The Wren – A Pirates of the Burning Sea Yuletide Song

This is from last year, but I shamelessly bring it back to the top for 2011!

I mentioned this song from the Pirates of the Burning Sea Christmas event a few days ago. It’s been stuck in my head ever since, so I thought today I’d have a crack at making a little video for it so it can get stuck in your heads too!

“The Wren” is a traditional Irish wassail. Like any such song, there are a lot of variations in the lyrics from place to place. The version PotBS is using works pretty well though!

I was really running up against the limitations of Windows Movie Maker with this one. Getting the timing for the scene changes semi-decent was a bit of a nightmare. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

My best attempt at piecing together the lyrics from the different versions is after the leap, below:

Continue reading The Wren – A Pirates of the Burning Sea Yuletide Song

No ETA for SOE MMO servers

Everquest, Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, and Pirates of the Burning Sea are still unavailable after their surprise shut-down on Monday morning.

We still don’t know when they’re likely to come back. If I hear anything I’ll let you know. Until then, our characters must wait for us in the loneliness of the void.

EQ2 Maltheas In The Void Awaiting The Return Of The Servers1 600x321

Maltheas awaits the return of the world.

Yes, that was a short post. I’d love it to be longer, but we’re not being told terribly much.

Update: Turns out, if you read San Diego local newsapers, you get to find out that the servers will be down until at least Friday, and perhaps beyond. Why on earth SOE isn’t telling us that directly is a mystery to me.

Pirates of the Burning Sea goes Free To Play

Ahoy!! It has been a while since I last sailed the Burning Sea, but I popped in today to see how things are coming along. I could certainly use some Caribbean sun after the snowy week we’ve had in the UK.

Pirates Of The Burning Sea Port Royal 550x326

Of all the Arkenors in all the worlds, POTBS Arkenor is the best dressed.

Yesterday, Pirates of the Burning Sea became Free To Play. The set up is similar to other games which have travelled the same path from being subscription only to a hybrid model. Let us take a look:

Free Account

Premium Account

Captain’s Club



FREE after one month of Captain’s Club membership
Former subscribers free

$14.99 / month

Character Slots per nation

2 – Can purchase more



Dockyard Slots per character

2 – Can purchase more



Ship Storage slots per character

0 – Can purchase more



Economy slots per account

2 – Can purchase more



Item discount at the Treasure Aisle

No discount

No discount

20% discount

Ship Insurance

No ship insurance unless purchased at the Treasure Aisle

Automatic ship insurance

Automatic ship insurance

Society Creation

Requires purchase of a Society Charter from the Treasure Aisle

Requires purchase of a Society Charter from the Treasure Aisle

Societies can be created without a charter (requires doubloons).

Premium Mission access

Missions are available for purchase at the Treasure Aisle

Missions are available for purchase at the Treasure Aisle

Automatic access to premium mission content including the Besieged Tortuga epic missions

Experience gain bonus

No Bonus

No Bonus

10% bonus

Loot chance bonus

No Bonus

No Bonus

10% bonus

Faction bonus

No Bonus

No Bonus

10% bonus

As an ex-subscriber I fall in to the Premium account category. Honestly though, after playing for a couple of hours it does not feel any different to when I was a subscriber. I pretty much have access to everything except for some top-end missions, but I still have plenty to do. It is just about the most generous “Premium” account that I have seen so far, so much so that my concern would be that many subscribers might decide they would be better off dropping down to Premium themselves. Having said that, many subscribers are getting their subscriptions from a Station Access sub which covers all SOE games, rather than subbing to PotBS directly.

In a manner similar to EVE’s PLEX, POTBS allows you to buy “Burning Sea Notes”, which can be sold to other players for in-game currency. Each Burning Sea Note is convertible into 300 Burning Sea Points, and it’s $5 for two, or $20 for 9. You can also buy them with Station Cash, which is good for me as I have quite a lot of Station Cash laying about that I got for free from promotions in other SOE games. 100 Station Cash are equivalent to one US dollar.

The store, the “Treasure Aisle”, contains the usual cosmetic gear that we expect these days, along with a selection of consumables. Some of these are easily crafted in game, but some, such as the Bonus Experience or Loot books are only obtainable from the Treasure Aisle. You can survive without such things, unless you’re in a terrible hurry.

Much more interesting to me are the new Commissioned Officers. This is a consumable that will summon an ally to your side, in either ship or ground combat. I think these are only obtainable from the shop, unfortunately, though I guess a free player can still acquire the necessary points by buying Burning Sea Notes with doubloons.

You can also buy ships, and *shudder* permanent outfitting items. I’m not so happy about that, as it could impact the rather excellent crafting economy system PotBS has. Hopefully the price the shop is charging for them with be such that most people will still prefer to buy in-game. I used to do quite good business selling outfitting (equipment for your ship), which is normally lost when a vessel sinks, so the permanent ones might really cause some problems there.

Update: I’ve been told that the outfitting items that can be bought from the Treasure Aisle are not of as high a quality as the best that crafters can make, which goes some way to allay my concerns. It also appears (after I received a Novice Ship Bundle from an early quest) that when the Ship Bundle description talked about Permanent ship fittings, it meant that you could not remove them after fitting them to your ship (just like ordinary ship fittings), rather than that they would not be lost when your ship sinks. If that’s the case then they should probably make that description a little more obvious before anyone else misinterprets it and gets upset when they lose them.

At any rate, if they work how I now think they do, I’m no longer concerned about them messing up the economy.

Pirates Of The Burning Sea Treasure Aisle Ship Bundle 550x495

PotBS Treasure Aisle's Ship Bundle Description

While I’m not fond of point shops, something had to be done if Pirates of the Burning Sea was going to keep its head above water. I am truly hoping that the move to F2P brings Pirates of the Burning Sea the success it deserves.

If you never played PotBS, especially if you enjoy sailing games like Sid Meier’s Pirates, you should give this new incarnation a try. That’s a personal recommendation! With no subscription required, it’s going to be easy to drop in whenever we feel like a bit of nautical adventure, not to mention that I now have another MMO I can afford to cover! The Yuletide events have just begun, so you never know who you might meet!

Pirates Of The Burning Sea Father Christmas In Port Royal 550x378

It's just a man in a Father Christmas costume. Or is it???

Pirates of the Burning Sea has always made incredibly good use of sound and music. You can while away the time quite easily by wandering about listening to the various musicians that are scattered around the world. The Christmas mission I just did, “A Penny to Bury the Wren”, quite literally brought a tear to my eye through its use of music and the way it really hit all the right Dickensian Christmas notes. It was a great little experience (and educational), and did not require me to kill anyone, which is actually quite unusual for Christmas events in MMO.

Pirates of the Burning Sea patch notes for the F2P release, build, are after the leap.
Continue reading Pirates of the Burning Sea goes Free To Play

Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free!

Yar Har Fiddely-Dee! Pirates of the Burning Sea is on course to join its fellows in Free-to-playness.

We’re preparing to change the business model of Pirates of the Burning Sea from subscription to free-to-play (hence forth to be known as F2P). This is the culmination of a decision that was made back at the end of last year, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce it. It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly, and we’ve put in a lot of planning and work to make this a seamless transition. We’re very excited about this direction for a number of reasons – Rusty’s Devlog

The exact manner that this is going to happen has yet to be revealed. I assume that it’s going to involve some sort of item shop, and quite likely other perks.

How this is going to work in a Realm vs Realm game eludes me though. PvP MMOs try as hard as they can to enable a level playing field, and I don’t see how that can be compatible with having multiple tiers of membership, or useful items for sale. I’m sure this has been considered by FLS, and things will become clearer nearer the launch. I’ll be interested to see what game-balance sacrifices have to be made in order to assure PotBS’s financial future.

Pirates of the Burning Sea – The Sea gets Smaller.

Just received this in my email, and it makes me rather sad. PotBS appears to be in dire straits.

Ahoy, Pirates of the Burning Sea Captains!

Population density has been the topic of much debate in the community over the last few months. What we’re hearing is that Pirates is an awesome game that you really enjoy playing, but that it’s a lot more fun when there’s a critical mass of other players around to play alongside or against. Through feedback from the players and evaluation of server populations, it has become clear that key game features require higher density in order to function at optimum levels.

To push things in the right direction, we’ve decided to condense the current population onto two servers. On March 5, 2010 at approximately 12:01 AM PST, we will close the following servers: Blackbeard, Defiant, and Rackham. Beginning on February 5, 2010 at approximately 12:01 AM PST, you can transfer your characters from the affected servers onto one of the two remaining servers, Antigua or Roberts. At this time, character creation will be disabled on the Blackbeard, Defiant, and Rackham servers. We hope these changes will provide you with an even more enjoyable Pirates experience.

My server, Roberts, continues its charmed life, having survived several rounds of server-merges.

Pirates of the Burning Sea is a good game which doesn’t deserve this fate. It dared to try something different, and while it made a lot of mistakes along the way, what it came up with was engrossing enough to keep me happy for six months and more. I might have been a bit harsh about it from time to time, but compared with MMO releases since, it was a shining pearl.

If you’ve not sailed the Burning Sea yet, there’s a 14 day trial available here. Folks between games at the moment could do far far worse. If you enjoyed the ship combat of Sid Meier’s Pirates,especially, you’ll find a whole lot to enjoy.

It’s also interesting to compare PotBS to Star Trek Online. Both games have a dual existence, on both land and ship, but PotBS is a game with much more depth, and is much more sandboxy, with RvR that changes the game world, and a complex economical system. There are too few sandbox MMOs out there, and I fear PotBS’s floundering is not going to make developers more inclined to work on one.

Also worth noting, we ex-players are receiving a free month of playtime:

Between February 5, 2010 at 12:01 AM PST and March 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM PST, accounts of former players that were closed between January 22, 2008 and January 15, 2010 will be reactivated for up to twenty-nine (29) days of free play*, which will allow you to transfer your characters to the Roberts or Antigua server and try out new features that we have implemented since you last set sail.

Pirates Of The Burning Sea 450x378

I be Cap'n Arkenor Oakshadow, and I approve this here message. Yarr.

Some random updatey bits.

For the last few days my internet connection has gone rather badly wrong. I am getting speeds reminiscent of when we were all on 14.4 dial up modems, which is pretty unhelpful for either EQ2 or Warhammer Online. Virgin Media are saying the local fault may take up to a week more to fix. As Maltheas would say, “Boos!!!!!”. It’s just as well though, as my Dad is visiting in a couple of days and the house needs some heavy cleaning to get up to his standards. So for now Maltheas abides a time in the Village of Shin, pondering the fate of Luclin.

Maltheas rests, on the Isle of Mara in Everquest 22

Everquest 2 has launched a recruitment scheme with goodies for both the recruiter, and recruited. If any readers of this blog are interested in the 14 day trial, drop me a note in the comments, and I’ll shoot an invite off to you.

I’ve not popped into Warhammer for a while now. I notice that of the European servers, Burlok is the only one to be offering an xp bonus to both sides, so I’m guessing population is still an issue. In truth, I had started finding the RvR mechanisms increasingly irritating, lacking anything like the strategic depth of PotBS. The simple-minded nature of the war looks set to continue, though the bloodthirsty side of me is somewhat heartened by this upcoming change in patch 1.2 :

To help place more emphasis on Keep claiming and defence, as well as to combat the “defence by not defending” strategy, we are introducing the Zone Control Domination mechanic. With this system, players who take and hold all Battlefield Objectives and claim Keeps in a contested zone (in Tier 4) or a shared RvR lake (in Tiers 2 and 3) have the opportunity to capture that zone, forgoing the standard mechanics of Zone Control.

Each Battlefield Objective and Keep will be worth 1 Domination Point. To capture a zone via the Domination rules, your Realm must have all 6 Domination Points. In Tiers 2 and 3, capturing all six points in a shared RvR lake will give the capturing Realm control of the entire Tier. These are represented as small pip marks on the Zone Control Bar.

Battlefield Objectives and Keeps have different requirements for earning their Domination Point, as follows:
To earn a Domination Point from a Battlefield Objective, it must be owned by your Realm for 30 minutes.
To earn a Domination Point from a Keep, it must be claimed by a Guild and then held for 2 hours. If you lose control of a Battlefield Objective or Keep at any time, you lose the Domination Point.
Multiple Domination Points cannot be gained from a single source (for example, it isn’t possible to get 6 Domination Points by capturing Martyr’s Square 6 times).
If a zone that was taken over by Zone Domination is put into a contested state, all timers and Domination Points are reset.

That should, I hope, help to spread out the zergs a little, by forcing us to defend multiple locations.This new method of capturing zones is as it should have been from the very beginning, though I am somewhat irritated that keeps have to be claimed by a guild, rather than simply taken by the faction.

The change will improve the RvR on the level of base carnage, but it will also greatly shorten the length of the campaigns. A war campaign in Pirates of the Burning Sea takes a minimum of a few weeks, most likely longer with some back and forth, and involves a large amount of strategic planning. I wonder how quickly in WAR, from a starting map, could a campaign be successfully concluded (by the taking of the enemy capital)? With these changes I suspect it could all be done in a single weekend, given ideal conditions.

Now, I know that WAR never claimed to be a game of high strategy, but it is strategic depth that makes each campaign different from those that have come before it. I fear that by having so few real choices in how to go about the WAR campaign, with things changing so quickly that there is no time to think about anything more than the most basic of responses, it severely reduces replayability and long-term interest. I may just be speaking for my fellow strategy geeks though.

Right, I’d better get back to scrubbing the kitchen floor!

Pirates of the Burning Sea goes live

They keep taking me by surprise with PotBS patches. Not paying quite so much attention to it as I was.

There’s a whole slew of ships, and other good things. For me though, the highlight is that I will no longer have to choose between having 3 avatar items with bonuses, or the company of my dear friend Percy the Parrot. Now I may have both at my disposal, ensuring the defeat of any who cross my blade. Huzzah!

Percy Parrot and I, deep in conversation.

The update notes for Pirates of the Burning Sea continue below. Just hit the link below if you’re not on this posts specific page.

Continue reading Pirates of the Burning Sea goes live