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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Upcoming Pirate101 Update Sparks Major Controversy


I'm sure you've all heard - Pirate101 has announced advanced pets and advanced companions. But there are a few interesting points that you might not have considered. In thinking of those, big debates have begun all across the community about the upcoming update.

Pet PvP

First brought up by Dr. Zeppers on the official Pirate101 forums, the top of pets fighting other pets. In the real world, this is both immoral and illegal. Unlike other Pirate101 activities, this one isn't quite so magical or mystical. We aren't sinking ships floating across the clouds. We're not being a little "weirded out" by the fact that the girl we're supposed to "kidnap" really wants to come along for the adventure. We're doing someone very simple and clear. There is no moral obligation to make our pets fight. There is no benefit. Whereas sinking a ship may be questionable for some children, but we're doing it in the name of justice to those who are causing harm to others - that's a good concept.

The concern is that this sends the wrong impression to kids - and that's just what this is, a family-friend game that prides itself on safety. That means all aspects of a game. Other games with those kinds of activities are fine, they're not rated E10+. But let's put this into perspective from a marketing standpoint. There are a number of parents and players already who have concerns about our actions during the story - what happens to the people who are really opposed to this update? And their families and friends that they tell?

Then a few people brought up some equally powerful points. Forget morality, what's the legality of stealing, sinking, slashing, and stabbing? We're pirates, and it's a game - people should be educated enough to know the difference. The pets are essentially competing. They're back after every battle, unlike even companions, who only receive "wounds" and need to be revived at a life fountain. 

One-Eyed Jack jumped into the discussion to comment:

Hey! Your concerns are completely understandable, and the last thing we’d want is for pet battling to resemble anything like any kind of animal cruelty. Our goal is to create fun and engaging game play for players and pets. We’ll keep refining pet battles based on player feedback, but I think once you see it in action, you’ll realize this is a fun, lighthearted system. We can’t wait for you to play it and give us more feedback!

And after that, I'm on the fence. But one thing is certain - no other update has sparked so much controversy before it's even been released, if that tells you anything. While I do agree that we'll need to test some things first, in this case, we're arguing a concept - an idea that isn't going to change or somehow disappear once we start testing; it's cut and dry. 


"The Grind"

Everyone game has it in some form or another. Unfortunately, Wizard101 could give you 4 experience a game plus pet snacks that (unless you spent real money) might provide an average of six extra experience points. And you needed 3,875 for one pet to get to Mega. And then you have a ton of pets you need to level to Mega to get the right talents. Of course, you don't have to participate... unless you want a serious PvP advantage, or some battles made possible in PvE.

Pets are going to gain one power or one epic every ten levels - it alternates. They'll end up with three powers and three epics. They go on missions to train. Of course these'll be fun at first - we've never seen them. But exactly how many missions are being implemented? Is this something where we simply have to wait for them to complete it while questing, or destroy our arrow keys while dancing four four experience a go?

Other questions I might throw out there involve such things as the Armadillo Verde's uniqueness. Will he have some special ability that helps him retain that uniqueness? Will all pets of that type receive the same powers, or be different? Are the new powers going to be all-new or powers that pirates have?

Here's my biggest concern. Different pets are going to get different epics and powers. Obviously they'll start out with some strong points and some weaknesses. So pet hatching, or "morphing" as it's called in Pirate101, will give us the ability to combine epics and powers. Instead of choosing them, we'll have to hope we get the six we want each time. I'm hoping that training pets, for that reason, isn't as much of a challenge as it is in Wizard, because pets are about to become very important to PvE and PvP. But I have one final question - will we control them, or will they use powers on their own?


Companion Roster: Irrelevant

Companion selection in combat is no longer random. You'll even be able to set the order in combat. Essentially, every battle will be an epic one, with epic battles adding additional information about the enemies so that pirates can make better choices. That could be seen on one hand as too easy - but there are new penalties as well. If a companion is wounded, you can't heal them on a life fountain (will we be able to use Mojo potions any more?), you have to send them to rest in bed. At lower levels, this'll hardly be noticeable at all. But at higher levels, I wonder what the times will be like.

The problem I see is this: The players that are good are only going to have companions die on a rare occasion. This doesn't need testing or anything of that sort, it's an observation as of right now. Ratbeard has to account for players who aren't using their best companions or may be younger. That's why a lot of players, including myself, lose companions only on a rare occasion. Other players who are younger or have less experience, are soloing tougher classes, or just encounter tough battles, lose companions more frequently. These companions will go to rest. Suppose that's early on in an instance - then what? You proceed with your next-best companions. But if you best companions couldn't do the job, why would your second-best be able to? And what happens when they are wounded? 

I just see this downward spiral of players who have trouble having more and more trouble. Whereas before, if they got lost their best companions, they could call for help and have those companions immediately available again. And what about those who rarely use them? I like the strategy of having to play with a wild card companion or adjusting my strategy based on who came up. Now, in almost every battle, I'm going to have the same three companions. Again, that's not something I need to test - it's an observation now paired with facts from the update post on MMORPG.

Here we've got a system that keeps the two ends of the spectrum somewhat stable and equal, but now they'll be pushed more toward success or failure depending on how they're leaning - that's not a good thing.

A Final Word

For a year in the making, I've got high expectations for these updates. They've caused a lot of discussions over the past few days, and I'm guessing that this is only the beginning of it - once we get our hands on the new content (which is appears that the only new areas are going to be side content in Skull Island), we'll probably have even more to say. But there's another thing I know, too. To this point in time, Pirate101 has always gone above and beyond my expectations and pleasantly surprised me with every update - even their small fixes would include new gear sets that I loved. And so, I'm going into the Test Realm with as open a mind as possible, but also with both sides of these topics in mind, so that I know what to watch for.

Are you excited for the update? What are your thoughts and concerns?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

6 comments:

  1. I think the pet battling could be to have a sort of pokemon aspect to the game rather than pitting pets as a kind of animal cruelty, just saying , look how far pokemon has gotten. :)

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  2. ConnorPlays said:

    "I'm quite excited for this update, to be perfectly honest....except for the fact that the first three companions will always be chosen. I quite liked the randomness of which companions went into battle and made me guess 'Will I get far enough through Cool Ranch to pass as an episode, or will Gaspard screw this all up again?'. I really enjoyed that.

    Companion Training, however, seems interesting and I'm curious by what they mean by 'Pet Wrangling' (Like, which pets have a chance of being picked? Are they all new pets? Or drops from bosses)

    Pet PVP has the most questions, mainly how the (redacted) is this gonna work? Hopefully it'll get explained when the Test Realm goes up."

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  3. Replies
    1. You know, he's definitely somewhere creepy looking, but I can't say for sure. Could be Darkmoor, or it could be a new set just for plundering loot (a new companion activity). There's another theory floating around that it's an interior of either the Halloween ship or Haunted Galleon and that we're getting those this update, which is also quite possible.

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  4. Savior of the Spiral :)March 26, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    I really don't know what to say about all of this :P I'm one that doesn't mind change, but how much change? I am not too fond of the whole pet thing. <-- I didn't really like it in Wizard101). As of the companion thing, scary images are going to my head! All I know is that the test realm better open up real soon. Overall, I don't seem pleased with the updates, but then again, they didn't come out yet :D. I just hope KI (which I am sure they did) knows that this could make or break the game!

    Cya in the spiral!

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  5. When are more quests coming out? I've been finished for months now

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