As we eagerly await the winter holiday release (I stepped into an inn on Hunter yesterday and got a barrage of questions regarding the winter holiday furniture and when they'll be available for purchase) I thought I'd go over some background on the upcoming release on Ice. If you haven't been to Ice and don't want to know about some of the changes in the next release, read no further!
A 7th Brigand King joins us from the frozen northlands, and she's a Viking goddess, a shrieking valkyrie of fury. I may have the teensiest crush on the lovely Brynhild and her pupiless, icy blue eyes.
What you folks may not know is that the name Brynhild Skullsplitter was one of the last things decided about her. We knew while we were preparing to release the longship that we would introduce a new Viking brigand king, but that was about it. Greenbones (pictured here) knew he wanted her to be female, so she was given the working name Erika Thunderpants by Sophocles while we were working on the release.
The two types of helmet for each gender were born from Greenbones' love of Scandinavian lore. (He has lamented more than once that the descendants of this fierce culture who used to burn and conquer and make blood eagles of their victims now export minimalist furniture and lingonberry preserves, and that the only expression of their formerly bloodthirsty nature seems to be burning their own churches.)
While we knew that people would want the horned helmets that are the image that often comes to mind when one says "vikings", they are not in fact historically accurate. The horned helmets and the image of blonde women in pointy breasted armor singing came about in the 18th and 19th century, when German opera such as Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen idealized the Norse history and culture. (These images still appear in popular culture today, in Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes and in comic strip Hagar the Horrible, to name two examples.)
The horned helmets had to be made because they were too much fun to be left out (and as the forum folks often say, fun > realism) but the traditional Saxon helmets with the eye and nose guards were added as well.
An interesting note - the recipe for the helmets was originally going to include three gold ore. We decided to change that for orange enamel since it seemed a shame that all of the helmets lately (and the first battle helmet for the ladies) be so astronomically out of reach for most pirates.
On the topic of enamel, when we released the new Norse-themed furniture items, there was a valid complaint that the color range was limited, since there are only 8 colors for enamel currently in existence. This is of course because enamel is used for swords, and there are only so many variations on drop patterns that can exist. While we were first presented with the suggestion to use paint for furniture instead of enamel, we turned that suggestion down for two reasons.
1) We had always used enamel in furniture instead of paint. If we suddenly switched, people who had purchased furniture with the more expensive enamel in it would be really annoyed that they had paid more for a limited color palette.
2) Furnishers already have to stock an insane number of commodities from the game. We did not want to require them to stock all colors of paint in addition to all enamels.
It was decided then that we would just make a full range of enamel colors so that people could have furniture in any color that they wanted. Cephalopod got that coded into the game very fast. The most complicated part seemed to be deciding on recipes and making sure the new furniture colors looked good.
That's about it for the public features of the new release. Recommended listening for reading this post and for always is Jonathan Coulton's IKEA.