Posted by The Crew on Aug. 17, 2020, noon
Before we start, this post is going to be 50%-roadmap and 50%-state of the game. We wanted to give you all a rundown on how our content updates will be released going forward, as well as changes to our community interaction plans in light of the recent closure of our sister site, Pirates Forums.
In this section, we’ll be giving you a rundown of what our current broad plans are for TLOPO, as well as some updates on our team structure.
It’s no secret that there are a handful of serious bugs plaguing the game right now. Some of them have been here for quite a while. We know it’s frustrating, but we promise you that we aren’t ignoring these issues.
If a major bug has been in the game for a while, it’s because it’s a really tough issue to squash - exceptionally tough. That doesn’t mean these won’t ever be fixed. We’ve fixed tougher bugs before. But things will take time when they’re especially obscure and hard to track through logging, etc.
These are what we believe to be the most major bugs in the game right now, and are our top priority. We are of course also working on squashing other bugs too, this list is not exhaustive.
- White Screen Bug: If you’ve had issues where the game freezes when loading a cave, among other things, then you’ve fallen victim to the dreaded white screen bug!
- Ray of Light: The quest tracking light hasn’t been working properly for a very long time. Sometimes it points to the proper place, sometimes it doesn’t show up at all. We know this is a major issue, especially for our newer players.
- Quest Issues: There are a variety of problems with quests, from disappearing tasks, to buggy parts of the Raven’s Cove storyline. We’re aware of these issues and are working on a system that will make it easier for players to recover quests through our customer support email.
- Sailing & SvS: Between broadsides, ships skipping around, and flagship issues, sailing isn’t in a great place right now, but we aim to change that. It’s easily one of the best parts of this game, and we want to make sure we get it to a level of quality we are all happy with.
- Queen Anne’s Revenge & Invasions: QAR is essentially feature complete, we just aren’t comfortable releasing it until global flagships are functional. In addition to polishing our currently released Invasions (lingering enemies, crashing, etc.), we also need to finish up Padres invasions. They are mostly finished, but getting enemy pathing to function properly on Padres has proven exceptionally difficult. We’re on the case, though! Thanks so much for your patience.
Plans for the Future
To start, we’ve taken a very close and in-depth look at what makes TLOPO (and originally, POTCO) the spectacular game that it is from a macro viewpoint. What makes folks login to the game regularly? What is there to do that keeps people engaged? Why would someone play our game instead of some other game? The answer to that, once you’ve reached the endgame, is not that much.
Sure, there’s looting, sailing, and basic PvP, but these forms of gameplay only keep the average player engaged for so long. We recognize there are a core few hundred of you that do play regularly, and do enjoy TLOPO in its current form; however, we really feel strongly about elevating TLOPO to a position where it can be on par with the newer and more modern MMO standard.
We will always maintain the same original Pirates Online content, and our discussions here mean whole new sections of gameplay. We’re already working on expanding PvP, as you’ve seen, but we’ve also outlined extensively a large expansion to TLOPO’s gameplay at large.
New sections of play that are different from what’s been in Pirates Online before. Content that’s designed to keep the player engaged regularly, not just a one and done quest, for example. This content has not been coded yet, but we’ve extensively outlined it, and it will be a large project that will be worked on over an extended period of time. We’ll discuss this and other content in our Content Roadmap section of this post.
It should go without saying, but you do not have to worry about TLOPO closing down any time soon. Our team is very much put together. We’re still plucking away at new content, bug fixes, moderation, and everything else that is required to run a live service MMO.
In addition, we’ve brought on a brand new game developer, several new web developers, and new animators, modelers, and concept artists within the past 2 months. We’re really excited for you all to see what we have in store.
Before we start with this section, we wanted to address the elephant in the room. “Capture the Chest, Coming This Fall.” It’s a meme at this point. We know it, you know it. Going forward, we’re not going to announce release dates like this. Instead, we’ll be doing what are called “soft launches.”
When the content is ready, it’ll be released on the live game. After it’s been up for a week or so, then we will promote it. This is good for a number of reasons. For one, we’re able to keep our promises instead of setting deadlines we just can’t make as a volunteer organization. For two, it allows us to test the waters for any hidden bugs or stability issues before a larger influx of players log in to try the new content.
As you know, we do have a lot of large-scale content planned. That content is farther out and takes a long time, so in the meantime, we’ve dedicated a portion of our dev team to smaller content updates, quality of life features that improve the overall game in small ways.
We’ve been looking through the various Discords for feedback on this matter, and we hope to have more news on these immediate quality of life features soon.
In the meantime, we can tease that there is a nice update coming shortly. Nothing too gameplay heavy, but it is a welcome change to the status quo… environment wise. This update wasn’t even going to see the light of day. It started as an internal learning project for our level designers, but the results were so good that we had to share it with you all! Take a look at the picture to the right to see what we mean.
Capture the Chest & Find a Crew
Yes, the Capture the Chest game mode is still coming. When? Hard to say. We’ve had to unfortunately delay it indefinitely due to a deep-rooted game infrastructure issue surrounding interactive objects. In fact, this issue is probably why Disney didn’t release more complex PvP modes outside of just Mayhem and Team Battle.
Until this problem is fixed, it renders Capture the Chest unplayable. We aren’t comfortable releasing the game mode in this state. Once that is fixed, we will of course be full steam ahead with the release of CTC. In the meantime, we do have other PvP modes that are in development as well. They may even come out before CTC, but it all depends on what gets fixed & polished first. We do not want to hold back something that is more finished just because something else was announced first. We hope to have more info for you soon.
As for Find a Crew, it’s basically feature-ready. Our amazing Test Server community members have had a taste of the Find a Crew system in lobbies, and it works well for the most part. Much like CTC, there is a singular serious bug surrounding a large number of people joining a singular crew at once.
Major Game Expansion
As we discussed in our “Plans for the Future” section above, there is a large game infrastructure expansion we are planning. It is very far off in the future, but it’s something we are very excited about. We aren’t comfortable sharing many details right now, since it is so far away, but we can say that Trading will be a part of this infrastructure expansion as well as a series of enhancements to the Economy within the game and more attention to detail in game environments. And don't worry, we'll be looking for player feedback every step of the way. We already have with Trading, and will continue to do so during our process.
New Story Chapter
We have confirmed before that we are working on a new Story Chapter to the game. This means new quests, characters, lore, and locations. It’s a large endeavor that is being spearheaded primarily by our team of writers, animators, level designers, and 3D modelers. Since most of this work is more creative-based than code-based at this time, it does not detract from everything else our game developers are currently working on.
The team is actively creating new islands, interiors, caves, jungles, and other miscellaneous aspects of the environment for the next Story Chapter. As seen in the picture to the right, we are not just completely recycling old buildings and props; we are making much of this from scratch with very careful attention to detail.
We are happy to announce that we have completed the writing of the next Story Chapter, but with that said, we will not be sharing any specific details about it at this time. We will announce more information as we near completion of this project.
Rest assured we’ve spent a lot of time developing this new story to get just right. We are confident that it will be in the spirit of POTCO storytelling, with our own flourishes here and there.
Hollowed Woods 2020
As is tradition, we have something fun planned for Hollowed Woods this fall. This is probably the one piece of content that is breaking our “no release dates” rule, since it’s pretty easy to figure out the general time frame Hollowed Woods update is coming.
Take a look at a new voodoo doll in the image to the right for a bit of a tease. Can’t wait to show you what else we have in store for Halloween!
We have a full website redesign in the works with a central focus on community interaction. In our new design, we’re adding a variety of new features that should be very familiar to those who actively played POTCO.
We have a full mockup of the site completed, and are beginning the actual implementation of the new design soon. Also, we can confirm that Leaderboards are in the final stages of testing and have a single remaining issue which prevents players from reliably finding their own character on the Leaderboards.
Lastly, we have other website features planned that will be released over time, each bringing some new form of community engagement to the website. Stay tuned for more info!
The sunsetting of our sister site, Pirates Forums, was a big deal for us, and we’ve taken this time to step back and re-evaluate how we will be handling community interaction going forward.
Today, we are proud to announce the Crossbone Crew. So, what exactly is the Crossbone Crew? Well, it’s a team of the savviest of pirates among TLOPO staff. They will be dedicated to direct contact with you all! Members of the Crossbone Crew will be completely in charge of our social media, will reply to comments on the news blog, and will be seen frequently throughout the Caribbean, hosting events or just hanging out!
Stay tuned for a full post detailing the Crossbone Crew and each of its members within the next few days!