We have already written several times about the Ukrainian game Corsairs Legacy, which if all goes well, should be released this year. The game recently received a new gameplay trailer, and soon players will be able to download the free Corsairs Legacy: Prologue and try the game for themselves. Well, for now, we decided to talk with Volodymyr Bondarenko, CEO of the Mauris studio, about the pirate setting, competitors, Ukrainian voice acting and much more.
Good afternoon, Volodymyr! Let’s get to know each other. Tell me who you are and how it happened that the company Mauris, which seems to be engaged in the development of mobile applications, websites and custom CRM systems, started creating games?
Oleg, good day! We really started our activity with web development, but even then we looked at mobile applications as the next, more complex type of software. For several years, we were engaged in the development of custom mobile applications, and then we began to create our first mobile projects. Well, then we became interested in PC games, because their development seemed even more difficult to us and therefore more interesting.
Thus, we are constantly trying to improve our own technical and business level and scale in the future on the basis of profitable software products. Our team does not stop there and always tries to move forward.
Do you continue to engage in other areas of business now? What funds the development of games?
We have not been looking for new clients for outsourcing for a long time, but there are several companies that have been using our services for many years, and we continue to develop their IT infrastructure. In addition, our mobile games division is also profitable. All the money we receive from outsourcing and mobile direction is invested in Corsairs Legacy.
Talking about the main achievement of 2022 in our recap of the year you mentioned that you managed to save the team. How many people actually work at Mauris now and how many of them work in games?
In the process of developing PC games, there are many narrow specialists who perform a limited amount of work and work on the project part-time or on an as-needed basis. Therefore, the number of involved developers changes all the time.
Why exactly “Corsairs”? Is this some sort of nostalgic moment?
We have many fans of pirate games in our team. We are very passionate about our upcoming game and want to make it so that we ourselves can play it with pleasure. Ever since I was a student, I’ve had a dream of finding a free week to just play Corsairs: City of Lost Ships, but I’ve never been able to find the time. Therefore, I found another way to achieve my dream – to create my own game about pirates, and to be able to play it just during working hours. We are currently preparing for the Steam Festival (starting on February 6, 2023) and the guys are putting together a new build of the game for me every night. I have until the beginning of the next working day to provide feedback on all changes.
After all the pirate themed games, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Sea of Thieves, do you think there’s still something to be said for this setting?
All these games are different from what we create. Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer game with unique graphics, while the other two games were released a long time ago and have a linear plot. The result of our work through several releases should be a single-player sandbox, where the player will be interested in spending as much time as they want.
And in general, having new games is always better than not having them. For example, Call of Duty is released every year. And a huge number of players are happy about it and buy every new game. I have bought two Call of Duty games in 3 years. ame. I have bought two Call of Duty games in 3 years and to go through campaigns with pleasure. I hope that our game can be a consolation for fans of the pirate setting, who do not have the opportunity to receive new games every year, like players who love other popular settings.
You call Corsairs Legacy a descendant of the Corsairs from Akella. Aren’t you afraid Akella, as in the case with Black Sun Game Publishing’s Corsairs: Black Mark, will go to court?
We are creating a separate game with a different name that has nothing to do with Akella. All development is done from scratch. I don’t think we can have any complaints. We are trying to support the developers of the Corsairs re-release and hope that they will succeed. With the founder of Black Mark Studio, which is engaged in republishing the game, we went to neighboring schools in Obolon in Kyiv.
Today, in the West and in China, Corsairs Legacy is already a more famous brand than Sea Dogs. According to our strategy, in 2 years these will be completely different weight categories.
Why did you choose the Unity engine for the game? It doesn’t seem to be very suitable for creating the large open world that a pirate game should have.
In my experience, the most important thing is the experience of the programmers, not the engine. At the beginning of game development, we already had Unity programmers in our team, who had previously created mobile games. In addition, at that time we were still conducting a training course on Unity for students of Kyiv Polytechnic University, which is why we chose this engine for the development of Corsairs Legacy.
Considering the very limited budget and the experience we had at the time, it was the right decision. If we were to start now, we would most likely choose Unreal Engine and the first part of the game would already be out. But all this is experience, and for its sake we are constantly trying to expand the scope of our activities.
Have you considered cooperation with other Ukrainian studios that have already developed games about pirates and sailboats? Lions Shade Studios (Tempest: Pirate Action RPG), FangsLab ( Timeloop: Sink Again Beach), Game Labs (Naval Action and Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail)?
From the very beginning of developing Corsairs Legacy, we wanted to unite all the communities of fans of the pirate setting, which, in our opinion, would give an additional audience to all games in this genre. We launched our own YouTube channel and started interviewing various developers, informing the audience about pirate games, movies and series.
We interviewed the founder of Lions Shade and continue to communicate from time to time. Game Labs refused to communicate. I heard about FangsLab a little this year, but I was doing market analysis in 2021, so they didn’t come into my field of vision.
I see you have already developed one pirate game – Save the Pirate: Sea Story. What is this, a pen test? Testing quests for the main game? What are the sales, if it’s not a secret, because I see that the game is praised, but complained about the expensive DLC?
Save the Pirate is a mobile casual game, a project that has been in development for over two years. About 25 million users have already installed the game. This is our most successful game project so far. We made the PC version to test the capabilities of Steam, and during the test we had the desire to make a full-fledged PC release. Save the Pirate: Sea Story is free on Steam, but has paid add-ons for those who like it.
Back to Corsairs Legacy. Are you still planning to release the game in parts, first with separate land and sea battles, and then, in 2024, an open world? Will it be a kind of Early Access?
We believe that without investors and a powerful publisher, it is better to release products in parts, but more often, get feedback, finance from sales and take the next steps that will allow us to release a bigger game based on previous experience and feedback.
We’ve changed our vision of how the game should be shared. We will tell you more at the Steam Festival, so come to our broadcast on February 6-7 and be the first to know about our plans on the official page of Corsairs Legacy on Steam.
What’s new compared to the same old Corsairs, will Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag or Sea of Thieves be in Corsairs Legacy? Any new mechanics, new simulation levels, etc?
There will be new mechanics. Some have already been implemented, some are still planned. We are already in the phase where new ideas emerge while testing the current version of the game. In the further development of mechanics, we will be guided by our own gaming experience and player feedback, that is, we will not rely on a fixed long-term plan. The players themselves will tell you what needs to be improved in the first place.
The more content about pirates, the better. I believe that any additional attention to the setting would improve the financial performance of all products in this theme. We would be happy if each of them gets a lot of attention and a large player base.
Is Corsairs Legacy planned to have a full-fledged Ukrainian text localization, and maybe even a voiceover, as in Timeloop: Sink Again Beach?
The full Ukrainian dubbing is ready, and it’s bombastic! We commissioned the voices of the main characters from professional actors that you can hear and see in theaters. I will have a lot of fun when I test the Ukrainian build of the game and I hope that the players will like it as well.
Have you already found a publisher or are you planning to self-publish Corsairs Legacy?
We are currently promoting the game on our own. Several publishers offered us their services, but what they provided we already do ourselves and have good results.
Thank you very much for the answers, Volodymyr. Good luck with the development and may the fortune of pirates smile upon you!
Thank you, Oleg. I was very glad to talk with you. Especially considering that I read your articles back in Home PC journal.
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