Project Description

is near and dear to my heart.  I spent countless hours playing Sid’s original classic on my C64 and later, Amiga, and having the opportunity to work on the revisited game was truly a dream come true.

When Pirates! began, it was a PC only project, and at the time, I was working with Soren Johnson on the project that would eventually become Civ IV.  I had always wanted to work on a console title, and Pirates! was easily one of my favorite games ever, so when I learned that an Xbox version was signed, I jumped at the chance to work on it.

Pirates! for the Xbox was the studio’s first console game, and we had a lot of learning to do about how to properly map inputs to a controller, how to organize data to fit on smaller resolution displays, and even how the motivations of console players differed from PC players (PC players were often content with sandbox play, whereas many console players preferred to be given tasks that could be checked off to guide them through a game).   And, because we were targeting the original Xbox, we received constant pressure from Microsoft to ensure that the game was more than just a “simple port” of the PC game.  As a result, we made several substantial changes to the game and added an entirely new multiplayer arcade-style VS ship battle mode. 

even the odds

I designed several of the new features in the Xbox version, from the QTE-style “Even the Odds” minigame, which allows you to execute incredible swashbuckling maneuvers to take on enemy ships despite being wildly outnumbered, to the bonus content system, which awards coins for in-game achievements and allows players to unlock hundreds of pieces of production and concept art,  to the ability to superimpose the navigational map over the ocean while sailing.  I even contributed production code to a number of said features.  I would often rock my newborn son in his carseat with my foot while coding late at night during those days.

Pirates! was warmly received on the PC, but its release on the Xbox was delayed by almost a year due to the acquisition of the studio by Take Two.  The game was literally weeks away from being completed for Atari at this time.  As a result, the entire QA and localization process had to be restarted, and by the time the game launched, the original launch platform (Xbox) was in its twilight.   It received Endgamegood reviews but as as a late-cycle release, it simply didn’t receive much attention.

However, the game has since been ported to the Macintosh, Sony PSP, Nintendo Wii, and iOS platforms — proof that the game has definitely stood the test of time.