Arrr! Age of Booty to Plunder PSN Soon

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I’m glad to be back here with the PlayStation Posse and talk about a game that I’m looking forward to – Age of Booty. No, it’s not an online dating game. It’s a casual, pirate-themed, online strategy game from some of the makers of Halo. Actually, I consider this more of a multiplayer party game because it’s really easy to play and allows for a lot of smack talk. Yarrr!

Here are more details:

  • Release date: Soon (I’ll confirm when I get a solid date)
  • Price: Only $9.99!
  • Trophies: No comment at this time. ;)
  • Add on content: Lots of free map packs in the future plus some cool expansions.
  • Players: Up to 8 players online – You can play a 4 player local match then take the team online!
  • Demo:Available a couple weeks after launch with online multiplayer matches!

Max Hoberman, one of the founders of the company that developed the game, has been kind enough to write this message to you, the PlayStation fans, and answer some of your questions (This is his time, so I probably won’t answer your Capcom related questions for a couple days). Anyway, heeeeeeere’s Max!

Hi everyone. My name is Max Hoberman. I’m the President and co-founder of Certain Affinity, developer of the upcoming downloadable pirate action RTS, Age of Booty. I thought I’d share a little bit of history about how Certain Affinity came about and the beginnings of the game.

Prior to starting Certain Affinity I worked at Bungie, where I was responsible for the multiplayer portion of the Halo games. In Austin I met a few amazingly experienced and talented developers, ironically from the Digital Anvil studio Microsoft had just closed. I was still working remotely for Bungie, and so I had to make a choice: continue working remotely or leave and start something new. I chose the latter and thus Certain Affinity was born.

Skip forward a few months. We’d been working on an ambitious long-term project but didn’t believe we’d be able to sign it quickly, at least not on favorable terms, and so we started looking for more work for hire. We had a few people free, and so while we looked we built a prototype of a game that would later come to be known as Age of Booty.

A bit earlier I’d had the idea of basing a console game off of the Settlers of Catan board game. I’m a huge fan of this game due to its balance of simple mechanics and depth, and also due to its replayability, something I attribute to its random maps. A friend, Stefan Sinclair (now one of our programmers), and I spent a day brainstorming about how to apply some of these mechanics to a console game. Inspired by Bungie’s long-running Pimps at Sea joke we started with the idea of playing as a pirate, we borrowed ideas from Catan, like a hex-based environment and resource production. But we also changed a lot to better suit an action game. We ditched turn-based play, for instance, decided that movement would happen from hex to hex rather than along hex boundaries, determined that each player would control a single ship, etc.

The team at Certain Affinity gave this design document a cautious welcome. David Bowman, one of our design leads, immediately took to it, going so far as building a paper prototype to sort out the core game mechanics. Paul Isaac and Peter Carter, our programmers, were more skeptical but dove in nonetheless, building the 3D hex-based environment and establishing core mechanics like camera and ship control, movement, and combat. We threw a lot at the project, and in six weeks flat we had a networked, playable prototype that looked good and that was a ton of fun. We realized that we’d discovered something wonderful.

Strategy games don’t typically mix well with consoles due to their complex PC-based controls. Yet Catan and many board games like it are strategy games to their core, though with wildly different mechanics and, due to their physical nature, usually less complexity. We ended up with a unique, highly intuitive control scheme and very simple mechanics, in ways more reminiscent of a board game than a PC strategy game. We then wrapped this in the trappings of computer-based strategy games—made it real-time, added team play, configurable options, a map editor, etc.

We played this ourselves a bunch, and then showed it around, first to friends and then, cautiously, to publishers. Everyone seemed to get it almost without explanation. It took just one game to get someone yelling and screaming and having a hell of a good time. We eventually signed a publishing deal with Capcom, a company that takes downloadable games and quality as seriously as we do. Now, a little over a year later, the game is about to go live.

Anyway, there’s a bit of info about the genesis of the game. I’ll follow this up with a bit more on the game itself, what it looks like in final form and why we’re so excited about it. Talk to you soon!

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