“People used to ask me why my books sold well. I told them, 'Because we live in bad times.'”
Michael Moorcock

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cool story, sis, but you could have told it in half the time...
(YPP) The Olympian Class Sloop: Sacrificing convenience for cool
Mon 2015-10-19 11:20:11 (in context)

I have been meaning for some time to blog about the Olympian Class Sloop that was available for shipyard purchase in July and August. But I keep trying to do this on Sunday, and the problem with Sunday is that it starts with roller derby practice, and I don't generally manage much that's productive after roller derby practice. Generally I wind up flat in bed for the rest of the day. (That especially goes for Sunday practices where I manage to roll my ankle and inflame some sort of tendon in my foot. Stoopid foot.) Next thing I know, it's Monday morning, and I missed another Sunday, and the sloop I want to blog about came out three months ago, and when am I going to blog about this month's limited edition sloop (the Undead Class Sloop, available through November 1), huh?

So, whatever, here's a Puzzle Pirates blog post on Monday morning. You can pretend it's still Sunday if you want to.

Olympian Class Sloop: Gorgeous and Terribly Inconvenient

It is shiny and pretty in every way. But I have discovered that I'm less than happy with its layout.

Puzzle Pirates has many good things going for it, but movement around a scene is not one of them. Which is usually OK. Almost all of the action takes place in chat and in mini-games, after all. Your pirate avatar mostly serves the purpose of playing dress-up and showing off the results. So it's understandable that, of all the things the game designers could focus on, the user experience of walking around isn't a high priority.

It only becomes a problem in two areas. One of those is walking around a large, uninhabited island; since you can't "teleport" to various areas via the buildings on the Dock map, you really do have to walk in order to find the horde of monsters waiting to be defeated or the island creator's inscription or whatever. And walking is nail-bitingly, knuckle-whiteningly slow. You click where you want to go, and then you wait for your pirate to get there, and then you right-click to shift the camera to the new area, and then you wait for the camera motion to finish, then you do it all over again. And again. And again.

The other problem area is walking around a ship, especially one with a lot of stairs and extraneous scenes. And in order to reach the booty chest an Olympian Class Sloop, you must navigate both.

Assuming that you've been performing the duty navigation puzzle (I always do), you start at the navigation wheel, up top the aft platform of the main deck. So first you've got to come down the stairs. I hate in-scene stairs. If you're already standing on the yellow arrow, you'll have to walk off it and walk back. And sometimes even then it doesn't work--instead of going down the stairs, your pirate simply stops at the top of the stairs. At this point, I'd usually click the other downstairs arrow--but on the Olympian Class Sloop there is only one set of stairs between the aft deck and the main deck. Arrgh! So I have to walk off the arrow and try it again.

Or I just skip the damn stairs. Right-clicking moves the camera over and brings the hatch into view. So I click on its little yellow arrow, and go downstairs into the main hold. Arrows that change scenes don't seem to fail at the rate that arrows for descending/ascending in-scene stairs do.

So now you are in the main hold, which is where most sloops keep the booty. But not this sloop. Oh, no. You must go down another level into the "Gorgon Den". And then you have to walk all the way to the other side of the Den, because the scene is too long to reach it by shifting the camera.

Now you can divide the booty. Finally. But then you'll have to go back up to the main hold if you want to then access the money and goods now aboard the ship. Arrrgh.

It's a cute narrative premise: The booty chest is buried deep in a stone labyrinth and watched over by the head of Medusa. Thus would-be thieves either get lost or turned to stone. Honestly, if the developers had seen fit to bring this narrative to life in a game-affecting way--say, giving the ship a modest functional bonus against gem thieves and the like--I'd complain less. But as things stand, it's purely a cosmetic thing which affects game play only by making booty divisions more of a pain in my butt.

Honestly, I'd prefer it if you could get to a ship's hold and booty via commands on the sidebar, just like you already do with the port/deport and sail/turn about buttons. But if they must be dependent on interacting with "physical" stations, can't those stations be made less inconvenient to get to?

It's not just the officer in command who has to deal with it. The Gorgon Den also houses the ship's two bilge stations and one of its carpentry/patching stations. So if you're a jobber switching from sails to something else, you risk getting yelled at to "station up, lazer!" when you're genuinely trying to do just that. If you're an officer moving your swabbies about, you have a long wait during which you might wonder if the swabbie will restation at all.

Pretty as it is, I'd as soon do away with the Olympian Class Sloop's main hold entirely--it's not particularly functional--and replace it with the Gorgon Den. Or just move all the functional parts of the Gorgon Den up onto the main hold, so that the room that's the hardest to get to is also the room that you need the least. Compare with the Red Room on the Dream Class Sloop. Clever hidden rooms and sub-basements are fun to look at and maybe throw parties in, but let's keep them strictly optional, yeah?

So there you go. It's a beautiful ship with a clever story behind it, and PixelPixie of the Cerulean Ocean deserves all the kudos for their contest-winning design. But the game developers have made it enough of a pain to interact with that I'd rather just leave ported at some island with an active market and just use it for executing shore trade.

So that's my rant. Meanwhile, I have just bought this month's Undead Class Sloop, which again is only available through November 1. Hopefully it turns out to be both really cool-looking and a pleasure to sail.