After years of development history, the time has finally come to release a major upgrade to the original swashbuckling adventure game known as Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales (Sea Dogs: Caribbean Tales on GOG's launcher). Of course a lot of us who have seen this mod get updated, in the years it has been available from the PiratesAhoy Community, will already know this; however to those who joined in usage of this mod halfway through the development cycle - here's a little history lesson about this mod.
Development History from the Developer's Perspective:
The work on this mod, or it's ancestor, started many years ago with Cyberops in 2007 and the mod was highly praised for bringing an extra dimension to the game. Cyberops's mod had a few problems, had issues in terms of conforming or trying to follow historical accuracy and some content issues in the brothels. Cyberops's mod was merely just an enhancement to the original game and game-play was very similar to the original since the patches and a no-cd allowed to bypass starforce (An Aggressive Copyright Protection System included with the original game that crippled the game's ability to run) in order to get the original experience without installing Cyberops's mod. However, the glaring issues with the English translation and a many bugs present in the original game were, by a vast majority, fixed by the Cyberops team which made Cyberops's mod popular because it was fixing what the original developers got wrong. Cyberops's Supermod Repack had a long reign of being the go-to mod, besides AOP:CT's English translated version of the Russian mod "Secrets of the Far Seas" which wasn't as popular by comparison.
Back when I was in middle school (around 2010), I discovered this game and Cyberops's mod. The mod was excellent and I was able to play through the story-line with no difficulty at all. I started studying history in various areas including the age of sail (i.e the golden age of piracy) and noticed some inaccuracies, in various places, in the mod. I also was eager to modify the game past Cyberops's accomplishments and as such I once lurked on the PiratesAhoy forums as a guest in order to receive help by searching and browsing the forums to mod the game. After my shared computer crashed, I started to pick up the pieces on my new system. By junior year in high school I joined the PiratesAhoy Community in order to mod the game to my standards using Cyberops's creation as the basis. Many versions of the mod came out and each improvement, in the updates released, made the game better until the time came to release version 4.0. Version 4.0 was the elephant in the room when I was getting too busy to mod the game. I was a bit lax on my restrictions for that mod as the quest I released had a terrible exploit bug that allowed you to complete the quest before the Dutchman could be fought. In that sense I never got it right and the quest seemed empty compared to my previous feats in modifying the game. I also unbalanced the ships by adding new ones, and other game-play problems cropped up, one by one. I left the forums for a few years as I attended personal matters that needed my attention.
Initially, after releasing v4.0, I had thought I had done my best to provide an improvement over Cyberops's Mod, however I felt that the mod wasn't complete by a long shot. Since I was dealing with personal matters at the time I felt nothing of it. I gradually forgot the PiratesAhoy Community until Chezjfrey sent me a private message in August of 2017; suggesting that there was a way to fix what went wrong in v4.0 and also make the game a lot better. I got hooked again and kept the conversation going. Over time and on the Supermod's original topic we worked on a new version, 5.0, which promises to do away with the philosophies of the old and add some new content and fix the places in which I fouled up the last time. As of this moment v5.0 is about to be released to the general public.
What are the Changes?
In addition to the content from Version 4.0, other ships were added or replaced in order to conform to the 17th century time period. The entire ship and cannon systems were overhauled to provide a logical linear progression in the game. A new ship naming system that I designed myself also makes things a little more historically accurate. All of the ship names either existed in real life or were extrapolated from various real ship names of the period. Since some of the countries in the game, like France have accented letters, the text system was changed so it could read UTF compatible file formats (which allowed such accents to appear). Details can be found in the video below:
New Sounds and Music are here! The cannon sounds have been reworked yet again with the high caliber sounds getting the most attention. The pistol, musket and blunderbuss sounds have been reworked with new versions. New Sounds for the naval battle appear in this update as well, from falling masts to shrapnel. New Music for the town themes, the sailing day/night cycles and the world map has also been added. Also, instead of a clunky executable to change the alias files each time, those options have now been integrated into the options.exe file for simplicity. Finally on the sound front, these new sounds will play on every scheme except the "original" scheme as it is the original AOP default and thus the sounds will be as close to "original" as possible. For other media, the Videos have been remastered into 1080p/720p for viewing on a full 1080p screen or larger.
The Engine has also received a massive update to STORM ENGINE 2.8 (the same version as COAS) so that in combination with various other tweaks, task switching from the game to other places is not painful anymore and it supports interface scaling (even past 1080p). This also adds support for the latest FMOD sound system to increase the 3d sound realism and other related sound enhancements were made possible by this upgrade. Although the engine update fixed a lot of bugs that were present originally, the game still had a lot of growing pains to adapt with the new engine. In order for both of them to play nice, extensive revamps to the code was in order. Major code revamps include the Governor Ask For Help Messages (which were showing in russian), Brothel missing loading screens, Crew hiring screen calculation errors, Store system re-balancing, Storyline bug fixing, Ship purchasing problems and much, much more!
One of the most major hurdles for this update was a complete revamp for the Flying Dutchman Quest. In old 4.0 it was clunky, unresponsive and boring to play. All of these have been remedied in the latest update. In addition the cabin spawning system has been reworked as a result; allowing for more quest additions in the future for those who wish to continue my work.
Some other little things were mainly look and feel upgrades. The visuals were given an upgrade, to be sure with the new STORM ENGINE, but the painstaking work I put into redoing a lot of text files and ship/item descriptions, along with changing the flags and other related visual work I hope helped the immersion quality. Due to some of the new ships not having sailorspoints when I got them, this mod has my custom versions implemented in there so you can see men on the deck.
My credits were so long that instead of putting them all in the Readme file, which is going on 15 pages, I decided to let the entire community take a bow with a modification to the original credits roll so that all the people that helped or were helping at present to work on this mod will be duly noted for posterity.
The only known issue is related to a COAS problem that hasn't been corrected. All of the primary save files are instanced so the options for each file are separate from the main menu's settings. If you wish to work around this, simply call the pause menu by using the ESC key on your keyboard and navigate to the options screen and then hit cancel and ESC again to get back into the game with your main menu settings applied to your save instance.
When you download the zip file, everything to make it run correctly is available at your fingertips. The Readme File in the Main Directory after extracting the file will give you detailed instructions on how to properly run the game on your system. Once you follow the directions carefully, you will be able to run it successfully.
I thank The PiratesAhoy community and the community of Buccaneer's Reef for helping me to complete this mod and to release it to the benefit of the public. I also thank specifically HotShot from the PiratesAhoy community for identifying and helping me diagnose problems with some of the core systems in the game that were unbalanced or broken. A special thank you to ChezJfrey, a member of both communities, for his hard work and devotion to seeing the development to completion and for providing the STORM ENGINE 2.8 upgrade and related engine/core enhancements.
May Fair Winds Fine Ye!
from The Historical Immersion Modding Team...
Article Authored by Modder01 (Historical Immersion Supermod Head Developer and Programmer)