Crazytalk & Crackapolly Talk Geek

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Pirates Vikings Knights II team speaks to Gez

By: Gez the Healer

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010

After blasting its way onto Steam in February this year, PVKII’s popularity has rocketed.

The old Menu screen

For those unaware of the back-story; three ancient warrior races steal some cursed treasure and are subsequently transported to a magical realm to do battle for all eternity. To pass the time they fight over a range of objectives and maps with axes, swords, arrows and parrots.

Each team in PVKII comes with a distinct set of classes and currently, there are only seven classes available to players, but the ambitious development team has plans for a huge six playable classes per team. I was lucky enough to speak to PVKII lead developer, Bob ‘Crazytalk’ Spiers and head coder, ‘Crackapolly’. They told me what lies on the horizon for this popular mod.

After its February Steam release PVKII has become one of the most played steam mods. This latest build has been over a year in the making; what improvements have been made since the previous build and how do you think this has affected the gameplay?

  • CT: The change log for the latest build, as long as it is, really doesn’t do justice to all the work that went into it. Some of the major changes that have been made is the conversion to Orange Box, the implementation of SteamWorks, achievements and the changes to the combat system. We spent a lot of time tweaking the combat system and balance to make it easier to pick up the first time you play. Though it’s still possible to master the new system, new players will no longer be completely dominated by a melee system that takes a while to learn. Gameplay is also more focused on objective scoring. Altogether the changes made to the game have been a huge success.
  • Cracka: One of the primary goals was to make the game more accessible to new players and to try and normalise the difference in skill levels so that it can be fun for people who don’t get to play as often. I feel overall our changes have had a positive impact on gameplay. A big issue in the last versions was that defensive moves were always superior to offensive moves so you ended up with people stopping a staring at one another afraid to attack and be parried. We solved this by reducing the penalty to stun and adding ways to counteract block such as fully-charged attacks.

PVKII has really taken advantage of being on Steam by releasing a flurry of gameplay updates. How important is the feedback you receive from players when making decisions about what changes to enact?

  • CT: Community feedback is always important. After releasing anything, there is always a mountain of opinions and suggestions posted on the forums; we look through these and sort out what we consider valuable and make changes accordingly.
  • Cracka: Both in-game and out of game feedback is very important. I try to watch and pay attention to what people say when I am playing the mod. It is a challenge though because balance is a fine line and personal experience can have a large impact on perceptions of balance being for better or for worse. The most useful feedback is primarily observing players in action.

PVKII is renowned for its easily accessible, melee-deathmatch fun but in this latest build we’ve seen the mod take a much more objective-based focus. How well has this worked and are there more changes to objective play in the works?

  • CT: We have implemented the new objective scoring system and it seems to have helped shift focus for some of the more experienced players. Unfortunately, new players sometimes have trouble focusing on the objectives. For this reason, we’re working on adding elements to the game that will help guide the players. One thing we have planned is global announcements/taunts. For example, when the Pirates are winning in booty mode, the enemy teams may hear something like “Ha har, we gots tha booty! Come and get it ya scallywags!”

The 2.3 build has seen the advent of the latest class; the Gestir. Has he proved popular with the fan base? And how has he integrated with the existing classes?

  • CT: The Gestir has been a great addition to the Viking team and players seem to enjoy playing him. He adds a new dynamic to the game with his spear and javelins. He’s also been carefully balanced to integrate well with the other classes. We look forward to adding the Man-at-arms and Sharpshooter in future releases, who will help balance things out even more.