Ship berthing is operational again, the storms look like storms once more and can be encountered in DirectSail mod as well and the Character interface error with the Auto Skill System disabled has been sorted. In addition to that, all storylines and quests have been playtested, fixed and are now playable.
From its original form, the out of the box the game of "Pirates of the Caribbean" as modified by the PiratesAhoy! community, has now progressed to levels that were thought impossible to achieve. Several features have been added that even the original game developers did not think could be done. But managed it, we did.
Amongst the most frequently requested features ever since the release of the stock game are DirectSail, Capture Colonies and Save At Sea. Both the first and third were thought to be impossible to achieve, given the game engine limitations. But with the release of Build 14 Alpha 10, now all those three features are available. Capture Colonies requires some more work, but the concept has been proven. The other two mods have proven to work very well together and will add a great deal of gameplay value as well as convenience to both regular players and the more realistically inclined.
Another oft-requested feature, especially since I posted that tantalizing picture on the Images page tantalizing picture on the Images page, is the Ship Upgrades modification. We have been able to include this mod in Build 14 Alpha 10 after finishing and fixing it. It allows you to buy upgrades for your ship if you can find enough money to pay for it. Also a part of the Shipyard interface improvements are the ability to remove and install cannons on your ship as you see fit and the ability to choose a different paint job for your ship. The interface for this last feature is not entirely clear yet, since so far we haven't included screenshots of all the various ships, but the concept has been proven.
One thing that has always bothered some members of our community was the confusing officer system that was present in the original game. We have now made work of the New Officer System that allows all officers to contribute their skills and not only those that are in your active land/boarding party. Each officer contributes only those skills that make sense for their assigned position aboard the ship. However, it possible to freely change officers' roles in the Passengers interface.
Gameplay Realism Updates:
Some people like realism in their games and some do not. Naturally, we try to cater both audiences.
The Realistic Sailing mode has been redubbed into a general Realistic Game mode that involves not only the sailing system, but also limits Fast Travel and Sail To to places you have personally discovered. Additionally, spyglasses only enlarge the view and do not give any further information. This is to encourage players to actually sail around and observe other ships the way real life seamen would have done. Also the player is no longer informed beforehand if there is danger in a location.
All the above are optional and can be turned on if the player wishes, but are off by default.
Another addition is the concept of wounded crewmembers. Depending on your ship company's defence skill, casualities in ship battles may not immediately die and will have a chance of healing and rejoining your crew. Depending on the presence of medicine aboard the ship and the defence skill of the ship's doctor, if available, less crewmembers will die after the battle and more will be healed.
Historical Realism Updates:
One way of adding more variety to a game in a historical setting is to provide more historical background. This has been done with the inclusion of the Periods Mod. The game now spans the history in the Caribbean from 1500 to 1820. Island and town names are correct for each period, as well as the relations between the nations. The nationality of towns will differ per period and there will be a historically correct governor installed in each colony as far as our sources have enabled.
In addition to the above, the look of the soldiers will change, which immediately gives a different atmosphere in the different time settings of the game.
A large part of the Periods mod is the Different Flags mod, which is another thing that we have wanted to do but believed to be impossible. It has been in the works for over three years and time and again it looked like we would never manage it. But it has been functioning very well since the release of Build 14 Alpha 9.5 Patch 3. Amongst other things, this mod places period-correct flags AND pennants on all ships in the game. It is possible to distinguish between navy and merchant ships based on their flag. And different pirate ships will use different pirate flags, just like real pirates did.
The Different Flags mod brings us to the next aspect where we have been working on. After all, as much as gameplay is important, the eye must not go wanting. While we are modding a 2003 game and we do not have access to most of the source code controlling the actual look of the game, we have done what we can. A seemingly minor part of this is the Lagoon Color mod, which will turn the water colour near shores to the distinct Caribbean hinge that is so famous from postcards and movies. Along with the update to the Weather Mod that makes the chance of rain dependent on the actual Caribbean wet season, this does contribute greatly to the Caribbean feel of the game.
Since the release of the stock game, we have added 177 new ships and 564 new character models. Most are reskins of originals, but many also are either modified models or fully new ones and all are works of art. A project has been started on to add detail to all original game ships, including placing ship wheels, anchors and figureheads on the various ships. This may seem like a lot of effort with not much gained, but considering you spend a lot of time in the game looking at your ships, we might as well make that a pleasant business.
We have also finally learned how to add new location models into the game, which can be seen in the ship in cave picture above. We have not yet done much location modeling due to lack of modelers, but at least we are capable of doing it now. This has also resulted in new weapons added to the game, as well as the field guns that can be seen later in this article.
The first thing you get to do when starting the game is to select the story you want to play. The original game provided one. Pirates of the Caribbean: New Horizons provides eight more. The original game's story has been retained, but in addition there are many different stories, each providing a different gaming experience. The Bartolomeu o Portugues story has been covered in a previous article and there is nothing much to say about the Master and Commander one, other than that it provides 100% free play in a game world set just after the arrival of the Unites States of America in the Caribbean and just prior to the Napoleonic wars.
The various storylines are in various states of being finished, but all have been very carefully put together and have been tested and fixed to the best of our abilities. With the Different Flags mod now included in Build 14 Alpha 10, the player gets a differnt personal flag in each storyline and this flag also changes occasionally based on story requirements. A feature we will be working on for future releases is an interface where you will be able to select your own personal flag.
Now follows a short overview on the major storyline additions since the release of Build 14 Alpha 9.
The Assassin storyline is a bloodthirsty story where the player will rely both on his physical ability, as well as his ability of sneaking around and using the special weapons provided to him by his (not so) trusted officer. The game opens as a former Dutch soldier finds himself in a smuggling deal goes wrong, but is soon thrust into doing various off-the-record jobs for the Spanish Crown.
This quest is being written by the same modder who made the first new main quest in the game for Bartolomeu o Portugues.
Tales of a Chevalier:
The story of Jean de la Croix chronicles the life of a French nobleman who finds himself inprisoned over a duel with a Spanish Don. You must find a way to escape the clutches of the Spanish Crown and repay them in style for their treatment of you in prison.
This quest is being written by one of our texture artists who is now trying his hand at coding.
Unlike in the rest of the stories, for the Horatio Hornblower main quest the player is not a pirate or privateer but a young officer in the British Royal Navy. The story is based loosely on the TV series and the books by C.S. Forester and you will encounter many characters and scenes that you could recognize from these. Sound clips from the movies have even been included in the dialogs to provide additional immersion.
During this quest, you will be waging war on Napoleonic France and will fight for the freedom of the Caribbean islands over the rule of a tyrant. This will mean you will fight many a sea battle, but that is not all. Horatio Hornblower is being joined by a character from another famous series of literature in the form of Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe of the 33rd Foot and eventually the 95th Rifles Regiment. This adds an aspect to this story previously unseen in the game, namely land battles involving riflemen and field cannons.
Hoist the Colours:
Despite what all the above might lead you to belief, we have not forgotten the movie that resulted in the title of this game. The Hoist the Colours story opens up as pirate Guy Verbinski (who can pick up the reference?) is forced to spend the night in the Tortuga tavern hall and finds none other than our dear Mr. Gibbs there. Soon he finds himself being told of the exploits of that famous rogue Jack Sparrow.
A time and character jump then occurs, placing the player in the shoes of that notorious pirate himself. Beginning as Jack has just arrived in the Caribbean, this story contains both the Curse of the Black Pearl story AND the unchronicled events that lead up to this. However, this is not a linear game by any means and different paths are open, some of which lead to the film events, some that lead to alternates from the film events and some that lead into trouble. There are many twists and turns in this game, so keep a weather eye open!
Opinions by PiratesAhoy! Community members:
I would like to conclude this preview with some opinions on Build 14 Alpha 10 by various people from the PiratesAhoy! Community, including freelance testers, as well as some of our modders.
Short Jack Gold:
- Quest writer on the Horatio Hornblower quest and part of the Jack Sparrow quest
"The latest PiratesAhoy: POTC Build 14 Alpha 10 is a VERY stable game which is packed with so many new features and surprises that, even those who know the game intimately, are astounded.
The previous “bugs” have been eliminated to a point where the game is now accepted as stable."
- Alpha Tester on Build 14 Alpha 9.5 Patch 4
"I have yet to play the latest Alpha 10 WIP, but I am impressed with the other released Alpha's I have played. It's like playing a completely different game from the stock or even Build 13 versions. Very fun and enjoyable to play. The new storylines are all fantastic."
- Quest writer on the Jack Sparrow quest and additional sidequests
"Being a quest writer of the game I see alot of the stuff that goes on in the background and I can't believe some of the things we have achieved! Some of the mods make you feel like you're in the Caribbean while others make the time frame right. It truly is amazing. All of the different storylines are very playable and worth playing as well, and they are only going to get better! I truly believe that this would be the GREATEST pirate game ever, and it has been honour to be a part of the making process."
- Player of Age of Pirates and City of Abandoned Ships
"Brilliant! I'm excited. From all the posts/images I've read/looked at, I'm impressed at the depth you guys have brought to what looks like a great new game. I've been addicted to AoP and CoAS, and am not bored at all, but have finished most of the quests. Your content has me intensely interested. The land warfare addition alone looks amazing and I've just got to jump in. I already ordered PotC from Amazon last week, it arrived today and I just loaded it up."
- Long time tester on the Build Mod
"I have played Alpha 10 WIP for the last couple of weeks. I have played New Horizons and Hornblower. First of all I find the game play aspects of the mod to be extremely stable. There are very few crashes, and the key aspects of game play, sailing, trading, land combat, ship to ship combat, boarding and smuggling all seem to work glitch free.
The new features as ship upgrading, wounded crew and historic flags all add fine new dimensions to the game. Having all these additional quests to play almost make this a game that will never go stale.
Honestly in terms of playing the game I find it is a stable as Build 14 Alpha 9.5 Patch 4."
- Original Sea Dogs Fan
"I remember vividly my disappointment in this game when it originally came out. I did a little insignificant and very forgettable work on the original attempts to mod this game, and the vision we had then pales greatly in comparison to what has been presented here. The work that the PiratesAhoy! Mod team has put into this is absolutely incredible! You all have taken a mediocre game at best and turned into a classic that will continue to be enjoyed for a long time to come! Great work mates!"