Welcome to another edition of our Hearts of Oak progress articles!
In each article*, we will bring you a summary of the latest development news, including work-in-progress screenshots and in-game footage, along with a more in-depth look at featured content.
This week, we have some great development news to share regarding game mechanics, graphics and 3D artwork, but first we need to address an important issue.
On behalf of the development team, I'd like to ask everyone to show a little more courtesy towards our choice of game engine.
Recently, we've seen several comments suggesting that we made the 'wrong choice' for whatever reason, and recommending other engines instead.
We know that most people have their preferred game engine, and you are entitled to your own opinion, but if you disagree with our decision, then please keep your comments to yourself.
We have explained our reasoning time and again, and we urge you to read our FAQ entry and announcement article for the details.
Henceforth, we will not repeat ourselves any further if asked about the engine choice. We have more important things to do, such as making this game as awesome as possible for your enjoyment!
Thank you for your cooperation, and for continuing to support this project and the dev team.
Now that we've cleared that up, let's get on with the exciting part:
- Weather Tracking; Strannik
We're taking realistic weather simulation very seriously for Hearts of Oak, and below is a brief explanation by Strannik of some of our latest developments:
Strannik wrote: Weather is one of the most important aspects of living upon the seas. For this reason, we are redefining how we simulate weather from the ground up, with the purpose of having a realistic weather system that will greatly add to the sense of immersion and the feel of the Caribbean in Hearts of Oak.
Currently, we are working on the wind patterns that will fill your sails, break your masts, or becalm you in the middle of the ocean.
Instead of simply adding random weather and winds to the game, we have decided to use modern data to create a very realistic (even if perhaps not perfectly historically accurate) weather in game.
We can do this thanks to the fact that NASA has been measuring winds all over the world during the last 25 years, every six hours, and with a very high spatial resolution (compiled by the Discover project).
Winds in game will have two main components (calculated using NASA’s data). The first one is a global steady wind that gradually changes through the year (but which is essentially the trade winds).
In the following animation you can follow the evolution of this steady wind as it changes through the year. Arrow color indicates wind speed.
Strannik wrote: The second component corresponds to random weather systems that arise from changes in pressure and temperature through the Caribbean. This will be the component that makes in-game weather unpredictable and will contain all kinds of systems, (from drizzles to the enormous cyclones that appear in hurricane season).
In the following animation you can see how variable this component of the wind is. Now wind speed varies from white to black, while red and blue indicate high pressure and low pressure systems respectively:
- Fire spreading system; Trunks518
Realistic fire spreading has hardly ever been attempted in a sailing game, but we intend to change that.
Using some particle effects we purchased, and a script written by Trunks518 for spreading the fire, we've managed to create a truly amazing effect, as you'll see below:
This mechanic should have serious consequences during gameplay, requiring you to act fast if a fire starts aboard your vessel!
- Unity 5 Beta Test; Captain Murphy
For the past few weeks, we've mostly been showing you images and footage of Unity 4, which looks fairly good.
Now though, our developers have got hold of the Unity 5 beta, and with relatively few tweaks to camera effects, they've been able to produce a scene that far surpasses anything we've previously shown off from Unity 4.
Below is just a taste of how the Pirate Island content looks in Unity 5:
It's important to note that we're starting from the basics right now; these initial tests have been done without our own assets in the scene, but later on we'll be adding back things like the St Albans to show how much better they look.
And remember, we're still in the pre-alpha stage, so what you see above is NOT final quality. The final game will look vastly different.
There are several sub-categories of 3D assets to cover here, so below we'll list various types of assets, what they're called and who made them.
- Blandford class frigate; Timb
The hull of this model is now almost finished, featuring finely-crafted details both on the exterior and interior.
Have a look at the images below for an overview of the ship from the inside out.
- HMB Endeavour; ODemuth
The hold is taking shape on the Endeavour, and it looks pretty spacious. That will soon change once it's finished and filled with cargo in the game!
- Cruizer class sloop; SeaNorris and Philipjn
An English sloop built in 1752, typically armed with eight carriage guns and ten swivels.
This model is still in its early stages, and missing details such as gunports, but the hull shape is already very well defined.
- English East Indiaman; Philipjn
A 28-gun merchant vessel built some time before 1768. The hull has a very box-shaped profile, which, although arguably less attractive than a sleeker warship, allows it to carry a great deal of cargo.
We are still recruiting all types of 3D artists, and in particular we'd like to see more people willing to get their assets into Unity.
We will also accept help from programmers and 2D artists.
As a reminder, all of our developer roles are NON-PAID positions.
For role descriptions and how to join the team, click here.
We are still accepting donations to help pay for engine add-ons, software licenses and more.
If you would like to donate to the project, you can do so through Paypal using the Donate button on Heartsofoakgame.com .
We greatly appreciate every contribution!
You can keep up to date with how much we've raised and what we've used the funds for here.
That's it for this week's progress; we'll have more updates for you soon!
Don't know what the Hearts of Oak project is? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
*Please note that we're aiming to post a new article at least once a fortnight. If there's a long gap between articles, it usually means we're very busy!