In a recent developer blog, Pirates of the Burning sea creator Flying Lab has announced that it's working on a major revision of the game's on-foot swordfighting, or "avatar combat".
We felt this was the weakest element of the strangely absorbing nautical MMO by far when we reviewed it, so it's welcome news.
The fighting system is being overhauled, as well as the missions, animations, UI and sound.
"In short, we've been stripping avatar combat down to its foundation and building up again," wrote lead game designer Kevin Maginn under his "Isildur" alias.
Maginn said his original vision was "somewhat of a cross between Shining Force Neo and Bushido Blade. I wanted a system that would let me slice through armies of minions like a hot knife through butter, but that would be tactical and complex in a one-on-one duel between evenly matched opponents".
Quite some distance from the glacially slow, wooden flailing that made it into the final game then. "It was added late in the development cycle, and was thus the system in which I had the least confidence," he said. "What I discovered was... A good foundation with a very early iteration built on top of it."
The main changes involve starting with a full, rather than empty "initiative bar" (your resource for combat abilities), and removing finishing moves in favour of a system based entirely on initiative management.
Balance will no longer affect defence, fewer skills will be organised into longer chains, the effectiveness of all skills and equipment will be scaled up to give combat more impact, almost all skills will bearea-of-effect to make fighting multiple enemies more fun, and enemy archetypes and skills are being fleshed out for more variation.
Sounds like a good start. Check out Maginn's full article for a frank, detailed and interesting insight into the game design.