Concept101: Uncharted Territory

What happens when a KingsIsle game launches a big update? A new world, of course! But the folks over at Pirate101 decided to change things up and release two new worlds with fifteen new levels... all at once! With these areas being unknown for so long, they were bound to be special. And it took plenty of work to create them. In my second ever expanded article, I'll be walking you through the latest updates... concept style!

Normally I do one to three concepts a week. But, this being a special type of post, and a special situation, there'll have to be an exception made! Don't worry, though, this isn't an album - it's a post, and that means careful examinations of each piece! (Note the intro. photo is fanmade, all following concepts are real) I appreciate all those who actually read through the post.

Woah! What just happened?

Well, you're reading an expanded article. This post has been enlarged to fill the entire width of the website, allowing for more content, more media, and a more in-depth look at the topic. You'll get a better look at stunning photos, eye-catching illustrations, and intriguing videos. To use sidebar features, return to the home page using the navigation bar.

Click to Enlarge

Throughout this post, for formatting purposes, I'm going to have photos made smaller. Be sure to click to enlarge them, and see them all in more detail. They're great pieces of art!

Dogs of War

Chapter 13, encompassing Marleybone, is a war story. We knew it would be. And the only ongoing war is the one we helped start between Marleybone and Valencia. Problem is, Valencia is winning. We're tasked with going to Marleybone to stop the war and rescue Catbeard in search of his piece of the map.

With the introduction of Marleybone to Pirate101, especially following MooShu, KingsIsle would have to take a creative spin on the whole place to keep players interested. As a side note, and if you were wondering, Marleybone is perfectly done and beautifully climactic. It's my favorite world in Pirate to date.

The best way to accomplish this was to start from scratch. And so they did, in a lot of cases. New dogs, new this, new that. And absolutely no recycled area layouts like in MooShu. The first concept shows the judge in Catbeard's trial (don't be fooled by the look on his face - he really is concerned). To the right in the same image, you see two dogs, both Swashbucklers.

Familiar Faces and Unseen Promotions

The dog on the very right shouldn't be new to you. He's a Pirate101 load screen character. We though he was a general Marleybone Muskeeteer, but he's actually a companion. Upon seeing the very first version, we recognize this as Private Mills. This would suggest that he's got at least two more promotions coming, the outfits for which are already designed.

He isn't the only one, though. Witchdoctors get a tiger companion from the Isle of Fetch, and he's got future promos in store as well. I believe the final tier was also featured in the loading screens. Now we've definitely got something to look forward to. One also has to wonder - with the art for these finished, is there home world or area, Rajah, on its way? It might make sense. After all, in Aquila, we recovered the Rosetta Stone with mark- um, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Right here with this large concept, I want you to notice something distinct in the concepts. All of them have thing slivers of white on their northwest edges. This is a style KingsIsle uses to show the render as if light is hitting it from the back (and yet, each figure is perfectly exposed and lit throughout). When KingsIsle first started hiring concept artists, they were looking for a style. But after the initial hire, they were looking only for artists who could conform to that style. As such, you'll view a variety of different pieces, and they almost all make use of this detail. I'll talk more about that is future Concept101 posts, as it's an important distinction.

The other classes aren't to be left behind! Swashbucklers also get a tiger companion. Look closely at this concept, where realistic tiger heads were conceptualized beforehand, and later used to create the fun, but effective characters. The also roam the Isle of Fetch during the tigers' rebellion against authority. See, the couldn't fight with satisfied stomachs. They complained that their food was too good. You'll fight some of these for the main questline. I am unsure of whether or not you unlock them in the Crown Shop. Again, you've got the three tiers, each with a new outfit.

Notice that the tigers in this concept, as well as the one above, do not have weapons, while Private Mill's is clearly visible.

At this point, you're probably also wondering why the faded pirate shows up in several of these. I believe that the artists use these to show the size of the companion or enemy in comparison with the pirate. It's not something they've done in the past, but it works well for sizing companions, especially considering the fact that you've got to have them one size to follow you around and another in battle. This gives the 3D modelers an idea of how large to create the companion. If you're curious to see more of this, equip Hawkules or Argos. Both are oversized (and I hope it stays that way!).

Missing Weapons No More

The artists apparently thought it important enough to separately detail each of the weapons for these companions. The Witchdoctors get the officer with the pistol, and Swashbucklers get the soldier with the knife.

Look closely at each tier. First of all, I think I need that pistol. Secondly, the detail in these is quite impressive. I continue to suspect Rajah.

I actually believe that the tier three gun shown here is available, and readily so from the Bazaar, but its in-game translation didn't turn out quite as nicely. I do love the concept art, though.

Every Self-Respectin' Pirate Needs a Mount!

Or at least that's how I envision Boochbeard saying it. The Pennyfarthing, released in the most recent update, it probably the most popular mount yet. That and Sato's sunglasses have been all over the game. But, of course, it had to start somewhere.

This concept shows that mount in the concept process. Here we see another new element in concept art - inspiration photos. These are quick images, probably from a stock website or Google, that give the artist and idea of what he or she is doing, but we don't normally see them. Here, they're shown.

Why exactly this odd little mount is so popular is still a mystery to me. But seeing the concept art, you can tell that they put some good detail into it. Even if you don't want one, it's worth checking out. After the lighting and additional effects have been added, it looks even better.

The mount concept I'm really excited about is this one. Remember those Marleybone golems? The ones you're trying to program for the war that end up backfiring? The ones you can still summon using Gracie Conrad? Well, you can ride one, too. When I first saw the photo on the left on the Pirate101 load screen, I knew it had to be a mount. Turns out it was.

The chair is attached to the back. The only question left is - Where is it? The mount obviously didn't make it to live, leaving pirates to wonder where it did go. I'd guess one of two things. Either it's like the hammerhead mount that was conceptualized a long time ago and never made it to the game until now, or it has been separated out for a new bundle - and I sure hope it's option "B" because Pirate101 needs some homes with new themes. And a Marleybone home would be perfect.

Showdown with Rooke

In the final battles of Marleybone, we encounter a number of dog sailors that assist us with a couple of fights. Well, those started somewhere as well. In this piece, you see four distinct dogs. Not necessarily stages here, and these don't come as companions. Plus, they're numbered, unlike the companion concepts above.

I'd personally be interesting in seeing more pieces of art involving the battle angels, Rooke, and Nelson. This was an epic climax and a great close to a long, hard-fought war. Sure, we might have helped start it, but that's just a minor detail, right?

Hello, Aquila!

After seeing that Gortez won his war and became king (custom-built throne?), we were able to quickly get papers and head off to Aquila. With a new world comes new weapons, right? Take a look at these.

We've seen a couple - the Kora and halberd. I tweeted photos of the spear, and Cret92 tweeted some of the spade. That royal sceptre-looking thing? Haven't seen that yet. I'd have to think about who carries one, as there aren't too many kings walking around. Perhaps it's Gortez's?

As for the axe, I haven't seen any of those. All of these weapons seem to fit Rajah pretty well, other than this one. Could KingsIsle be hinting at Grizzleheim with axe animations being slipped in now? I can't help but think that we'll need to go there to find Erika the Red for her piece of Marco Pollo's map! And our parents were once mentioned as being seen in Rajah. Perhaps we'll journey there in an attempt to find their graves and secure their piece of the map.

Aquilan Companions

I think we'd all agree that compared to the first set of worlds, the most recent two are little bit light on companions, especially ones from quests. But the companions that were done were done well.

Take a look at this hawk that I believe is a companion with two more tiers. Again, we see the inspiration photos attached to the left, and the faded pirate for sizing. Who'd have thought that you'd be using a hawk's head and gladiator's gear photo as inspiration together in one concept?

Aquila's Highlight Fight

This mythology-based world hosts a number of unique creatures. I'm sure we'll all remember the Hydra, among other favorites such as Medusa, Typhon, and more. But one fight really stands out above the rest. What's that one boss you've got to fight both with your ship and in combat? The one required to go to Ithaca to help Ulysses defeat the suitors? Oh, that's right. Scylla!

It's a good thing we saw the in-game piece before the concept, as this pice of art has to be one of my favorites. If I hadn't seen it in-game, I might not believe it. Just look at take that in for a moment. I've got to be honest here, this is why I love concept art. In this case, the art is better than the in-game piece itself. Seeing this done as it is in the concept in-game would force me to have to spend a great deal of time around this boss.

Take a look at the specifics there - the mouth, teeth, heads. I love that they even included a photo of how it might function when translated into 3D. Wow. Still amazed.

Back a Couple Chapters

Before we get the opportunity to fight Scylla, who's one of the last major bosses of Aquila, we first venture to get Eagilles to return to Illios and help with the invasion of Troy. Troy is a city of snakes, guarded by high walls that make getting inside though.

Instead of a horse, however, a mouse is used to trick the snakes using something irresistible... though it's still made of wood. When beginning the Troy dungeon, players actually get to ride inside of it into the city, before launching the attack. This one was of the other highlights of Aquila for sure.

Details, Details, Details

The idea in taking you behind the scenes of an entire update was to show you exactly how much world goes into an update - from ideas and writing the story, to translating that to the artists, to the concept art, to the 3D modelling, to the texture artists, to the animation, etc., etc. Everything starts with the art. And everything has to be painted or drawn, from trees to decorations, to bosses, to companions, to gear, to weapons, and so on and so forth. Every texture and every shrub... they all have to be planned. The fact that we got this big of an expansion is pretty impressive... your turn, Wizard!

Concept Credits

All of these concepts are created by the KingsIsle art team. Dave Greco is the Lead Concept Artist there, and shares many of his works on his blog, My Electronic Days. You can view it HERE. See more from KingsIsle Entertainment at These concepts are by Kevin C.


I'm hoping you gained some new perspective on art today - and I can't wait to share more next week! Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!


  1. Swashubucklers get Lt Springer, not the tiger (Auxiliary?) from Rajah, I would love to get him though.

  2. Hello again, interesting concept... by any chance could you find WinterTusk concept art? I attempted to find any with no luck...

  3. Witchdoctors don't get Kzinti Singh (the officer), Privateers do.

  4. I haven't even done mooshu yet, but I am a musketeer and do I get the white dog as a companion, if not which class gets it from the quest?

  5. I must have had my classes confused - sorry, guys! At least you all know how their promotions look! :P

    1. May I add you now? Satyr Realm: Life Tower: Area 1(if needed)...

    2. Didn't get your message until now. If you're still around, I'll wait there. If not, email me.

  6. The funny thing is that when you explained the expanded post(in Woah! What just happened!) I read through it and went "Woah! I didn't even know that happened!" and flipped between the homepage and this post. Cool!

    Also, when you said, "you're probably also wondering why the faded pirate shows up in several of these" I went back and thought, "Wow, I didn't see that either?? I'll make a comment!"

    Cool post, it really goes deeper. I still haven't completed the storyline, so I don't know exactly how this fits in ;).

  7. Marleybone is my favourite world two (Followed by Aquila then Mooshu).

    I loved that end battle against Rooke- it felt like a real film ending.

  8. I bought a Penny-Farthing mount, and I LOVE it. Plus it goes quite well with my Admiral's Bundle Outfit!

  9. great great! also great the bundle thing helped me decide and i am going to have the olypian bundle on wensday! i am glad to know that marlybone is the best!

    -liam redstaff

  10. Brass Griffin NewtonJune 22, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Another update - the Golem mount ( and pet ) have been unleashed!


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