Community Spotlight - Skulliah
A tool in the utility belts of many pirates in our community, the Merfolk’s Lullaby website is home to a wealth of knowledge from their storm tracker to their Timeline, plus the latest addition covering all things to do with Mysteries. It’s a site carefully curated by a crew of academic buccaneers, and we thought it was about time we caught up with its founder, Skulliah, the driving force behind this font of information!
[Q]: Can you tell us a little about what got you into gaming?
[A]: My little sister and I received the PS1 for a Christmas when we were younger. It was the games like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters and Wacky Races that got me into gaming and created so many memories with my sister. Then when I grew up I went through various devices and consoles, from my dad’s Game Boy to the Nintendo DS on which I played Mario Kart or Bomberman with friends on the bus to school or when we went on trips.
When I got my first computer, I started playing my first online games like Warcraft and Age of Empires. It was only much later, when I finished university, that I bought my first Xbox and started to discover its library of games.
[Q]: Were you a Rare fan before Sea of Thieves? Do you have any favourite Rare games?
[A]: Sea of Thieves was the game that got me back into gaming after my studies, but I don’t think I had played any Rare games before. I’m planning to play them, especially Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark. A lot of them are in my backlog as I really want to explore their worlds and Rare’s legacy.
[Q]: What other games are you currently playing? Any favourites?
[A]: I’ve been playing a lot of Knockout City. This is a game very similar to dodgeball and it can be very intense. It challenges your reflexes and relies quite a lot on devious tactics with your team. I can say that I love sneaking out on my opponents, probably scaring them in the process. It is a lot of fun with friends.
It takes a community to keep a community informed.
[Q]: What brought you over to Sea of Thieves and its community?
[A]: I started playing and discovering Sea of Thieves during the Alpha. Intrigued by the development of the game, I started reading posts on the Forums until I decided to create my own pirate backstory. This resulted in changing my gamertag to what is now Skulliah. I had never participated in a forum before but I immediately felt welcomed, so I continued to engage in various discussions to get to know more people.
When the game was released, a whole bunch of new players arrived and I wanted to create content to help them in their adventures, either by trying to answer their questions or creating threads where I collected all the information on the status of features that were mentioned in streams, interviews or other media, so that everyone could stay up to date.
Wanting to be more involved in the community, I started a blog named Merfolk’s Lullaby, as posts on the Forums are limited by number of characters. I made my first lore quiz and polls to find out which Outpost the community preferred and various other topics, and to my great surprise, a lot of people participated. That was when I knew I had to build a platform where I could make all these tools and experiences I had in mind to help the community in their adventures, and extend the experience of the game.
And here we are, several years later, where I am finally able to do all of this. I am enormously grateful for the support of the community and for having found the dream team to work on all these tools together.
[Q]: How do you and the team go about keeping track and adding everything to Merfolk’s Lullaby when new content launches? Do you take to the seas as quickly as possible to make sure you experience it all?
[A]: I think it depends on what kind of content and for what tool, but overall there is no rush to make new content available. We are players like everyone else, and we also want to enjoy the game at our own pace. Most of the time we would experience the content once and then go back and take more time to collect images, for example.
Regarding the Timeline, we write the events several days after a content drop to be sure to document all the details, as some may be hidden. Some content updates also give us the opportunity to build and launch new tools on Merfolk’s Lullaby, such as the Trade Routes, the Quests or more recently the Murder Mystery Board that we can expand according to what we experience or from the feedback of the community.
From its humble blog beginnings, Merfolk’s Lullaby now caters to thousands of pirates.
[Q]: Merfolk’s Lullaby is also famed for its wonderful storm tracking tool – how did you and the team approach this huge task?
[A]: When I started Merfolk's Lullaby, having a weather forecast was one of my wildest dreams. At the time, I don't think anyone in the community knew if it was even possible as the consensus was that the storm would bounce off the edges of the map randomly. So the first step was to find and prove a potential repetition of its path. I developed a relatively basic tool that allowed me to mark points on our interactive map for the approximate centre of the storm, so that I could log all the locations when it was in the vicinity of an island. This way, if a recurrence occurred, I was able to know when it happened and prove it.
One day I was tracking it and I noticed that its path seemed to replicate points I had previously logged. I was filled with joy and excitement every time the storm repeated the points in the same order. I remember that a Sloop had started to follow me and, knowing where the storm was heading, I used this opportunity to turn off all the lights, wait for the darkness of night and circle around the big rock formation north of Snake Island in the predicted path of the storm. The Sloop completely lost my trail and I continued on towards Shark Bait Cove, hidden in the eye of the storm.
It was a very satisfying moment to discover this recurrence and immediately use the knowledge to evade a potential attack, simply by playing the game in my own way. After following it for more than 100 hours, I knew all the places where the storm was in the vicinity of an island. Without going into too much technical detail, I had to adapt the exact duration of the loop constantly and test these predictions, because a simple second’s difference can become minutes after several weeks have passed.
This summary is mainly my personal experience on how this tool came to life, but for those interested we have an article on Merfolk’s Lullaby with more details on each step of this crazy journey. Finally, the tool is still in beta as there are many improvements I want to implement to hopefully make it even more accurate. I’m very grateful for the feedback and reports that the community sends in, it helps a lot.
[Q]: Merfolk’s Lullaby recently branched out into cinematics – how did you find this challenge and do you have plans to do more?
[A]: Indeed, we released the first of our own cinematics with the ‘Shrouded Islands’ Adventure. We were looking to expand our Sea of Thieves Timeline experience with videos, and when Adventures were announced it felt like the best opportunity. With a resource like our Timeline we are dedicated to preserving as accurately as possible what happens on our beloved Sea of Thieves, and the video format helps us to capture the atmosphere and document the history of these events. Hopefully, it also gives the community a way to relive them whenever they want.
Filming the Adventures is not an easy task as we only have about two weeks to discover the content, script the videos, match the availability of the participants and film all the scenes. Ideally, editing also starts in this short timeframe so that we can go back and film more footage if necessary. We are very happy with the results we have been able to achieve considering all this, and the positive reception from the community. At the moment we are mainly focusing on the Adventures, but you may see us tackling important events from the Sea of Thieves Timeline in the future…
Merfolk’s Lullaby branched out into cinematics as a new way of capturing each Adventure.
[Q]: Thinking back, are there any standout moments for you in Sea of Thieves since you started playing?
[A]: I think The Hungering Deep will always be one of the best moments I’ve experienced in Sea of Thieves, and probably in gaming too. I met a group of people on the seas a few days before the update and we gathered our crew to tackle this adventure together. As we scoured the sea for another crew to summon the beast, I went to the Ferry of the Damned to contact other souls wandering there. I managed to recruit someone and told them to meet us at Shark Bait Cove.
When I returned to the world of the living, my crew was at Ancient Spire where there were new players who had just arrived from the Devil’s Shroud. As we headed towards Merrick to find the other Galleon, I explained to those sailors who had embarked on our ship and this crazy adventure how to navigate and defend themselves to stay alive. I told everyone to put on the tattoo Merrick was giving them, we collected his shanty and headed out to sea. When the tattoos started to glow and the Hungering One’s head emerged from the depths, everyone started to scream. We were 12 players on a Galleon running around repairing the ship, shooting cannonballs, laughing and screaming.
I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this kind of moment with complete strangers who all live in different countries, and to help new players discover the game and experience this for the first time is simply magical.
[Q]: What are your favourite additions to Sea of Thieves over the past year?
[A]: The Siren Shrines are one of my favourite additions. I really like their atmosphere and the unique challenges of each one: solving puzzles, platforming and fighting the new enemies introduced with Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life. It's a diverse range of activities that I can tackle whenever I want, and I really hope we can see more dungeon-like areas such as these in the future!
Then, the Adventures and Mysteries are obviously other additions that I love! The rich world of Sea of Thieves immediately comes alive, and seeing the characters gradually become part of the unfolding story is fantastic! They have the ability to bring lore into the game at a constant pace and allow us to become emotionally attached to these events. I can’t wait to see where the story takes us and what changes our actions will bring to our beloved Sea of Thieves.
Finally, regarding the Mysteries, I love to see the community working together and see people discovering places and hidden items from past updates they never saw before. It brings out little details of this rich world that you might not have noticed before, it’s so much fun!
Seeing the community work together on new discoveries is one of the things Skulliah enjoys most.
[Q]: What are your greatest achievements in a game, Sea of Thieves or otherwise?
[A]: I think being a ‘Sea of Thieves Meteorologist’ is probably the greatest thing I’ve achieved in gaming. I love that games allow us to undertake crazy journeys like that, by playing and embodying the character we want. That’s the beauty of Sea of Thieves to me, having the ability to create my own adventures and build my own legend. Chasing the storm and discovering its behaviour is exactly showcasing that.
[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate and ship name, what would they be?
[A]: Skulliah, captain of the Merfolk’s Lullaby!
Merfolk’s Lullaby was originally the name of a ship, and more specifically the name my character Skulliah inherited from his parents. But that’s a story for another day that I would love to write and share.
[Q]: What kind of other hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: I love baking cakes and pastries. It is my favourite activity where I can express my creativity with original cakes and flavours. And, of course, surprise my friends and family and enjoy these delicious cakes with them!
[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: When I was younger, I used to dance acrobatic rock ’n’ roll and boogie-woogie. I competed and qualified for the national championship of my country. I did not end up on the podium, but I nearly did! It was a lot of fun.
And so ends another Community Spotlight. Thank you so much to Skulliah for taking the time to talk and give us a small insight into the passion for pirating going on over at Merfolk’s Lullaby – we’re very much looking forward to seeing who solves our Mystery first!
If you’d like to hear more from Sea of Thieves’ players, you can take a look at all the previous Community, Creator and Legend Spotlights, and of course the Community Hub that regularly showcases some of our pirates’ most impressive activities. See you next time!