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Cleaver
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Ice Server Up, Shipwrightery, Missions, Doubloons and more!

[size=18]A Letter from the Captain

Ahoy mates! I hope this missive finds ye well. I write to you with news on the glorious future of Puzzle Pirates!

Before I begin, I would like to express our gratitude and profound thanks to you, our players and supporters. As many of ye know, Three Rings is a small, scrappy startup playing in a field of companies with tens of millions of dollars to invest. It's because of you, our loyal players, that we are able to keep going and achieve the success that we have. It will because of you that we rise to greater heights, and we look forward to having you enjoy the journey with us.

A major announcement I have today concerns a forthcoming experiment with our business model that will provide alternative ways for potential players to enjoy the Puzzle Pirates world. We hope that many of you, like us, will be excited and intrigued by the changes. Rest assured that this new undertaking will not affect your experience as subscribers.

And so, on with the news;

[size=18]Ubisoft to Publish Puzzle Pirates at Retail

As you might have heard already, Ubisoft is going to publish Puzzle Pirates at North American retail stores in April. This is a great boon for the game as it will certainly mean a considerable influx of new mates.

The game will be $19.99, including a manual, one month of free play, a single-player mode, and a special in-game item. Download of the game and existing subscribers will not be affected.

More details on the retail release can be found here, including an FAQ covering a great number of players' questions;

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15118

[size=18]Miniclip

You have all doubtless noticed the influx of new mates into the Midnight Ocean. A great number of them hail from Miniclip.com, an incredibly popular UK-based website.

Miniclip has a slightly different audience from Puzzle Pirates' historical playerbase, making integration of these new mates at times difficult for our established players. We thank you for your efforts in helping those who show promise. The flood will be less distracting soon, as it is our plan to largely direct the Miniclip mates to new servers, starting with Cobalt.

The surprising news may be that our present influx is only a 'soft launch' from Miniclip, and we are expecting much greater numbers in due course, perhaps ten times the current influx.

We will need to add a number of new Oceans. Which brings us neatly on to...

[size=18]The Ice (Test) Ocean and testing the Next Release

As long mooted, today we are opening a Test Server, to be known as the Ice Ocean. The Ice Ocean will be available only to subscribers and will usually be running a preview version of the next full release. As such it will require a separate client be installed on your machine.

Ice is online now and the client can be found here:

Windows: http://www.puzzlepirates.com/aclient/test-install.exe
Mac: http://www.puzzlepirates.com/aclient/test-install.dmg
Linux: http://www.puzzlepirates.com/aclient/test-install.bin

Note: If you have the Azure client installed from a previous test, then be sure to uninstall this before installing the Ice client. How do you know? If you have a Puzzle Pirates Test installed before installing this new client then uninstall it first.

If you have issues with installation please look here:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15287

Although we hope that players will establish a vibrant, if small, community and economy on Ice, it will be subject to instability and it may be necessary to perform wipes. We will try to avoid such, but be warned that they may happen.

In particular, it is very likely that we will wipe Ice after the first week of testing, for reasons that will soon be apparent.

Questions and Answers regarding the Ice Ocean can be found here:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15288

[size=18]The Next Release

Debuting on Ice will be a few major new features;

- Shipwrightery
- Missions

Shipwrightery is the first effort of the well-known Pirate Tedv, and Missions come from Hussar's pen. Missions are intended to provide new pirates with a fun set of challenges that introduce them to all aspects of the game. We hope that older players will find some fun in them, too. Over time we hope to extend the Missions system with a lot more activities and rewards.

Discussion of Shipwrightery can be found here:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15280

Discussion and Q&A regarding Missions can be found here:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15292

In addition we will be testing a new business model for Puzzle Pirates; Doubloons.

[size=18]Doubloons

Over 300,000 accounts have been registered on Puzzle Pirates, but only a small proportion of those mates have subscribed. The Dread Ringers have pondered long into many a night how we might encourage more folks to play, and have often wondered if requiring a fixed subscription fee from every player is a substantial barrier to the success of Puzzle Pirates.

Doubloons are a grand experiment in this regard. On a Doubloon server Puzzle Pirates may be played for free, with no trial period or subscription fee. Instead players are charged for what they use and consume.

Doubloons might be considered 'tokens' or 'credits'. They are purchased in packages, for example 42 doubloons for $9.95; approximately $0.25 per doubloon. On a 'Doubloon Ocean' pirates must pay a small number of Doubloons in order to deliver orders of goods such as clothes, swords and ships. The order price must still be paid as normal in pieces of eight, and in most other respects the game is identical, save that badges must be purchased for specific privileges, for example an 'Officers Badge' or 'Labour Badge' to work at a shop.

Some players will obviously wish to exchange Doubloons for Pieces of Eight between themselves. In order to facilitate a fair market there is an automated Doubloon Exchange at the bank, where players can post offers for Doubloons in Pieces of Eight and vice versa: offers for Pieces of Eight in Doubloons. The Eights prices are adjusted for transfer fees depending on the island where the location of the PoE. These transactions always take place between players. Doubloons are only ever put into the system through direct purchase in real money.

It is an intentional aspect of this plan that some players will be able to play the game for free, accumulate pieces of eight, and trade them for the doubloons that they desire to complete purchases. Likewise other players will purchase Doubloons and trade some for the pieces of eight they seek, essentially buying their way to ships and finery.

As subscribers you may boggle at such behaviour, and indeed we at Three Rings did at first. However, numerous player requests and the existence of vast secondary markets for popular MMORPGs indicates that a mechanism like this can create an environment where those with plenty of time and little money can enjoy a game, trading with those in the opposite capacity.

We believe that Puzzle Pirates is fundamentally a skill-based game in which no amount of in-game purchases makes a pivotal difference to your real achievements. Thus we do not believe that a Doubloon spender would be buying success in the game, although they may be buying a form of prestige.

We do not intend to change anything about the current subscription version of Puzzle Pirates. Subscribers will continue to enjoy flat-rate pricing that includes all aspects of the game. New features will be added to both Subscriber and Doubloon oceans, and Doubloons will not be used or available for trade in Subscriber Oceans. We will continue to send new trial players to both Subscriber Oceans and the Doubloon Oceans.

In particular I must assure you that Doubloons is not an attempt to garner additional revenue from our loyal subscribers. We think that most of our existing subscribers will prefer to stay on subscriber Oceans.

Doubloons are entirely directed towards new players, in particular the new audience that is arriving from Miniclip.com. A notable success on Miniclip was the game Runescape, which offers a free version and a premium subscription version. Doubloons can be considered our variation on the 'free version' of Puzzle Pirates.

There is also considerable evidence from Korea, China, Japan and other countries that Puzzle Pirates would do a lot better in those markets with this type of business model. Thus the experiment is hopefully worthwhile for Three Rings even if it meets with a less than stellar reaction with US and European audiences.

We know that our Doubloon plan is controversial and somewhat unique. Not everyone is going to like Doubloons, for all sorts of reasons. We have tried to address some of these concerns in the Doubloon FAQ:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/support/faqs/doubloons.html

We'll be answering new questions in this thread:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15290

If ye have thoughts and opinion, please post here;

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15289

Thanks!

[size=18]Testing Doubloons on Ice

We will test Doubloons on Ice for a week or so, and then if all goes reasonably well, we'll roll out the first experimental Doubloon Ocean, Cobalt. For Q&A of the Doubloon test on Ice please see the following post:

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15296

We are giving every Subscriber 100 Doubloons to spend during the testing, after which we will wipe all Doubloons and revert Ice to a normal Subscriber Ocean. We may do a wipe of the entire Ice database at this point, depending on the effect of Doubloons on the development of the new server and in consultation with the players.

[size=18]Doubloons on Cobalt

We understand that many subscribers have been anticipating Cobalt's debut and will be disappointed that it is arriving as a Doubloon server, not a subscription server. We're sorry that this comes as a surprise. As a small company one of our great advantages is that we can move rapidly, and in this case the decision was made quite recently.

Of course there is nothing to prevent subscribers from playing on Cobalt for free without buying Doubloons. We suspect, however, that you will be happier on Midnight or Ice.

We fully intend to open new Subscriber Oceans when the populations warrants it. In particular note that we currently plan to direct all Ubisoft players to Subscriber Oceans. We therefore expect to launch a good number of new Subscriber Oceans between now and the retail release in April.

For Q&A regarding Cobalt we have a new happy thread here;

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15293

[size=18]Moving!

In other news, Three Rings has finally left the good Jack's incu-loft and graduated to our very own offices! Fortunately the move was quite painless as we've travelled only one-third of a block, sticking to our roots in San Francisco's South of Market district. Now we have room for lots more new Pirates!

The first such cabin person to job aboard is young Sophocles, Mr Tom Schofield, who is joining us as Chief Operating Officer or COO. This grand title translates as 'First Mate' or 'helping the Captain to keep the rum flowin'.

The forum-readers amongst you will be amused to learn that two doors down is a business known as 'TART'.

[size=18]OceanMaster Recruitment

With all these new servers we are going to need to expand our cadre of OceanMasters. Applications for the next round of OceanMaster hiring are now open, the details can be found here;

http://www.threerings.net/jobs/

Questions and answers about the OM-recruitment can be found here;

http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=15295

Please note that these are professional, paid positions that require a commitment and responsibility. Unfortunately we are legally obliged to require that you be over 18 years old to apply, and we are not able to work with unpaid volunteers in this capacity.

[size=18]Closing Words

Ahoy! Thank you for reading this far!

Today's bevvy of news represents the culmination of a fair old amount of work and a lot more deep thought for the Ringers. Thank you for your ongoing support, and may the wind fill yer sails!

- Daniel, aka Captain Cleaver
CEO | Three Rings
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Cleaver at Feb 7, 2005 5:15:13 AM]
[Feb 7, 2005 5:15:13 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.puzzlepirates.com/ [Link]  Go to top 
Nemo
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Re: Ice Server Up, Shipwrightery, Missions, Doubloons and more!

In order to more quickly test Doubloons, Ice will be having various events to get the pieces of eight flowing. OMs will be running pillages, stalls, setting up tourneys, and the three capital islands will have Notice Board whisking between them. This is all in order to rapidly test more Doubloon action.

In one week, on February 15, we will perform the first, and hopefully only wipe of Ice. This is in order to remove any unfair effects of the Doubloon test intervention, and get a true test of a clean ocean bootstrap. We want to test how well players can start an ocean without the complications and inherent imbalances of OM intervention, and add some related startup markets like the sloops at the palace.

So, enjoy playing this week and try out more Doubloon things. After next Tuesday, the Ice Ocean is a non-Doubloon ocean and essentially permanent.
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-Avatar by AlexisAngel-
[Feb 9, 2005 2:43:30 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Cleaver
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Re: Ice Server Up, Shipwrightery, Missions, Doubloons and more!

We're planning to do the wipe of Ice around noon PST Weds 16th Feb, as we couldn't get to it tonight. Har!
[Feb 15, 2005 3:41:25 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.puzzlepirates.com/ [Link]  Go to top 
Cleaver
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Re: Ice Server Up, Shipwrightery, Missions, Doubloons and more!

Ice wipe has been pushed back to 4pm. Sorry for the moving target mates.
[Feb 16, 2005 5:55:05 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.puzzlepirates.com/ [Link]  Go to top 
Cleaver
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Re: Ice Server Up, Shipwrightery, Missions, Doubloons and more!

Ice has been wiped as of just after 4pm Pacific. It is now a subscriber Ocean with no Doubloons.

Hopefully no more wipes will be necessary, but we don't promise that!

Thanks for all yer help with testing.
[Feb 16, 2005 8:31:40 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.puzzlepirates.com/ [Link]  Go to top 
Cleaver
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Re: Ice Server Up, Shipwrightery, Missions, Doubloons and more!

We are consolidating Ice mates onto one Island; Shatterstone. It seems best for the health of the server. Home islands and money will be moved (free of transfer fees).

Stall owners on the other islands wil be suffering. Ask an OM if they can move your commodities and help with compensation. Please be patient.

Sorry about this, but we hope it will make Ice more playable. Having the three arch starting islands was a mistake. Live and learn!
[Mar 23, 2005 10:44:21 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.puzzlepirates.com/ [Link]  Go to top 
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