No one like constraints, especially when it comes to maximum players in multiplayer. But we have limits for good reasons — fun, balance, performance, etc. For Rare, when it came to deciding the capacity of ships in Sea of Thieves, the developer settled on four as the perfect number. What makes it perfect, though?
IGN's Joe Skrebels hit up Mike Chapman, Sea of Thieves' lead designer and posed him this very question. Turns out four was the best number to keep things "intimate" and to discourage players from "splintering off":
"If the two of us were to go out to the pub together with two other friends, you've got that intimate relationship, you're all getting on together. If it becomes six or eight people, you start getting people splintering off and it's really hard to communicate — four seems like the magic number."
That's not to say Rare has never considered bigger ships, with Chapman stating the player feedback has shown a desire for eight and even 10-player galleons.
The experience – the very core experience at the heart of Sea of Thieves – is intangible. It can't be described or placed on a vision board or rattled off, point-by-point, in a presentation. It can’t be seen in throwing a voyage on a table in-game or customising your pirates eye-patch, or giving yourself a wooden leg.
While there are no plans right now, Chapman doesn't rule out changes down the road:
"Of course, we're going to keep looking at this beyond launch ... There may be other things we'll do with ships in the future."
If the player count does get upped, maybe it could open the doors to some sort of captain role, ala Natural Selection? I don't even know how it would work — I just want more games with this mechanic.