Plunder Panic is a swashbuckling, 12-person multiplayer arcade game where two rival crews battle for supremacy on the high seas. Defeat the enemy captain, scuttle their ship, plunder enough booty or end up shark bait in Davy Jones’ Locker!
Each Plunder Panic ship’s crew consists of one to six players. Players take on the role of either a captain or crew mate. Armed with a cutlass, captains can kill enemy players and cut cannon fuses to disarm them. Crew members can plunder gold and fight the opposing scallywags by loading a cannon or by rowing a dinghy full of explosives to scuttle the enemy ship. Crew members can also purchase a cutlass to earn the ability to attack.
Plunder Panic includes multiple paths to victory including defeating the enemy’s captain, scuttling the enemy’s ship, or filling your ship’s treasure chest with booty. The victory conditions are balanced depending on the number of players per team. This makes Plunder Panic flexible for both casual pick up games with asymmetrical teams, such as 5 vs. 3, or more serious tournament eSports-style symmetrical teams, such as 3 vs. 3, and up to 6 vs. 6.
Plunder Panic is housed within a unique arcade cabinet built out of a rum barrel forming a natural circular play space for the two competing pirate crews while exuding the sweet aromas of a pirates life. The barrel is topped with two treasure chests containing 12-classic NES style controllers and a ship’s mast that holds two back-to-back HDTVs.
Plunder Panic is created in the style of a late 80s or early 90s arcade game. The game draws inspiration from classic games such as the original Pitfall, Joust, and Super Smash Brothers, as well as modern indie games such as Killer Queen, Nidhogg, and Duck Game. Plunder Panic has a nostalgic arcade game feel while introducing novel design ideas that attracts players, both young and old. Our goal in creating Plunder Panic was to entertain players by promoting cooperation within the team and competition against the opposing team. The game mechanics promote different play styles, such as offensive vs. defensive actions and gatherer vs. aggressor behavior, creating a perfect ecosystem of lively play within the arcade. The multiple victory conditions foster rising tension in players, climaxed with a combination of “shiver me timbers” and “son of a biscuit eater” moments. The pirate theming makes the game understandable and accessible while providing an over-the-top, humorous role-play for players to engage in. While dead men tell no tales, a Plunder Panic play session is bound to lead to many tales of swashbuckling adventures on the high seas.
The game was created by a team of faculty and students in the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at Michigan State University as a passion project beginning in May 2017. An early version of the game was shown as a sneak peek during the Woz Interactive Media Gallery at the Traverse City Film Festival in July 2017. The game was debuted at IndieCade in October 2017 in Los Angeles and received the Audience Choice Award. In March 2018, Plunder Panic was selected to compete in the South by Southwest Gaming Pitch competition. The game is also an official selection of Indie Megabooth at PAX East 2018, and will be bringing the game to Boston!
Brian Winn – Lead Designer / Executive Producer
William Jeffery – Lead Designer / Producer
Kyle Bush – Composer / Audio Engineer
Ryan Chuang – 2D Artist
Darlene Sobus – 2D Artist
Austin Widmyer – VFX Artist
Will Ridenour – Designer / Animator
Jerod Pennington – Designer
Charlie Deneau – Programmer
Matthew Smith – Programmer
Zachary Brenz – Programmer
Alex Klingel – Programmer