Please more heart of gold less rogue

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AuthorMessage
Ensign
Feb 22, 2011
5
I love the puns and storyline, but could it be a little more redemptive? So far, we have to justify kidnapping an innocent civilian, theft, forgery, robbing a bank, starting civil wars, and breaking up a wedding. I know we listen to Catbeard, but he is quoting Vizzini from the Princess Bride, not the Dread Pirate Roberts. As far as I have gotten, our justification for all of this is loot, loot, and more loot. Seems more Grand Theft Auto than Pixar.

Ensign
Jan 16, 2009
3
Well you are a pirate and loot is what every pirate is after. Your main goal is to go to el dorado to raid it. Pirates aren't meant to be the nice guy who kills the bad guy and saves the princess. They are meant to be the rouge who raids the town, kills the governer, and steals his daughter.

Captain
May 27, 2009
561
The Dread Pirate Roberts robbed and killed a lot of people, if I remember right, and then passed down his piracy to his next-in-line. He only spared Westley because of the "Please." Westley did HIS turn as the Dread Pirate Roberts for quite a while before rescuing Buttercup from Humperdinck, and never said he didn't rob and kill people. Oh, and by the way, in-game, the governor's daughter was perfectly willing to be "kidnapped" so that she could have a great entry in her diary.

Ensign
Feb 22, 2011
5
The deal is that this is supposed to be an all ages game: family friendly. :) I get that we are the Spiral equivalent of a Corellian pirate, but Han Solo kills when he is threatened by bad guys, he is not going off to kill Ewoks for their loot.

What I suggest is if you could couch the actions in another context, say we are rescuing a rebel resistance leader from the governors mansion, not kidnapping his innocent, clueless daughter. Or disrupting a celebration of the rule of General Tso, not the wedding of some nameless bride (who I guess is another innocent bystander) to his clueless henchman. General Tso can't be all bad: after all, we are the ones saying basically: "Drop your weapons or the chicken gets it." lol

All of the crew promotions are actions for redemption. Its a shame that does not include our main.

Lieutenant
Jan 29, 2010
161
And yet we are supposed to do all those pirate things with an underlying sense that it is for the greater good.

Ensign
Jun 09, 2009
1
How can ye pirate if you are a nice guy?

Ensign
Feb 22, 2011
5
@Wd: You are right, the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners. However, that happens off-screen (even in the novel). With Westley, he changes: he gets the girl, redemption, and plans to retire from piracy and is motivated by True Love. What I mean is that with Pixar characters, the main character: superhero, car, toy or whatnot, changes during the course of the story. Becomes a better person and is not motivated solely by personal gain. I was just hoping that would be the case here. I am stuck at the Stormzilla in Mooshu, but I hoped that that change would have taken place by now in the main story line. It is clear that all of the elements for that is in the storyline, I just would like to see it. :)

@ruby: Yes, that is exactly it: I would like an underlying sense that our actions are for the greater good. They are a funny pastiche of many different stories, tho. :)

Thanks!

Developer
Wow, there's a lot you bring up here in a very short post. As the head writer, I wanted to give you the response this topic deserves - it cuts right to the heart of what we're trying to achieve here.

Warning, this is going to be very long, and pretty spoiler rich.

When Todd and I set out to write Pirate101's storyline, we were faced with a daunting challenge: could we create a game that met Kingsisle's standards of family-friendly play and was also a pirate game? Real-life pirates were not wholesome fellows, and even lovable Jack Sparrow is hardly a role model. As we've said before, we wanted to create a story about a rogue with a heart of gold. Our central philosophy was to have the PC be willing to bend or even break the rules, but always make the correct moral decision to the best of their knowledge. In some instances, the PC does break the law, but this is typically done in situations where it’s either:

1) an absolutely ridiculous joke (they are dressed in a monkey suit at the time, or such like)
2) the “law” is being set or dictated by an evil empire, or
3) the PC is being misled, and works to set things right after.

You say that "loot, loot, loot" is the only justification you see for the action in the game - that's really only true for the first chapter (through the end of the free content, when you get Gunn's gold). After that, you undertake a mission to Puerto Mico in order to win diplomatic recognition for Skull Island - you're already working for something bigger than yourself. In chapter 4, you learn about El Dorado and the Armada, and discover what the stakes really are: it's you against the Armada, and the future of the Spiral is on the line.

More to come...

Developer
The Main Story of Pirate101 is the quest for El Dorado, and the PC has two reasons to seek it. Gold is the superficial reason, and the boring one. The real reason to get Marco Pollo's Map is to keep it from Kane, leader of the Armada. In Valencia you see firsthand that you're up against an evil empire who wants to crush the world into bits - literally. Today Granchia, tomorrow the Spiral. You see a populace oppressed by their creations, and a soulless army that wants to impose its will on everybody. El Dorado will give Kane the means to do what he wants – that’s why you have to get there first.

This game is not about "Pirate School" the way Wizard101 is, but we did want to craft the story as a learning curve - in the beginning, sure, the PC is after loot, and does some things that are a little morally shaky. But over time the PC gets drawn into bigger causes, and ends up saving everybody, in an arc a lot like Han Solo's. You're right - Han doesn't kill Ewoks for their loot, and our Pirates don't ravage the countryside willy nilly either. The Waponis are set up as enemies that have wronged the Nui, and the times you go up against the Troggies you're saving Skull Island and rescuing Criado. We’re trying to build a story that plays out over hundreds of hours – some of the seeds planted early on have yet to bear fruit, and some of the deeds you see in the main Story that are rubbing you the wrong way will have consequences in the future.

More to come...

Developer
You open your post by asking the game be more redemptive. Look to the promotion quests, and you'll find a lot of redemption there: Ratbeard comes to regret his worst offenses, and atones for them - he even refuses to kill Captain Fowl in revenge. You help Old Scratch win back his soul from the Dark Crawler who set him on an evil path. Sarah Steele reconciles with her estranged family and puts past sins behind her. When Subodai is confronted with what it really means to be a Khan of the Golden Horde, he decides he’d rather stick with the Player. The Player is constantly taking enemies into the fold and changing them into heroes - the first two bosses you fight become pillars of the crew. Captain Steed, Duck Holliday, Aquilo Santelli – these are all troubled souls who the Player helps redeem. Over the arc of the game, I'd say the player is a redemptive force. You later point to the promo quests - given the in-game benefits these quests give, they're practically as essential as the Main Story.

There's a lot of thieving and skullduggery in this game, yes. But look at what else the PC gets to do in Cool Ranch alone: foster peace and understanding between the Bison and Claw Feet, heal the breach between the Big Sky Hunters and their Totem spirits, get the Magnificent Seven to overcome their regrets and save Tumbleweed from the Wild Bunch, deliver Santo Pollo from the tyranny of Santa Rana, stop the evil Captain Blood, and break the curse on Miranda. Elsewhere, you kindle hope in Steed's heart, help El Toro and Sally find true love, reignite the Resistance in Valencia, and even get Avery to finally take a stand against the Armada. In MooShu you help rebuild villages destroyed by the Amber Horde, win back the taxes stolen from the people (again!), and save all MooShu from the schemes of General Tso. There’s a lot of good deeds here.

That's my response at a macro level. You bring up a lot of specific offenses, and I'd like to address them each in turn.

Developer
Kidnapping: Yup, we have one kidnapping - the way I figure it, we'd have been remiss without one somewhere in the story. The morals here may be a little shaky, but I must point a few things out: the girl is never harmed or even put in harm's way - this is explicitly stated up front. We also went out of our way to make this one funny (see point 1 above) - Mabel practically begs to be whisked away on a pirate adventure, and is sorry to go home. And she does go home - you set things right (point 3). Catbeard may quote Vizzini, but remember why you do the kidnapping - starting that war (more about this later) is the only way to get Mustang Sally out of prison. Why do we want to do that? To reunite her with Don Rodrigo. True love - you cannot ask for a more noble cause than that! Finally, bear in mind this one act is balanced by the rescue of the victims of many others: Young Nick, Penelope, Criado, Norville, Serena Gutierrez, Merriweather Clark, Timmy... that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Theft: For a pirate game, we have remarkably little piracy. The Presidio heist is one of the few times we send you to steal something that wasn't itself stolen in the first place, or from somebody or that hasn't wronged you or somebody else. In this case, it’s from the Monquistans, who are the epitome of colonial oppressors (more about them later). We never send you to attack ships that won't shoot first if you get too close, and send you on more than a few rescue missions. The taxes you take in MooShu go directly back to the peasants, and Ratbeard spends a lot of time griping about the plunder you aren't keeping. As regards theft, there are lines the PC won't cross - you refuse to steal the MooShu Falcon from Avery when Joey Karo asks.

Developer
Forgery: The PC uses forged documents to see the Governor in Monquista. This is hardly a serious plot point -- you are masquerading as a swamp creature in a powdered wig or a stuffy Bulldog, and you have to dress as a court jester to gain admittance. And, again, the end goal is a greater good – you're working to sign a peace agreement / trade treaty with the kingdom of Monquista.

Bank Robbing: The player does rob a bank, but the player is tricked and unaware of what they were really doing. As soon as the player learns the truth they immediately bring the perpetrator to justice. In Pirate101, the player never robs stages, or trains, or banks for profit.

Developer
Starting Wars: There are two wars you become entangled with in Pirate101: the Monquistan Civil War and the war between Valencia and Marleybone. Let's look at Monquista. The Monquistan King goes through wives faster than he does outfits, imprisoning all his exes. Appointed officials are imprisoned in deep pits, condemned to hard labor, exiled, or worse at the King's whim. The Monquistan Church, as we learn in the side quests, is oppressive and crushes all unorthodox thought and intellectual inquiry. The King and Queen smile and praise you to your face, then have you deliver your own death warrant to the Warden in Zenda. These are not nice people - if Gortez and Catherine win, Monquista will be a far better place.

Catbeard's War is trickier. You need that war to get into Fort Elena. There's a few reasons why - so you can bust out Mustang Sally (true love, and a clue to the Map), but also Napoleguin (to topple Monquista, see above). So there are a few higher goods at play here. But, ultimately, war is still a bad thing - and we intend to follow through with that. We didn't put this into the plot lightly: the war in Marleybone comes back in the promo quests and in the MooShu content again and again - the PC is reminded that their actions have had big consequences, and that Marleybone is suffering for it. Eventually the PC will go to Marleybone and look this war in the face, and we will hammer home the point that the end may not have been worth the means. Point 3 applies - Catbeard misled the PC, and the PC will ultimately do a lot to set things right. Remember: the story isn’t done yet. We still have more to tell, and the best is yet to come.

Developer
Breaking Up a Wedding: This one falls under the Evil Empire justification: Moomori's a willing party in Tso's treason - General Tso is working with the Armada to engineer a coup, kill the sleeping Emperor, and seize MooShu. He has a soft spot for his Chicken, but that's his one redeeming feature. The Yakooza targets Moomori as a way to weaken Tso. Honestly, I built this beat on a wedding because it was different - I thought a non-violent Plan A would be a good change of pace. Instead of just sneaking into a fortress and clobbering everybody for the ten thousandth time or attacking Moomori outright, the idea of making him lose face via public embarrassment felt uniquely MooShu, and had a lot of silly potential built in. Embarrassing graffiti and having to put on a silly Kowbooki costume land this episode in the ridiculous joke category, and created welcome diversions from 'just go and fight everyone in there.'

Developer
In conclusion: we carefully considered these themes before we put them in, and on the whole I think we struck a good balance. The pirates of our story aren't gangsters - they're imperfect heroes who make the occasional mistake, but work hard to make good after. Bad company may lead them astray from time to time, but ultimately, our pirates do far more good than evil. I don't think any comparison to Grand Theft Auto is fair - we're more Tangled's Flynn or Han Solo than we are to Jack Sparrow (who really is revealed as a terrible, terrible person once you look closely at his actions and choices).

That said, as always, PLEASE review the game and make your own judgments as to whether or not you feel this game is right for your family. At KingsIsle we do the best we can to make games that we would feel comfortable playing with our children, and as a parent I take this responsibility very seriously. But ultimately, all of this is subjective - it is up to each parent to decide what is appropriate for their family.

I hope that by offering some of my perspective and intent, I can help bring themes and ideas to the surface that might be hidden in a very long story arc, and help turn plot points into points of discussion between parents and kids. Keep looking, and giving us your feedback - we've softened plots points due to tester feedback, and your comments will help us shape the narrative going forward.

We hope that you really enjoy what we have created, but we also recognize that not everyone is going to like it or approve with every call we make. If you decide Pirate101 is not the right game for you or your family, we will be disappointed, but we will certainly understand and respect your decision.

Thanks for the feedback.

Gunner's Mate
May 02, 2009
210
Very nice points; it's very interesting to see how certain parts of the story come together. I'm currently working to reunite the maginficent 7, but I like the different stories of each character as well (both in main and side quests, though some can be a bit tedious and annoying at times).

If you don't mind me asking, I would love to post this on pirate101 central (and maybe w101c as well) so everyone else can see this too (just in case some people don't come here to view it), or if you want to, you can choose to post it there yourself, it's up to you

Ensign
Feb 12, 2009
5
/slowclap

"The Player is constantly taking enemies into the fold and changing them into heroes"

Whereas it took a group of heart-of-gold, loyal companions (i.e. Luke, Leia, R2D2, need I go on) to inspire Hans to change his ways, it is primarily the example set by our PC that inspires these enemies to leave their wicked ways.

Thank you for addressing the issues raised directly and with candor.

Ensign
Feb 16, 2010
25
Blind Mew, first, thank you very much for your in depth perceptions and allowing us a peek into the thought processes that go into this game. It has been one of the things that I've truely enjoyed about the beta testing - the ability to get a bit more in depth understanding of the game. Secondly, I think you have done an excellent job finding that balance. Pirate, like Wizard, provides many unexpected teaching moments for our kids. I have one child that has mild Asbergers that takes things very literally and struggles with understanding many concepts. My other child is a brainiac, so I use different teaching approaches with both. They both easily get the concept of their character is doing good, even if in an extraordinary way.

This game is no where near close to something like Grand Theft Auto (not allowed in my house) or even Need for Speed - Carbon (have it with reservations). The comic nature of this game I believe transports us back to a simpler time when our imaginations allowed us to be heros no matter what game we were playing. It takes us to the comic violence of Tom and Jerry, Bugs and Daffy and many more. While there are those that feel violence should be banned in any kids game, I think the evidence is there that back in the Tom and Jerry days, we did not see the violence transferred from our entertainment to our real life. I believe this was because parents were not afraid to be parents and took up the responsibility of teaching their children more so than many do now. This game gives many opportunities to open a discussion with your children. It is an opportunity that many need to take, since they seem to avoid it in other areas. As you said parents will have to review the game and make their own decisions, but I for one, find this to be an excellent family friendly addition.

Developer
Scarlet M4H on Aug 28, 2012 wrote:
@Wd: You are right, the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners. However, that happens off-screen (even in the novel). With Westley, he changes: he gets the girl, redemption, and plans to retire from piracy and is motivated by True Love. What I mean is that with Pixar characters, the main character: superhero, car, toy or whatnot, changes during the course of the story. Becomes a better person and is not motivated solely by personal gain. I was just hoping that would be the case here. I am stuck at the Stormzilla in Mooshu, but I hoped that that change would have taken place by now in the main story line. It is clear that all of the elements for that is in the storyline, I just would like to see it. :)

@ruby: Yes, that is exactly it: I would like an underlying sense that our actions are for the greater good. They are a funny pastiche of many different stories, tho. :)

Thanks!
I think this got posted as I was composing my long response - long story short, stopping the Armada is the higher good. And our story is a long one - we're going to go live with about 60% of our Main Story operational.

The way we've crafted it, Chapter 4 is where the arc to heroism begins. In Cool Ranch you take the heroic path again and again, and get a taste for it - the diversion back to Skull Island and Catbeard's scheme is a relapse into grayer ways, but it has ongoing repercussions well beyond MooShu.

Developer
flash33 on Aug 28, 2012 wrote:
Very nice points; it's very interesting to see how certain parts of the story come together. I'm currently working to reunite the maginficent 7, but I like the different stories of each character as well (both in main and side quests, though some can be a bit tedious and annoying at times).

If you don't mind me asking, I would love to post this on pirate101 central (and maybe w101c as well) so everyone else can see this too (just in case some people don't come here to view it), or if you want to, you can choose to post it there yourself, it's up to you
I have no objections - go ahead.

Captain
May 27, 2009
561
Thank you, Blind Mew, for taking the time (and space) to provide such an excellent, in-depth explanation. While I have absolutely no problem with the game's storyline, I allow that some people might be more sensitive to moral dilemmas. It's quite the tight-rope a family-friendly game design has to walk. I think Kingsisle does a wonderful job of tying in the humor, pop references, animations, storylines , etc., to draw in folks of all ages for this wonderful gaming experience.

Ensign
Jan 16, 2009
3
Wow Mew that really explains a lot of things about this game that i'll be honest I didn't even think of having that connection.
-On a side note I have a post on teh question board that I would like answered if you can.

Ensign
Jun 11, 2010
2
Blind Mew has a point, I'd like to add to it. The character really isn't a true hero. But true heroes can be boring. The character leans a little towards anti-hero, characters who have the same goal as the good guys, but their methods are usually a bit backwards or twisted compared to the heroes'.Similar to these figures, the player sometimes has to do a few things that a hero wouldn't do, but it's still for the greater good, examples being what the original poster was mentioning, the Presidio thing, and so on. Bottom line is, pirates are not, nor ever have been, very good people, but they get what they want, and what your pirate wants is (thankfully) an Armada free world, or the greater good.

Ensign
Dec 30, 2011
29
"As the head writer, I wanted to give you the response this topic deserve..."

Blind Mew, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed response. (Oh yah, you're definitely a writer. It was a pleasure to read.)

The main reason I'm posting, (and no need to respond, I just hope you see this), is because now that I know who the head writer is, I can finally show my appreciation to the right person. I love the writing. I love the dialogue, the puns, the play on words and jokes that you all create. I can think of a dozen examples off the top of my head that had me laughing, entertained and grinning at the references. Of all of the work that goes on, (and I really do thank them all), the writers and the artists are my favorites.

This may not be what actually happens but when I read something particularly hilarious, I imagine you all sitting around brainstorming and cracking up with all of your ideas. I understand it's a lot of work but I also wonder just how much fun you all are having when you create. As a writer myself, (not professionally although I do get paid here and there), I envy your job.

Thank you. You are a big part of what makes this game a lot of fun for me.

Ensign
Feb 18, 2010
4
PavlovsFavoriteDog on Sep 24, 2012 wrote:
"As the head writer, I wanted to give you the response this topic deserve..."

Blind Mew, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed response. (Oh yah, you're definitely a writer. It was a pleasure to read.)

The main reason I'm posting, (and no need to respond, I just hope you see this), is because now that I know who the head writer is, I can finally show my appreciation to the right person. I love the writing. I love the dialogue, the puns, the play on words and jokes that you all create. I can think of a dozen examples off the top of my head that had me laughing, entertained and grinning at the references. Of all of the work that goes on, (and I really do thank them all), the writers and the artists are my favorites.

This may not be what actually happens but when I read something particularly hilarious, I imagine you all sitting around brainstorming and cracking up with all of your ideas. I understand it's a lot of work but I also wonder just how much fun you all are having when you create. As a writer myself, (not professionally although I do get paid here and there), I envy your job.

Thank you. You are a big part of what makes this game a lot of fun for me.
Hear, hear! How many times have I imagined exactly that---a motley crew (hmmm, sounds like a Zeke quest) of KI writers cracking each other up. (I still want to extend my personal thanks to the writer who came up with the "Hacking Coif" in Wiz101; I no longer need it but I will never sell it because I smile every time I see it in my bank. And the dogs playing cards? Brilliant!) I can't wait to see what laughs lie ahead in Pirates. Thanking you all in advance!

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