Sea of Thieves’ devs have realized that community comes from not constantly fighting each other

Hey, kids, did you know that players feel more like a community when they’re working together rather than constantly fighting one another? Of course you did, you’ve paid attention to more than two decades of MMOs teaching this exact lesson. But it appears that Rare was absent during those days of design school. A recent interview on the post-launch environment for Sea of Thieves reveals that the game’s team more or less completely changed the plan for the game once it became clear that, gasp, communities form when people work together:

We looked at the game just after launch and thought: players want to enjoy the fantasy of broadsiding other ships, so it makes sense for AI to take the brunt of that: if you’re giving people the creative outlet of attacking a common foe, it’s going to reduce the wish for dominance over other players.

Of course, for fans of the game who wanted more variety in things to do, more variety in combat, and more fun ways to interact other than constant PvP struggles, these are all good pieces of news and there’s reason to be happy about it. The full interview is a fascinating look at a team completely ripping up a plan for the game and starting a completely new roadmap. But if you’ve been playing MMOs for (again) two decades, a lot of it will sound… very familiar.

On the content side of things, the devs just posted the latest update video below.

Source: The Guardian
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Denice J. Cook

It sounds like they’re trying to find something to blame the mass exodus of their launch population on, instead of just admitting that their very underwhelming game is too repetitive, limited and boring.

*ducks*

Well, that *is* the 800-pound elephant glaring at them from that long-ignored corner of their office! :P

Someone should point this game out to the Fallout 76 team, and remind them that plopping players into Setting X and relying on them to “make their own content” never works for very long.

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Blake

It’s what happens when you have a strong-willed developer/producer who surrounds themselves with like-minded developers/programmers. You end up with that singular mindset dominating development.

Now they’re like wait … beating on one another doesn’t promote working together? Duh. :)

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athiev

Maybe another lesson here is that there really is no untapped market for pvp-centric MMOs

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memitim

There is no market for *crap* pvp-centric MMOs…not that this really counts as an MMO but whatever.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah SoT is basically a game that has the most bare bones form of PvP in it. It’s not really a PvP centric game by any means nor is it an MMO.

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Loopy

Sometimes i truly wonder if developers actually play online games. How is it news to anyone that PVP breeds shitty attitudes? Introduce a highly competitive environment, and you will have highly competitive players.

Competitive environment != a happy place. There is a reason why games like LOTRO, FFXIV, and other PVE-only games have much friendlier communities, than the PVP or hybrid ones.

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Sorenthaz

PvP without consequence, to boot. PvP basically has all the potential rewards in SoT without any risks or consequences. Only the victim gets punished at the end of the day because it’s their time/efforts going to waste. It’s the most bare-bones and primitive form of PvP, and it’s the type that has the power to completely dominate the game’s atmosphere as a result because the world does not react to it whatsoever and aggressors who fail do not get adequately punished.

Alex Js.
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Alex Js.

Doesn’t matter what they “realized”, the game is a major failure (I participate in many Discord gaming communities, no one is still playing it anymore or streaming it on Twitch/YouTube/whatever) and no amount of tweaking will increase its popularity…

They should just close it down and re-release in a year or so, completely revamped with better engine (with better character customizations), much larger maps/areas, much larger ship variety with ships which can fit a larger crews, larger ship customizations with non-cosmetic upgrades to increase speed/hitpoints/cannon damage and type of damage, much larger variety of PvE enemies and missions (dynamic group quests involving many sea creatures or NPC pirate/faction ships in an open sea or NPC pirate/faction islands which take a large group of people to take over) and stuff like player-capturable islands where you can build defense structures and populate them with some NPC guards (to protect against both the NPC pirates and players), etc.

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Eamil

I think closing it down would be arbitrary. Updating it slowly over time isn’t inherently a bad thing, and when they feel they have enough content in place they could do a rebrand and a big marketing push without taking the game down. But yeah, I’m definitely glad I passed on the game.

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lestrade

if you’re giving people the creative outlet of attacking a common foe, it’s going to reduce the wish for dominance over other players.”

I don’t think that this is how it works. Maybe for so long until they got all the new stuff which is there to grab and after that it’s Bullet to the Head again.

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Cosmic Cleric

Actually, amazingly enough, at a species level, our default state is to cooperation for mutual survival. It’s why we, and not dinosaurs, are reading MoP right now (that, and too small arms/hands, and that whole extinction thing).

It’s only when we don’t see cooperation happening, and our own survival is at stake (a subtle but important point), that we go solo killing machine mode.

A way over generalization, but it’s a point that game devs tend not to see, at least not right away. It’s all about the root beer.

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Sorenthaz

Another thing is that there can be things to gain from killing other players and nothing to lose unless you purposely carry around treasure before attacking other players. PvP has zero consequences in SoT so folks who are more bloodthirsty have nothing holding them back.

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socontrariwise

Dinosaurs died because they could not survive falling oxygen levels after the meteor crash and subsequent vulcanic winter. It is literally why bird today as their lone descendents are still the only creature unable to breath through the beak to increase oxygen/air intake if necessary. They even suffocate from a cold because of it.
Humans have a cooperative focus nowadays because fighting for millenia has weeded out genetic and social setups with a hyper aggressive tendency. That includes social pressure and penalty which Sea of Thieves lacks, hence the re-appearing behavior.
Seriously, get your facts straight.

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Cosmic Cleric

Dinosaurs died because they could not survive falling oxygen levels after the meteor crash and subsequent vulcanic winter. It is literally why bird today as their lone descendents are still the only creature unable to breath through the beak to increase oxygen/air intake if necessary. They even suffocate from a cold because of it.
Humans have a cooperative focus nowadays because fighting for millenia has weeded out genetic and social setups with a hyper aggressive tendency.

– INSERT ‘MIND BLOWN’ GIF HERE –

That includes social pressure and penalty which Sea of Thieves lacks, hence the re-appearing behavior.

I got nothin’.

Seriously, get your facts straight.

I can’t tell if you’re trolling me, or having fun with me, or having fun at my expense.

I think I’ll go with all of the above. Safer that way. :)

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Paul Hurtado

I’d say “let this be a lesson to other developers”, but… I mean this is the number one reason why i didn’t touch this game, and I’d venture a guess that my sentiments about it are shared among many that might have played this game otherwise. Is it too late to make a course correction and save the game? Maybe not, since the genre is something people are clamoring for… but time will tell. It also depends on how far the other way they end up going.

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StonerMk2

The game being pretty much nothing but PVP is the exact reason i didnt buy it, and its lack of content.

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Toy Clown

Well, yeah. That’s why games like GW2 and FFXIV have some of the best communities around: People help each other, content is inclusive and it takes the stress out of being “nice” to people.

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Sorenthaz

Took them way too long to finally start realizing this junk. At this point I think they’re just plain ignorant with how online PvP works, and instead of looking at the decade+ of other games out there that have had similar issues, they thought that somehow their community would be different. ‘

But that’s never how it works, especially in a pirate game. Some people will automatically argue that pirate games are supposed to be all about killing and stealing from other pirates, and it’s those types of players that create an atmosphere of distrust and noncooperation to the point where people will shoot on sight no matter what.

Honestly I feel like a lot of what Rare is trying to do now is too little too late, but who knows. The more they move away from PvP being the ‘main’ thing to do though, the better chances they have of building the community back up and getting folks to come back in and check things out in the future.

Bannex
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Bannex

Most oblivious developers in gaming.

People have been telling them this for its entire development.

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Sorenthaz

Indeed. It seems like they either completely ignored it until their rocky launch or else they simply made excuses to cover up the fact that they were rushing to get the game semi-ready for launch.

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Schmidt.Capela

People shouldn’t need to tell devs this; just a cursory look at the story of the genre they were targeting — something that anyone planning to spend millions developing a game should do during pre-production — would have shown them how players tend to act, allowing them to avoid having to, in the devs own words, rip apart their roadmap and start again.