We have received a reply from Snowbird, they have graciously answered every question that I sent in. Thanks to all of you, there were a total of 36. I would like to personally thank Vladimir Tortsov, Alexander Souslov and the entire Snowbird team for their efforts! It was very much a pleasure dealing with this fantastic team, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by several of the answers that we have received! Ok, ok enough of the platitudes, here are their answers!
1. Is Caribbean a mod for Mount & Blade,? Or is it going to a be a full stand alone game based on the M&B Engine?
It’s a stand-alone game based on an improved version of M&B and With Fire And Sword engine.
2. Will there be a fully implemented economic and trading system in the game?
The implementation of trading is consistent with the way it was done in M&B. Of course, there is a brand new set of raw resources and trade goods specific to our setting.
3. What will be the options for modding the game after the initial release?
Since M&B always was an extremely modder-friendly game, we plan to publish the module system sourcecode after release, thus allowing users to develop their own mods.
4. What is the intention of this game on the subject of realism vs. more arcadey gameplay? What is the target audience?
The intention is the golden mean and ultimately fun
Some aspects of naval realism, such as ships taking hours to get up close and personal, or wounds taking months to heal, we are happy to omit. But naturally, we do borrow from reality wherever and in whatever form it might benefit the gameplay. For instance, contrary to reality, you can sail upwind - however, you will be slowed down greatly; whereas sailing downwind provides a massive boost to speed.
5. What type of swordfighting can we expect to see? Eg. hack-and-slash, filmic scenes or something more strategic and slow-paced?
On boardings, will you be able to use the environment to your advantage?
Can you climb into the rigging and have a swordfight on a yardarm like seen in many pirate movies?
The swordplay mechanics didn’t change from M&B or WFAS. The rigging is inaccessible, unfortunately, but you can use various obstacles to crouch or take cover behind while exchanging musket fire.
6. How much reloading will there be between scenes? Eg. will there be reloading between the sea battles and the boarding scenes?
Will the boarding scenes use the actual ship models? Can you walk around on your ship yourself?
Boarding scenes are separate from naval combat, yes, and take a few seconds to load. They do use the actual ship models (and even the presence of other ships involved in the preceding naval battle), with the damage carried over from naval battle reflected in their looks. And yes, there is an option to visit the deck of your vessel outside combat.
7. How is navigating from island-to-island handled? Will there be a worldmap or can you sail in "3D sailing mode" between islands?
There is a topdown world map we traverse, both on land and on sea. We are working on introducing brand new map graphics, remodeling all the environment separately from the basic, tiled map and adding these models as overlay.
8. Will the player be able to command fleets of more than one ship? If so, how big are the fleets we can expect to see and command?
Yes! From his flagship, the player can lead a flotilla of multiple vessels, captained by his companions. The maximum number of ships in his fleet depends on his character stats, but you can expect no less then six. The follower ships are not controlled directly, however, they move and fight by their own, following indirect orders like “form a line of battle” or “use chainball ammunition”.
9. Will the player be able to have other characters and officers join his party?
Will these characters have different personality traits that can trigger unexpected random events making the freeplay more interesting?
Absolutely. There is a pack of NPCs of all nationalities and backgrounds to meet and recruit into your party as faithful comrades-in-arms and subordinate ship captains. Some examples include Bogdan, a stray cossack whose rowdy life has led him first to France as a mercenary and then to the Americas; and Lamore, a Maltese knight sent by the Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller to scout the New World for a possibility to establish a local chapter of the Order. And yes, there is a set of random events triggered by the presence of one NPC or another in the player’s party.
10. Will you be able to attack forts and towns from both sea and land? If so, would there be land battles as well?
On land, would it be possible to control "vehicles", such as horses and carriages?
You can attack towns from both land and sea, yes. During naval assault, you have to overcome the fortifications and batteries guarding the harbor in the naval battle mode, which results in your landing force being deposited inside the assaulted city and pitted against a much depleted garrison.
There are no carriages in the game, as for horses, how could a game based on the famed Mount & Blade engine possibly omit them?
11. How much of the gameplay will be scripted storylines and quests and how much will be random events?
Can you give us more details on the "political intrigues"? That sounds intriguing.
There is no scripted story this time, the game is a “do what thou wilt” sandbox leaving you free to pick sides and set goals. The political engine was improved significantly from WFAS, the system for kingdom creation and government is completely reworked.
12. Will it be possible to play as a privateer in the service of a nation, or join a national navy as well as being a pirate?
Yes. We are currently implementing a concept of privateering, which involves purchasing a letter of marquee from a particular faction permitting to attack the fleets and possessions of some nation they are at war with, while staying a technically neutral party. Without it, an unaligned adventurer making a hostile move against some state or another is regarded as having engaged in a foul act of piracy, which is despised by every faction. Of course, the Brotherhood of the Coast is somewhat exempt from this mechanic, but they aren’t fond of outsiders ruining their business either.
And naturally, joining a faction full-time or trying to forge a kingdom of your own are always an option.
13. How big will be the game world? How many islands will there be? Is there any mainland too?
How big are the islands and how different will the islands be from each other?
The gameworld spans from Barbados to the coast of Mexico east-west, and from Florida and the Bahamas to the northern coast of Venezuela north-south, including most of the significant islands in the area. There is a total of about 30 major settlements.
The islands generally share the tropical climate and wildlife native to the area. Of course, some areas are better developed with fields and plantations all over, while others are relatively untouched tropical jungles.
14. Will there be a day-night cycle system?
Yes, just like in M&B and WFAS. At night, the visual range of all parties on the global map is greatly reduced.
15. Will the game have weather effects, which could actually affect the gameplay mechanic?
The wind plays a significant role during naval combat, its strength and direction affecting the speed of the ships. Other stuff, like storm or absolute calm, are implemented as random events to deal with.
16. Will the NPCs have a life, i.e. sleeping, eating, doing daily chores etc.
That is beyond the scope of the game, I guess
17. Will there be historical persons like Bartholomew Roberts, Henry Morgan, Jean Bart, Samuel Bellamy, and other well known pirates and privateers?
Morgan and the Black Bart are in, along with many others such as L’Olonnais and Michel de Grammont. Not just the buccaneers, the captains and governors of other factions are historical characters as well, such as Bertrand d’Ogeron, Michiel de Ruyter and Christopher Myngs. We have even used the genuine portraits (or at least some widely recognized imagery) of theirs as a reference for their looks.
18. Will the ships be correctly depicted and will the emphasis be put on the rigging and small details like fixing of gun port tackle lids and canons?
We have used extensive blueprint sets for every ship model in the game. Of course, some stuff had to be sacrificed to the tyranny of polygon count, but we like the end result.
19. Will the final game also feature scabbards with hangings and holsters, like in the first screenshots?
We intend to keep them
20. Will the rifles have belts for carrying?
21. Will there be besides flintlocks also matchlocks and wheellocks?
Yes, and miquelet locks too! And doglocks. And snaphances.
22. Will there be combination weaponry?
Yes, we plan to add a significant number of unique combined weapons, such as musket-halberd and pistol-axe.
23. Will the game feature correct and therefore LONG reloading animations for firearms and canons?
I am afraid fun trumps realism in here. And spending several minutes on reloading your musket is *not* fun, as far as we are concerned
23. Will there be different kinds of ammunition like chainshots and hotshots?
Yes, three types to be precise - regular balls that primarily damage ship hulls, chainballs to lay waste to the rigging and shrapnel to decimate the crew.
25. Will the bodies disappear before the players eye?s (A NO is the right answer)
Depends on your graphical settings
If your GPU is capable of displaying dozens of ragdolls at once, you can turn it up to the max. If not, well, something will have to be sacrificed for performance.
26. Will there be a realistic amount of smoke produced, after firing firearms?
We’ll keep it toned down somewhat, as fighting in a thick cloud of smoke where you can’t see your own hands isn’t particularly exciting.
27. Will there be a self-healing system? (A NO is the right answer)
The characters and soldiers do get better with time; but they can’t cast a “Cure Light Wounds” on themselves
There is an option to fix some damage to your ship’s hull or sails over time if you have enough wood and linen in your inventory, though.
28. Will there be recoil and misfire?
29. How many different ship models will there be?
There are several different models, ranging from a single-mast sloop to the majestic ship of the line. They represent over 30 actual ship types, from armed boats and schooners to 1st rate ships of the line and Manila galleons, each with its own set of attributes such as speed, maneuverability, crew size and maximum armament.
30. exactly what years will the game cover?
“Second half of XVII century” is the best estimate we may give
Yes, there is some stuff and people from 1640s and from 1690s peacefully coexisting together. We believe being particularly pedantic about this issue would diminish the experience greatly.
31. Water! Do the ships roll with the waves?
32. Ships! How many and how realistic?
33. How many islands could we expect to see? Will we have access to what today would be considered Florida? How much of South America will we have access to?
34. Will there be a storyline to follow or will it be mostly open ended with little story?
As far as the story is concerned, we opted to return to the original open-world sandbox gameplay. In the immortal words of Julian LeFay,“The story is what you decide to make it”
35 What kind of interaction can we expect with NPC's? Will they just be random quest givers or can we expect something more?
For the most part, the NPCs are there to provide the player with various services, not to have a life of their own. However, the quests they give can be of various nature...
36. How did they get the idea to make a ship based expansion. are they related to the other Caribbean game in development for M&B which previously announced or is this a new development.
After With Fire and Sword, the team wished to take the series further and move the action westward - from the steppes of Ukraine to the shores of the Great Lakes. As kids, we all totally loved the Westerns of East German making and worshipped Fenimore Cooper’s novels about Hawkeye and his comrade Chingachgook. So, we wanted to do a sort of tribute to the heroes of our collective childhood. And a game about Great Lakes is ought to have river transportation, with the player being able to build pirogues and sail them over the rivers and lakes.
We’ve built a small test map featuring canoe-riding Indians attacking an English fort from water - the English fired cannons and could sink enemy boats with direct hits. Just for laugh, someone offered to supply the poor Iroquois with a couple of canoe-mounted cannons of their own, so they would fire back. And then, it was only one step to full-scale naval battles. Having decided to get back to our beloved Indians, scalps and Beaver wars later, we moved the setting to where the fleets could really rule the day - the Caribbean archipelago.