April 15, 2008

Good Call/Bad Call

A while ago I made up my mind that I would not participate in Pirates of the Burning Seas (PotBS), even though I did attempt to try the trial a few weeks ago (without success). At first, I tried to play it off as lack of time leading towards a lack of interest in the game. I completely ruled out the SOE publishing deal as reasoning behind my decision.

I have to admit though, that the SOE publishing deal did sour me on the game as a whole. Looking back, it wasn't really the fact that it was SOE, more than it was the fact that Flying Labs suddenly looked desperate to get this game out the door. Flying Lab was great during the entire development period, always sharing insight into design decisions and never short on previews.

At some point along the line, a decision was made to include avatar combat as a major part of the game. This fell in line with Flying Lab's decision to delay the game, not just for avatar combat, but for a publishing deal as well. This all leads to where PotBS sits today: a sinking ship.

The short story of what is wrong with PotBS can be seen at the previous link, but in the interest of summary here: avatar combat sucks, content is cut'n'paste between nations, and PvP is a negative-sum situation all around. Personally, that is about what I guessed before the game launched. Every preview for avatar combat looked bland, and the explanations behind it sounded dry.

While SOE may get off the hook for this sinking ship, another in their huge pile of sinking ships, I can't help but believe that the delays related to publishing PotBS directly lead to bad design decisions by Flying Labs to include avatar combat, essentially taking away resources from polishing the main features of the game: ship combat and the player economy.

I sit here and believe I made a Good Call in not devoting my time to PotBS. The MMO industry is tough, and getting tougher. More gamers are in the market, but it doesn't seem like any title outside of World of Warcraft can keep them coming in and more importantly, keep them playing.