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Blend Games: With the marriage system on the way, it will definitely add a new element of community for many players. One of the things that has rattled the gaming journalism circuit for a while was the controversy over Dream of Mirror Online's option to have same-sex marriages. Are there any plans to include same-sex marriage options in Tales of Pirates, or will this game stay controversy-free?
Neil Chan: Some other games find that stunts like this may raise their profile in the short term, or give them some additional media coverage, but at ToP we like to keep the focus on the game. We believe that as providers of entertainment, introducing controversial topics only ends up ruining our players stress free enjoyment of the game. In fact, one of our most basic rules in our forums is that topics should not focus on race, religion or politics, just on the game. We feel that there are appropriate forums for these kinds of discussions, but an MMORPG is not one of them.
Blend Games: Yeah, totally agreed. Switching subjects…the corsairs add a whole new kind of strategic element to Tales of Pirates, as an MMO. Are there any plans to further expand on this particular feature of the game, anytime soon?
Neil Chan: The Corsair system has been one of our most successful features, and one that we are extremely proud of. Currently we have plans for piracy, navy police actions and arrests and new sea battle maps; however none of these have been finalized or fully developed. You’ll just have to wait to see what we’ve got in store. ^^
Blend Games: Events play a big role in keeping high level players interested in an MMO. So what kind of new events are on the way to test the skills of high-level players?
Neil Chan: With summer getting into full swing we’ve got a whole lineup of special summer events that are ready but haven’t been released yet. In addition, we also have “The Return of the Veterans”, which is a new event specifically for our higher level vets out there. With the introduction of the new version we also have new instances, a new PVP arena and new skills for vets to explore, so we don’t think any of them will be getting bored any time soon.
Blend Games: The Honorary Chest was a great way to reward guilds in Tales of Pirates. How did the team come up with this idea and how have players responded to the inclusion of this feature?
Neil Chan: Everyone that has benefitted from this feature can send their thanks to the ToP operations team. Their concept was a simple one - bring the ToP community closer together by renewing the focus on teamwork. This is especially true among Guilds, so designing a reward that encouraged Guilds to fight together was the natural next step. With newbies and vets working together in Guild Wars much more often than before, it seems to have paid off.
Blend Games: It’s pretty cool that players can suggest the kind of events and changes that should take place in the game on the TOP forum board. How often are these suggestions used and are there any highly requested changes/suggestions that don’t get used for any particular reason?
Neil Chan: The whole ToP team is very proud to be a part of such an inspired and passionate community of players. This community can be a fountain of ideas, and we really wanted to be able to give them a place to bounce ideas around, hence the birth of the Suggestion column in the forum. Sometimes, they come up with things we never would have thought of; it was an untapped resource sitting right under our noses! Some notable player ideas that were added – the immensely popular All-Server Championship, and the Marriage system, and we are always looking for more. Big or small, we'll incorporate the best ones into our games.
Blend Games: Player cops are a really cool idea. I’m curious, though, what distinguishes Player Cops from the standard General Managers that most MMO games employ?
Neil Chan: Our GMs do a fantastic job at orchestrating events, assisting players with problems, policing for spammers and hackers and all the other duties they have. However they can’t be everywhere at once, which led to players brazenly breaking rules with seeming impunity. We needed an edge so that players breaking the rules would never know where or when they might get caught, and might think twice before trying something, so we decided to enlist our most loyal helpers – our players! The next step was to give these cops enough power to be a real force for change, without upsetting the balance of the game. This led to the development of Arrest Warrants, allowing the Player Cops to put rule breakers in a ‘jail’ temporarily. The system is new and we still have some kinks to work out, but we feel that it has become a very important tool that has cut spamming and hacking dramatically in many of our servers.
Blend Games: Changing the subject a bit…recently a YouTube user posted a video regarding hacking the game for extra points. How often does this occur and do you find that it impedes the progress of the game’s content versus the required security to prevent these sorts of situations from being exploited?
Neil Chan: Frankly speaking this has been a big problem that we have been working day and night to resolve. Unfortunately, the hackers are putting in the same hours we are. Technology is like that. We do our best to protect our game and our community by keeping our players informed of scams, fixing bugs, and monitoring troublemakers, but it’s never enough. We have recently introduced Player Cops, which although quite low tech compared with many of the hackers tricks, has been very effective. We will continue to stay vigilant, and pursue all means of finding and stopping these players from destroying the game and community we have worked so long and hard to create.
Blend Games: Tales of Pirates is a pretty cool MMORPG. Is there anything you would like our readers to know about the game that might further spark their interest in playing it?
Neil Chan: Yeah, of course! First we’d like to invite anyone who might be interested to go ahead and give ToP a shot. We have a lively community of friendly players, and a constant stream of new content to improve our game world. Speaking of new content, we have a few tidbits we’d like to drop on content that’s coming in the next few months. We’ve got the Death Armor light f/x for several characters, a massive new PVP arena, a trans-server battlefield for those of you who can’t get enough PK, new apparel, new mazes, and of course, the Divorce system for all those players feeling a bit of regret after the giddiness of the Marriage system release. All this and more, so come and join us, in Tales of Pirates!
Our thanks go out to Neil Chan and the entire Tales of Pirates team for taking time out to answer our questions. If you want to check out Tales of Pirates feel free to visit the Official Website. For more gaming news, insight, interviews and updates, be sure to stay tuned in with Blend Games.