Anyone hoping for skirmishes to be implemented into Sony Online Entertainment's Pirates of the Burning Sea MMO will have to wait a little longer. Speaking at SOE's annual Fan Faire event in Las Vegas, game designer Drew Clowery from developer Flying Labs explained that, although it was a feature they’d "fought hard to include", when they finally got the go-ahead, the developer working on this aspect then left the company.
Skirmishes would allow players to create their own instanced PVP ship battles, controlling everything from the victory objectives – allowing for a naval take on Capture the Flag or more conventional escort missions, for example – to the number of participants.
"One of the funnest parts of our game is PVP, but it's very inaccessible and high risk at the moment," said art director Bruce Sharp. "Skirmishes are an opportunity to just go in and have fun without risking your ship, as you’ll be able to select the consequences for any battle failure, and that could be something like just gambling on doubloons."
It’s a shame, then, that you won't be seeing this for a while. "Skirmishes make me very sad," said Clowery. "We had one guy working on them, but he got a great offer and left. It was an opportunity to work on a brand new start-up, and nobody could turn that down."
"We’re short of developers at the moment," admitted Sharp. "The real bottleneck we have is code," added Clowery. "We have lots of assets, it’s just getting someone to implement them."
Clowery was eager to dispel any sense that a current lack of developers means Pirates is in trouble, however. "No-one is in game design for the money. What you’re looking for is creative control. We have an amazing creative environment, so we have a very small amount of turnover compared to other games.
"And there’s a plus side in that when people leave, they’re generally at the top, so it gives us a chance to promote people lower down who we hired because they’re really good, and they then bring a new perspective."
Skirmishes are still being planned: "It’s something we want to do sooner rather than later," said Sharp
And on the subject of a possible expansion, Clowery was equally hopeful. "At some point in time we will have an expansion – that’s my way of saying I have no idea when we’ll get on that. But we have a very healthy number of subscribers, so we’re not going anywhere."