Skyrates is a casual online multiplayer Flash-based trading and flight combat game originally developed by students at the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center. As of February 2009, there were over 16,000 registered characters, and at least 150 players actively playing at one time.
The game is set in Skytopia - a world paralleling the cultural atmosphere of the late 1940s wherein portions of land have risen up into the sky. These skylands act, in game terms, as bases for air transportation and trading posts. All inhabitants are anthropomorphic animals; playable character species include fox, walrus, bear, ferret, giraffe, squirrel, monkey, boar and cat. The roleplay world is distinct from the game itself, consisting of varying characters from the mammal, avian, and reptile orders.
Each player has an avatar - or skyrate - with a character sheet and skill tree. Points gained by successful trading and combat can be spent on skills, while money earned can be spent on improving or upgrading the player's aircraft, and also on consumables: fuel, ammunition and armor. Most aircraft can also carry crew, such as navigators or engineers.
Trading is a simple matter of loading up on goods where they are cheap, and selling them where they are in demand. Goods are offered in three tiers; experience is required to access the higher, more lucrative tiers. Similarly, certain skylands are inaccessible to the player until they have increased their flight skill.
Each action - such as flying to a new skyland, or making a trade - takes a certain amount of real life time, usually hours a piece. The user may queue up multiple actions, and then set their character in motion and leave the game. On their return, they can read the log to discover the results of their actions.
One of the things that may occur during a flight is a pirate attack. If the user returns prior to the completion of the active flight leg, they can take control of the situation. If not, the combat will be resolved automatically. If the player's ship is defeated, their cargo is likely to be stolen. Conversely, a bounty is awarded for defeating pirates.
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