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Q & A Session[]

Okay, I'll give it a try then :)

1) How long of (real-life) time intervals are necessary to play the game? That is, would I be able to typically log on, do something in half an hour or so, and then log off? Or does a lot of content require being online for a couple hours at a time in order to not have your progress reset?

Depends really. Once you're in a port and take missions there, you probably won't have to stay on for hours on end if you don't want to. Some missions take 5 minutes, others might take an hour. Epic missions take longer of course, but overall it's not too time-consuming. You can find things to do even if you don't play for more than 1 or 2 hours at a time (which is about the length of my usual play session).

2) How are the levels of enemy NPC ships determined? Does the game spawn ships specifically to attack you of your own level or very near it (e.g., as in Puzzle Pirates)? Are the levels set by the mission or (outside missions) the geographical area? Are they randomly scattered all over? Because it sure wouldn't be fun to be a level 5 constantly getting jumped by level 40+ enemies.

In missions, enemy level is mostly determined by mission level (for swashbuckling missions, this will be pretty exact - a level 20 mission will always have you fight level 20 enemies; for sea missions, there's a somewhat randomized level range - a level 20 mission might put you up against anything roughly between level 16 and 24 or so). On the Open Sea, NPC level depends on the area you're in - there are starter areas where you rarely see any high-level NPCs. But generally I found that NPCs that vastly outlevel you seem to leave you mostly alone anyway.

3) Is grouping essentially mandatory, or truly optional, or even discouraged? Or does it vary by content, with some missions built for solo play and others for groups? Or does it vary, perhaps depending on whether you're doing PvE or PvP, or whether you're in a mission or not? I understand that port battles essentially require large groups (and not necessarily of your own choosing), but what about elsewhere?

I'd say optional, varies by content. Some missions require groups (either by built-in design, or because they're really too difficult to solo), but you can pretty much solo your way to level 50 (it's what my main char has almost done - he's 46 now). PvP is a whole different story, I can't really comment on that (other to say there's probably more safety in numbers, if you actually want to fight instead of evade enemies)

4) I read at one point that there are over 4000 missions; this wiki only documents about 700. Was the 4000 figure in error, or are there a lot of missions not on this wiki? Are there enough missions that a player could do missions and little else all the way to level 50 without running out? Is it expected that players who like missions will do them all and still have to go grind mobs? Are there so many missions that players will essentially have to either skip a large fraction or do them while way past the appropriate level?

Well, you have to take into account that most of the mission entries (at a rough guess, maybe as much as 70-80%) have been done by me and as such represent only what's been encountered by one player (and mostly, just two or three characters). I don't know about the 4000 number, but there are definitely plenty I haven't done yet (and my main at level 46 is still finding new missions left and right). So you can definitely go all the way to level 50 by doing missions, even doing them exclusively solo, with no grinding at all (there are bounty missions which need you to hunt and look for rare mobs on the Open Sea - that's all the "grinding" I've ever done). And yeah, if you insist on doing as many missions as possible, then you'll outlevel quite a few before you can do them. But that's better than the other way around :)

5) I've seen it often remarked that this game doesn't have an "end game" analogous to a lot of other games, but players can just PvP at max level and buy expensive ships of the line. Has the company asserted that that is the way they intend to keep it forever, or are they someday going to add raiding for epic stuff at the level cap?

They already started implementing some epic raid stuff for high levels (Bey's Retreat and a mission line called Fortaleza de Luz), but since I'm mostly a solo player I haven't tried those yet. But mostly, for now the endgame is supposed to be PvP or economy (for me it'll be the latter). Choosing the right server to get the most out of your PvP is important here. Antigua looks good in that regard, or so I've heard, while Roberts has just seen a mass exodus of societies who all moved to Antigua.

6) How difficult is reallocating your skill points? I saw that they can be redone, but it requires some particular item. Is it just a nominal fee, so expensive as to be a major decision, or only a finite number allowed, ever?

You mostly buy respec tokens in your nation's capital by turning in seals and commendations, which in turn are looted from sinking ships (both in missions and on the Open Sea). And by the time you reach level 20 or 30, you'll have more commendations than you know what to do with (you can get other stuff for them too though), so getting respec tokens is pretty trivial.

7) How difficult is it to transfer things between characters of the same account? Are there game mechanics that make it completely trivial (e.g., storage in Guild Wars)? Or do you have to get someone to hold the stuff for you to pass it around? Or is it impossible entirely. I'd expect transferring stuff from one server to another to be impractical, but what about between characters on the same server?

No game mechanics for transferring stuff between characters yet (although they are looking at adding society warehouses), so for now you'll have to find someone you trust to help you.

8) I see that players get a drydock of 4 ships in reserve. How difficult is it to switch between ships? Can you freely switch anytime you're in port, and the reserve ship magically warps to your location? Or do you have to sail back to where you got it (perhaps your capital) to switch?

You have to be in the same port as your ship to switch to it. But then, you can book free passage to any port where you have a ship (meaning you're just teleported there), so it's pretty trivial to get where the ship is. Getting the ship where you want it requires you to actually sail it there though.

9) How difficult is it to sail around, if not flagged for PvP? Do you only infrequently get attacked by NPC pirates? Are you constantly running (well, sailing) for your life? Do you get left alone unless you go out of your way to attack something, or perhaps get your reputation way down?

Generally speaking, NPCs only seem to attack you when they're roughly around your level (say, within 5-10 levels of you), otherwise you'll be mostly left alone. These attacks do happen quite frequently if you get too close to such a NPC though (you'll get an onscreen message that you're being followed), so you need to keep a lookout on who's around you when you're on the Open Sea. If you do get pulled into a fight you'd rather avoid, it's not too difficult to run away from it though. When you're PvP-flagged, you don't get attacked by NPCs at all as far as I know.

10) How much time is spent just trying to get from where you are to where you want to be, apart from transporting goods? Is half your time spent sailing just to acquire the next mission or go join a group? Or can you usually just pick up a mission where you are and do it there without spending a lot of time travelling?

Many missions take place in the port where you get them, but there is also a fair amount of travelling required (and it gets a bit annoying when you have a whole chain of missions that constantly send you back and forth between the same two ports), but it doesn't really get out of hand. I always do all the missions in the same port first before I do the ones that require me to be somewhere else.

11) How sensitive is the game to lag? In some games, a 10 second lag spike is nothing more than a minor nuisance, while in others, half a second of lag at a bad time can kill you. And while on the subject of lag, how good are the servers? Most commercial games seem to be able to keep lag and server downtime to a minimum these days, though the ~93% uptime of WoW was a conspicuous exception.

It's not too bad in my experience (saying that, I don't PvP, so I can't comment on Port Battles and such). But this is not a game that requires hair-trigger reflexes - a sea battle takes (at least) minutes to be fought, not seconds - so I've never had an instance yet where lag kept me from doing something. I did have a fair number of game crashes in the early months of the game (for which my rather out of date, 3.5 year-old PC might partly be responsible), but those have all but disappeared recently, and the game's running quite smoothly now.

--Ailar 08:06, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your answers. I also have some follow up questions, largely because I wasn't entirely sure what to ask the first time.
1) Do the longer missions have to be done all in one sitting? I've seen some that looked like they had logically separate parts. Do those save progress if you do one part and log off, or would you have to start over? And how common are missions that take more than an hour or so?
yes, if a mission has multiple parts (like "go and talk to that person", "now go and do this", etc.) then your progress will be saved after you've finished each part - if it takes place in a mission instance, you'll have to "finish" that instance (i.e. meet all objectives within that instance) for your progress to save though. And they're not that common (again, not talking about epic stuff here). Mostly what makes a mission take a long time is a) it requires you to sail halfway around the map (and back if you're unlucky), or b) it contains some particularly difficult fight that will take you a while. One example of a (very good, I might add) long-ish multi-part mission would be Just in Time
3) Are the missions that require groups clearly labeled, or do you find out by trying the mission and seeing that it's nearly impossible to do solo?
since the UI improvements we got in the early summer, the type of mission (solo, group, epic) will now be clearly marked in your mission journal.
5) Is the epic raid stuff basically something optional to do at level 50 that players can freely skip if they like? Or is it stuff that you really have to do (or even have to do many times) in order to prevent other players from being vastly stronger than you?
As I said, I haven't done any of them myself yet, so this is mostly hearsay... the epic missions do offer some rare loot that's not available elsewhere, but I don't think any of that is too game-breaking or a must-have item for PvP. However, I base that assumption solely on the fact that I've never seen any staunch PvPers on the forum moaning about having to do PvE missions to get required PvP outfitting ;)
8) So player characters can magically warp around, but ships cannot? Or can you only warp to where you have a ship docked? Or perhaps you can warp anywhere, but can't do much there unless you have a ship or some shops there?
Players can only warp to where any of their ships are. You do this by talking to a Harbor Master and "booking passage" to that port. Ships cannot warp around
Since you're familiar with GuildWiki, I might as well mention what I did there. The wiki was mostly complete by the time I picked up the game. I rewrote a lot of portions of mission articles, especially the more complicated missions, and wrote most of the hard mode mission sections. Quizzical 18:09, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Cool :) Haven't done too much Hard Mode yet, just the occasional vanquished area. Was too busy getting my Elite Skillhunter title, and finally did that a few weeks ago. Next up are Elonian and Tyrian protector (got Canthan already), and continue with Treasure Hunter. So much to do, so little time... :P --Ailar 20:03, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks again for your replies. I think I'll have to pick up the game and give it a try.
Since you're probably not used to answering detailed questions about game mechanics from people who have never actually played the game, perhaps I should explain a bit. I've played enough games to have a pretty good idea of what I like in a game. I don't want to buy a game, play it for a month, and then discover some bit of game mechanics that completely ruins the game for me. I'd much prefer to find out that that will happen before buying the game, and then instead spend the time on a game that I'll like better. I have at times spent hours reading up on a game, decided I wouldn't like it, and then never actually played it.
I'm unusually thorough in how I'll play games. I really like meeting the same challenge in different ways. So here, I might do a mission as a naval officer, and then do the same mission on another character as a freetrader. In Guild Wars, I would beat a set of (about five) missions as a character of one class, then switch to a character of another class and so the same missions. Repeat until I've got all ten characters through, and then go on to the next set of missions. Doing a mission ten times in easy mode and then ten more in hard mode, while virtually never having any overlap on my skill bar apart from a rez signet (or sunspear rebirth signet) or occasionally Lightbringer's Gaze is a pretty ideal background for carving up a wiki article, so I'd do that after I finished.
One thing about the game that might end up bothering me is if I can't do all of the quests. The 700 quests vs 4000 above was largely, well, how will I do all of the quests if I can't find them all?
My plan here is to create 11 characters: 3 British, 3 French, 3 Spanish, 2 Pirates (spread across four servers, of course). It would be three of each career, except only one of each Pirate career. For each country, I'd have one of each career, as well as one of each land fighting style, permuted such that for each combination of a sea career and a land fighting style, I'd have exactly one non-Pirate character. That way, if my characters scatter out somewhat, I can try to hit every single quest with at least one character. If there are enough quests that on average, maybe 3 or 4 characters do each, then I'll probably stick with that many characters. If there are few enough quests that I end up doing most of them with 8 or 10 characters, I'll probably drop some to end up with five, keeping one from each country, one of each profession, and at least one of each fighting style.
I've got a somewhat similar approach - except that I usually have one main character that's ahead level-wise, and a bunch of secondary characters that are lagging behind to try out all the low-level content I might have missed on my main. Here in PotBS that means looking for missions that might not be available for my main's nation (Spain) and documenting them on the Wiki. I'm also not very concerned with making max level - getting there is what's fun :)
Although I should also mention that the different nationalities and careers here might not feel as different from each other as in other games. A British Navy Officer will play exactly like a French Navy Officer, there just might be some differences in the available missions. And the differences between (for example) your British Navy Officer and a Spanish Privateer also won't be that great. That's because while the skills are all different, this game isn't about button mashing and using 5 or 10 different skills per minute. Skills here mostly have a cooldown time measured in minutes - so in an average fight, you might use only a few standard toggles and a handful of one-shot skills (like attacks). Don't get me wrong - they do play differently. But the differences are subtle and not as pronounced as, say (to use GW again) an Axe Warrior vs. a Water Elementalist vs. a Protection Monk :)
Lest you scoff that I'll never get very high level that way, well, I don't care. If a game isn't fun when you're low level, it won't be fun if you're high level, either. Indeed, games tend to become less fun as you get higher level. It's not that the content gets worse; indeed, it might get better, as the company feels freer to hit players with some oddball stuff, without having to worry about scaring off newbies not yet ready to handle it. Rather, it is the player that changes more than the content. Things that were once new and innovative become old and mundane. You only get to be low level for the first time once, so you might as well enjoy it while you can. If you can't, then there's no sense in spending months or years grinding to get to the level cap only to find that you still don't like the game.
And if I stick with one game for long enough, I may end up getting pretty high level. My ten aforementioned characters in Guild Wars each have the Legendary Guardian title. None have ever used any consumables, nor Kurzick/Luxon or GWEN pve-ony skills. I left Chahbek Village for last, and had them all finish Legendary Guardian over the course of about an hour. To take another example, in WoW, before the release of the first expansion, at one point I had eight level 59 characters (when 60 was the cap), and no 60s. Shortly after that, I got them all to 60 over the course of about 6 minutes. And shortly after that I quit the game.
Which brings me to the next point I was worried about: I didn't want to go raiding in WoW, but there was nothing else to do at level 60. Even with the non-raid instances, try to form a group for them and you'll end up with some people in a bunch of raid epics, which makes things too easy. If the game is going to be spectacularly awful at the level cap, I'd rather find one that would be better. Guild Wars had a much better answer of what to do at the level cap: switch to hard mode and you're the right level for pretty much everything.
Heh. GW isn't such a good example, as getting to max-level is pretty trivial and only the starting point to the main game instead of a far away goal, but to use another game I play: in City of Heroes/Villains, I've got one max-level (50) character, who's pretty much retired now (I only dust her off every now and then do to some old missions I've missed) and a bunch of chars between level 15 and 35 which I mainly play nowadays. The point being, whenever I hit max-level (which doesn't happen that often), I usually switch to another char. "End-Game Content" is a big bottleneck for all MMOs in my experience, because no developer can roll out content as fast as the players can consume it. It might take them weeks or months to implement a new epic mission. It'll take the players usually a week or two to play through it all and find out most of the secrets. And then the waiting for the next epic mission starts. That's a race the Devs just can't hope to win. Which IMO is why FLS was trying to actively promote PvP as the endgame here... --Ailar 07:04, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
You commented above that you only document the missions that you do. I'd likely end up doing the same. But if I do all of the missions, well then, documenting only the missions I do is plenty enough.  :) Quizzical 23:02, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
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