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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Modes of Transportation: Pirate101


Pirate101 really took a step up from Wizard101 in adding a new and essential form of transportation for pirates - sailing. But that isn't really it. There are actually several ways the Pirate101 developers have gotten clever with transportation, and I want to talk about some of those methods. I'll also take a look at potential new ways - and I might just throw in a solution to overpowered gear from packs, too.

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Basic Travel

In Pirate101, we've covered the fact that you can walk and add in speed boosts such as mounts just like Wizard101, but I also mentioned that new form of transportation - sailing. With sailing, KingsIsle has opened up countless new doors in Pirate101 which I think are exactly what the game needs. Sailing offers the optional nautical leveling, new badges, and new ship gear and powers, all while remaining optional. It also makes for some beautiful views.


Thanks to windlanes, enemies, and a number of other factors, sailing has a lot of potential for creative new twists. For example, as of now, all stormgates have windlanes to guide you between worlds, but, when originally introduced, it was said that you'd have to sail the outer edges of the Spiral and navigate your way to another world. They've clearly got a system going here, but suppose we're on our way to El Dorado; the way isn't so clear. Suppose it's quite hazy in the "outer of edges of the Spiral," and we've got to make a series of turns and curves to get through the stormgate, all while avoiding enemies. Take away the windlanes and clear paths and things get interesting. It seems that the worlds we've traveled to haven't been incredibly distant yet, so perhaps further worlds are tougher to navigate to, having fewer definite routes.


Off the Beaten Path

There are a variety of lesser-known means of convenient travel in Pirate101. If you want to be creative about it, lets take a battle example - the Witchdoctor teleportation spell. Could this, perhaps, be used alternatively outside of a battle? We've seen some new revelations of this concept in Wizard101 with Daniel technically casting his spells outside the battlefield in a skeleton key boss battle, and here's the thing - the battle system isn't this separate zone from everything else. The animations may play out in a "locked" area, but they're visible outside the field and they can function outside of it.


Of course, that isn't quite as true a form as some of these others. Take a look at the introduction picture at the top of this post. Seasoned pirates will know how I got up there, but newer ones might not have caught on. That's in the Banditoad Trail. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a canyon from Santo Pollo to Banditoad Gulch.

You see, there are rocks and cliffs left and right, so the Banditoad Trail is rather difficult to navigate. In fact, on either side, enemies often run right up against the edge, so you'll have to make frequent detours. Here's where the developers got really clever, though. They've got a series of elevator cranes that can take you up to this little railway system that runs along the entire trail. There are a variety of elevator cranes along the way, though, so you can get off at any point. Imagine running on higher rooftops above the crowded "sidewalks" of Marleybone!

I went ahead and did a run across the entire thing for those that might not have seen, shown in this video.


Other Means of Movement

Just to run through them for good measure, we've covered basic walking, sailing, stormgates, and battle teleports, and portals. You've also got mounts, out-of-battle teleports, and potential world-themed movement aids. But those belong on the thoerycrafting side.

Stagecoaches

The newest form of transportation around Pirate101's largest world is stagecoaches. These require that you sail somewhere on your own first, then you unlock a stagecoach to any major locations that can transport you for a small fee (15 gold) to any of the other places you have stagecoaches unlocked for. This is handy for jumping around quickly not just for location to location but from skyway to skyway. You can use these to get close to one area by visiting another in the same skyway.


Teleport Gear

One thing that would be awfully fun to play with is teleports. As of now, you have a teleport to your house, Skull Island, and a changing one between a Life Fountain and your ship. Now suppose you started changing those.

It's a little bit ironic that Wizard101 teleports you to the "Commons" of each world when moving between areas in Wizard101 takes no time at all, whereas Pirate will not let you return to the "Commons" area but instead uses Skull Island as the one and only teleport. J. Todd Coleman talked in a Facebook post about the rubber band effect - bringing players back to one central location - in this case, Skull Island. That's why the one teleport was there to start with. However, it's not unheard of in other online universes to change your home teleport.

One of the issues with packs in Wizard101 is that the gear from packs has to be powerful enough to attract potential buyers while still remaining at a proper power level. Some of the newer packs offer gear that's far beyond the best dropped, crafted, and purchased gear out there. This mostly applies to wands. Initially, my thoughts were that this should be a benefit of being a crowns player, as we don't have a lot of those. Then again, it is buried in a pack... but that's a discussion for another post.

My idea is that you go a couple of different routes. Cosmetic gear is nice, but how about something functional? Why not have packs give specific pieces of gear that change teleports when worn? For example, what if they released a Marleybone-themed pack when that world comes out in Pirate101, and it had an amulet that changed your Skull Island teleport to a Marleybone teleport? This solves a couple of problems. First, you have functional gear that really makes things easier for Pirates, and you aren't giving them overpowered gear. The idea would work in Wizard101 as well. And as for that rubber band effect, you need only take the gear off to regain your original teleport. In many ways, it's like a permanent mark.

Mount Possibilities

Mounts offer a number of possibilities. KingsIsle can continue to add to the number of mounts with all new, desirable themes, but they can also add new two and three-person mounts. We've had quite a few that can hold two, but only one that can hold three - the Hydra. Why not have more of these, or even four-person mounts?  

Location-Based Trails

My favorite alternative methods of transportation is the Banditoad Trail style routes. These are no new fancy system or gear piece. They require no packs or animations or whatever else, it's purely a part of the environment design starting out (or a little additional design if they're added to past locations). I wouldn't just like these in Pirate101 worlds, but also for wizards.

What are your favorite modes of transportation? What new ones would you add?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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