Ahoy mates, we are a bit later with this one than we wanted to be; October was a busy month for quite a few of us, so things haven't happened quite as fast as we would like. We have still been hard at work though, and our lead programmer JohnSilver has got a new release for you to sink your hooks into!
It seems Unity's Analytics was enabled for our last release and thus has been tracking players during the September release, so we were able to track just how many people were looking at the demo. We must be doing something right because over a thousand of you gave it a look!
October Demo Features
This new release is focused on enhancing ship sailing physics and introduces a basic damage system. There is still quite a bit to add, but according to JohnSilver, so far the latest sailing system includes new buoyancy and drag, auto-rotating yards to catch the wind, and improvements to the rudder control. Below you can see an example of the rotating yards and the rigging damage model:
This release also introduces several new features, including a couple of new ship commands and a very basic NPC AI that will fire at you!
In the screenshot below, you can see an NPC ship being sunk:
We have also decided to replace the previous Suimono water system with the Ceto water system. Currently there are still some issues to work through, but so far performance seems to have improved quite a bit.
We have also added a new folder to the install specifically for modding, called GameSettings. Feel free to modify the two text files inside it to add or remove ships and targets. The current default is 10 targets and 8 NPC AI ships. If you have trouble modifying these files, please feel free to post here or on our forums and we will be glad to help!
Please feel free to post your performance tests or any interesting screen shots. We may look to produce a video of this Novembers release, video capture software willing.
Release Notes for Hearts of Oak Build 0.1.151101.0
- sailing system 0.3, includes
- new buoyancy system and drag
- sails auto rotate to wind
- rudder control improvements
- damage system 0.1
- DestroyIt unity asset extended to support ship damage
- sails can be destroyed
- when destroyed, sails and yard falls away
- no damage detail is applied to sails yet
- no particle or sound effects
- hull armour can be destroyed
- as hull armour is destroyed, ship will start to flood and eventually sink
- hull armour is represented by a single mesh
- in future; armour will be subdivided by buoyancy zone and hull section.
- St Albans will have 24 armour sections
- no damage detail applied yet
- no particle or sound effects added yet
- cannons can be destroyed
- cannons are difficult to hit since armour is only a single mesh currently with no gun ports, cannons can only be hit when armour is destroyed
- AI system extended to support ship commands and NPC AI 0.1
- new ship commands added:
- Auto engage target
- moves vessel to engage target by placing broadside into position
- Auto fire
- will set cannon elevation to target and fire at targets within broadside area of fire
- NPC AI - currently uses both Auto Engage and Auto Fire
- Other commands to be supported have been addressed in the game design document
- New sound manager added to control extensive audio clips
- cannon sounds pitch may change when several cannons fire, this issue is getting looked at
- New Ceto water system replaced Suimono water system
- buoyancy performance has increased dramatically
- water and wave visuals have been improved for open ocean
- currently disabled underwater visuals for better performance
- includes great wave effects
- updated buoyancy system has lag issues with very large waves
- GameSettings folder has been added for modding
- currently folder contains 2 files
- json settings for all AI ships
- json settings for all targets
- currently folder contains 2 files
Goals for Next Release
- improve ship damage system
- decal system
- breakable yards, masts
- ships components and crew
- spy glass
- quartermaster station
- different cannon loads
- particle effects
- UI improvements
- lighting improvements and baking
- decal effects
- crew AI
- additional game scenarios, NPC AI combat
- Unity Analytics enhanced tracking
How You Can Help
As always, we are looking for volunteers to help us with Hearts of Oak! We always need programmers and 3D artists, but we need people with other important skills as well. If you would like to give us a hand, please feel free to have a look Armada's post over on our IndieDB page with quite a bit more information on how you can help us out.
Additionally, we need more volunteers to become QA testers for the game! If you want to thoroughly test each release and provide detailed feedback to the team, please head over to our Recruitment forum to sign up. This is an important role to help shape the future of the game, and it's your chance to have a real say in how we develop new features.
Don't be discouraged by thinking that you are not skilled enough to help! Everyone is welcome to join in our modding efforts. When I first joined PiratesAhoy! 12 years ago, I had absolutely no modding skills at all, other than being able to use a text editor. With the help of some fantastic people on our forums over the years, I have been able to contribute to several mods in POTC, AOP and CoAS, and now with Hearts of Oak as well. You CAN do it!
Well, that is about it for this update. All in all, there is some pretty exciting stuff in this new demo! Please leave comments on your experiences with the AI, or anything else that you feel we need feedback on. We also have some very exciting news that we can't quite share with you just yet, if you have been paying attention to our Twitter feed lately you may have seen some clues, but that is all I am going to say about that for now!
We are hoping to get a couple of updates out this month, but please keep in mind that we are not a development studio and we all have real jobs, families and real life responsibilities that must take priority sometimes.
Don't know what the Hearts of Oak project is? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.