E3 2017: Hands-on with Sea of Thieves’ multiplayer ship crewing

As I mentioned in MassivelyOP’s Best of E3 Overthinking article, I came away from this year’s con thinking Sea of Thieves was the best playable online multiplayer game with a playable demo there, despite that demo being “terrible.” What I mean by “terrible” is that it created the potential for some of the worst parts of gaming to come true. There’s a reason most MMOs demo a battleground, boss fight, or newbie experience: Those are easy to demo, especially for non-MMO fans. Some demos give players a zone to explore, which is better, when done well. Rarely are people put into a situation where the entire demo requires coordination, but Rare did it, and it paid off, despite the fact that it’s not selling an MMO.

Allow me to explain.

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Sea of Thieves begins first PC tech alpha this weekend

Alpha is beginning for Rare’s pirate-themed sailing MMO Sea of Thieves — technical alpha, that is, for a thousand lucky Windows 10 players.

“Starting this Saturday, May 20th, we’ll be inviting a small initial batch of players to test this first PC release on Windows 10. This test will run from 7 – 10 p.m. BST, and it will be open for these 1,000 invited PC players only. And when we say small, we mean it: this won’t be an armada of PC players just yet. We’re looking to invite around 1,000 Windows 10 Technical Alpha testers to start.”

Rare says that you lucky thousand seafarers will be focused on auto-detection – “how effectively the game analyses and assigns low, medium, high, or ultra settings” – as well as generating feedback on control schemes. It’s basically the same build features from the Xbox One tech alpha.

“Similarly to our Technical Alpha on Xbox One, we’ll be starting slowly but gradually building up our audience,” says the studio.


Sea of Thieves discuss playtest experiences – but still no release date in sight

What’s going on right now with the piratey Sea of Thieves? The game is currently in its technical alpha (the best kind of alpha there is!), with the team occasionally posting developer gameplay videos to entertain and enlighten the masses.

In this week’s Tales from the Tavern Podcast, the team discusses those play sessions, the recent additions to the game, and a studio update. The team also hinted at some things to come, such as “putting emergent things into the world to mess with the players.”

Curious about when Sea of Thieves will be coming out? Previously the team had said “early 2017,” but in the show comments, they clarified that “we haven’t announced a release date yet. Fully focused on the Tech Alpha for now!”

Check out the full hour podcast below!

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Sea of Thieves announces its first technical alpha

After months of waiting and some tongue-in-cheek speculation that the game was nothing but a series of audio design diaries, Sea of Thieves is ready to start letting players on board soon. The game’s first technical alpha will start on December 16th, with select players signed up as insiders getting invitations to take part in organized play events with the early versions of the game. And it will be select players; the team estimates that about a thousand players, all told, will be getting into the test events.

Of course, you won’t be able to say much about it anyway, as this early stage of testing will be protected by NDA. Still, it means that the game is starting to weigh anchor and get out to sea, something you can see in a more visual format in a video just below. It’ll also give you an idea of what to expect for yourself… or the other lucky people who get into the test. Either one.

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Here’s how Rare is building Sea of Thieves’ outposts

Ever wondered how it is that game designers actually build the locations you’ll be tromping all over in MMOs? The latest Sea of Thieves video from developer Rare gives a glimpse into just that process, with a focus on the outposts hinted at in the last video on islands.

Environment Artist Joe Bradford shows players how the team begins with a design requirement for an outpost, which then goes to the concept art team, and then the environment team turns it into something workable, from a low-res block-out to a terrain-sculpted, properly asset-filled scene.

“The outposts are a really important part of our game,” he says, “and we spend a lot of time hand-crafting them so that they’re the best experience they can be.” Watch along below!

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Sea of Thieves shares more details on the sounds of the ship

There’s more to be learned about the sound design behind Sea of Thieves, and the most recent video diary for the game covers one of the important parts of that sound design: the ship. After all, if everything else sounds right but the boat is constantly making motor sounds and quacking like a duck, will you really be able to convince yourself you’re on an old pirate galleon?

If so, can you tell us how? Your vision of pirate ships sounds kind of awesome.

The video can be seen just below and shows off the various sounds you can hear all through the ship, from the wash of water ahead of the bow to the gentle creaking deep within the hull. It’s enough to make even the most hardened pirate nod appreciatively toward the intricate sound design before he tells you to give him all of your dubloons and hardtack or he’ll keel-haul your landlubbing hide.

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Sea of Thieves is taking in-game pirate shanties seriously

Should pirate music played by pirates sound like a professional orchestra? Nope! Nor will it in Rare’s Sea of Thieves. Head of Music Robin Beanland and Audio Director Jon Vincent have a dev video out today for all the music geeks in the audience. They discuss how they salvaged a bunch of old, rickety, folk instruments (like a concertina), actual animal bones (for the rhythm bones), and a custom-made hurdy-gurdy to create the sound of the music in the pirate-themed MMO, including the music the players will make themselves. Listen along below!

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Sea of Thieves shines a light on its environments

First there was realistic water. Then there were fluffy clouds. And now, Sea of Thieves is proud to present its glorious light.

In a new Inn-side Story video, the team talks about the warmth and volume of its lighting system. As Sea of Thieves will feature a full day/night cycle, the lighting will adjust accordingly depending on the time. Plus, screenshotters who adore sunsets should be in for a treat: “We can let the sun hang on the horizon to give you that nice sunset image, let it last a bit longer. As the sun sets, it gives the illusion that it gets bigger, so we increase the disc size of the sun.”

Check it out below!

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Sea of Thieves sees Xbox and PC as ‘equal partners’

When Sea of Thieves releases, it won’t just be on console; Rare is developing the game for both the Xbox One and Windows 10. In a new developer video, the studio explains why it’s giving both platforms equal attention.

“We have to build credibility in [the PC] space,” said Executive Producer Joe Neate. “I think it’s important that we do get people to understand that we are taking this as a really serious platform, that PC and Xbox One are equal partners. That they’re both as important as each other to us.”

The developers assured fans that the studio is “full of PC players,” just in case you were worried that they were completely prejudiced against computers for some reason. You can listen in on the discussion after the break.

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Sea of Thieves will give pirates musical instruments to fill the time

Pirates don’t just live by the code of the sword and skull; sometimes a good buccaneer likes to fill his or her day with some jaunty sea tunes. In the spirit of this, Sea of Thieves has plans to implement musical instruments for characters to play during their journeys.

“We wanted to put in instruments in a way that is lighthearted and fun and fits the tone,” Senior Designer Shelly Preston said in the project’s maiden “short haul” video. Players can pick up instruments and join together to provide some aural atmosphere as they go on adventures and wait for the action to begin.

Tap out a merry tune as you watch the video after the break.

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E3 2016: Sea of Thieves is much more than pirate ship PvP (and might just be an MMO)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been excited for a Rare game, but pirate-themed, multiplayer sailing-and-swashbuckling game Sea of Thieves took hold of me just based on the concept we heard last year at E3 2015. I knew this year the game would be shown in some capacity this year, and indeed I was pleased to get to interview Rare Lead Designer Mike Chapman and get some hands on with the game. I wasn’t disappointed.

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E3 2016: Sea of Thieves releases cinematic and gameplay trailers

First announced back at least year’s E3, Sea of Thieves has emerged with two brand-new trailers at this year’s event: a cinematic trailer and a gameplay video, the latter showing multiple players tricking out and sailing a pirate ship. Rare is stopping short of calling it an MMO, though an interview last year suggested “large scale co-op,” but you can definitely put checkmarks next to “online” and “multiplayer” so far. Arrrrr!

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Sea of Thieves starts a fan contest to play the game before anyone else

If you’ve managed to forget what happened at E3 last year, recall that Rare announced that it was making a shared-world pirate game titled Sea of Thieves. Those of you with eyepatches and well-trained parrots are likely already nodding and muttering “aye” in recollection. So how would you like a chance to play the game before anyone else along with a trip to England?

All right, the second part of that sentence is going to be significantly less appealing to anyone who already is in England, but play along.

The contest asks for you, in short, to demonstrate how excited you are to play the game with a video or photos, with bonus points awarded for sets, dialogue, presentation, and costume. (For these purposes you can classify your eyepatch-and-parrot existence as a costume.) There’s a full teaser for the contest just below if you can’t wait for the chance to make every day all about talking and acting like a pirate.

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