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    Sea Dogs Interview

    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 action-oriented?

    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'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 the chance.

    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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