1. #1

    Why Cutscene Boarding is a Good Thing™

    I've seen a lot of people in a lot of places over the last couple of days kvetching about the "cutscene boarding" that was displayed in Skull & Bones during the various E3 gameplay previews. I've tried to address it in a few places, but it's scattered around, and at the request of Veledrome I've decided to consolidate all of my thoughts on the matter here:

    I understand where people are coming from with the "boooo cutscene boarding" thing. I do. Crossing cutlasses is as much an iconic part of the pirate stereotype as crossing broadsides. Nobody who was playing pirates growing up wasn't having sword-fights. And, of course, Black Flag had melee combat, and everyone is naturally drawing connections between Black Flag and Skull & Bones even though they're entirely different games. So I get where this sentiment is coming from.

    Here's the thing about the boarding, though: It's basically an "execution" once the fight is practically over. It was like this in Black Flag, too, since practically every single boarding action was a forgone conclusion, and since a ship you could board was completely disabled in the first place and couldn't even shoot at you, except that you had to slog through the tedious process of manually going to the swivel guns, then jumping over to the other ship, then climbing back onto the ship if you either shorted the jump or overshot the deck, then using the super-janky melee combat system to flail your way through a bunch of mooks, then dealing with the unskippable cutscenes that followed... over, and over, and over, and over, and over.

    Skull & Bones is about sailing, and ships, and loot. It's been that way from the beginning and no effort has been made to imply otherwise. The official Q&A touches on boarding, but it doesn't cover all of the concerns I've seen about it. Personally, I think the "cutscene boarding" makes complete sense from a mechanical design standpoint and will ultimately be the best decision for the game.

    1. As a matter of development resources, it allows the devs to focus on the game's core identity: Ship-to-Ship combat, sailing, and every other nautical / ship-y idea you can think of. Manual boarding would require the development of an entirely different, parallel combat system, to the detriment of both the naval and the melee combat. Black Flag's melee combat was not good even for single-player (and I say this having just recently finished the game and rather enjoying it). It was awkward, clumsy, unresponsible, overly simplistic, and was completely unusable for multiplayer. Any hypothetical system would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, wasting time and resources better spent elsewhere, and it might still be "meh" compared to where it would need to be for something like this, because designing a good, PvP-suitable combat system is flippin' hard (as the devs of For Honor have found out).

    2. Cutscene boarding cuts down on a lot of the "busy work" from Black Flag. By the time you're boarding, the fight is basically over, so there was never any real reason to play out the process other than so that you wouldn't be "punished" with less loot. It made capturing large numbers of ships for loot a horrible, grinding chore. I don't want Skull & Bones to feel like a chore. I don't want to get 40-50 hours into the game and think oh god I still need to capture like seven more ships to get enough loot to upgrade my thingamabob please make it stop.

    3. Manual boarding presents a *huge* issue for the game's open, dynamic PvP(vE) environment. Hell, even with cutscene boarding, I'm curious (and hesitant) about how it will handle things like getting shot by outside parties during the cutscene. Unlike Black Flag, it would be impossible to grant "immunity" during a boarding action. Manual boarding would open up all kinds of problems and opportunities for anti-fun exploitation in PvP scenarios. And it isn't like cutscene boarding is risk-free. The ship *isn't* disabled like it is in Black Flag, so you have to get close enough to it for boarding without getting shot to pieces in the process. And that's just concerning your target: I timed it from the start of the boarding prompt until you regain control of your ship, and it's about 7 seconds. That's a lot of potential cannonballs you could be eating from surrounding ships if you don't manage to use the boarding action intelligently, nevermind the "sitting duck" potential if an enemy with a ramming prow is in the area.


    Ultimately, I get that there are folks who wanted the game to focus more on the "cutlass" side of the piratical archetype, but at the end of the day; I want to see the focus stay on the game's strengths and primary identity. I want to see the game eliminate "busy work" wherever it can so that players can focus on action that matters; and I want to make sure the game doesn't get "diluted" and become a hodge-podge of mediocre systems instead of a focused number of great system.
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  2. #2
    So.. you shoot the enemy ship down, drive close to it, hold A button and... thats all? A script triggers and done?

    I really like it more to fight a bit with my sword, I love tho drive and shoot, but pls, also give me some melee fights with my sword.
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  3. #3
    flynlion's Avatar Senior Member
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    I hate cut scenes in video games
    Seems like the "vulnerability while boarding" thing could be a useful element, makes the player check the coast is clear before boarding an enemy ship, and makes having friends nearby all the more useful.

    Whatever, I almost never bother with multi-player games anyways. Too much drama
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  4. #4
    rather have a more depth than simplicity
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  5. #5
    Originally Posted by flynlion Go to original post
    I hate cut scenes in video games
    Seems like the "vulnerability while boarding" thing could be a useful element, makes the player check the coast is clear before boarding an enemy ship, and makes having friends nearby all the more useful.

    Whatever, I almost never bother with multi-player games anyways. Too much drama
    how about INVULNERABILITY during boarding? theres your solution!
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  6. #6
    Originally Posted by DeeK_KayE Go to original post
    how about INVULNERABILITY during boarding? theres your solution!
    That's a bad idea in so many ways. Because sure, let's just make it so that people can abuse Invulnerability Boarding in the middle of large fights. That won't get annoying real fast at all. Something tells me you don't know a lot about Game Balance, because Invulnerability + PvP almost never goes well together. The only good examples I can think of are Mei's Ice ability and Zenyatta's ultimate in Overwatch. But that's an entirely different beast from this game.
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  7. #7
    Originally Posted by LeviathanWard Go to original post
    That's a bad idea in so many ways. Because sure, let's just make it so that people can abuse Invulnerability Boarding in the middle of large fights. That won't get annoying real fast at all. Something tells me you don't know a lot about Game Balance, because Invulnerability + PvP almost never goes well together. The only good examples I can think of are Mei's Ice ability and Zenyatta's ultimate in Overwatch. But that's an entirely different beast from this game.
    invulnerability doesnt work in PVP? so explain to me, how do the boarding battles of the games "Blackwake" or "Sea of Thieves" work perfectly fine in a multiplayer PVP world? it just seems to me that skull and bones devs are just creating more and more excuses against a nice manual boarding...are we in the early 2000's where the boarding is automatic and that this game has too many cutscenes? lol even BLACK FLAG with the release date of 2013 had an awesome boarding and it doesnt matter if multiplayer or not
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  8. #8
    Originally Posted by DeeK_KayE Go to original post
    invulnerability doesnt work in PVP? so explain to me, how do the boarding battles of the games "Blackwake" or "Sea of Thieves" work perfectly fine in a multiplayer PVP world? it just seems to me that skull and bones devs are just creating more and more excuses against a nice manual boarding...are we in the early 2000's where the boarding is automatic and that this game has too many cutscenes? lol even BLACK FLAG with the release date of 2013 had an awesome boarding and it doesnt matter if multiplayer or not
    Because in those games you're only against one other ship most of the times. In S&B you most likely will not. And in this case two ships being completely stationary for extended periods of time makes them sitting ducks. Another ship can just sail up to the perfect spot, take their sweet time to set up, and when the boarding is over unleash freaking hell. And the boarding ships don't even have a chance to escape because it takes time to build up speed.

    That's the problem with folks who scream for stuff the devs don't put in - they fail to see the bigger picture.
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  9. #9
    Originally Posted by Y2A_Alkis Go to original post
    Because in those games you're only against one other ship most of the times. In S&B you most likely will not. And in this case two ships being completely stationary for extended periods of time makes them sitting ducks. Another ship can just sail up to the perfect spot, take their sweet time to set up, and when the boarding is over unleash freaking hell. And the boarding ships don't even have a chance to escape because it takes time to build up speed.

    That's the problem with folks who scream for stuff the devs don't put in - they fail to see the bigger picture.
    Happened in Naval Action, they had/have a boarding mini game that takes several minutes to finish. In that time you are completely stationary, heaven help you if a hostile ship pulls up to your other side and plasters you multiple times with grapeshot point blank.

    They tried fixing it by making ships invulnerable and only thing that accomplished was people locked in a boarding action not fighting until the battle was over to save their crippled ship.
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  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Y2A_Alkis Go to original post
    Because in those games you're only against one other ship most of the times. In S&B you most likely will not. And in this case two ships being completely stationary for extended periods of time makes them sitting ducks. Another ship can just sail up to the perfect spot, take their sweet time to set up, and when the boarding is over unleash freaking hell. And the boarding ships don't even have a chance to escape because it takes time to build up speed.

    That's the problem with folks who scream for stuff the devs don't put in - they fail to see the bigger picture.
    it doesnt matter, there can be more ships in sea of thieves, too and besides, BW is 3 ships versus 3 ships soooo yeah like I said, theres no excuse against that
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