Sea of Thieves thinks you are too delicate to handle character customization

Guys, I’m starting to become a bit concerned about Sea of Thieves.

Last week, I listed it as one of the games that I’m definitely looking forward to playing when it comes out on the 20th, but I’ll have to admit that a lot of enthusiasm for this multiplayer pirate game is bleeding off. My three biggest concerns right now are thusly:

  1. That there isn’t enough content to provide a deep and long-lasting experience, especially without many typical forms of progression. The team is putting a LOT of weight on rep grinding for cosmetics as the key carrot here, as there will not be any stats, usable loot, levels, character talents, and the like. We know that Rare held back on showing all of its content in the open beta, so I think it is prudent to reserve judgment on this.
  2. That this title is ripe for off-the-hook griefing that goes above and beyond the PvP encounters that the dev team envisioned. Wolfy lays out a good argument here from his personal experience.
  3. That the devs don’t even trust players to make their own pirates but have inexplicably turned the character creator into a random pirate generator from which you will choose your toon.

This last one might be the most inconsequential when compared to the first two, but it’s also the point that gets me the angriest. I watched this recent dev video in which the team kept patting themselves on the back for this system, defending its inclusion because sliders are hard and they’d been working on it for four years.

Yeah… so?

Do you think we are too delicate to handle sliders? Are there solid metrics out there showing gamers who get to a character creation screen and get so frustrated at picking their own looks that they run from the computer screaming? And do you not see the hypocrisy in advertising this as a game where players can be the pirate of their choosing when you don’t trust the player to be the pirate that they perhaps really want to be?

Actual quote from the devs on this:

“We wanted a way to get cool characters in the game without making a million sliders and toggles and a way for everyone to have a cool character that represents themselves even if they have no artistic skill.”

Yes, because there is NO OTHER GOOD WAY for players to create a personalized character unless you thrust mandatory RNG into our faces. Which, by the way, pretty much all MMOs offer anyway if you want to randomize your look. It’s not a new thing. It shouldn’t take you four years to do. And it’s stupid that this is the only path to picking your character, because now we are all going to have to repeatedly reroll the looks until the game somehow guesses what would best represent us.

The studio also seems to think that this will speed up the entry into the actual game, which ignores that (a) some of us really do enjoy character creation and (b) we’re only going to be sitting there hitting refresh on the generator for the same amount of time that it would take to pick and choose our looks.

Or as one commenter said, “How can I be the pirate I want to be with an RNG system? With that type of system I’ll be the pirate I pick after giving up looking for the pirate I want to be.”

It’s so insulting and condescending that it boggles the mind. And here Rare is just grinning as if this is the best thing ever, because it knows that we gamers would hurt ourselves if we got real scissors instead of the rounded ones that can’t cut butter.


6 games that I’m looking forward to playing in 2018

Well, this is it. The last Bio Break post of 2017 and the final list for this week (apologies if you hate lists, but I wanted to both wrap up the year and prep a bunch of posts in advance so I could enjoy a week of downtime without other concerns). As we turn into 2018, what am I looking forward to playing? Here are the six games that I anticipate taking up my game time:

1. Sea of Thieves

March is going to be something else, especially if I can sign on to a pirate crew. Rare’s Sea of Thieves is scheduled to finally release, bringing this sort-of-MMO to the public after years of gleeful anticipation. With a nonstandard RPG progression system, group pirate antics, and a gorgeous looking world, I can’t wait to jump on board and live out my buccaneer fantasies.

2. Project Gorgon

Geez, I feel like I say this every year, but that doesn’t change the fact that I really hope this game at least gets to a semi-launch point and I can start my adventures in this clever and intricate game world. The skill system is definitely the crown jewel here, but I won’t complain if I get to play as a murderous fairy.

3. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

WoW’s next expansion is high on my list, although there are still many unknowns about it and the quality it might or might not bring. At the very least, it’ll be more wonderfully designed zones and enjoyable questing to enjoy. I think that there are some surprises in store and that this expansion isn’t quite what everyone thinks it’s going to be — which is Blizzard’s doing, of course.

4. Pillars of Eternity 2

I feel a little hypocritical putting this on the list, considering that I haven’t ever beaten the first one, but I really did like what Obsidian did with that game and am hearing some very nice things about the sequel and how it’s shaping up. It definitely belongs on this list.

5. Walking Dead Season 4 and Wolf Among Us Season 2

I am way, way, way behind on my Telltale Games, but still I am quite pleased to see that both Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us are getting new games next year. Now to finish the ones I have so that I can feel less guilty about picking up the new ones!

6. Several mobile games

OK, this is a total cheat, but the truth is that I’m more excited about many mobile games coming out than what’s on the immediate horizon for PC. Among the titles I’m tracking that I’m most anticipating are

  • Pocket City
  • The Sims Mobile
  • RuneScape and Villagers and Heroes
  • Battleheart 2

See you in 2018!

6 reasons why I’m kind of hyped for Sea of Thieves


When I look to the horizon of MMOs, it may be devoid of AAA titles of the past, but there is still quite a bit to anticipate (and I’ll go more into my watch list later this week). However, there’s one title that may-or-may-not-be a pure MMO (but if it isn’t, it’s sure wearing its underpants) with some serious muscle and talent behind it that has me more and more excited with each new week, and that is Sea of Thieves.

So why am I starting to get pretty hyped for this title? How is it wooing me over to the buccaneer lifestyle? Here’s six quick reasons:

1. Dat artwork

Both the concept art and in-game visuals are wonderfully lush and colorful, taking a stylized look at the high seas and low lives of pirates. We’ve seen several pirate MMOs and games to date, to be sure, and it’s the ones that go this stylized route that end up being a lot more appealing than, say, Pirates of the Burning Sea. The way I figure it is that our cultural fascination with pirates is already fantasized, so why not have the visuals to match? It’s not like we’re going for historical accuracy anyway.

The more I see of it, the more Sea of Thieves convinces me that this is a world that invites people to gawk at and explore it. I liked how one of the recent dev videos solely looked at the game’s water visuals and how important those were for a seafaring game.

2. High production values

Rare is no indie startup; I loved it back in the 80s with RC Pro-Am, and the 90s with Goldeneye, Battletoads, and Donkey Kong Country. It’s lineup in the 2000s and 2010s hasn’t been anything to write home about, but it’s been solid and kept the company working. This is a great project that obviously has the dev team enthused and the studio throwing a lot of money and effort behind. That means a lot when you’re anticipating a game.

3. Fun factor

Pirates may be cliché, but it’s still a good field ripe for plunder (sorry). I like how the attitude of this game seems to be how we used to play-imagine pirates as a kid, or how people still today get a little bit silly with Talk Like a Pirate Day. Pirates bring out the childlike spirit in us, whether we’re fighting as or against them. Blowing up ships, walking the plank, finding buried treasure, fighting with sabers, thwarting hand-eating crocodiles — it’s all part of a day in the life of a swashbuckler.

4. More than just combat

Another one of the early dev diaries focused on player music, interestingly enough. It might seem like an inconsequential feature, especially since so much of the game has yet to be revealed, but I thought that the reason the devs wanted to put that out in front was to communicate how Sea of Thieves isn’t merely a combat simulator without a heart. Pirates who can put down a sword and pick up a piccolo or accordion to share a jaunty tune become something a little more than caricatures.

Plus, music is the soul of a game — or at least a gateway to it. Nice to know it won’t be ignored.

5. Great communication

Recently the devs talked about their approach to doling out info from now until release, and what I heard made me quite happy indeed. An emphasis on showing, not merely telling, and a spread of information channels, including podcasts, video diaries, and written articles. It’s not groundbreaking, sure, but I’ve taken to these little 3-5 minute video diary series they’ve done so far spotlighting a different aspect of the game. It’s a great way to get to know what Sea of Thieves is like.

6. The possibilities

To be sure, there’s a lot we don’t know and even more that’s only been outlined in the broadest of strokes. Yet the mind reels at the possibilities for a pirate open world multiplayer game, including owning your own ship, creating your own adventures, and having lots of goofy fun with groups of friends. From the demo videos I saw, I enjoyed how it didn’t look like a same-old dungeon run in an MMO, but a cooperative and sometimes chaotic journey that was fun even when the team was failing. Sea of Thieves could be a great entry into my gaming portfolio, and I’m psyched to think that it could be coming out sometime next year.


Sea of Thieves is now on my interest radar


I don’t expect a lot out of E3 these days. The show isn’t as much about great new PC games — nevermind MMOs — as it once was, so I only kept half an eye on the proceedings. But there was one game that I started to hear repeated again and again until I finally roused myself to pay attention, and that game was Sea of Thieves.

As far as I can tell, Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer sandbox themed around pirates and the Age of Sail filtered through a movie lens. The key hook here seems to be participating in a crew of swashbucklers working together to operate a pirate ship, although supposedly there will be a single-player option as well for ships.

Two things have impressed me here. The first is the art style — Sea of Thieves has warm, welcoming colors and a slight cartoony art style. It’s a great look, especially with those Caribbean waters and the ship animations. We’ve seen some pirate games before, but many times the looks are more drab than they should be. This feels more like Sid Meier’s Pirates and even the Secret of Monkey Island.

The second aspect is the pirate theme… and how it may crack the grouping experience wide open for players. There’s an anxiety for some of us when it comes to grouping up and a fleeing to the solo life in online games. But the whole piratey veneer could be gaming lubricant to keeping groups silly and relaxed, getting new players in by encouraging them to live the pirate life. It’s kind of like dress up and Halloween, or Talk Like a Pirate Day, where there’s something about pirates that brings out our goofy, acting sides. I can totally see people getting into the spirit of manning ships, drinking rum, walking planks, and all of the other faux-pirate trappings that pop culture has conjured.

I’m also keeping my eye on Sea of Thieves because there are hints that the overlap with the MMORPG genre could be greater than what is currently known. The devs are bending over backwards to try to avoid the MMO label — they wouldn’t discuss server size, for instance — but there are signs that they’ve at least liberally borrowed from MMO concepts, such as progression and a wide mix of experiences. At the least, it might be an ARK: Survival Evolved type of sandbox game, with a bunch of smaller (and privately run) servers. However, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was at least one huge shard with thousands of bloodthirsty pirates sailing the seven seas, battling kraken and mermaids, and decking out ships for their next adventure?

I’m also gratified that this will be coming to the PC in addition to Xbox. The whole Destiny-exclusive thing left a bad taste in my mouth (those console master race people, seriously!).

So yes, Sea of Thieves is now on my radar. Now all I need is a crew and a star to steer my ship by!