Nitro Games’ Brendon Neuwerth, producer for Nitro’s upcoming pirate game Pirates of Black Cove, talks about what we can expect in the game, including Pirates, Parrots, and Pieces of Eight. There’s also Rum (Grog), plenty of Booty, and even brief mention of DLC and a Magicka tie-in before we hit the part of the map marked “Here There Be Monsters”.
[Watch Pirates of Black Cove gameplay video]
PC Game Examiner: At Paradox Con 2011 you described Pirates of Black Cove as a sandbox-style RTS-RPG. Clearly the ocean-going combat and sailing reminds me of Sid Meier’s Pirates!. Can you tell us more about the RTS part of the game? Will you be building a town, upgrading buildings, and building units similar to games such as Starcraft 2?
Brendon Neuwerth: RTS battles are quite traditional in a way. The difference being that while you are in a land battle, you’re not constructing any buildings, so you fight with the units you brought with you. However something to note is that we built in wind charms that act as a teleport back to the faction stronghold that the charm was gathered in so that if needed the player can hire more units. We focused on making the land battles rather quick, more like skirmishes, so fast-in- fast-out- kind of Pirate tasks.
As the player you’re controlling a bunch of units and up to 3 hero units. When the enemy sees you and or begins to pick the fight they may realize that they can’t win, and may suddenly retreat and come back with a more powerful group to stop you.
Unit hiring and building construction happens in each faction’s stronghold. The buildings come as is, so no upgrading them, also no construction times.
Land-based battles, based upon your very early video, look like an RTS style of game. What different types of units can you command during these sequences, and will they have special abilities? Will there be ‘hero’ pirates with special abilities too?
NG: Melee and range units of course, these units won’t have any special abilities though. Each faction has their own special unit (Cannoneer, Rocketeer and Stink Bomber) and a hero unit (which can be acquired by becoming a champion of that faction). Hero units will have their own special attacks.
PCGE: Lets talk about the RPG elements. Your basic goal is to gain favor with three pirate factions, claim power, and destroy the bad pirates. Tell us about the story line. How much freedom do you give the player to ‘steer the rudder’ to their own destiny?
Newerth: There is a storyline for the player to follow, but no actual choices along the way. The player is not forced to do the storyline missions for one faction first and then hop on to other faction. There are some limits though, so that the player won’t instantly go to the most powerful faction and start doing their missions. The player can still visit them but the leader of that faction is not that friendly and will instruct the player to get more reputation with the lesser factions first. The game has only one of ending (unless of course you die), which is to firstly unite the 3 factions to gain the strengths of each, defeat the bad pirates of black cove, and finally become the King.
PCGE: What characteristics comprise your character? Are there feats, special abilities, and different classes you can choose from?
Newerth: Each starting character has their own competitive advantage (The Buccaneer type character is good at ranged combat, for example). There is no class system as such but each character can pick from the skill pool to upgrade the character in a way that best suits the player’s playing style.
PCGE: Since this is a Pirate ‘fantasy’ game, will there be magic and mythical monsters? What can you tell us about them? What kind of magic (if any) and what kind of monsters will we see?
Newerth: There will be mythical creatures, such as Kraken and magic will be around in some form or other. We also take elements of modern weaponry (homing rockets for example) which in today’s world are quite old –but bang them into the 16th century and I bet they’d seem quite magical. Also in our game, grog magically heals you, and today medical studies have proven it actually kills you.
PCGE: How customizable are the ships? Can they all be customized, or do you just have a single ship that you customize? Will I be able to run my colors in every ship in my entire fleet? For that matter, will my ‘colors’ be customizable?
Newerth: All ships can be upgraded and equipped with a special weapon. Furthermore in the Pimp your ship thingy, all ships can have their sails and hull repainted (colors).
PCGE: Sandbox games typically give players a lot to do and see and offer a lot of hours for your money. Do you have an idea of about how much game time/play time PoBC will offer? (Basically, if someone wanted to complete every single quest/goal, how long would it take?)
Newerth: Around 7 – 10 hours to complete the game, but with this type of game it comes down to what the player does and doesn’t do during the play through, so it becomes difficult to really say how much to completely go through every aspect of the game…. From the very beginning we wanted to create a compact experience that has the player engaged, but that said, when you take adventuring the world level into account then it could easily become far more.
PCGE: Some players like to go off the beaten path and just explore. Will PoBC have something for those players to discover?
Newerth: Sure thing. There are elements in the game that are not mandatory in order to complete the game, so exploration in this sense becomes something of a ‘value add.’
PCGE: Will there be any multiplayer component to the game?
Newerth: Nope, not at this point. However PoBC lends itself rather well to a multiplayer experience, so one never quite knows…
PCGE: Will there be achievements? Care to name a few?
Newerth: Yes. From whale spotting to sinking or colliding with ships, possibly even landing a human cannon ball successfully on the deck of an enemy ship.
PCGE: Will there be parrots, monkeys, and other pirate pets?
Newerth: Pets are not part of the main game (but could be possible DLC), but parrots and monkeys are present in the game.
PCGE: Will Woody Two-Legs make an appearance?
Newerth: Maybe, who knows ;)
PCGE: You hinted at Paradox Con 2011 that the Pirates of Black Cove are undead. Can you confirm that yet?
Newerth: Not quite sure if they are undead, but they are definitely not your everyday run of the mill Pirates in a bad mood.
PCGE: What role will treasure, maps, and rum play in the game?
Newerth: Rum (or grog) will be used as healing potions in land battles, and collecting them when possible gives you a stock pile. Treasures and maps, well, that’s for every pirate to find out, harrr. For example, the story feeds you parts of the map needed to uncover the forgotten island…opps too much info!
PCGE: Can I stow away into the beta?
Newerth: Nay me Matey! (PCGE: Arrrrr.)
PCGE: What is with you guys and naval games anyway? J
Newerth: I don’t know where it actually comes from. I think it’s partly due to us being Pirates in a previous life and partly due to where we live: on an island in Finland called Kotka, city by the sea. Kotka is a place where the men have sea legs and grog, and the fish are scared, ah or frozen. http://www.kotka.fi/in_english).
Pssst. I’m quite sure this won’t be the last game from us with naval elements in it…
PCGE: Any plans for DLC and expansions? Can you tell us about them?
Newerth: Hell yes, this game screams DLC — what that is at this time remains our little piece of eight.
PCGE: Can we expect a Pirates of Black Cove Magicka crossover? (And if not, you should do one).
Newerth: Not planned, but now that you mention it……..