Sailors, swashbucklers and scallywags alike... join us as we celebrate all that we have achieved in 2013!
For everyone at PiratesAhoy!, it's been a year to remember. As we began the year by celebrating our tenth anniversary, we knew that great
things would come in the following months. And, true to form, we have outdone our expectations in a number of ways.
So, let's take a moment to recap on how each of the community's key projects have advanced over the course of 2013, and we'll provide the latest updates
along the way.
Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas
The new flagship project of PiratesAhoy! may be off to a slow start, but this year represents a clear step in the right direction. Back in April, after a slew of new concept art, we adopted an art style that will go on to define much of the game's aesthetics, and has already been used to create the logo you're all now familiar with.
Around the same time, we launched a survey to let you have your say and to help us decide on several key design philosophies. Fast forward to September, and the survey's results (from nearly 1,000 participants!) gave us a valuable insight into what you, the fans, were most enthusiastic about. It was encouraging for us to see the impressive support people have for realism and historical content, along with an appetite for myth, superstition, and a bit of pirating here and there. We also learnt what to avoid at all costs. (Perhaps save airships and machine-cannons for another time, eh?)
In October, we then made a big decision: to cease work on the Unreal Engine, and begin evaluating Ogre3D and CryEngine as better alternatives for the game. At the same time, we announced our intention to join forces with the team behind a similar project, Drake's Legacy, to further aid development of Hearts of Oak.
The result of this was accelerated progress, and this teaser trailer below demonstrates some of the work we've done while testing the CryEngine, along with some concept art and original music.
[DISCLAIMER: The video contains screenshots from CryEngine 2, which we temporarily used until version 3.5 was made available and had most of its bugs
In November, we started a Wiki for the project right here on our site, which will eventually grow to include all the information you need to know about Hearts of Oak.
Meanwhile, we have started making great strides with pre-alpha development, even to the point of getting a ship to move with and react to the wind in CryEngine. We've also made progress with cannons, allowing the player to interact with them and fire them manually.
Behind the scenes, we now have writers working on the script for the game's first storyline. The exact content and sequence of events will be a closely guarded secret for now, but we can tell you that the result will be an engaging and rewarding experience...
We will soon try to get a functioning user interface, and continue to work towards a playable proof-of-concept demo some time in the new year.
Finally, we would like to reiterate that we are still recruiting for the development team! If you want to get involved, head on over to our recruitment forum and introduce yourself.
As of this moment, the key roles we're looking for (in no particular order) are:
- 3D Artists
- 2D Artists
- UI Developers
Pirates of the Caribbean: New Horizons
Perhaps a better question is, what hasn't happened! The New Horizons mod has gone from strength to strength in 2013, once again reaching new heights that we didn't think possible.
We spent the first part of the year building upon the solid foundations of last year's Beta 2.3, bringing in changes such as improved interface textures, better cannon particle effects, numerous gameplay enhancements and bug fixes. We also continued to offer new and improved ship models, thanks to a never-ending desire our modellers have, which is to push the bar even higher.
After having an internal Beta 2.4 release to thoroughly test our changes and iron out the bugs, we finally made another public release in June, as Beta 2.5. Fun fact: this release prompted the highest ever number of visits to our ModDB profile, gaining the attention of nearly 3,000 visitors!
And we didn't stop there. We went and pushed the boundaries even further than we imagined with our next series of additions. For starters, we brought back the long-awaited Character Customisation options to the Select Storyline interface, allowing more control than ever when starting a new game. Next, we completely revamped the World Map by rearranging the islands and adding the Central American coastline to create a far more realistic version of the Caribbean. Add to that a fixed Capture Colonies mod, brand new movie-inspired Curse of Cortes, and reinstated Shotgun Mode for certain guns, and by September we had a fantastic release on our hands, in the form of Beta 3.
Check out Beta 3's awesome cinematic trailer below.
Based on the year so far, then, we were pretty happy with how things had turned out. So more recently, we continued iterating on Beta 3, adding more fixes and slight gameplay enhancements, until we released the latest version, Beta 3.1, in early December.
Little did we know, however, that things were about to get even better. As ModDB's annual Mod of the Year awards commenced, and everyone could start voting for their favourite mods, we saw an opportunity to let New Horizons really shine. Based on our frequent placement in the top 100 most visited mod profiles, we began advertising New Horizons to see if we could gain enough votes to finally achieve what we had, in previous years, missed out on: a position in the Top 100 Mods of the Year.
As voting continued and the deadlines drew near, we were anxious to see how we'd done. Then, when the Top 100 nominations were announced, we were shocked to see that New Horizons was among them! At long last, this was a fitting tribute to the many people who have spent uncountable hours to make this mod everything that it is today.
Although we didn't make the top spot, we are extremely proud that New Horizons has been recognised by you, our beloved fans, as one of the greatest mods of 2013. Again, we can't thank you enough for your support!
Age of Pirates 2: Gentlemen of Fortune
For several months, you may have suspected that not much was being done on the Gentlemen of Fortune (GOF) mods... but you'd be surprised. All throughout the year, ModernKnight1 has been a one-man team working away at his highly ambitious and long-awaited GOF: Eras mod.
The key focus of his enormous efforts was, more specifically, Eras Module #2, which covers the Golden Age period of 1648 to 1725. Some of its most notable features include nearly 70 playable characters (most of whom are historical figures), a plethora of new swords, pistols and items, a better
selection of music and loading screens, and an impressive array of ships.
And speaking of ships, perhaps the most noticeable change is ModernKnight's huge amount of new and improved textures. His hard work and exquisite attention to detail has transformed even the least detailed ships of the original game into stunning works of art, each one designed to fit in with the
time period perfectly.
If you have an interest in history, even if it's not this specific time period, you owe it to yourself to try this mod. Or, if you own AoP2 and don't care much for history, try it anyway, because like many good things in life, it's free!
For a look at the mod's new intro video and some gameplay footage, see the video below.
The most recent version of Eras Module #2 was uploaded on 29th November, and fixes a few bugs found in the initial release. ModernKnight is still working on the mod, and hopes to release a further patch in the new year.
Meanwhile, a more stable version of GOF 2.0 (which is NOT the same as GOF: Eras Mod#2) was released on 6th December, which aims to incorporate features of GOF 1.2 without all the accompanying bugs.
And finally, the Combined Modpack (CM) that started them all has been made available again, for those that want a simpler mod that is more akin to the original game.
For more details about GOF: Eras and to download the mod, click here.
For more details about GOF 2.0 and to download the mod, click here.
For more details about CM v3.2.0, click here.
To download the mod, click here.
As I hope this article has demonstrated, 2013 has brought with it many wonderful things for PiratesAhoy!, and it will surely go down as one of our greatest years to date. Everyone that has contributed to our projects this year deserves to be applauded for their time and effort, as we can truly celebrate a job well done!
So this Christmas, we hope you continue to enjoy our fantastic mods and keep looking forward to more exciting times ahead. And without further ado...