The PiratesAhoy! Community, makers of the popular mods Pirates of the Caribbean: New Horizons and Age of Pirates 2: Gentlemen of Fortune, presents...
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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

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Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Hearts of Oak News: Important Announcement

15 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!

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Post comment Comments  (30 - 40 of 259)
elusivehonor May 31 2014, 2:18pm says:

I've been searching my whole life for a decent Age of Sail game to come along. Looks like I'll be waiting for a little while longer, but hopefully the search is over.

Everything looks fantastic, I am blown away. Really, thank you for your efforts and I know this game can really turn into something special if you continue working on it.

+4 votes     reply to comment
BrendonSA May 29 2014, 9:22am says:

I'm VERY impressed with all the different aspects you guys are throwing into the game.. No doubt i will spend MANY hours being a sea fairer. Anyway a few quick questions-
1- Should we be looking forward to a customizable character, as in facial hair (unique look), clothing, swords, guns etc.
2- Is basic ship customization something we can expect in the future? Such as flags, basic hull colors etc.
3- Will there be different ship types such as a Brig, Frigate, Galleon and so on for us to own and then eventually move up with
4- Is crew something that is a goal of yours? Merchant type crew, Royal Navy type crew, and of course a pirate crew?
5- And LASTLY would the different crews have different attributes. Such as a small pirate crew could take on a larger merchant crew because of combat experience?

ANYWAY thank you guys SO much for all you're doing, I love it! I understand some of these things are probably far into the future but i'm interested to see where you are planning on taking it! Thanks guys!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Pieter_Boelen May 30 2014, 4:10pm replied:

While some of those features are difficult to accomplish, your #3 is a complete certainty. After all, there is no point in making this game if you can't control different ship types!

In the end, we are definitely intending to do what we can to include all of those. They will be long-term goals though as our primary focus is on getting a workable game system in place for the initial Tech Demo release.

+3 votes     reply to comment
DauntlessK Jun 9 2014, 1:53pm replied:

I didn't think I could be so excited for a tech demo. Has there been a posting or something said about what exactly is going to be the goal of the tech demo / what you guys are aiming to include?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Pieter_Boelen Jun 10 2014, 1:54pm replied:

While we do have an internal list, we haven't posted it publicly. The first Tech Demo will basically allow you to sail and walk around and fire cannons. Actual gameplay would be limited though.

+2 votes     reply to comment
DauntlessK Jun 10 2014, 2:19pm replied:

Ok good! I was hoping I didn't miss any of those details... considering I check for updates on Hearts Of Oak almost daily on here (I'm sure I'm not the only one)

If it has realistic sailing properties and control, I think even that alone would be amazing and would be a lot of fun. ESPECIALLY if stormy seas would be included.

That is something I'm holding my breath for. Storms in previous sail games have been frustrating, to say the least. Thanks!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Pieter_Boelen Jun 11 2014, 1:38pm replied:

The focus for the first Tech Demo will be to get something playable. It will be far from perfect, but it'll be a starting point and not an ending point.

The storms in the Storm Engine games (PotC, AoP, CoAS) are relatively good. They have been made a bit more challenging with the "Capsize feature" in our PotC: New Horizons mod.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Iv@n May 24 2014, 3:24pm says:

Somethin that we missed,on cryengine 3.Awesome!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Guest May 24 2014, 11:30am says:

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Pieter_Boelen May 24 2014, 1:02pm replied:

Make no mistake; there is still a LOT of work to be done. We may have something playable within the next couple of months though.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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