Frequently Asked Questions

What makes this game different from other age of sail titles?

We think the best way to answer this question is to directly compare our product to its closest competitors, or games which share similar features.

Firstly, our naval combat. It’s frequently compared to Naval Action because NA is the newest serious Age of Sail game on a modern engine. The two products share some aesthetic similarity, although this is absolutely where the similarities end. Players of NA will be familiar with the sailing and combat mechanics. They’re extremely realistic and battles are very slow paced. Players micromanage their cannons and yards. Period tactics rule the day. NA is a very good simulation of realistic naval combat, but when we bought into their Beta phase we felt it wasn’t the game we were looking for. We wanted something that was more like an actual game. Prior to buying into the NA Beta, everybody who worked on Caribbean Conquest played Pirates of the Burning Sea. While flawed, there was a lot of untapped potential in the skill-based system PotBS used for their ship combat. What we have created bridges the gap between the two products. We want an experience that is aesthetically quite realistic, but the gameplay is faster, more re-playable and much more dynamic. We wanted a system which favours player skill and balance over grinding or using a credit card to win. This is exactly what we have created. In Caribbean Conquest, every engagement is different to the last. The skillset and outfitting system creates a loose rock-paper-scissors mechanic with many more than three categories. The winning side is the group of players who force their opponents to fight at their disadvantage. For example, if team A shows up in light, manoeuvrable frigates and faces team B who brought heavier frigates, team A can use skills and cohesion to close distance and force team B to fight at their disadvantage. Likewise, team B can use their skills and cohesion to prevent this, making greater use of their longer guns to decide the fight before it’s too late. The matchups make for variety, but the outcome is never certain simply by looking at the enemy’s vessels. The feedback received from our pre-alpha testers has been overwhelmingly positive and we feel confident we have already created a combat system that makes for better gameplay than any other Age of Sail game currently on the market.

Secondly, our boarding combat. This is currently in development and we would like to expand our community prior to finalising development in order to create the boarding experience the community want. It’s very important to us to get this right the first time around. We see this as a very big selling point in the final game as this is an area in gaming which has been really neglected since Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, and in general neglected for multiplayer games. This will absolutely include a similar system to the ship combat, where a player could specialise their crew and/or ship to have a strategy to play during the boarding combat. What absolutely will be present are:
– Either first person or third person combat.
– Control over your crew via a radial menu.
– Access to a plethora of period equipment and clothing for your character and crew.
– Multiple ways to board your opponent. (Swinging across on ropes, boarding bridges, etc.)
– Grapples and boarding axes. (To board or repel the boarders.)

What we would like to include if the community like the ideas:
– Fire received on the ships in boarding, from ship combat, actively being rendered on-deck. Yes, this means if you are fired on while in boarding, both friend and foe on your deck may be killed by cannonballs and/or grape shot.
– Suppression effects from incoming cannon fire/musket fire/particularly close sabre slashes/etc. (Similar to Insurgency, Day of Infamy, Red Orchestra.)
– If your character is incapacitated, taking over your crew as the next-in-command officer to continue fighting.
While we are not focused on creating a realistic naval combat simulation, we do however think that a realistic boarding simulation could be an unparalleled experience in gaming. We look forward to hearing feedback from the community on this and we are happy to develop a more realistic or more arcade experience based on that feedback. Additionally, we are interested to see what visions the community has for boarding combat as we are open to new ideas. Again, we simply want to deliver the best boarding experience possible to accompany the already well-received ship combat.

Could you outline each of the major aspects of the game and what they entail?

Ship combat: Each player controls one ship. Each player, individually, has control over how their ship is outfitted, which skills they choose to take and access to purchase whichever ship is it they wish to sail. Combat is partly skill based and partly inspired by realism. This means the weather gauge is important, but equally the applications of skills are too. This creates a system with a lot of counter play and higher level play is very possible, where players have an intimate understanding of how to execute and counter each available strategy once they have identified what they are up against.

Boarding combat: Initiated when one player grapples another in a ship combat engagement. The objective of the aggressor is to pull the ships alongside, board the opponent and either force their surrender through infliction of casualties, or cut through the opposing chain of command. The objective of the defender is either to use aggression as defence and take their attacker’s ship, or cut grapples and repel the board entirely. If a victor is determined, they choose which ship they wish to captain for the remainder of the engagement, and either the prize or their former ship is returned to their dockyard.

Realm-vs-Realm/Economy: Players of Nations can organise into Companies. A company is much like it was back in the time period; a poorly regulated entity that could exploit the new world as it saw fit, providing it had enough muscle. Companies can contest ports owned by Companies of other nations. Companies can buy and sell ports among their own nations. Everything is a commodity, including the new world itself. Ownership of a port enables that company (and by extension its players) to own a section of the server’s economic productivity which they must fund, defend and develop lest it be taken from them by force.

Where exactly is this product in its development cycle? What features are where?

The ship combat is largely complete. Feedback from our pre-alpha testers has been overwhelmingly positive, although we would like to add as much content as possible to it in order to increase the variety available to players. This is our core mechanic and it is what will be immediately available to those who back us on Kickstarter.

Our boarding mechanics are currently whiteboarded and will be distributed for feedback as a separate module during the Alpha testing. When the community is content with it on a mechanical level, we will develop and expand on it accordingly. The boarding combat will be in a finished state by the end of the Alpha testing, added as a mechanic that can be used on stationary/slow ships during ship combat, not as a separate module.

Our open world map is under development, as are our port battle maps. The beginnings of these can be visibly seen on the website imagery. These may seem like separate things entirely, but as they share the same type of asset (landmasses) and will be rendered in the similar polycounts/quality, they are intertwined. Both of these features require a large number of people to adequately test, and as such will be formally released in our Beta stage, although landmasses will be popping up in battles from the beginning of the alpha.

When do I get to play?

It depends when you buy-in.

Your card will only be billed when the campaign terminates. The first use of the campaign funds will be to transition over to dedicated servers (which are costly, hence why we don’t have them already).

Alpha access/testing then begins immediately. If you buy into the alpha, this is when you get to play.

Beta testing being priced in a lower bracket will (hopefully) yield a larger number of players. This is for our benefit, as Alpha access becomes Beta access when our port battles and open world go live. This will give the necessary influx of people to test these features. This point comes whenever these features are ready to go live. If we get overfunded, it is likely this will be later than if we do not, as there will be more scope and scale to these features which have to be implemented. Therefore, beta testing begins when those two features are complete.

A safe estimate would be 6-9 months of Alpha, depending on various factors.

Beta testing will last until we’ve dealt with all the bugs and the game is in a state the community is happy with.

Will there be progression in this game?

Yes. As you play the game, you will earn both renown for defeating other players, and wealth accrued through in-game activities. The renown will be exchangeable for writs, enabling you to sail specialised ships of higher tiers not available to captains of lesser renown. The wealth can be spent as you personally see fit.

As you and your character progress, the variety of ships you have access to will therefore increase. Most importantly, it will do so in the direction you choose. You purchase what you want, you are not ‘assigned’ it.

There will not be any levelling system which increases the stats of long-time players over the stats of new players. If you’ve been playing a year longer than somebody else, you’ve had a year longer to get good. You do not need bigger numbers they do not have access to, to prevent yourself getting your arse kicked.

There absolutely will be a reward system to reward long-term players, however. This will revolve around the variety described above, and the customisation described below. Never Grind-2-Win.

Will there be in-game customization?

Absolutely.

Everything from your character’s clothing, your swords, pistols, ship colour scheme, ship colours, pennants, sails and anything we can think of will be customisable. Customisation will be available as rewards for progression or as optional microtransactions. We will never sell anything for money that confers a player an advantage as we find this currently fashionable video game practice abhorrent. We will however, take great pleasure in providing you with the ability to be unique.

This will also include user-submitted pennants/streamers, custom nameplates for the backs of ships which have space for them and likely custom sail patterns as this seems to be a frequent request of our pre-alpha testers.

So, everything from spectacular hat feathers to shiny boot buckles, and all the cloth above. Yes, there absolutely will be customisation.

What ships/time period will be featured in the game?

Everything currently in the game and currently planned is in the 1680-1780 bracket. We would like to avoid the old-style Galleons, Caravels and so forth that were frequent in the 1500’s and early 1600’s, but we’re quite open to adding whatever ships the community wishes to sail.

We will open some polls in the near future among those who buy into the game to play the Alpha/Beta and will add any user selected vessels to our build-list.

With regards to fashion/clothing, we would say late 1700’s is most likely, although on this too we are open to being quite flexible.

What PvE content will be included?

Any MMO needs some form of PvE. We are big fans of hivemind-type coordinated group AI’s with heightened damage output.

The Alpha will see the development and release of NPC’s and the deployment of our AI code to enable them to coordinate against the players. The final world will be populated by NPC’s of various nations which may be engaged in pursuit of wealth and loot.

We like the idea of a narrative-driven mission/quest system, although this is not planned during the Alpha/Beta phase as it is a lot of work for content which will likely not appeal to the majority of customers. This is however a firm objective and will be implemented early in the game’s life cycle.

How will we address the ‘barrier to entry’ present in similar titles?

One of the main issues we have found with similar titles is that the learning curve is usually very steep. In addition to this, most have a lot of grinding you must do before you can hope to play competitively.

Caribbean Conquest is designed from the ground up to address this. For example:

In many MMO’s, equipment or outfitting is required. If you apply an outfitting to a ship in Caribbean Conquest it makes the ship more specialised to a specific role, although weaker overall. Everything is a trade-off. Similarly, the more expensive vessels are more specialised, although overall are weaker than the more standard ships.

This creates a situation where through playing the game and exploring the content you unlock the ability to utilise different styles of play. Equally, while new to the game you are presented with a usable build with maximum margin for error. New players get to learn the game as they play, rather than learn the game through a wiki or forum posts before they can be competitive in PvP.

It is many small steps in this direction over all facets of the game developed or in development, which will ensure Caribbean Conquest will be accessible for a larger audience than similar previous titles.

Of course, this isn’t enough. We will also include in-game tutorials on all important game elements to ensure minimum frustration for new players.

Could you explain what Nations, Factions and Alliances are?

Nations include Britain, France, Spain, America, etc. Players of these nations may form companies which vie for control over the economic resources available in the new world.

Factions are subdivisions of the Pirate “Nation”. Pirates will not be able to hold permanent economic power, but will be able to form their own societal structures with their friends. The greater pirate nation will be the main faction, however groups of pirates can choose to secede from this entity and be enemies to everybody but their closest friends.

The nations will fight for control of the new world, but pirates may simply fight for wealth, or just for the sake of fighting. Playing for a nation will likely yield a sense of greater community, but a pirate will never be short of enemies to test their mettle against.

Alliances will be determined manually by us (the developers) in order to ensure the endgame remains fair. Hypothetically, let’s assume 30% of the population is on Britain, 10% on Spain, 10% on France, 10% on Dutch and 30% on Pirate. We as developers would ally the Spanish, French and Dutch to have balanced three-way RvR. What this would mean is, a Spanish player would keep their Spanish flag and identity, but would be able to reinforce a distressed Frenchman in open water or be invited to aid the Dutch in fending off pirates attacking one of their company’s ports.

The alliance system will ensure everybody can get a fight regardless of population fluctuations. Likewise, it will prevent “zerging” from being a big deal, since the power balance will shift accordingly.

Will I be restricted to one Nation?

It depends.

You may privateer for a nation, cease and become a pirate, then privateer for another nation over the course of your gameplay. This will be acceptable and to an extent encouraged. There will be limitations on how often you do this, ensuring the system does not get abused.

However, if you wish to have access to noteworthy endgame content, this will not be the case. To captain massive ships of the line you will have to be in the navy of a particular nation. While at any point you can “quit” the navy and become a pirate, to go back you will have to clear your criminal record. This will cost you substantially.

Similarly, to captain larger Indiamen or Galleons, you will have to be in an appropriate Merchant Guild operating along the same principles.

So, you will indeed be restricted to one nation at a time. Your ability to switch your character’s national allegiance will really depend on what your long-term objectives are in-game. This system is intended to enable each player a good chance at determining where they best fit among the community and to reward loyalty where it is found.

What is a Class? What does each represent and what do they have access to?

A class determines your access to certain class-restricted vessels and which skills you may choose from.

The Naval class grants access to the largest warships and the Naval skillset, which is optimised for gunnery and resistance.

The Merchant class grants access to hauling ships and the Merchant skillset, which is optimised for support and downwind speed.

The Privateer class grants access to certain specialised frigates and the Privateer skillset, which is optimised for damage and upwind speed, in addition to having the ability to sail anything it can take by force.

The Pirate class grants no special access to ships but grants the ability to sail anything you can take by force. (Plus you get to be part of the Faction system within the Pirate nation.)

What exactly is meant by ship “tiers”?

There are four basic tiers of ships in Caribbean Conquest.

Tier one: Powerful but unspecialised. Unremarkable medium frigates, small Indiamen and light 4th rates. Jacks of all trades, yet masters of none. New players will receive one of these ships for free.

Tier two: More expensive frigates, 4th rates and Indiamen. Some will handle better, others will have larger guns. All will be better at one or two things than their Tier one counterparts, and worse at all others. These boats represent what most players will sail most of the time, and likely will be a larger classification of vessels than all others combined.

Tier three: Very specialised ships, ranging from quite expensive to extremely expensive. Super heavy frigates, ultra-light frigates, third rates, ultra-heavy 4th rates and so forth. While statistically weaker than other frigates, each has very decisive and measurable advantages. (3rd Rates have many big guns, but handle terribly.) These ships will just about be accessible to casual players, but difficult to replace if lost in combat. These boats will likely be seen rarely on the open sea but present in small quantities in most fleet engagements. This tier has the most spread in overall pricing for the vessel.

Tier four ships: Gigantic floating gun platforms. First and Second rate ships of the line. The pricing of these ships will be off the scale. Their hitting power is legendary, but their handling is poor. These ships will be unusable without the support of teammates. These ships will decide fights if supported correctly.

I donated/I will donate – what benefits will I receive for being an early backer?

If you buy into the alpha, you get to play the alpha near-immediately. The alpha is exclusive, only the alpha backers and developers will be present. Alpha backers will also play and test in close contact with the development team. If you wish to have an input in the game’s future, it starts here. You will also receive access to the beta for free.

If you buy into the beta, you do so at a cheaper price to what you would do, should you buy into it upon beta release instead of now. This is because having your money sooner is worth more than later, as we can use it to develop the product in advance.

Of course, buying into the game will also net you the package rewards you select on Kickstarter.

How do we plan to monetise the product?

The finished game will be a one-off purchase of £25.

We will also provide premium ship skins/clothing, but these will be purely aesthetic. The pricing will depend on the item(s).

Who are we?

The team that has worked on the product you see before you is a multinational group of gamers, mostly from professional backgrounds who have done so in their spare time around other commitments.

Adam, UK – Artwork/Code/Game Design.

Geoff, US – Technical expertise/code. Full time Software Engineer with years of experience.

Andy, NZ – Marketing and Game Design.

Tomi, FI – Marketing, website design, GUI and lighting.

Zach, US – Artwork.

I heard this was previously on Kickstarter, what’s the deal with that?

What was previously pitched on Kickstarter was this project in its infancy. 12 hours after release, Naval Action went live on Steam and quite literally took the wind from our sails. We were offering a concept, they were offering a game. Both looked very similar, even though they aren’t much alike.

We took this as an opportunity to assess feedback. We identified what people thought of the project and what people wanted. The big three points and how we addressed them are as follows:

1. How do we know this is real? / 2. We want gameplay footage:

We have responded by building the ship combat. We let some pre-alpha testers loose. We encouraged them to record it. It can be easily accessed at the bottom of this page. This is very real.

3. I don’t want to pay for something that might not get made (usually citing Kickstarter):

Feel free to pay for the Alpha. It’s made. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Come play. While you’re at it, now you see we’re serious, help us develop the rest of it to your liking.

I’ve heard bad things about Kickstarter before, how do I know this isn’t a scam?

We’re selling a playable alpha. The only thing you’ve got to worry about is if we’ll continue developing the thing we’ve poured 18 months of heart and soul into without funding… once the remainder of development is finally funded. The chances of that are suspiciously similar to that of receiving a mind altering head injury. This is the game we’ve always wanted to play and it’s getting built. Come be a part of the experience.