Sea of Thieves

Rare, don’t forget about the emotion wheel

SOT E3 2016 Desktop 1 1920x1080 1024x576 - Rare, don’t forget about the emotion wheel

I remember hearing in early developer diaries and interviews about Rare’s employment of the Wheel of Emotions (or something like that) – basically Rare has a chart with different emotions on it: fear, excitement, joy, awe, sadness, anger, etc. After early play sessions, they’d have people write down the emotions they felt while playing and then post them to the chart. Their goal was to have each emotion represented in gameplay and if the chart wasn’t pinned with a specific emotion, they’d ask why and try to address it. In many ways, I attribute my love for Sea of Thieves to this game design technique in particular.


With the rush to add content, I think the Wheel of Emotion has been left by the wayside and I just hope it is not forgotten. I felt traces of it in the Hungering Deep, waiting for other crews at Merrick’s camp and carrying his song to the meg fight – but that was a one-time endeavor. Other than that, add-ons have just been random technical stuff (great, but devoid of emotion). There’s a small moment of awe when the skellie ships rise out of the water, but if I had to choose an emotion to describe the time-limited Cursed Sails event I think I'd have to go with "stress" haha.

Please Rare, don’t leave this genius approach to design behind. This game is all about the little things (the sunsets, the storms, Becalmed, the red sea, firing pirates out of cannons, drinking ’til you puke, etc.) – please keep ‘em coming alongside the tent-pole content.

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