Tuesday, January 08, 2008
PotBS Journal - 8-January-2008
Yesterday the live servers for Pirates of the Burning Sea opened their doors for everyone who had bought the preorder box or preorder download. While the "real" release is in 2 weeks, on the 22nd, many people already got in now. Getting the preorder box in Europe wasn't easy, but getting the preorder download from DLGamer was easy enough. And it is basically free, because the 10 Euro you pay for it you get back when you buy the game from them. Technically the release was a success: I was able to enter my preorder key a minute after the servers went live, needed a bit less than one hour to patch to the latest version, and then could play right away. There was a bit of lag in the starting city, but no major technical problems.
The only thing Flying Labs messed up was server selection. Of the 4 European servers only 2 were marked as being "EU". And while they had designated servers for different languages (English, German, French, and Spanish), the server selection screen didn't say so. There had been announcements on the PotBS website and forums, but there were some last minute changes in the number of servers, so many people were a bit confused. I'm on the EU English server, Roberts, and we ended up with a GM spamming messages all evening that this was the English servers, and telling people what the German, French, and Spanish servers were so they would move there.
I made a British Freetrader. British because I expect the English speaking server to have lots of British players. In the beta about 35% of players were British, 35% Pirate, and 15% each Spanish and French. The numbers might look different on the French and Spanish language servers, but I'd expect the British to dominate my server, which suits me just fine. I'm not very interested in participating in PvP, and if I play a game with unbalanced PvP, I'd rather be on the winning side. Anyway, port contention is disabled until release, so I have time to build up my economy.
I started the game doing the tutorials, and then directly did the economy tutorial. The economy tutorial starts at the auctioneer of the starting town, but then sends you randomly to one of two possible ports. There you have the choice of building up your first structures in that port or in the other one. Of course I got sent to the port where I didn't want my structures, which forced me to go back and forth a couple of times. That wasn't so bad, because on the way I could attack a couple of low-level NPC pirates, and already make good xp and loot before even starting real missions. I used the money to buy the materials I needed to build my first structures. Good that I did that early, because some players then realized that they could buy up all the cheap seeded building materials and resell them at much higher prices. After seeing granite go from 15 doubloons seeding price to 200 doubloons, I realized that my idea to start my structure building with granite quarries was a good one. I also bought some more cheap seeded materials, but as I didn't want to hurt the British economy, I rather bought them in the other nations ports and shipped them back to the Brits. Economic warfare instead of profiteering and sabotaging the own side.
I did the economy tutorial, including a long trip to the capital. But as I was already level 5 and had the level 5 class quest done, I could also hand in the 10 small pennants I got as reward for the class quest at the capital to get some iron. That helped me build more granite quarries, and right now I already have 4 granite quarries up and running, plus the low level wood and gravel production from the tutorial, and a draughtsman's office to make structure deeds. A good start.
Level-wise I only got up to level 7, as the economy stuff takes up a lot of time. But as the preorder time is capped to level 21, I don't think I need to hurry to level up. I'd rather get my economy up for release. Producing granite is nice for the moment, but in the long run I'll want to have my home port somewhere more central, and produce some intermediate goods. Raw materials are easy enough to produce, and sooner or later even the people playing combat classes will realize that having a bunch of structure producing raw materials in the background is a good thing, and then profits from granite will go down.
I want to keep playing PotBS in a "low maintenance" way, and spend the majority of my time playing World of Warcraft instead. PotBS is still horribly unpolished, for example typing /who in the command line spams the names of all players of your nation into your chat window in alphabetical order without class and level information, and you can't even scroll up to the first name because there are too many names now and the chat window buffer isn't big enough. There are also still places where you can't click to interact with an NPC or location, you need to press "X" on the keyboard to advance. That was especially annoying in the economy tutorial, where at one step you had to go to an unmarked location in the tavern and press "X" to advance the quest. I can see how new players would easily be blocked at that point. But I do have some time I can spend in PotBS and leave WoW for some evenings. There are "raid nights" in my WoW guild for higher raid dungeons where I can't participate due to lack of gear, and organizing any guild groups on those nights is also extremely difficult, because most players are raiding. So instead of soloing WoW then, I can play PotBS. And play WoW when guild mates are available for group content, like on the weekends, nights without raids, or on nights where I might get into a Karazhan raid.