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Ninja sits down and talks with Pete Hines of Bethesda
about the upcoming Sea Dogs game:
N: Sea Dogs seems to be hard to pin down to a certain genre, where
do you put it?
PH: It's definitely an RPG. Your character is your captain and his
ship. Both have a number of different attributes that can be changed and
improved over time, plus you can change your ship as much as you like.
How you decide to play the game will determine how you develop both your
captain and your ship, what kind of officers and men you hire, what kind
of cannons and shot you carry, etc. The game allows for a lot of customization
through these variables because we want to let people fight, trade, explore,
or do whatever they want, however they want.
N: Will the battles in the game be more of a strategic nature or more
PH: Definitely a healthy dose of both. You really can't separate one
from the other. It's all in real-time, and there are lots of variables
that affect your ship: wind speed and direction, speed and turn rate of
boats involved, types of cannons and armaments used, range of weapons,
sea conditions, and so on. So you're having to make split-second decisions
about which way to turn, what kind of shot to use, should you board them
or sink them, can you run away if you have to, etc. At the same time,
when you have larger battles between several ships on each side, you also
need some sort of strategy as to what you wan the other ships under your
control to do. You can't directly steer them and fire their guns, but
you can tell them where to go and what to do.
N: Obviously it appears to be geared towards the adventurous player,
but will there also be the ability to gain wealth and succeed in other
ways, i.e. trading?
PH: While there is definitely an "adventure" aspect to this game,
it's not really an adventure game. This is a RPG, pure and simple, and
you can decide to play your character in any number of ways. You can choose
to follow the quests that are given, or sail off on your own. You can
make a good living buying and selling goods between islands, or by plundering
other ships. You aren't required to stay with one side during the game;
so you can leave the French and become a pirate at any time...it's really
up to you.
N: Although the game is definitely non-linear, will there be an ending
or point of final success?
PH: There will definitely be an ending. The end is obviously when
your side (whichever of the four you happen to be playing) controls all
of the islands. You can move to this point more quickly by following the
storyline, or it could take forever to happen if you play freeform.
N: Sea Dogs will inevitably be compared to the classic "Pirates!”,
was this intended?
PH: You're right that it is inevitable, because anyone who played
the original immediately begins to notice influences and similarities
between Sea Dogs and Pirates! Pirates! was a very, very heavy influence
on the development team. They really believe it is the only noteworthy
pirate game ever built. So, when they set out to make a great pirate/role-playing
game, it only follows that the same kinds of elements and experiences
that Pirates! featured can be found in Sea Dogs. At the same time, one
look will tell you that they've done an awful lot of original stuff on
their own as well. The 3D graphics and effects are really superb.
N: In screenshots some kind of swashbuckling action, and presumably
there are some kind of land battles. Will this feature as prominently
as the sea battles?
PH: The hand-to-hand combat is how boarding is resolved when one ship
tries to board another. The duel takes place in the captain's quarters
and the stats for each captain (i.e., hit points) are comprised of the
total number of crewmen he has, plus how "quality" they are (i.e., how
high their soldier rating is).
N: Will there be any kind of notoriety or fame factor?
PH: There is a reputation for your character, and it is solely determined
by your actions in the game. If you choose to help out a French vessel
in trouble when you're playing as the Pirates, the French will think better
of you and may let you in their ports. If you sink it, they'll grow to
despise you and fleets will go out of their way to sink you if they have
N: Will we be able to find Monkey Island in Sea Dogs?
PH: No. (Smiles)
N: Will there be grog?
PH: This is set in the 17th century, and it's a pirate game, so obviously
we have to have booze! There are taverns in the game where you can go
to hire men or talk to people, and rum is one of the goods you can carry,
but you're not going to be able to sit in a bar and order grog until you
fall off your bar stool. That doesn't really add anything to gameplay,
so it'll be there in spirit.
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