Sid Meier's Pirates

by Tony Ingrassia

Sid Meier’s Pirates! for the Xbox
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: July 11, 2005
Designer Diary: June 9, 2005
Author: Steve Chao, Lead Animator

I’ve been obsessed with video games since I was eight years old, when my parents bought the family’s first video game console, an 8-bit system called the Famicom. That obsession steered me towards my eventual career as a character animator. Console gaming has always held a special place in my heart, and it has been a dream of mine to work on an Xbox title. Naturally, I was thrilled when I was enlisted to head up the animation team for Pirates! Xbox. After helping to make Pirates! for the PC one of the best games of 2004, I couldn’t wait to get started on re-imagining this classic Sid Meier title for the most sophisticated gaming system on the market.

A great deal of my focus went towards the planning and production of the button matching game, a Pirates! Xbox exclusive feature. The mechanics behind button matching is simple: The game slows down almost to a stand-still in mid-action, where the player is prompted to input a set of button presses. When the player succeeds in pressing the buttons in the correct order, the hero character will dispatch the enemy crew in a skillful and sometimes superhuman manner. If the opposite is true, the hero character would receive a thorough beating from the enemy, before moving on to the next series of button presses. Three of these sequences will chain together each time, forming an impressive fight scene. The button matching game provided the perfect opportunity for the Pirates! animators to showcase their talent and to infuse the game with the kind of customized action Xbox players have come to expect.

Very early on, the Pirates! team decided that the action sequences in the button matching game would not be limited to sword fighting. We wanted it to be a no-holds-barred fight, where anything and everything goes. So, with a blank check in hand, the animators went to work.


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