Interview with Disney Online – Pirates of the Caribbean

Questions by Brian Perry Jr. 
Answered by Mike Goslin, Vice President of Disney Online

Onrpg: Can you give us a quick run through about Pirates of the Caribbean Online?
Pirates of the Caribbean Online is a MMORPG for PC and Macs that give players the chance to live the life of a pirate in the world established by the Pirates of the Caribbean films and the theme park attraction. A significant feature of our game is that it is accessible to a wide range of players, which was important to us because our target audience is anyone who enjoyed the POTC movies and would like a chance to experience that world more deeply. This audience is very broad and includes both casual players and gamers alike. We allow players to play a large portion of the game for free. If players wish to continue deeper into the game, they can purchase an “Unlimited Access” subscription.

Onrpg: How extensive is the character customization?
Nearly every aspect of a Pirate avatar’s appearance can be customized to each player’s taste – from their hair to facial characteristics, clothing, shoes and more. This is an aspect of the game that we know players really enjoy, so to expand upon the already extensive character customization system, we have added a variety of new customization options since launch including new hairstyles, tattoos, jewelry and clothing.

Onrpg: Since this is a game about pirates I assume there are no classes. What determines what sorts of skills a player can use?
We designed this game for a variety of players, many of which have never been played a MMOG before. We wanted to make sure players weren’t forced to make uninformed choices. Because of this, all players start out the same, and then level up in particular skills by using them. Skills include cutlass, pistol, dagger, grenade, cannon, voodoo doll, voodoo staff, and captaining a ship. When a player levels up in a particular skill, they are given points they can use to enhance their skill or unlock new skills. The player can choose to level up any or all of the available skills, but they will later be limited to a smaller number that they can choose to “master”, or max out.

Onrpg: PotCO has taken a slightly different route for magic compared to most online games. Would you explain exactly how voodoo works?
In Pirates Online, Voodoo magic is used to heal, teleport, and cast curses on enemies. Every pirate has the ability to use voodoo once they acquire the voodoo doll and later the voodoo staff. The doll works by first “attuning” it to a target, so you start by getting in close and tagging an enemy. Once you attune, the player can run away and damage the targeted enemy from a distance by poking the doll, setting it on fire or swarming it with insects – to name a few of the attacks. As players use voodoo weapons, they earn new attacks and improve the effectiveness of existing attacks.

Onrpg: What other tools do players have at their disposal for fighting?
In addition to the voodoo doll and the voodoo staff, players can access a variety of other weapons for land-based combat including the Cutlass, Dagger, Pistol as well as Grenades. At the start of the game, players begin with a rusty cutlass, but as soon as they earn enough skill points wielding it, they become eligible to use a stronger blade that deals more damage. Likewise, a player’s first pistol will be a Single-Barrel Flintlock which fires a single shot before needing to be reloaded. As soon as players reach Level 5 in Pistol Reputation they’ll be able to purchase a Double-Barrel Pistol, which can fire two shots before needing to be reloaded.

At sea, players use cannons on their ship to defeat enemies. All cannons can be operated by any Pirate aboard and every cannon can fire any ammunition that the Pirate manning it has earned the skill to use and is carrying. The basic cannon load is Round Shot, an iron ball that deals damage when it hits its target. As a player’s skills and Notoriety grow, they have the option of using more advanced Cannon ammo like the Chain Shot, Firebrand, and Grappling Hook. We will be releasing new weapons very soon, so stay tuned!

Onrpg: It would not be a pirate game without ships. Are players able to have their own ships, and what can they do with them?
Of course! There are a few different ways to sail the seas – as a captain of your own vessel, solo or with your own crew, or as a member of another captain’s crew. Players get their first ship, a Light Sloop, when Elizabeth Swann sends players on a special Quest. Later on in the game players can buy a bigger better ship from a Shipwright. You can own more than one ship –– if you can afford it. With a full subscription, you can own up to three ships.

Currently, players can sail around and engage in battle with enemy ships at sea to collect loot. Some ships can be boarded after you disable them providing for some epic battles. It’s a lot of fun whether you are captaining your own ship or sailing with someone else. I think the multiplayer ships are one of the big differentiators in Pirates Online. This feature has already proven to be very popular with current players. We also plan to introduce PvP Ship to Ship combat and ship customization in the near future.

Onrpg: It is my understanding that there are other ways to earn wealth other than just through combat. How does this work?
In addition to gathering treasure on land and at sea, you can also play card games, like Blackjack and Tortuga Hold-em, to gain wealth.

Onrpg: Would you say PotCO is mostly a solo experience, mostly a group experience, or an equal blending of both and why?
A core part of our game is the ability for players to assemble a crew of friends to go on epic adventures at sea, which we think is a really fun and unique experience. With that said, both grouping and guilds are available in Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Players can join a “crew”, which is a temporary group. Crews work together and treasure is split according to the pirate code. The game favors group play over soloing, but it is also possible to go it alone. We also support pirate “bands” (guilds), which is a great way for players to stay connected with each other over time. We’ve also provided players with tools to manage guilds and other game stats via the web.

Onrpg: Disney is mostly known for making kid oriented games. While this title is still only rated E10+ it is a bit more mature in its theme. What was the reasoning behind this?
Our game is designed to give players an experience that allows them to live in the world of our movie franchise; we believe the art style of this game provides that feeling – it is both real in feel, while leaving room for the fantasy and excitement the movies and ride possess. First and foremost, we are committed to creating a safe and fun environment for families online. In addition to the extensive parental controls, we have aggressive chat filtering and monitoring to keep the experience safe and enjoyable. Pirates of the Caribbean is rated E10+, so we worked hard to ensure the content is appropriate for that age range.

Onrpg: Can players expect there to be events run from time to time by the staff of the game?
We’ve been talking about some really cool events that will roll out soon. We recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by turning the ocean green and making appropriately themed hairstyle and tattoos available. We definitely plan to expand and nurture the community for Pirates of the Caribbean. Currently, most of the communication and social networking happens in-game, but we have some significant web-based tools around individual pirates and guilds that will launch soon. All of our tools are designed to help players meet up with friends easily while at the same time being mindful of the safety of our younger audience.

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