Community Spotlight - Captain Ballzonia
Since launch last year, members of the Sea of Thieves community have been impressing us with their slick in-game snapshots, and one pirate in particular stands out. From composition to colour, his Sea of Thieves images have it all, catching the eyes of Rare fans and developers alike. Naturally we just had to fire up the good old Community Spotlight to find out more.
Here's what the prolific photographer of piratical pursuits known as Captain Ballzonia had to say about the game and his creative craft!
[Q]: Tell us a little about what got you into gaming?
[A]: I will never forget coming home from school as a child and seeing my mom sitting on the floor in front of our TV playing Pac-Man with a brand new woodgrain Atari VCS. I was instantly hooked. Since that day, I grew up to be a gamer and enjoyed every system that I've ever owned from Sega, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox and all of the subsystems and upgrades they’ve released to the present day.
[Q]: Were you a Rare fan before Sea of Thieves?
[A]: What's funny is that I had no idea which games Rare had their hand in, and when I went to find out, I was shocked to see that some of my favourite Nintendo games like R.C. Pro-Am and Marble Madness were on that list. I spent a lot of time playing those two games as a kid and loved them, and I had a lot of the other games as well.
[Q]: Do you have any favourite Rare games?
[A]: R.C. Pro-Am and Marble Madness as mentioned, and Sea of Thieves.
[Q]: What other games are you currently playing? Any favourites?
[A]: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Apex Legends!
The connoisseur of composition himself, Captain Ballzonia.
[Q]: What was it that first drew you towards Sea of Thieves and its community?
[A]: When I discovered this game, I didn't know what was to come. After sailing with the same crew for a bit, and learning the game mechanics better, I started to venture out alone and met some of the nicest people that ended up being more help to me than I could have imagined. Today we are more than just friends, we are family, and that's never going to change.
The community on Twitter is my favourite because you can be more personal with the Rare team as well as meet new pirates, set up sails with new players and show them the ropes and what it's like to have an adventure the way we do it.
[Q]: How did screenshot-taking first become your ‘thing’?
[A]: My passion has always been with photography. I've been shooting professionally for over 20 years now for weddings, portraits, landscapes and a lot of live concert photography. So with Sea of Thieves, I found out quickly that you can take screen captures of this beautiful game and when I figured out how that worked, I immediately went out and bought an external HDD for the multitude of images I already knew I was going to acquire.
[Q]: How do you decide on a screenshot subject and set up your awesome composition?
[A]: I've always had an 'eye for photography', so the only way I could describe it is that it's just an instinct that tells you the most effective use of your surroundings. That's what the 'eye' is, and that's also why I use the eye emoji in my profile. So, when I see something that I know immediately would make a good composed capture or photograph, I stop, get lined up and shoot away.
[Q]: You've shared a lot of screenshots over the past few months, but do you have any favourites?
[A]: Yes, I do have a few favourites and you can see some in this Spotlight. Some of them actually mean a lot to me because I know what was going on in my life when I took them, so they have a real connection to real-life events. That's deep, but that's how I view photography. I wish everyone could feel and see things this way.
Mood shot? Mood shot.
[Q]: You also have a YouTube channel! Tell us a bit more about the sort of content you create there.
[A]: I've always been a fan of music and music videos, so I am working on finding the time to focus more on my YouTube channel content, which I would like to be strictly music videos using the Sea of Thieves video I've captured. I have hours and hours of footage on my external HDD.
Admittedly, I do have a lot of editing to do, as I currently have three music video projects I want to get finished and uploaded to my channel. I've had a lot of my time stripped back the last couple of months, but I'm going to be able to spend more time on it soon.
[Q]: Do you have any standout Sea of Thieves moments?
[A]: The day I met my first mate, Filthee Mudblud. It was back in the Beta days. I was sailing on a Sloop with a buddy and we had a massive amount of treasure we were trying to turn in. We had one grog barrel, two Seafarer's Chests, one Marauder's Chest, and a random chicken I believe (we seriously thought this was a massive amount of treasure back in those days).
Anyway, we were close to an Outpost, but quickly learned that we were being chased by a Galleon and had to turn away. We sailed as fast as we could, trying to lose them in the rocks and various islands, but they kept coming. Then I spotted a Sloop in the distance dead ahead. I told my buddy that we should sail over that way and see if the Galleon would then turn on the other Sloop instead. That way we could buy the time to turn in our massive haul!
Well, this Sloop was actually headed straight at us, so we just braced ourselves for a volley of cannonballs, but instead the Sloop sailed right past us to attack the Galleon at full force. It was ONE pirate manning that Sloop! I saw him. "Filthee something or other..."
The Galleon then had no choice but to engage, which gave us the time we needed to sell all our treasure! We pulled up to the dock and my buddy jumped out with the grog barrel first. Then I saw that same Sloop flying right at our dock and my buddy dropped the barrel shouting "RUN!! Just GO!!! Drop the sails!!!", so I did. He then yelled back at me that it was all good and this guy was friendly. I sailed back over, docked beside his Sloop, and then we all met at the dock. He said, "Hey, did you guys get to sell your loot?! That Galleon was chasing you guys for about 30 minutes and I thought it was time for me to step in and help you guys out!"
We were floored, because nobody had ever done something like that for us, so we decided to sail together throughout the night. He ended up becoming my first mate for the Banana Republic, the name of our crew that we came up with shortly after that. So many amazing moments followed, and I've met amazing pirates and real-life friends who have made a serious impact on my life since that day. I know this story is long and detailed, but since I've never really told it, I felt the need to write it out as I'm thinking about how all of this started for me, my crews and where it's taking me today.
It takes a special kind of artistic skill to make doing something in the rain look so appealing. Hats off to you, sir!
[Q]: What's your favourite new addition to the game since the Anniversary Update launched?
[A]: My favourite part of the Anniversary Update would have to be two things. I cannot choose between the fishing and Tall Tales. Both are simply amazing, and the work that the Rare team has put into these really stands out.
[Q]: What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves' future?
[A]: New ways to connect with other pirate crews to join in Alliances for a possible new BIG threat on the Sea of Thieves. Working together to kill the Meg during The Hungering Deep was one of the greatest feelings. It not only showed others that we can work together to defeat shared threats, it showed other pirates that it's okay to make friends.
[Q]: What is your greatest achievement in a game, Sea of Thieves otherwise?
[A]: Honestly, making others happy. That's something I've always loved about being part of a community like this one. There are so many communities out there, but this one is special. Being nice to a complete stranger in a videogame can be more powerful than you know. It's been proven already that this particular game has helped a bunch of people with their social anxiety that they've had for years and still have even now. When they sign in to the Sea of Thieves world, they are safe knowing their real pirate crews are around and it's time for an adventure full of laughs and stories. After a while, they open up more outside of the game and that's where the real magic is.
I like being a part of that. It feels good to help others who have suffered from issues like depression and social anxiety. You never know who you're going to meet and what your impact on them may be, so making it a positive impact is always what I like to do.
One more picture for the road. We've unofficially titled this 'If looks could kill'.
[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
[A]: Capt. Ballzonia!
[Q]: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: Photography, videography and editing, playing ice hockey, traveling, stargazing and learning more about the cosmos, science.
[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: A fun fact – 90% of people never actually pronounce my pirate name properly, including the devs. ;)
That's a wrap for our latest Community Spotlight. A big thank you is in order to Captain Ballzonia for letting us focus on his life as both a creator and as a Sea of Thieves fan! We'd better go and brush up on our pronunciation while we wait for his next photographic accomplishments…
A new Community Spotlight will be with you soon, but in the meantime you can look back through all our past Spotlights to see who you might have missed, and keep up with all the latest from Sea of Thieves by following us on our many social channels.