October 5, 2015

A Spiral Suspended: On the Pirate101 Storyline Hiatus


Once upon a time, I blogged regularly about Pirate101. I established myself as a fan-fiction writer and put out a few theorycrafting posts that are still referenced to by some of the greater minds of the tightly-knit community surrounding the game. I enjoyed the complex storyline and the individual facets of the game, even forming my own character's style that became recognizable to my pen-name. Things were pretty good.

But also once upon a time, I stopped playing.


Good Foundations

There is always more fan-fiction to write. More strategies to test, more bug-fixes to investigate or new side content to test. But when a game runs out of content, it gets progressively harder for writers and 'crafters like me to keep things going. And from this and many other factors, the current state of Soultamer Gaming was conceived, tensions surrounding a disturbingly long lack of progressive story content growing through nearly twenty-nine months without new content. Some say Pirate101 is to be forever on the backburner. Some still have hope. But whatever the circumstance, I've decided to no longer renew my beta-discounted membership dues.

Pirate101's storyline is fantastic. It's approachable for younger audiences, but it's also complex and laden with bigger concepts and ideas the more it's delved into. I still stop every so often and think about chess - a major component of the nuances around the primary antagonistic force. After the initial release of the game, both worlds of Marleybone and Aquila were released, giving the audience much more content and advancement of the plot to fawn over and play through over and over, exploiting all the little secrets over the time we've spent with it. And on the note of spending, I've maintained this hope for a long time, now, keeping my membership current so that I can enjoy the game and maintain positivity towards a quickly-approaching update.

Bridges to Build

But things change when the time we've spent with it starts to add up (and the money I've spent starting to add up with less play, too). Content gets old. Accounts get maxed out with maxed-out characters. And while side content is still being added onto the game every so often, the reason why I and many have stuck around with the game hasn't been updated in almost thirty months. Some of us sit and wait on it, knowing that whatever comes next is going to be great. Some of us have no choice but to make changes; Since Pirate101 was the only thing I blogged about, I quickly began to face the reality of putting things on hiatus or switching scopes. And still today we wait, with no official word on how things are going.

See, that's where I start to keel over a little bit. I'm fine if things are just taking a little longer than expected, and I'm fine if what comes next is fantastic, but getting no official words or dates that we can trust is where it really starts to become a pain. Past statements of developers expecting things to be out and running by dates in months past, or even worse, no official, widespread word at all has turned the waiting game into a chance to preach patience into one of distrust and doubt. At this point, I'm more interested in getting some truth about what's going on than getting expedited updates. If the update is going to take another few months or another year or just a few weeks, then I want to know. Or even if the update's release expectancy is completely unknown and things are just at a standstill or are circling around, it would be helpful to even know that. I don't want to sit on my membership renewal in hopes that something will change when I don't have any idea how much longer I'll be waiting and paying.


The Fault in the Process

So let's say that Pirate101 has a story update. Awesome. I'll buy a short-term membership and play through the content. Write a few posts about it. But once that's over? I'm out until the next one is live. As someone part of a large group of players that is frustrated with how there are no Pirate101 story progression updates, I'm not interested in letting my money sit in Pirate101 as I sit and do...what? PvP through class nerfs or pet-train until I get carpal tunnel? Pirate101 is categorized as an adventure, and if that adventure is getting updated once every few years, KI isn't going to get any more money than is the bare minimum to get me through those bits.

Of course, this may be just me. I know of people who are completely fine with working with side content updates and waiting on the story updates in the meantime. But with the inconsistency of storyline release, I imagine that KI is going to lose a lot of players for long periods of time, meaning losing funding in the very areas that they need to keep going in order to produce story content. It's a vicious cycle, but one can suppose that it can be remedied slowly by more consistent storyline updates. I'm not talking about a biennial world update - that's quite a lot - but to make sure we know to expect years between updates instead of just leaving us in the dark - or if not years, a span of time that we can learn to really trust.

This post is a work of opinion and solely opinion. All photos credit of the most recent Pirate101 fan submissions on the date of this writing. Anyone wishing to quote this post must contact me with the nature of the quote. sonja@soultamergaming.com Discussion is allowed and encouraged in the comments section, but any aggressive play will result in shutdown of the entire section.

2 comments:

  1. ...Wizard101? (hopeful)

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    1. What's it you're trying to ask? :) I played W101 for a few years before I switched to P101 and brought it back for a month over the summer. Overall, I'm not as interested in the game and gameplay as I used to be, though I'll always appreciate the game for great consistency, story, and music as well as dynamic areas and an interesting system of combat.

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