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suliman

What to do in a pirate game?

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Hi

Im making a game in the tradition of sid meiers pirates!. It's a 2d adventure game where you travel on a caribbean map and fight other ships and visit towns. It's harder and slightly more realistic than sids pirates, but still far from a simulator. My main gameplay elements are as follows for now:

  • Build your ranks with the 4 nations (Spain, england, france, netherlands). You mainly do this by completing missions, but also for sinking their enemies' ships.
  • Get better ships and larger convoy (2 skills can be upgraded: prestige which allows you higher level ships, and command which allows more ship in the convoy, max 5).
  • Hunt down rival famous pirates.
  • Find the rival pirates buried treasure
  • Find lost cities and loot them

What else? Sids Pirates had romance, but Im not so fond of that (and i will have NO dancing minigame:). Also finding your relatives through tracking down and repeatedly beat some "villians".

Also im not sure about a "goal" or some way of "winning" the game? it's a open world game naturally, but i still like goals in games. In sid pirates you simply ticked off all "doable things" ingame, such as finding all 9 treasure, rescue all 4 relatives etc and that gave you points (to a miximum of 126 points if you completed all "achievements").

Maybe have a similar setup as the achievements of sids pirates and use a difficulty modifier to get final score? So the 126 fame (or whatever) is multiplied with 2.5 for very hard setting or similar.

Hit me!

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here is some forgotten gem to soak some inspriation, I cannot find english version though:

 

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I always thought that the signature quality the Sid Meier's Pirates! had was that "you are what you do".  At the beginning of a game of Pirates! you didn't choose a class.  You didn't say "I am a Pirate" or "I am a Mercenary".  You earned those class titles based on your actions.  I've imitated this aspect in my Pirate Dawn where "you are what you do" just like in Pirates.

The other good thing about making a pirate game is that there will always be an objective in any combat, which is far more important than anyone wants to see me described here.  I really could write a 20 page post here explaining the significance of that.  But, you don't even need to know all that, all of the positive aspects of that will just happen by themselves even if you don't know about them.  The fact that there is always an objective will just naturally make your ship combat work out a lot better than ship combat works in most other people's games.  Piracy perfectly corrects a serious issue with balancing combat between ships, and you don't even need to understand the hows or whys of it... it will just happen all by itself.  So, if you can make the tactical side of the ship combat fun, the strategic side of it will just work itself all on it's own due to the piracy aspects of the "scenario".  It will wind up working better than most other people's ship combat, and it will happen all on its own.  You don't even need to know about it for that to just happen all on its own.

 

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Depending on where you want to aim on the game/realism spectrum:

  • Racing. Pirate vessels have to be fast, racing is a good way to prove that.
  • Hunting rare/mythical creatures (white whale, kraken, etc).
  • Charting safe passages through natural hazards (reefs, whirlpools, hurricanes).

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16 hours ago, Kavik Kang said:

You don't even need to know about it for that to just happen all on its own.

I actually NEED a more explanation. What is automatic? In sids pirates I do think it suffered a bit from being TOO open. Just hunting ships quickly felt a bit empty, as you didnt really get much gold/cargo from it, and you could get the best ship (large frigate) 10 min into the game by just snatching it from a famous pirate.

12 hours ago, swiftcoder said:

Hunting rare/mythical creatures (white whale, kraken, etc).

I like this idea. Maybe i can look at assassins creed: black flag for a bit of whale hunting inspiration. I will not have mythical creatures but sort of an animal equivalent to "famous pirates" to hunt down would be fun.

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An idea I'm trying to develop for my own game is having campaigns with generated elements. Placing specific characters somewhere in the randomly generated universe, and they each lead to the next, and event triggers etc.

In the beginning of the game, you can choose a random starting quest, that is relatively short, but already takes you around the world a bit and through the main actions, like a tutorial quest, and gives the player footing in the world. During this quest you should hint at potential new leads to follow after the quest - this island is in trouble because of resources, a ship went missing, last seen at this port, etc., which also gives the player something to pursue immediately after the quest.

So keep it open, you just need to lead the player into the openness, until they feel like the know enough about the world to make their own decisions. It's hard to have the same approach as Minecraft, because that requires meta-game aspects like a community making a wiki, etc., and reputation, for people to be willingly thrown into an unknown world.

For typical idle activities you can start with trading. Then trade routes and island resources become objects you can have events / conditions around - pirates are raiding these mines, lowering the output, increasing the cost. That way a player who wants to trade at a good rate could get pulled into a series of tasks to improve their trading throughput. Then typical ship hunts / pirate hunts, simple exploration, mysterious ruins on islands.

Lastly, if you build these systems in layers, you can end up with a very complex world emerging. Objects like mines, lumberyards, ruins, treasures are layered with actors acting on those objects, like traders, miners, indigenous populations, and then actors interacting with other actors. Properly define generalized goals for each, and hopefully an evolving world takes off. Putting campaigns in the middle of these circumstances naturally results in the player "discovering" obstacles. The campaigns can be simple enough, but put in a complex world, will have lots of depth.

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6 hours ago, suliman said:

I actually NEED a more explanation. What is automatic? In sids pirates I do think it suffered a bit from being TOO open. Just hunting ships quickly felt a bit empty, as you didnt really get much gold/cargo from it, and you could get the best ship (large frigate) 10 min into the game by just snatching it from a famous pirate.

I like this idea. Maybe i can look at assassins creed: black flag for a bit of whale hunting inspiration. I will not have mythical creatures but sort of an animal equivalent to "famous pirates" to hunt down would be fun.

Pirates is a very old game for having been an "open world", it could certainly be improved on today in many simple ways.  I was just pointing out the "you are what you do" aspect of it that so few other games have.

The fact that there is always an objective in a piracy game almost completely eliminates an issue that Star Fleet Battles players call "The Kaufman Retrograde".  This is one of those subjects that the experts can endlessly debate without ever arriving at a final answer.  The very short version is that a ship that is running away ("retrograding") is generally at a 3:1 advantage over the pursuer.  If the retrograder drops a mine, it is a weapon that is essentially "moving" towards the pursuer.  If the pursuer drops a mine it is simple left behind.  A missile fired by the retrograder has a double rate of closure, a missile fired by the pursuer has a long uphill climb to the target.  A retrograding ship can easily control the range.  It ultimately all has to do with speed, and the many advantages that a faster ship has. 

The retrograde causes more problems with game balance that I could even begin to go into here.  For example, a faster ship chooses when and where exchanges of fire will take place, and if it doesn't want to fight there won't be a fight.  If it wants to use that speed to grief and refuse to engage, for example, it can do that.  But an objective negates most aspects of the retrograde, especially issues like refusal too engage.  In piracy there is always an objective, so most of the retrograde issues just magically disappear when there is an objective.  You can't attack something by running away from it, you can't defend something by running away from it.  So many problems associated with the retrograde are not relevant with a piracy themes, these issues will correct themselves without you even needing to know that they exist.  It's the reason I've been saying for many years "most people should make piracy games, 'cause most people don't know enough about ship combat to make anything but piracy games".

That isn't meant to be insulting, it really is a very complex subject matter that a lot of very smart scientists, engineers, and real world military people have spent their lifetimes studying and still don't have a complete understanding of it. 

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Like I said, it is a very complex subject.  WIthout knowing more about what you are doing, it is hard to provide specific suggestions.  You might get some ideas from the Pirate Dawn design document on my blog, it's piracy but in a sci-fi setting.  Feel free to use anything from it you want.  I won't ever get to make it, I know way too much about game and simulation design to ever be allowed to work in this business.

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