What you end up with is a pretty realistic depiction of a team working together to sail the high seas, fight NPCs, and attack other players. This same puzzle-based gameplay works its way throughout the entire game, making for a very unique and in-depth experience. It also ensures that players become experts at certain puzzles, something that easily represents the way a real-life sailor would become an expert at his or her station.
In a word, it's brilliant. Massively checked in with CEO Daniel James on the occasion of the game's birthday. Read on for the scoop!
Daniel James: Puzzle Pirates was always designed to be timeless; for example, the art style and isometric technology was far from "cutting edge" MMO technology when the game launched. The focus of Puzzle Pirates's development and the many subsequent releases has always been on fun. The older it gets, we hope, the more fun it is. It's also worth noting that Puzzle Pirates is very much a "sandbox open-world" type of game, a design principle that comes from MUDs and MUSHes but was exemplified in early MMOs by Ultima Online. As shown by that title's continued operation, these types of games are unusually persistent as their high-level gameplay tends to be driven by the players.
How much longer can Puzzle Pirates last, and do you think you will have an audience for it if it goes on forever?
Forever is a very long time, but I think it's reasonable to suppose that some number of people will continue to play Puzzle Pirates indefinitely, so long as the supported client technology is readily available (PC, Mac, and Linux right now) and the servers remain up! Forever is certainly the plan.
What is the secret to the game's longevity?
In terms of gameplay, I would suggest it's a combination of an intrinsically fun core game with player-driven long-term "endgame" systems, like the economy. I would also attribute a great deal of the game's longevity to the incredible player community. We were fortunate enough to attract an awesome early audience that set a great tone for the community that has persisted to today. They honestly power the game's continued success.