Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more
Following the last status update, we thought we'd share the list of main new things that you'll definitely see in the game pretty soon. While we're at it, we also wanted to stress that these additions won't be the last this game ever sees — we don't plan on stopping the development after we ship the 1.0 version.
Now, to the changes:
1) New faces
First off, there are some visual changes in character creation. We’ve completely reworked the set of available faces and changed the mechanism for appearance generation which makes more sense for this time period. The game now lets you choose between Caucasian, Hispanic and Mulatto types.
2) New global map
New global map is something we’re quite proud of. We spent a lot of time and effort on it, and we feel the result was worth it, because this is what players will see so often in the game. We changed the concept of the map itself and its look — made the world brighter, added some details for decoration and more colors.
The settlement concept has changed and now there are no villages in the game. From now on, the world consists of colonies which include a castle, a town and a village. We also doubled the number of these settlements and fixed some unfortunate errors in the map’s geography.
3) New rank system
Let’s see what’s changed in the game mechanics. The main change here is the rank system, you might have already heard about this addition before. At zero rank you won’t be able to hire most of the troops, capture and rule towns, purchase better ships and acquire property. Availability of these opportunities will depend on your renown. The higher your renown is, the more opportunities you have. It’s split into military renown for soldiers and trading renown for entrepreneurs.
Military renown should be pretty clear; its amount depends on the number of your victories. It will let you hire high-level units and purchase cannons. Other factions will invite you to serve under their name as well. Trading renown can be considered as a total amount of all your assets: your ships, your money, goods in your cargo hold, value of your property and so on. If you are a billionaire, you’ll inevitably become known in the Caribbean.
From now on capturing towns is not an easy feat. You’ll need to have enough authority in the first place, so that your troops agree to risk their lives for it. And even if you manage to capture a town, you might not get the right to control it, as only faction officers get access to it.
By the way, if you’re a high-ranked trader, the faction’s higher-ups can give towns under your control without any fights, just for your proven administration talent. Sometimes your purse will speak of you more than your sword.
4) Taxes and smuggling
You’ll probably notice that once you enter a town you’re now charged with a small fee. That is customs supervision in action, and it will be happy to take your money any time you decide to buy a new hat in town. Don’t feel like paying? You have two options.
The first option is to sail to any pirate town. These are territories of free people who haven’t heard of the tax declaration yet. However, European factions will be aware of your attempts to avoid tax pay and your relationships with them will become worse.
Don’t want to worsen the relationships? Try finding smugglers. Right click on the town icon lets you choose ‘Search for smugglers’ option, and if they are nearby, you’ll be able to get in contact with them. After that everything depends on your skills and luck — there’s a great chance customs service will spot your ship and demand an explanation of your actions. This situation can end up with your ship’s search or even a fight. If luck is on your side, you’ll be able to sell your goods without any taxes.
Let’s see some changes in the town screen. Notice the new option in the city screen, this is the panel for quests and assignments. Here you can hire mercenary troops, buy letters of marquee against one of the factions and take a quest.
There are trading and military quests. Trading quests let you pull off some good deals, increasing your capital and thus your trading renown. Military quests are more like a ‘search and destroy’ type.
6) New hire screen
As we mentioned, hiring European troops won’t be as accessible as before. You’ll have to join the faction you need, and prior to this you must become a pretty well-known warrior. Only after these steps you’ll be able to use the new hiring screen.
We decided to get rid of the old dialogue interface, replacing it with more convenient and east-to-use sliders, it works pretty similar to the goods management. You’ll see all available troops for hire right away, see how many of them there are and how they are armed, along with the composition of your own current army, which should help in planning your next battles.
7) Updated naval battles
Finally, the updated naval battles. Improving this element was pretty challenging and thanks to everyone’s feedback we were able to improve and make this part of the game more diverse. Here’s what we came up with.
Now you can give your ships orders to attack a selected target. These ships will leave the formation and will act on its own trying to deal the highest damage possible to the enemy.
Do you have captured ships but no money to repair them? Or a squadron of 5 old schooners? Better not sell them cheap, but construct fire-ships of them. Fire-ships are ignited vessels that can be directed toward enemy ships. There’s no crew on a fire-ship so it’s uncontrollable but it deals very high damage on enemy’s ship impact. However, there’s always a chance to miss and burn your own ship. According to historical sources, this was pretty common when using tactics that included the use of fire-ships. By the way, enemy admirals will use fire-ships as well, if they have enough ships for this purpose.
You can now also throw explosive barrels over your ship’s stern. Consider them as the stationary version of fire-boats that will help to deal with enemies behind you.
If you don’t want some of your ships to partake in battle, you can now anchor them. These ships will leave the formation and wait patiently for your victory. And as long as you are alive, enemy won’t touch them.
Finally, we increased the damage and reloading times for cannons. Now hitting an enemy ship is critically important.
So these are the seven main changes that you can expect in the upcoming update. In addition, we fixed a lot of bugs and other annoyances — for example, many of you asked to give more time for collecting loot from sunken ships or reported twitching sails animation in naval battles, and these problems have been fixed.
Today we’d like to share the details on the ‘feature cut’ procedure we mentioned not long ago in our small announcement. Rejecting some of the features is always unpleasant for development teams, as the game won’t be as huge, pretty and awesome as they imagined it to be.
So why is this procedure needed? Mainly, it’s needed for saving the project and getting it out of the endless development cycle. Or save it from a possible disastrous launch. We won’t give examples from games of the past year here, but we’re sure anyone can name some troublesome moments from 2014 related with unfortunate releases.
What we wanted to make, but decided not to:
Let’s split this category into visual and gameplay groups, which will meet with each other here from time to time.
1) Multiplayer. This is the first thing we removed from our working plan. The initial idea was pretty ambitious. We didn’t want to implement traditional mods like ‘Capture the Flag’, ‘Siege’ and so on, but make something like a dynamic campaign instead. For example, Spanish troops are traveling through jungles to Maya treasures, defending themselves from bandit attacks and cannibals, storming enemy forts. Or the other way around: a pirate team raids Spanish colony, then tries to get away with the loot. Unfortunately, such ideas are out of our possibilities’ reach.
2) Strategic control over your own kingdom. We began thinking about implementing a full-fledged role play of a king even during WFaS development, as a part of a possible expansion. Strategic management was never the center of gameplay in M&B series, it was far more interesting to climb the mountain than standing on its top. We wanted to add a couple of attractions, at least implement control over the armies and fleet, give opportunity to influence the strategic balance of powers, the same way it’s done in grand strategy games.
3) Ability to establish your own towns — could be added pretty easily from a technical point of view, but the amount of content, interface work and AI tweaks would make us delay the release for a for a very long time.
4) Sea sieges, city bombing. Here’s how it should’ve worked in our plan. Player spawns on the ship’s board, and then sails on boats with his troops to shore under enemy fortress’ shooting. Player’s ship is at an anchor and tries to suppress fortress artillery, if that’s what player wants — because the ship can be destroyed in the process. At the same time, if player’s ship draws attention, boats will be safe from enemy fire. So there are options. When boats reach the shore, your army starts running to the enemy stronghold, throws hooks, captures the fort and robs the city. We started making content for this feature, but in the end hit performance limits. The game became too huge, and the functional for the sea sieges requires a lot more scripts and calculations. We doubt this part of the game would be playable in the foreseeable future.
5) ‘Regiment’ system — troops that have their officer, a flag-bearer and a drummer, which march into battle in one formation. This feature is fully content ready, but missing serious rework of tactical AI, which again would take up a lot of time.
6) Building in the castle and fort management. The idea was for players to have the opportunity to repair and upgrade the walls, put artillery where they like, choose which type of fortification to build and where. A little fortress building simulator. Requires gigantic amount of new content and would hit the game’s performance pretty badly.
7) Interactive tavern scene. This is one of our favorite features, which we hoped would help a lot in building the atmosphere. But in order for it to be functional, and not just a pretty gimmick, it would have to become the place where players take quests, fights take place and rumors can be heard. The amount of new animations and content would require a gigantic amount of time.
8) Native tribes and research missions in jungles. We started making new and more detailed flora, special locations with Maya cities, special river transport. At some point we realized we started making a new game without completing the older one.
9) Walking in cities. We allowed players to make construct their own buildings in towns, got rid of villages, replaced text version of towns with graphical one. All of this can’t let us return to traditional for M&B series walking on the streets. The most important problem was the optimization and how to combine this with possible castle building. Removed from the plans.
10) Finally, female characters — something we declined at the very beginning as it would double the work on the models. Unfortunately, the female model would require not only a new hair set, but also redoing all in-game clothes and animations, so that it’d really look like a woman, and not a biorobot or a man in disguise.
So, there will be nothing of these in the game?
Not exactly. Our plan is to polish the elements we consider finished, launch the game and get your feedback on the 1.0 version. Based on it, we will be working on fixing some flaws (which are inevitable) and then proceed working on things we’d like to add in the future. New content will be added with free DLCs or content patches.
Why not postpone the release date then and add everything you wanted in the first place?
‘Caribbean!’ was born as a simple idea — adding fleet to ‘With Fire and Sword’. That’s it. At the beginning we didn’t want anything more than that. But with time we had more and more other ideas, the game became more complicated, changed visually, and had different people working on it. Some major changes in the project led to rewriting the elements already made a long time ago. Or we had to rework on some older content because it didn’t fit with the style of the new one. Or think about what we should remove from the game recourses because they eat up all memory in the system and make the game crash in 5 minutes after launch.
A decision to postpone the release date once more would question the possibility of the release itself. If we continue working on ‘Caribbean!’, adding all features we had in mind, the game wouldn’t come out even during this year. This kind of decision is never easy and we hope you can understand it.
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