The PiratesAhoy! Community, makers of the popular mods Pirates of the Caribbean: New Horizons and Age of Pirates 2: Gentlemen of Fortune, presents...
Hearts of Oak logo
Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas is a non-commercial PC game that is to become the historical seafaring game to end them all!
Fun, realistic gameplay on land and at sea, set during the Age of Sail, will provide extensive free play, exciting scripted storylines and intense multiplayer scenarios.
Our goal is to allow anyone interested in the era to be able to live their dream!

The gameplay will be similar in style to Akella's Storm Engine-based games that we are known for modifying, but we intend to take it further and offer more freedom, immersion and authenticity. The player will assume the role of a captain and have full command of their crew, being able to delegate tasks and give orders in the heat of battle. Dynamic hand-to-hand combat will make boarding enemy ships and capturing forts a fast paced, hectic experience. Whether you want to enlist in a navy, lead an honest merchant life, or resort to piracy, Hearts of Oak will offer many hours of gameplay.

Using the power of CryEngine, and the knowledge and talent of our artists, the game will deliver stunning visuals worthy of tomorrow's PC hardware. You'll be able to explore a vast open world filled with highly detailed locations, ships and characters.

We are a team of volunteers, and due to the scale of this project, the game will take many months to develop. We will be releasing tech demos, alpha and beta versions over the coming months, but please be patient and have faith in our dev team. This is our dream game concept, and we are determined to make it a reality!

Help Wanted!

We're looking for talented, enthusiastic people to help us make this game a reality.
For a list of our current vacancies, and for information on how to join the team, visit our Development Roles page.
Please note that we are NOT offering payment!

If you are unable to join our team, you can still help by spreading the word! If you know anyone with the skills we need, please do point them in our direction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Image RSS Feed Latest Screens
Realistic Caribbean Test Merchant's Marks Tavern Interior Lighting
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Hearts of Oak News: Important Announcement

9 comments by Armada_ on Aug 19th, 2014

Ahoy everyone,

This week's article is slightly different than usual, as we'll be focusing on an important announcement.

A few weeks back, you'll remember us announcing our upgrade from the free CryEngine SDK to the 'Engine-as-a-Service' (EaaS), a paid subscription to the latest version of CryEngine.
You may also have heard that this upgrade came with a few setbacks, which at the time were somewhat frustrating, but we were confident that we would eventually overcome them.

Now, though, the reality of the situation is very different.
A number of severe engine bugs have shown up, breaking hundreds of hours' worth of hard work, and there was (and remains) little sign of proper fixes from Crytek any time soon.
These setbacks managed to halt our progress to such an extent that, unfortunately, we had to find a more viable alternative than CryEngine.

This brings us to the following announcement:
We have now chosen to use the Unity engine to develop Hearts of Oak.

We understand that this decision may leave you with a lot of questions, so please watch the video below and read the following FAQ for more information behind the engine change.

Here are some of the points covered in the video, detailing what's being worked on now and what will be done in the near future:

Current progress:
- Functioning ship with opening/closing gunports, basic buoyancy and detailed physical proxies
- Simple ocean waves with deformed mesh in foreground, texture based waves in background
- Simple ocean shader with transparency based on terrain
- Short camera controller for character navigating the ship in first person
- Time scaling, also affects physical interactions
- Very basic quest and dialogue systems

To do:
- Write a less expensive cloth renderer for sails, and to receive shadows
- Import functioning guns
- Create ship movement which responds to wind object
- Dynamic weather system
- Implement segmented terrain system
- Dynamically render islands from heightmaps

Engine Change FAQ

Why are you abandoning CryEngine?
Unfortunately, it's mostly down to the quantity of bugs that made it very difficult to progress with development, and the disappointing lack of support from Crytek to fix these bugs.
Switching to the EaaS set us back by several months' worth of work because of the bugs and undocumented changes it introduced, which needless to say, did not go down too well with our developers who were paying for the subscription.

Why did you choose Unity in its place?
Initially, we chose Unity as a temporary solution to the CryEngine's progress-halting bugs. The plan was to flesh out as many game mechanics as we could, and transfer the code back to CryEngine once the bugs had been fixed.

However, the more we used Unity, the more we noticed its potential.
It soon became clear that the content pipeline to get assets into the engine was vastly quicker and more efficient in Unity, and that our programmers had much more freedom to implement the exact features we wanted. We also liked the modular nature of the engine, with a wide variety of addons available to help speed up development.

In a space of a couple of weeks, we were able to replicate a few months' worth of CryEngine work in Unity, and by that point it was clear that we could make this game happen in a fraction of the time by switching to Unity outright.

I thought you said you were committed to CryEngine?
We were committed to it, but it seems CryEngine wasn't committed to us, if you will. If the EaaS hadn't set us so far back in development, and if the bugs were fixed and new features properly documented, we probably would have stuck with it.

Are you sure this is the best choice?
Rest assured that we're making the right decision for the good of Hearts of Oak. Our developers are now more enthusiastic than ever, with the enhanced flexibility and workflow of Unity giving us great confidence that this engine will help us make Hearts of Oak a reality.

But CryEngine looks so GOOD! Can Unity replicate those visuals?
Yes, CryEngine looks better than Unity out of the box, but with very little work we're already well on our way to making a test level that looks quite close to CryEngine. We're confident that we'll have something just as good later in development.

Don't you need Unity Pro for fancy graphics?
Technically, yes we do. It's quite expensive, but we do plan to raise funds to help pay for the licenses. More details on that below.

I thought you weren't going to raise money for Hearts of Oak?
There are a number of things that forced us to reconsider.
Firstly, apart from the Pro license, there are numerous paid addons that would aid the game's development significantly.
Secondly, we have received offers of donations from some people over the past few months, so we decided that accepting donations to cover the aforementioned costs would be a sensible idea.

To be clear, we will only ask for voluntary donations, and we plan to use this money to pay for licenses, addons and other development costs. As we remain a non-profit team of volunteers, we won't pay individuals to contribute to the game.

We will, however, keep strict control on how the funds are allocated. We will only provide funds for software licenses to team members who have earned our trust, and only if they need that software. We'll also be sparing with the engine addons we purchase, so no matter who donates or how much they give, the money will be put to good use.

How can I make a donation to the project?
We'll have more details on how you can donate soon.

That's all for this week. We know it's a lot to swallow, so don't hesitate to contact us on our forums if you have further questions.

We'll return to the usual update articles very soon, so keep checking back for the latest development news!

Media RSS Feed Latest Video
Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 255)
Guest Aug 21 2014, 2:32pm says:

This comment is currently awaiting admin approval, join now to view.

Armada_ Aug 21 2014, 7:37pm replied:

We've used Unreal before, and rejected it for similar reasons to CryEngine. We realise it has improved since then, but having used Unity for the past few weeks now, we're very comfortable with it and are confident it suits our game perfectly. Our progress in that short timespan speaks for itself.

+1 vote     reply to comment
NakedTopHat Aug 11 2014, 4:38am says:

Really enjoy the Music, If the whole Sound Track is of the quality Shown in the articles then that would be awesome! Good work lads keep up the great work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Guest Aug 5 2014, 10:52am says:

Will we have Pirates ship?
For a Pirat Fan like me would that be Great!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Armada_ Aug 10 2014, 8:05pm replied:

Yes, you'll be able to play as a pirate and sail whatever ship you can get your hands on, if you wish.

As for famous or fictional pirate ships, we can't promise any specifics right now. Pirates of the Caribbean ships will not be featured for copyright reasons.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Guest Aug 3 2014, 6:11pm says:

Hi Developers,

I am a backer of Star Citizen and they had a 3D ship modeling competition. There are a lot of talented people on their forums. I left a post there asking if anyone was interested in supporting you all in this project.

I enjoyed Pirates way back when, but I really have not found a age of sails game that could match it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Armada_ Aug 10 2014, 8:07pm replied:

Thanks! We appreciate the mention. :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
loco036 Jul 29 2014, 12:47am says:

So will this game have the 19th century? I would love to be in a clipper and trade in South East Asia

+1 vote     reply to comment
Pieter_Boelen Aug 18 2014, 2:03am replied:

Not sure if the 19th Century would make for very exciting gameplay. No cannons on the merchant ships. But it would certainly be cool to see ships like the Cutty Sark, SS Great Britain and HMS Warrior.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Armada_ Jul 29 2014, 6:48pm replied:

The plan is to include a variety of time periods, up to and including the early 19th century (Napoleonic era), and to *eventually* expand beyond the Caribbean. For now though, we need to start small, so that means small Caribbean islands and one initial time period.

Keep in mind that we're designing the game to be very mod-friendly, so if someone wants to create a mid 19th century mod with clippers, they can. :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Post a Comment
click to sign in

You are not logged in, your comment will be anonymous unless you join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) which we encourage all contributors to do.

2000 characters limit; HTML formatting and smileys are not supported - text only

Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas
Send Message
Official Page
Release Date
Game Watch
Track this game
Role Playing
Single & Multiplayer

Latest tweets from @piratesahoy_

Announcement on #HeartsOfOakGame: Officially Swapping Engine #History #AgeOfSail #Pirate #Game

Aug 19 2014, 4:24pm

I added a video to a @YouTube playlist Hearts of Oak - Pre-Alpha Ships Proxies 8/17/2014

Aug 17 2014, 5:56pm

@Navalaction Good job! Is #Cuba really that flat? What scale are you using for your models? #History #AgeOfSail #Navy #Game

Aug 7 2014, 2:42pm

RT @Navalaction: Real height map of #Cuba coast in the age of sail #pirates #caribbean @PiratesAhoy_

Aug 7 2014, 2:40pm

I added a video to a @YouTube playlist Hearts of Oak - Pre-Alpha CryEngine Issues

Aug 3 2014, 3:43pm

#HeartsOfOakGame: Issues with CryEngine point to a different, yet promising future for our #History #AgeOfSail...

Aug 3 2014, 3:43pm

Were There Black Pirates? #Pirates #History:

Jul 28 2014, 9:31am

Update on #HeartsOfOakGame, our #History #AgeOfSail #Pirate #Game. Models, Environment & Music

Jul 26 2014, 6:08pm

Patrician IV Gold & Port Royale 3 Gold Double Pack Out Now on PC! #Pirates #Game #Caribbean #AgeOfSail :

Jul 26 2014, 3:42am

It’s All About the Cheese in the First Tropico 5 DLC Pack – ‘The Big Cheese’ Available Now! #Caribbean #Game #funny :

Jul 24 2014, 9:39am

Embed Buttons

Promote Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas on your homepage or blog by selecting a button and using the HTML code provided (more).

Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas
Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas
187 of 23,506
Last Update
4 days ago
671 members