For a lot of shared world games, the size of the game world increases over time, as more and more expansions are released. Ironically enough, the player base for most game reduces over time- so you’re reducing the density of player encounters in a sense over time.
That is something that developers Rare are categorically looking to avoid with the upcoming Sea of Thieves– in an interview with Windows Central, Rare’s Executive Producer Joe Neate revealed that they view the size of the world as being intrinsically linked to the number of encounter they desire players to have.
“In other games, you see developers bolting on new pieces as time goes on, but for us, the world size is intrinsic to the number of ships you see,” Neate said. “It’s less about how physically big the world is, and more about the frequency of encounters. We have an exact ratio or metric on how many islands there needs to be, how many outposts there needs to be, to guarantee that average 15 minute to 30-minute ship encounter time. That’s something we’re iterating upon in the technical alpha.
“There are currently three subtly different biomes in the game right now, Shores of Plenty, Ancient Isles, and The Wilds – we don’t mark them on the map – but one’s more ancient civilization, one’s more Maldivian white sands, one’s more dark and oppressive. I’m sure beyond launch we’re going to expand the size of the map, as we grow. We’ll look at increasing ship numbers per world.
“The world is dynamic and changing – new islands can appear in our sea, islands can be destroyed, and what’s on the islands will change over time too. Biomes can change. Imagine a curse is released and part of the world changes in some way. We’ll “bolt on new bits” to some degree – but we’ll do it intently to not jeopardize the ship encounters, and we’ll also do things to our existing world too. For launch though, this is our world size. We’re changing some things around, adding new reefs, adjusting placements, but this is the metric we believe in for our ship encounter frequency at launch. We’ve got a lot more island designs waiting in the wings… and we’ve been considering when to build and add those in.”
All of which sounds good- it seems like Rare is more committed to the kind of experience that it wants its players to be having, rather than to being able to boast about having a certain playable mass, or anything of that nature. Sea of Thieves launches on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs on March 20.