Each month we take a moment to talk with you about the development process and progress from the past month, while also highlighting contributions from the Ahoy community.
Last month, we took a look at Nemesis (HMS Tapageur) in all her splendour, and spoke briefly on our efforts to refocus solely onto the “Sailing & Combat” prototype. Over the past month we’ve been busy eating too much food, drinking more than our rum ration allows, and spending time with family and friends. Lots has been going on in the background though, and we’re excited for what this means for 2024 and beyond. This month is a wordy one!
2023 was a fantastic year for the Ahoy project. We saw amazing growth in both the development team and in our understanding of the core pillars of the planned Ahoy experience. We’ve grown a fantastic community space for all things 18th century naval history on our Discord server, now with over 2,000 members! The project has moved smoothly through our planned pre-production phase, allowing us to understand the challenges and work ahead of us for the year(s) to come.
The year was not without it’s challenges, however. We had made many attempts to apply for project funding through various government and private initiatives with little success to show for it. It was an incredibly humbling experience to put ourselves and the project on show to strangers and attempt to stress the importance of this work without them necessarily sharing the passion for the subject matter that we all, the team and yourselves, have.
Really, thanks has to be given to our Patreon supporters. For without your support over the past 10 months, we would not have been able to operate at the levels we have been. Despite operation costs, the occasional paid freelance artist, and research expenses, the project has avoided any significant money concerns thanks to you. We must, however, consider the incredible dedication of the development team who in 2023 have all been volunteering their time and energy for free. This has certainly come at a cost in terms of personal financial instability and additional the stresses that entails. We do not complain! We’re working on what we love, and we hope it shines through in what we show you. I can only further stress my personal thanks to the team for their efforts in pushing the project forward. The primary focus for 2024 then, is to secure additional funding support in order to lessen this financial burden for more of the team and to increase productivity across the project through finding additional freelance support.
So… What does 2024 have in store?
Well, we’re hoping for more of the same. We’re fully focused on “Sailing & Combat” (now named Sea Trials, more on that later…) and much of the team is working on content for this already. Most of the past month has been spent project planning for this work to ensure we can work to more organised internal timelines and ensure everyone is getting the support, reference material and time they need.
We’ll be reaching out to living history re-enactment groups throughout this year to encourage collaboration and ensure the content we’re producing remains as historically accurate as possible. We’ve already made some connections here, and it’s really an exciting potential for partnership. Reenactors can provide an amazing amount of reference material and advisory feedback during development, and it makes so much sense to get them involved if and where we can.
Finding good reference material for things like layered uniform can be immensely difficult, and so we hope these collaborations can continue to provide access to amazing images such as these.
We’re also going to continue looking for additional collaborations and funding opportunities. These must, first and foremost, maintain our vision for accuracy and remain an independent development. Collaborating with historical educational institutions, research societies, and enthusiast groups is the top of our list at the moment, as it only goes to reinforce our efforts for authentic representations of history.
Talks are already ongoing in this regard, and we’re excited to share information on this as soon as we can, and perhaps sooner than you might think.
Going forward, we’re going to be making an effort to more clearly define the functional “areas” of the project and what they contain. With this in mind, we’re pleased to highlight the three portions of the Ahoy experience, what they are, and in what order you’ll see them come to life.
Ahoy: Sea Trials, or abbreviated ST is the renamed “Sailing & Combat Prototype“. Sea Trials will be the very first iteration of Ahoy available to you through the Patreon contribution rewards once it is in a playable state. Sea Trials will essentially represent the early playtesting and prototyping experience for the sailing (and later, naval combat) portion of Ahoy’s development.
Sea Trials will enable you and some friends to jump aboard Veloce (HM Brig Speedy) to sail around a small area of the Caribbean (to be announced), and get used to the ship interaction, sailing and naval gun mechanics. As this work develops, more and more features will be added over time, and at some point along this path, it’ll essentially become an ‘early access’ version of “Ahoy: Beat to Quarters!”. At which point, Sea Trials as a separate entity will cease to exist.
Ahoy: Beat to Quarters!, or abbreviated BtQ is the renamed “Arena” release. Beat to Quarters will be the expanded, fully developed Sea Trials experience but in a more well formulated package. Beat to Quarters will be our first public release and will allow players to host and join servers to engage in a number of different naval combat engagements. Currently the plan will be to include the following modes:
– Naumachia (Free for all – Every ship for themselves, last ship standing wins)
– 1 vs 1 (Two ships duke it out to see who wins).
– 2 vs 2 (Four ships duke it out to see who wins).
– Sea Trials (A reincarnated version of the ‘early access’ experience, sail around the contained sea environment with your friends, no winning necessary).
Eventually, additional modes will be added to Beat to Quarters. These could include early explorations into line battles, asymmetrical engagements, sea-to-land sieges, and even possibly ground-only engagements. Beat to Quarters will continue to develop alongside the full Ahoy experience and will remain a separate, easy to access combat experience without the persistent open world aspects.
“Ahoy”, represents the true final form for the project. The persistent, multi-crew, open-world exploration of the entire West Indies. Here you’ll find the player-driven economy, political systems, port locations, and all of the other elements we’ve all be excitably discussing together. This would be a multi year effort and will take a long time to come to full fruition.
The benefit of already exploring Beat to Quarters by this point is that we can add and test certain gameplay mechanics way before they’ll be necessary in the open world. This means that Beat to Quarters provides the perfect testing ground for new ships, new locations, and new ways of playing.
Whether the open world experience will receive it’s own evocative sub-title is yet to be decided, but for the sake of conversation we can refer to it as “Persistent World”, “P.W.”, “open world”, “true Ahoy”, “full Ahoy”, or any other derivative (but no stray exclamation marks please. Keep them for Beat to Quarters! You know who you are! 😉 ).
With work continuing to ramp up within the team, it has become clear that to ensure maximum productivity, our time spent interacting with the community needs to be better managed. That isn’t to say that we want to talk with you less frequently, or in fewer ways, but that we need to build a bit of a community team to help manage the community spaces and assist in answering the more common questions.
Additionally, we’re conscious of the fact that the best things to show in these Developer Journals are often visual things, rather than structural, back-end things. This creates a strong internal bias towards prioritising the fancy visual work, rather than the important things that need to work beneath them. This isn’t an expectation the community has created, it’s entirely something that we’ve felt is necessary in these Journal entries. However, this is something we’re hoping to change over the next year in order to allow us to focus on areas that matter just as much, if not more than what we usually get to show. It might mean less new images or videos and more text explanations, but I hope you find these writeups equally as interesting anyway.
With these things in mind, we’re continuing to accept Community Team applications for those who are interested. You can apply to be considered through this application form. It should be noted that our limited budget does not enable this to be a paid opportunity at this time. Those who have previously applied in 2023 are still being considered as part of this, so there is no need to apply a second time.
We’ll keep you updated if any decisions regarding the Community Team are made, though it is a lower priority overall at this time as we kick things off for 2024.
Work begins on the aforementioned “area of the Caribbean” that we’re using as the backdrop of the Sea Trials experience. Our shipwright and architect extraordinaire, Loïc, has begun work on some of the installations along the coastlines that will assist you as landmarks to navigate these waters. Feel free to share your guesses for where this area might be in the Discord server!
In a change from our experience of Port Royal, we’re actually building much of these structures in isolation from their final intended locations. This is partly due to an ongoing effort to find high-quality terrain data for the location we’re looking to represent, but also as a way to ensure these batteries and forts can be built in a way that allows them to be reused in other locations. This is perfect for places where we might know something like a fort or windmill exists (from map iconography) but not be able to find contemporary plans or ruined remains to inform an accurate layout or design for that particular structure.
In this way the work begins on creating a palette of possible batteries, fortresses, windmills and other structures which can enable a more rapid production of new locations when historical information is minimal or lacking entirely.
As always, where plans and maps ARE available, we use them to inform our constructions as much as possible. As you can imagine, this is an enormous undertaking and special thanks must be made to Loïc for his tireless efforts to recreate these spaces accurately. Some of these buildings have full interiors even before we necessarily know whether we’ll ever get to see them in full action within the scope of the game experience.
As mentioned in our last Journal, we’re still looking to release a “Year In Review” video to similarly recap the last year and make some additional announcements. This video is somewhat reliant on us being able to make those announcements with confidence that the necessary paperwork has gone through. Because of this, we can’t be sure that the video can be produced as imminently as we had previously planned, and so we’re giving ourselves the time to have all of the information prepared and confirmed before we produce and release that video. It will remain a good chance to answer any questions you might have about Ahoy, but it will lose some of it’s “Year In Review” nature. We hope this delay and adjustment doesn’t come as a disappointment, but we’re confident it’s worth the additional wait.
As soon as everything is ready, we’ll get that video to you. If you have questions for the team, please send them to us below and we’ll try to include as many of them in this upcoming Q&A video.
Submit your questions:
Until next time, good day!
Sincerely your most humble servant,
Tyler – Project Lead
Our Journal updates are often discussed at length in the official Ahoy Discord server. Whether you have questions about the topics covered in this update, or you would like to leave your own feedback or suggestions, please join our Discord server to discuss!Join the Discord