SEA DOGS II
Renamed Pirates of the Caribbean
Not since Sid Meirs' Pirates did a sailing/pirate game captivate players like Sea Dogs. A hybrid role-playing game, naval sim, and strategy game, Sea Dogs thundered to the top of many players' favorite game list. It was no surprise that developer Akella began working on a sequel almost immediately.
Sea Dogs II is nearing the beta phase and screenshots have been appearing on the Internet like crazy. The graphics are simply stunning, to use a word over-applied in the computer game business. But it fits Sea Dogs II without reservation. And while the original was full of originality and daringly successful gameplay, SD2 looks to be 100% better. This is one game we can't wait to get our hands on.
Subsim: Describe the differences a player may notice between the original Sea Dogs weather model and the new model based on the Storm 2 engine.
Akella: Well, first of all I would like to say that SDII will have all the weather effects you’ve seen in Sea Dogs. Also we added some new eye candies, like moon-light gleam on the water at night and sun flares. A player’s ship now can be sunk by storm, tornado or hit by lightning. In Sea Dogs a ship could be sunk only if she was touched by tornado. Now there is no need for that and storms become a really dangerous treat for sailing vessels. When sailing near an island in a storm it’s very probable to bump the ship onto reefs or sand bank because of low visibility. Moreover, a player can lose crewmembers in a storm. And not to mention damaging ship rigging.
Subsim: In Sea Dogs I the player was able to enter many towns and interact with NPCs. How has SD2 expanded on the places a player may venture?
Akella: In Sea Dogs 2 the player will be able to walk not only in town, but all around the island outside the town walls. He will walk through jungles, canyons, visit rocky shores and caves. Also there are locations like hidden house in jungles or silver mines where the player will meet NPCs and carry out some quests. Also a player will be able to moor not only to town piers but to island shores where he can find out unique locations.
Subsim: What kind of player/NPC interaction can be expected in the towns? Will there be swordfights in the towns? Chases? Pistol duels?
Akella: That is what Sea Dogs was really missing and what we promised to implement in Sea Dogs II. Not only talk but also fight to get money or to revenge yourself for an insult. Now the player will be able to start the slaughter on a town street if he wants.
Subsim: Swordfights in Sea Dogs I were strictly a one-on-one affair. Sea Dogs II will have swordfights that include the player and his crew against other NCPs. How many NCPs can be seen in one engagement? Will the player be able to defeat one NCP and then attack another?
Akella: Except boarding and fort capturing there could be up to eight characters in one fight. Since the max number of the player’s companions is three, they can face up to four enemies. In a fight the player will directly control only his own character but he is free to do what he wants. He can move during the combat, avoiding one enemy and attacking another one instead.
Subsim: Will the player’s ship have a visible crew? How many?
Akella: The player will see his crew onboard while looking at his ship from outside view. Crew will walk the deck, performing different tasks. The number of crewman models shown on the deck will proportionally represent the number of player’s crewmembers.
Subsim: What improvements have been added to the naval battles? Will the damage reduce the number of cannons the player can use? Will flooding or taking on water be mentioned?
Akella: We are planning to increase cannons reload time and damage to make naval battles a bit closer to reality and also add some to gameplay – now accurate aiming will be more important and your ship won’t belch a swarm of cannonballs each five second even if your character has the highest reloading skill. We made two different cannon types – cannons and culverins that differ in reload time, damage, and fire range. With this the player will choose his tactic – place powerful but short-range cannons on a fast, very maneuverable ship or place many long-range culverins on a heavy ship and destroy enemies from distance.
Subsim: The first person perspective in Sea Dogs I was first class. Will the player able to go below decks, or to the captain's cabin, or up in the crow's nest?
Akella: We decided to leave it as it is. Player will be able to walk the deck in a first-person mode but he won’t enter ship hold or captains cabin.
Subsim: The score for the original was excellent, without peer; will the score for Sea Dogs II be performed by the Moscow Symphonic orchestra again?
Akella: Well, we haven’t signed a contract on Sea Dogs II scores with the Moscow Symphonic orchestra yet, but it is very probable. In any case the musical scores of Sea Dogs II will be even better than the scores of its predecessor.
Subsim: The Akella SD2 website mentions a "quest generation system". This would obviously add tremendous replay value. Is this feature still expected to be in the game and what limitations will it have when compared to the scripted quest campaigns?
Akella: This is the one of the main features of Sea Dogs II. We are working hard on it, trying to make it the most cool and exciting for players. We assume that the only limitations that quest generation system will have is a creation of unusual quest that includes atypical locations or actions (like bringing a sea snake into the game or fighting with skeletons on a ghost ship – for example.) All other situations (even Great Armadas and Golden Convoys) could be included in quests created by quest generation system.
Subsim: The economics and trading was a very original part of Sea Dogs I. Over time, it did get wearisome playing the role as a trader in order to build sufficient resources to buy better equipment. What steps has the dev team taken to diversify the trading element of the game?
Akella: In Sea Dogs II we added such trading elements as smuggling and slavery. Also we widened the assortment of goods available for trade (now there are 26 different goods in Sea Dogs II). By the way, now player’s actions affect prices and economy of game world.
Subsim: Random and unexpected elements make any game more interesting. Will the player find rewards and surprises that are not integral parts of the conquest script, things that could be overlooked while pursuing bigger goals?
Akella: Players can get something unexpected while playing some quests. But not with crushing and smashing barrels and everything else around. I guess he will be able to take items from tables or shelves.
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Subsim: What improvements to the AI can you mention?
Akella: Most changes were done to ship AI. Since we are going to allow the player to gather a squadron up to four ships we decided that it requires powerful AI to make allies useful and helpful. We improved path-finding algorithms, and added to battle AI. Enemy ships now will cooperate and coordinate their attacks and act smart to sink your ship in the shortest time. Player allies will be much more useful than they were in Sea Dogs.
Subsim: In multiplayer matches, what kind of scoring will be tracked? Enemies sunk? Treasure recovered?
Akella: Well, this question is still open. Since ships in Sea Dogs II are divided on six classes while calculating score we should consider what ship player sunk and what ship he was steering. Maybe we should use some abstract points that will depend on ship classes... but it is a question to discuss for now.
Subsim: How many quests will there be? Will there be a quest for all six sides?
Akella: We abandoned the idea of making a quest for each side in Sea Dogs II. We have a main story line and a lot of side quest lines, which aren’t related to any country. Speaking of number of quests it’s hard to call the number since quest-generation system provides unlimited quantity of quests. But we are planning to create many more quests than there were in Sea Dogs. There will be much more of everything!
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Currently projected for an April~May 2002 release
- Pentium III 500Mhz or greater
- GeForce level graphics card
- 128 MB RAM; recommended 256 MB
- Windows 95\98\2000\XP
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