Probably the most interesting aspect of our game is the realistic Season and GeoLocation system. The entire environment and weather system is based on latitude and the day_of_the_year values.
The counting of the day_of_the_year is done by multiplying the days survived with some day_forward_constant, which is set at the starting of the game. Base values of the day_forward_constant are: 1, 2, 3. For example, when the user chooses the value of 3, it means, that every day the player survives, the season engine will be forwarded by 3 days. In this case the result will be that the player will get all the seasonal effects of one whole year by surviving 121 in game days.
The actual season is calculated using the players actual geolocation also. The latitude is changing by traveling of the player in the north/south direction and is limited from ~30N degrees to ~30S degrees. The playable area in the story mode is displayed above in the title screenshot inside the darker square on the ocean map. As the player travels and the latitude is changing, so is changing the actual season and weather parameters.
Tip: When the player is actually on the northern latitudes and is afraid of the upcoming winter (shorter days/longer nights/somewhat colder temperatures) he can set sail and travel to the southern latitudes where the upcoming season will be the summer.
The actual season is affecting every aspect in the game: weather, fauna, flora. Every day in the game starts with different parameters based on the actual season. All the parameters are taken from real world weather data.
At each tenth latitude we have chosen a couple of real islands from the Pacific and used the data in our weather engine. For the other latitudes in between the weather engine utilizes interpolation to get weather data that can be used.
Below are some example graphs (not all) for the 20N latitude.
Daily average minimum and maximum temperature
Daily precipitation type (light/medium/heavy rain and thunderstorm)
Daily average low and high wind speed
Daily wind direction percentage
The above table shows some sample average values taken from the weather data from the latitudes they are displayed on. There are of course some variations but the overall situation is clear:
- it is easier and faster to sail from north to south in the 1. period(half) of the year due to the main wind direction on that latitudes than in the 2.period (when the main wind direction is from South)
- the sailing is faster on the upper and lower latitudes due to higher maximum wind speed there (in the middle the minimum wind speed is lower)
- around the equator (above and below) there is a very wet zone (rain % is high) so the player must be prepared for potential multiple day rains and storms
The above table can be modified in very different ways to increase/decrease the game difficulty with the modifiers described below.
To allow more wide play through styles, the game has some weather modifiers at the start: Wet/Dry, Hot/Cold, Windy/Calm. So there are 26 different weather behaviors not counting the default normal settings. All the weather graphs are given in probability percentages, so there will be not the same weather ever.
Besides the weather customization, the modifiers brings to the game real challenges to overcome. Some example situations follows below.
- The Hot temperature modifier in dry season can make the surviving very difficult: the player needs more water and on direct sunlight the overheating will be dangerous. So it is advised to stay in shade around the noon. Another way to chill down is swimming. When overheating, the player can get a little swim in the middle of the ocean, but what if he spots sharks around ...
- Calm wind can make the firestarting easier and is not decreasing players temperature, but can make big problems when it occurs on the open ocean far from islands: the player is left hours or days on same place waiting for the wind to blow again. In that case it is good to have some building on the raft where the player can hide from the elements.
- The Wet modifier makes the weather system more inclined to raining and overcast than is normal for the given latitude. The raining makes it harder to find dry wood to start a fire and is limiting visibility so the navigation without a compass is nearly impossible. When player is using a sextant for navigating between island clusters, the overcast makes the calculation of geolocation also a challenge.
The game customization menu functionality can be seen on our YouTube channel.
The season is affecting also the animals and the vegetation. For example: the coconut edibility and its type (green/brown) will be changing during seasons. The crops and vegetables the player can farm are depending on the seasons: when can they be planted and harvested. The animals amount/type will be changing also during seasons. There will be also some noticeable differences in fauna/flora when the player will travel between northern and southern latitudes.
The Sun, Moon and the stars movement is calculated by players actual latitude and the actual day_of_the_year. In winter there are shorter days/longer nights, so the travel between islands/clusters is more challenging. It is possible to spot the Sun and the Moon together by daytime as in real life. There are also real solar eclipses ...
Tides will be generated realistically based on calculations on latitude and on the Moon position.
The weather engine also create some challenging situations as tsunamis and typhoons. Every item freely placed on the ground, players buildings and the player also will be in real danger.