PotBS October Status Update
From the Desk of Darrell Benvenuto, CEO of Vision:
Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea, October 2019 Status Update
I want to share some news on our progress over these past few months, as well as next steps.
As was mentioned in the last update, Vision's initial efforts at the end of 2018 centered on modernizing the game's underlying infrastructure, increasing the number of CPUs in the Servers, their speeds, reliability, etc.
After those initial efforts had concluded, we began digging deep into the code and structure and brought several more team members into the fold. The PotBS team now stands at:
-- Darrell, Executive Producer / Infrastructure Lead
-- Redjaq, Customer Service / Online GM Support
-- Fodderboy, Producer / Operations Manager
-- Khatie, Social Media Marketing Lead
-- Iuliana, User Experience / Graphic Artist
-- Bill, Web Programmer
-- Justin, Lead Game Programmer
Work began. On the marketing front, an editorial was written about PotBS in PC GAMER Magazine. At the same time we implemented a new Discord Server, which was Verified and appeared on Discord's front page in literally a matter of days. After we promoted it to our players, we naturally expected the Forum community to join, but were pleasantly surprised to also see quite a few former players of PotBS returning to the game after many years of absence! They were drawn in by the Magazine Article, the Discord Server and also from a small spread of various Social Media ads we ran to gauge market response across the five different languages supported by the game.
The PotBS Discord Server was then enhanced by the addition of an automatic translation system (reportedly the first ever seen on any Verified Server), which enabled users who spoke different languages to communicate with one another much more seamlessly. Any time a post is made in one language, it is automatically translated and posted out to all of the other Language channels. This is a system that we hope to extend to Nation Chat in the game at some point, where users can select their own Language and then everything that appears in Chat (that was written in another language) will be automatically translated and appear in their chosen language.
Much as it does on our Discord Server, this sort of upgrade will allow Spanish-speaking players to more easily converse and engage with English, German, French and Russian-speaking ones, or vice-versa.
The programming team has been working through the list of tasks needed to restore the Game Client and Server build system, upgrade the code itself, update portions of the Customer Support team's toolset, analyze and duplicate how the proprietary Sony tool implemented content localization, restore access to former portions of the game (such as player-created Sails and other content) that are not currently functioning and much, much more. The initial goals to date have been to restore the build system and release new patches.
The very first of these new patches is intended to implement some minor game mechanic adjustments, restore access to Player-Generated Content, change the Payment Gateway from PayPal to something more globally-friendly and also establish a framework within the code for future development. Further information concerning this release to the Test Server will be provided by Fodderboy as that date draws near.
Currently, the very first builds that incorporate the above changes are rolling off the line and being made available for internal testing. These will first make their way to the Test Server before finally appearing as patches for Roberts and Antigua.
Future changes that have been discussed so far for subsequent patches include:
- correcting scaling issues in the UI
- updating the Client to DirectX 11
- updating the shaders
- implementing day/night/weather in the game
- much, much, much more
Work is ongoing, and there will be a LOT of programming (and testing) effort in updating and modernizing the game behind the scenes before we are sufficiently confident to roll out new Missions, new Ships, new Shaders and the countless other improvements that are to come -- including the Legacy Server.
While the above programming work has been taking place, on the marketing side we have been preparing a spread of social media advertisements as well as the various onboarding funnels for every language that the game supports. For those unfamiliar with the term, an "onboarding funnel" is a series of points-of-interaction that people encounter (always in their native language) such as a web site that thoroughly showcases the game, allows people to download and launch it (already set to their chosen language), then connect them with multiple helpful resources that can enhance their game experience (Discord, Forums, etc).
As a side note, they are called "funnels" because they catch and receive users (each in a different language) and smoothly / helpfully guide them down the path to becoming players, akin to a funnel catching rain. Good onboarding funnels are necessary before launching any major Social Media campaign because you only get one shot at getting (and keeping) a new player.
If someone sees an ad and chooses to click on it, there HAS to be a great experience (all in their own language) waiting for them on the other side of that click, all the way from the landing site on down through launching the game and getting through the Tutorials.
It's easy to lose players along the way... download too large, unpleasant or difficult tutorials, slow or broken links, etc.. Once gone, a player will rarely return. You have to remove as many rough edges from the process of getting them actually into the game and having fun as you possibly can.
PotBS is a really great game, and there's tons of fun to be had in it so we need every potential player to get through the Tutorial, be met in their native language and get into the game so they can see it and enjoy it.