At Gamescom 2011, I had a chance to sit down with Aaron Cohen, of the Sims Medieval team, and discuss the upcoming adventure pack – Pirates and nobles. I want a skeletal Parrot!
TG73: Can you tell us a little about the backstory of the two factions – the Pirates of Aarbyville and the Nobles of Tredony?
AC: The backstory is that those two territories have been having a lot of issues. They have accused each other of sabotage and different skullduggery and trickery. So, they are actually coming to your Kingdom to negotiate a treaty. But on the way the Pirates have a shipwreck and they feel like they were sabotaged. The Nobles show up not knowing anything happened and the Pirates are already accusing them of sabotaging their ships. So the first couple of quests is you bringing them together and you take them to your castle and try to make peace with them. It looks like you are going to be successful, but then two of the characters disappear – a female pirate and a male noble. No one knows what happened to them, a lot of people get knocked out and it turns out the food was poisoned. Now everyone is really mad, did they run away, were they in love, were they kidnapped, were they murdered, no one knows.
So, the rest of the story is trying to figure out what happened to them and at the same time, there is a war that started, the two sides declare war. You can either lean towards the pirates and solve each quest in a pirate direction, there is actually something called the War Meter and you can actually see the war going to the Pirates side, or you can lean towards the Nobles side, or you can do things in the middle. Every quest has a lot of replay value because you can play through one time, then you might want to play through again and see what happens on the Noble path.
That’s sort of the big backstory of Pirates and Nobles.
TG73: Are there any new heroes or buildings included?
AC: There’s not. What happens is that if one of your heroes aligns with the pirates, they’ll have certain pirate privileges or Noble privileges. They’ll get the parrots or the falcons, they’ll get certain abilities. So they are not professions, they are more like factions and if you align yourself with that faction, you’ll get certain things for doing that. But there are not new professions or buildings.
There are a lot of sets though, I do want to mention that. As you play through the quests – we learnt a lot about how to use the quest tool from the base game – and so this time around as you play through, we really redecorate the world a lot. We have a court room, we have a wedding scene, and when we have those big scenes it’s like a movie set, we put a lot of stuff into the world that changes it. You’ll see when you play through, we make the most out of the quest system and part of what we do is create sets for big things to happen.
TG73: Will we be able to see Sims with wooden legs or hooks for hands?
AC: No wooden legs or hooks. We tried, it’s actually really hard to pull that off with Sims. They walk differently and it was technically hard to do.
TG73: We have seen the secret Pirate handshake – is there one for the Nobles?
AC: The Nobles don’t have a secret handshake, just the pirates.
TG73: Is there a reason for that?
AC: *laughs* We had to get the designers back to work, they were spending all of their time designing the pirate handshake. It was actually one guys idea, he was like “Pirates have a secret handshake” and Nobles, they don’t have a secret handshake, they don’t have time for that, they have business to do.
TG73: What else can you do with the Pirates Parrot and the Nobles Falcon besides feeding them and sending them to attack people?
AC: Well, the Parrot can go out and hunt for treasure, so the parrot can actually go out and come back with stuff. That is one way to get treasure maps that take you to even better treasures. The Falcons can hunt game and they actually bring back food, so if you need meat for something the Falcon can go out and get it. Feed them, name them, collect them - there are several different colours so you can actually, in any given lot, you can put down hang out stands and collect them. I think there are 12 different colours for each. Some are very hard to find – there is actually a skeletal version of both, a skeletal parrot and a skeletal falcon, that look very cool. They are made of bones.
TG73: How many new quests will be added with this expansion?
AC: 16, I think. But keep in mind that every quest has a lot of different paths. Our quests are different to a regular RPG quest. Our quests have so many twists and turns and options. They are fatter than most quests and I think we ended up with 16, just over a dozen.
TG73: Many people said that they wanted to see horses in The Sims Medieval. Was this something considered for the expansion?
AC: It was, but it just didn’t seem to fit in. In our world, unless you are going to make a whole game about horses, it just didn’t seem worth it to spend that much time on it. When you have horses in The Sims 3: Pets, there are Equestrian races and all kinds of cool horse stuff to do. Unless you are providing horse stuff to do, it doesn’t make sense to give you horses. So, no horses this time.
TG73: What sort of information can be forced from a Sim in the Interrogation chair?
AC: If you are not on a quest, it is his general secrets and you are either successful or a failure, and they will be mad at you later, or not, depending on how mean you were to them. But there are quests, there are certain missions – I don’t want to give you any spoilers – but you really need to get some information from some people to complete certain quests and you are going to have to use the interrogation chair. So, it’s the location of something or the whereabouts of somebody. Some of the quests are basically mysteries to solve and one of the ways to get the information you need is by using the interrogation chair.
TG73: So, is there any reason why the expansion doesn’t have any new heroes?
AC: We looked at adding professions of Pirates and Nobles. But people already have the heroes they already like so we thought it would be better to align with the Pirates or Nobles. that way you can have a Blacksmith that likes Pirates or a Wizard who likes Pirates more. That way all of the professions benefit from Pirates and Nobles. Otherwise all of the professions we gave you in base game wouldn’t be used enough. So we wanted to spread around the new features. We tried to make every profession more relevant as opposed to adding two professions and making all of the rest of them irrelevant.