter, they will be doing an encounter unlike any they have done before. Technically, this might be difficult to manage. Consider an example from the last update, the Hydra, a fascinatingly designed battle, but it still suffers from an elusive bug -- probably inherent to its complexity. And the big chapter update was last in May, not too terribly long ago, really.

    And I also concur heartily with the impression that the Pirate101 staff listens to and interacts most positively with their players. Thanks for bringing up the basement scene, Finnigan, as I was thinking it was new when I went through it with a new character, and wondering how I could have possibly forgotten it! I've also noted that they have added more details even early on, like gilt designs on the Azteca carvings, making Pirate101 even more lovely to explore.

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  5. i know this is kind of off topic but can anyone tell me where to get a ruby slicer weapon i know they are from the no longer existing boochbeard bundle but i see newer players with them?!?

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    1. The Ruby Slicer weapon was ONLY available through the Boochbeard bundle. A lot of people got the bundle to get into beta, so they may have redeemed the sword right away. Whatever the case, they somehow ended up with a low-level sword that they likely transferred to a new character so that they could have an edge on a second, third, etc. character.

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