Sea of Thieves NYCC 2017 Panel Highlights

Rare has been all over the globe the past several months sharing Sea of Thieves with as many pirate fans as they can. New York Comic Con 2017 was on the list of destinations. There, Rare hosted a Sea of Thieves panel titled, “A New King Of Multiplayer Experience”. The panel covered the team’s inspirations and ambitions for the game while showing off some of the latest game features such as the small ship, non-verbal communication, the brig and the Pirates’ Code. If you don’t have time to watch the whole hour-long panel at the moment, we have some of the highlights from the panel below.

  • Panel hosts were Pete Hentze (Marketing Art Lead), Mike Chapman (Design Director), Joe Neate (Executive Producer), Shelley Preston (Senior Designer)
  • Sea of Thieves is a shared world adventure game
  • Everyone playing will be progressing towards being the pirate legend they want to be
  • Rare is looking to create a new kind of multiplayer experience
  • Current perceptions of multiplayer games
    • It’s just about pure competition
    • There’s too much toxic behavior
    • There are limitations around playstyle
    • Players get left behind, need huge time investment
  • Sea of Thieves believes in the magic of multiplayer and is puttingĀ faith in gamers. Players won’t gravitate towards this new multiplayer experience without the fundamental game design allowing it
  • Sea of Thieves is built on:
    • Players love of pirates
      • Pirates of Caribbean, Goonies, Monkey Island
    • Co-op design
      • Mechanics focused around co-op, ship roles like spotter in crow’s nest, captain at helm, shooter on cannons
    • Player tools
      • The tools in the game are just as they are in real life. A compass helps find direction just as it does in real life
      • Players can just discover the game world with no hand holding when the tools work as you expect
    • Choice of play style
      • Treasure map quests (light puzzle solving) are for treasure hunters
      • Quests are being built to cater to different play styles
    • Crew bond
      • Creating natural social activities such as grog drinking and playing instruments
    • Shared rewards
      • Everyone gets the gold from the treasure chest regardless of who digs it up first
    • Removing barriers
      • Can play together regardless of device, no progression system that leaves players behind
    • Working with the community
      • Technical Alpha feedback, forum feedback, social media feedback
      • Roadmap of game built on this player feedback
  • Rare wants to build a diverse community, want to build for everyone
  • How do they plan to achieve this goal of making a multiplayer game for everyone?
  • Cater to people who like to play together and like to play alone
    • For players who like to play together, creating a bond between crew is very important
      • Four strangers can bond over discovring how to sail the ship or solving a riddle quest together
    • Small ship will hopefully be a vehicle for players to test out the waters and later graduate to the four person crewed ships
    • Small ship designed to work for one person
    • The one sail doesn’t block the players view, the sail controls and anchor controls are right next to the ship wheel
    • Everything is conveniently located close together
    • Everything you can do on the small ship you can do on the big ship
  • Make sure users can communication
    • Many reasons users don’t want to use voice
      • Accessibility
      • Situational, kids sleeping, loud noises that can be picked up by mic
      • Don’t feel comfortable letting other players know who you are by your voice
    • Non-verbal communication is a solution
    • Players have a set of phrases they can choose from with a radial menu
    • There are a lot of things you could say during a voyage so Rare made the phrases context sensitive
    • Context sensitive means when raising the anchor, most the phrases you can say are based around raising the anchor. If you are at the helm, phrases are based around that
    • The non verbal communication still has the Rare humor. The phrases are more witty than dry
  • The ability to deal with unacceptable behavior
    • Someone continuously lowering the anchor or stealing the treasure can be a burden to a crew
    • The crew can vote to send the player to the brig
    • You can also vote to release a user from the brig if issues have been resolved
    • Majority vote
  • Building a welcoming community
    • Insider Program delivers transparent development
    • Weekly updates, forum posts from the Rare team, weekly videos
    • Listen is constantly listening to feedback
    • The Insider Program helps build trust and respect
  • The Pirates’s Code
  • Holding players to this code to prevent toxic behavior
      Everyone is welcome on the Sea of Thieves regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, nationality or creed
    • ARTICLE 2: THE SEA UNITES US AS ONE COMMUNITYOutside of the heat of battle or piracy on the high seas, all crews shall bond together as a community of likeminded souls
      None shall quarrel or overly dissent against another crew, but let every engagement be settled by sword, pistol and good seamanship
      Let each crewmate be respected as equal, free to follow their own bearing, speak openly and vote in the affairs of the voyage
      Those that betray their crew and ship through griefing or trolling shall be sent to the brig
      May the old legends help to forge new ones. Treat new pirates with respect and share your knowledge
      Pirates who show bad form and cheat against their crew and others will surely face bitter hardships and punishments
  • The vision for Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer game with a positive, welcoming community. Rare will do everything in their power to maintain this as the game grows
  • Q&A
  • When will small ships and the brig be playable? Soon. The Pioneers will test first and then the general Technical Alpha program will get their hands on it
  • Even though the game aims to be friendly is there PVP? The classic pirate boarding a ship to steal treasure is part of the game. You can be the pirate you want to be. PVP is definitely in the game
  • How easily can players attack other ships? No teleport in Sea of Thieves. You will have to sail your ship over to them to attack
  • How will players get to customize their pirate? It is a social experience. There will be a physical pirate dress up box the crew can go to and change their look
  • How does ship ownership work? The ship is owned by the crew at the moment, stay tuned for ship customization
  • What is going to keep players playing? Rare is currently showing off the core loop. Progression will not only unlock customization but different experiences in the game. You will unlock different voyages that are harder, have more mechanics and better rewards. Crews will be able to vote on which voyage they want to tackle next. Players can have different voyages and share them amongst each other. Someone with a more complex voyage with better rewards can share with their crew members who don’t have those voyages unlocked yet. This again comes from there being no barriers for playing
  • The progression system is steering away from vertical progression. This puts up barriers and creates an uneven playing field
  • Will there be any kind of crew finder? Current you can crew up with friends or use random matchmaking
  • Rare purposefully didn’t allow users to invite friends into alpha to see how random strangers played together
  • Are there sea monsters? Rare has been hinting at the Kraken now and mythical creatures will be in the game
  • Will there be NPCs or events that bring different crews together? There will be natural events in the game world to bring ships and crews together
  • Will crews be bigger than 4? Rare is always looking into crew size but a worry of too big of crews is them getting disorganized. The crews would naturally split up into smaller groups anyway

So there are the main highlights from the panel. If you do have the time it is highly recommended to watch it your self. There is plenty more information in the panel and it is refreshing to see a team so passionate about their game and community.

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