Here is the spec sheet for Pirates! Gold. The features listed are _tentative_ at this time.
Article III: Enhancements to Pirates Gold, IBM version
15 April 1992
Environment * DOS resident. Must be played from hard-drive. * VGA graphics. High-resolution, 256 colors. CGA, EGA, Tandy, unsupported. * Roland, Sound Blaster, AdLib sound drivers supported. IBM speaker for sound-effects. Some digitized sounds. * Mouse, joystick, and keyboard input devices supported.
Art * High-resolution VGA graphics. * All new pictures and animations. All new opening and closing sequences. * Animation to be in high-res VGA, in as many colors as is practicable: 256 if possible, 16 if necessary.
Map * Strategic map in high-res VGA. Map makeup (rendered or character set) to be determined by programmer and artists. * Map is interactive and changes as game progresses. City icons appear and change as player learns more about city. For example, if player sacks a city, city's map icon changes to a burning city icon until city is rebuilt. Nationality flags appear next to known cities, and change as city's nationality changes. * Additional cities to be added to map: from five to 20. Not all of these cities will be in play at one time. If feasible, some of the new cities will be new types: native villages and/or free (pirate) cities.
Ship Movement on Strategic Map * Ship movement on strategic map is identical with current movement, with following exceptions: * Accelerated Time: Player may press "Alt-T" or some other key combination to speed-up the passage of time and the ship's movement. All phenomena in the game would have to speed up, as well (weather, encounters, and so forth). When ship has an encounter, accelerated time turns off automatically, otherwise the player toggles it on and off at his convenience. * Landing. When ship bumps into land, there's a two-second delay before crew disembarks. If player moves ship away from land during that period, crew doesn't disembark. (This feature will cut down on the number of accidental disembarkations.) * Cargo and ship scuttling: The pirate will be able to abandon ships and cargo during sailing. This is useful when the pirate has more ships than he can crew comfortably, and when one or more of his ships is slow and/or damaged. * Sun Sight: this will be deleted. * Weather: Hurricanes will periodically wander into and through Caribbean. The pirate will have to run before the hurricane or find a port in which to weather the storm. If the pirate is caught in the hurricane, he runs great risk of losing all his ships and getting shipwrecked on a desert island for several months.
Ship-to-Ship Combat * Convoys: Pirate will occasionally encounter convoys of ships. These will be a number of weak, unarmed cargo ships, guarded by one powerful vessel. The convoy sequence will run as follows: "Sail Ho!" If pirate investigates, next message is: "I count x cargo ships, Captain, and one galleon!" If pirate investigates again, he'll learn the ships' nationality. If pirate attacks, he'll get the message: "The cargo ships scatter across the ocean as the galleon comes out to meet you." The battle proceeds as normal. If the pirate is victorious, a die is rolled. Depending upon the difficulty level and how long the battle took, the pirate will overtake some, none, or all of the unarmed cargo vessels. This should be an unusual event; possibly as few as one out of 10 encounters should be convoys. The escort ship should be powerful and smart and the rewards should be great. * In battle, player will have the option of taking a ranging shot -- that is, he may fire off one of his cannon to find out where his shot will land. This will reduce the strength of his subsequent broadside by one; the ranging shot will not be reloaded until after the broadside is fired (or the player fires off his entire complement of cannon in ranging shots). Note that ranging shots don't do any damage to the enemy vessel. There is a slight chance, however, that the enemy vessel will surrender if it is heavily outgunned and the ranging shot crosses its bows. * Terrain: When the pirate's ship goes into combat, the program will check to see how close the ship is to land, shoals, cities, etc. If any of these are in likely range of the battle, they'll be placed on the battle map. Ships may then attempt to make use of this terrain in the battle -- i.e., light-draft vessels will cut across shoals, hoping to cause heavier pursuers to run aground; ships near to a friendly port will run for it, hoping to draw protection from its guns, etc. This will necessitate significant adjustment to the artificial intelligence of the enemy ships. * Weather: The weather in battle will reflect that which was current when the battle began: if the pirate's ship was quite near to a cloud, the storm will pass over the ships during the battle. This will increase the windspeed and decrease the effectiveness of cannon-fire (aiming is more difficult, and it takes much longer to reload, on a storm-tossed vessel). Ships with leaking hulls may sink. * Battle Information: As much information as possible will be displayed graphically, through icons, as well as through straight text. Small portraits of the two combatant ships appear on the bottom of the battle screen. Portraits display the following: sail status, i.e., battle sails, full sails, or masts down; hull damage; guns loaded or unloaded (gunports open or closed). Wind direction should be shown by a weather-vane in the corner of the screen. Crew number could be shown by number of icons next to the ships' portraits. * Victory: The player will see a screen displaying his current ships, their sailing condition, his cannon, crew, and cargo, and the prize's condition and cargo. He'll have all of this in front of him before he must decide whether to take the captured ship as a prize or scuttle her, what cargo to take and what to leave behind, whether to accept volunteers from the defeated crew and so forth.
City * City menu to be replaced by graphic map of town. Map to show flag of city plus buildings representing locations. To go to the merchant, for instance, player would click on the building labeled "Ye Merchante's Shoppe" or the like. * The locations themselves have changed from current game: Tavern, Governor's mansion, and merchant have lost some functions to new locations. The following locations have been added: Shipwright: pirate repairs ships and sells excess ships. Docks: pirate leaves town and returns to ship. City gates: pirate leaves town if he arrived by land. Bank: pirate divides treasure. Inn: save game. Town crier/newspaper office: pirate learns information and reviews his personal and crew's status. * Map is mildly interactive. For example: if pirate came into the city by land, the docks location is inactive, and possibly removed from the map; if pirate cannot meet with governor, gates to governor's mansion are closed; etc.
Land Battle * Scale to be reduced slightly, to allow larger tactical area. * General unit control: Player will have a cursor on the screen. To activate a unit, he clicks on the unit. He then gives orders to that unit (move here, shoot these guys, etc.), by putting the cursor where he wants the unit to go or shoot, then clicking again. He might be able to give orders to multiple units via held-clicks. * Musket fire controls altered. Currently, pirates attack w/muskets when they're stationary and player doesn't touch the controls. Instead, player will have choice of when and where to fire. Player will also have to give the pirates a "reload" command once they've fired. This will cause the pirates to become immobile for a certain period of time. If the player chooses to move these pirates before they have a chance to complete their reload, they must start all over from the beginning. * Melee fire controls altered. Player will click on a unit and then the target; the unit will charge target and hack at it until the target runs away, its morale is broken, or the player gives it different orders. * These changes should make little difference in the outcome of the battles -- they are mostly cosmetic, giving the player the appearance of more control. However, they may necessitate an adjustment of the power and/or artificial intelligence of the opponents to maintain play balance.
Treasure * When he divides the plunder, the pirate will put his share into his "secret treasure cave." This will be a static picture of an empty cave; as the pirate puts booty there, it will gradually be filled-up with gold, gems, encrusted items, swords, etc.
Swordfighting * The sword-fighting sequence will be enhanced so that the player has more control over his character. The command buffer will be altered or removed, so the pirate's figure will respond more quickly to commands. * There will be additional figures in each animation sequence, so each character's movement will be smoother. * The player will have the option to attack high, medium or low, or feint and attack high, medium or low. The feint attack will have a better chance of getting through, but will do less damage. * There will be some kind of new ending sequence for swordfights: possibly, the victor will disarm the vanquished, sending his sword out of the screen. The vanquished will be left standing, hands in the air, instead of kneeling. * There will be (if art-time permits) animations of three different opponents for the pirate to face: Spanish guard, Captain, and Pirate. In addition, if time permits, the pirate will be shown with three different swords: cutlass, rapier, longsword. Pirate's shirt may change color over the course of the game, as well, as he gains in fame and wealth. * Like the ship battle sequence, the game information in the swordfighting sequence will be displayed in both text and art. There will be portraits of the two combatants below the fighting figures themselves; these portraits will show the expression of the fighters: enraged, panicked, etc. The portraits' shirts may become slashed as the battle progresses and the fighters take wounds (if this isn't too tacky). Alongside the portraits will appear icons representing the number of troops each fighter has.
Roleplaying * Additional roleplaying missions will be added. If the pirate gets married, his wife may be kidnapped. If there is a famine in a port of the pirate's nationality, he may be asked to take food to that port.
Information Retrieval * Improve information sequence, making it easier for player to find what's going on. Screen should be split into multiple text boxes, one showing current political info (France is at war with Spain, Dutch at war with English), one showing current personal info (Don Luego spotted in Cartagena), and one showing current missions (Carrying secret letter for Governor of Belize's brother in Havana). * Record feature. Under pirate's diary in information screen, pirate can find a listing of all actions he's taken during the game: every battle, casualties on both sides, etc. This currently exists in the game, but it only keeps track of the last 10 or so things the pirate does. Pirate should be able to scroll through page after page of diary.
Economy * Apparently, there's a flaw in the city economy algorithm. If the pirate doesn't pillage a city for a very long time, it will become obscenely wealthy. This must be corrected.
Reward Sequence * Player will be able to view all of his honors and awards simultaneously (probably from his cabin in his ship). He'll see a scroll saying "Ensign in the Spanish Navy"; if he is promoted to captain, the scroll will be overlaid with one bearing his new rank. If he has awards from different nationalities, all will be viewable here. The pirate should also be able to look at "Wanted" posters of himself from the various nationalities. * Retirement Screen: a static shot showing the pirate sailing off into the sunset. His retirement status determines the vessel-type he's sailing in, from a leaky rowboat to a fleet of galleons. * Treasure Cavern: Pirate's personal wealth is determined by the amount he's deposited in his treasure cavern (see above). Cash he's taken in battle earns him nothing until he divides the treasure.
Forwarded by -Quentin, MPS Labs, MicroProse Copyrighted 1992 By MicroProse Software, Inc.