Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Legos and Pirates

Oh Pirate101. How I have mixed feelings for thee. Let me count the ways.
My Pirate101 adventure has been very interesting. I got invited to play during the closed beta and got to around level 18, if I remember correctly, before I had to stop playing for a few reasons. Mostly because I had other commitments as in jobs and school and things. I also had just recently started playing Glitch, which is a very fun game that I enjoy more than any game I've played in the last five years. But I must admit that P101 became a drag after a while. Example:
P101: Go here and defeat more things.
ME: But it takes me 15 minutes just to fly-sail there!
P101: Sorry you have to defeat more things.
ME: I can't I'm almost dead.
P101: Go do it lazy.
ME: Oh boy.
RANDOM PLAYER: *a random player joins your battle*
ME: Noooooooo!
P101: Now defeat five times the bad guys.
ME: *throws computer out window*
Okay that was an over exaggeration. But honestly, P101 felt much more grind-y at a lower level than W101 did. Which is something that doesn't really do anything for me. I'd rather solve puzzles or do something clever than kill a bunch of baddies.

The premise of the game I really like. I think the story is much stronger than that of Wizard101. Which is great. You want to move forward in your sophistication as a developer, right?
Speaking of which I think the graphics are much nicer than W101. I oohed and ahhed when I saw it for the first time. And the puppet shows? Pure genius.

But really gets me about Pirate101 is the contradictory nature of the game. It's pirates, for the family. When you think of it logically, it doesn't make much sense; pirates steal and kill and break many international laws, and "family friendly" indicates that some morals will be upheld and not many people die in horribly brutal ways.
I read an article back while P101 was still in Alpha and they were promoting it, and it said that Kingsisle was attempting to draw in more tween/teen aged boys with this game, as well as bridge the gaming gap for kids ("from Club Penguin to WoW" is something I hear often about this game and W101).
If that truly is their mission, then, from my experience, I think they failed.
One of my best friends is the exact demographic they are trying to pull in with P101. He was the friend that originally got me into W101. He is much more "hardcore" than I am. His reaction to P101 after playing it with me for a while: "Blah." Initially he was impressed because he liked it better than W101, but soon he got really bored. I must note that he has way more patience for grinding than I do. But, now that I think about it, is not saying much.

Something that both of us didn't like was the fundamental set up for gameplay. It's turn based ground. Huh? We both found it very awkward and kinda pointless. We both play Star Trek Online which is truly a "run around and shoot things!" kind of game play. We both felt that would have been more straightforward in P101 than turn based. Also turn based does not do much to "prepare" you for the more traditional style MMOs, because it's such a specialized style of fighting. In the end I felt like they were doing it just to keep their E rating and because they did it in W101 too, and not because it added anything to the game experience.

And then their is the what I like to call, the "cute factor". I must admit when I scrolled through the name list I made a ton of comments such as: "'Helpful'? I don't think that there is such a thing as a 'helpful' pirate. ... 'Kindly'?! The heck?" I also will admit that I yell at the computer screen when I see pink pirates. In fact I do not know why there is even a bright bubble gum pink option for a pirate flag. This must be an error. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pink. In fact my desktop wall paper right now is a plethora of pink nebulae. I love pink. However pink pirates break the roleplay of the game. (Especially because in a historical context the color coding of pink = girls didn't come about until the 1940s. cough cough.)
Aside from that, there is also the fact that all characters end up looking less ARGH! and more like a Rankin-Bass claymation Christmas special.
I'm scared, but for the wrong reasons.
I think that there is a middle ground. One word: Legos. Legos aren't really girly or boyish. They are pretty neutral. Look at the success that the lego franchise has had. Good gravy! I think that we have all the lego Wii games. Actually they're one of the only things that everyone in the family can agree to play together. Well, and Mario Kart. You're laughing. I can tell, but hear me out! Lego can take something like for example Star Wars which was not designed for kids and make it totally harmless for kids while still being true to the spirit of the movies and entertaining. So maybe Kingsisle should start shooting for the "lego ground" to really capture the largest audience as possible. I think that their product would improve.

Today I got to the end of the free-to-play content on P101. I could finish off all the side quests I have laying around in my log and grind for some more nautical xp, but I'm not going to because that sounds dreadfully dull. Thus ends my interesting adventure with Pirate101.



  1. I appreciate your honesty. So far reactions I have heard from other Pirate101 players have been anything from “I hate it just because” to “I love it because I love it!” Unlike you I am closer to “I love it because I love it”. But it is still nice to hear constructive criticism and I see your point. Though what I don’t agree with is what you said about KingsIsle preparing us for other MMO’s. I don’t think KI is aiming to prepare us for another game like college is supposed to prepare us for the “Real World” (which it doesn’t which is beside the point). I also don’t agree that KI “failed” at anything. There are plenty of people who love the game and think it is not a fail. Though I do agree that it is painful to spend so much time “traveling the spiral” just to try to kill monster after monster for very little XP. But I hear that many MMO’s have that kind of thing but I have only ever played KingsIsle games. That could also be a reason as to why we have different opinions. I’m assuming you have played many MMO’s before KingsIsle but I could never play an MMO other than Wiz101 or Pirate101 for more than an hour because I played KI games first and the other MMO’s didn’t have the same allure that the KI games have for me. I’m guessing it is the opposite for you. I believe it is all in what kind of MMO you have been exposed to first as I love turn based play and find it way more interesting and tactical than just repeatedly hitting a monster with no real plan (though I hope it’s more complicated than that). Sorry for the wall of text and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. Vanessa! Great to hear your point of view, it was great to read your comment. Here is an article that was linked to on the official W101 site under press (2008) in which they state that the game was designed for that purpose:

    Yes "failed" is relative. Tons of people play P101 and W101, and enjoy it and spend lots of time and money on it. It's not the worst game I've ever played by a long shot. Then again it's not the best either. My point was that if KI's goal was to capture more tween/teenaged boys then in my own personal experience, watching me and my friends react to the game, that they had "failed" insomuch as they had failed to capture my friend and my own subscription. Of course I'm sure that loads of boys in that demographic play P101. I'm sure they also play W101. However after talking with my friend I thought we had some really specific feedback that would be interesting for people to read and think about. This is one of the main reasons I write a blog afterall. Hehe.

    I also enjoy turn-based combat, but I really did not like it in P101 for stated reasons. It just doesn't float my boat. And yes some MMOs I have played are even more grind-y than P101. It's not something I have a great deal of patience for, and like I said my friend is much better at it and was still bored silly by P101 grinding.

    Actually compared to some members of the community I'm an MMO 'newb'. Heh. I have devoted more hours to both W101 and P101 than any other game that I have ever played. I have played some, as I like to call them, 'run around and shoot things' games, and spent quite a bit of time at it. However my roots are in more open-ended less violent games, which gives me a unique perspective.

    I encourage you to get out and try some other games someday. I bet there will be a lot you don't like, as there are for me, but sometimes you'll find a real keeper. And over all, I've found it makes you better at whatever game you are playing. I play a much better game of W101 because I got my Klingon to level 30 in Star Trek Online.


  3. Thanks for the link; you learn something new every day. Maybe I will try Star Trek Online next. :)


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