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Journal #12 – The Sail Force Awakens 1 March 2024

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 spoke on the funding challenges of this current stage of the project. Additionally, we had a chance to look over some of the foundational tech behind ship systems and clothing.

Ahoy’s ‘Virtual’ Armoury

This month we’re excited to share this look at one of the more recognisable weapons we’re adding to the Ahoy armoury. Here is the British Sea Service Pattern musket, one of many variants better known collectively as the ‘Brown Bess’. This construction was an exploration of a new method for creating game-ready weapons.

Traditionally, weapons would be built only with consideration for the externally visible components, but we’re exploring the idea of modelling the entire functioning mechanism for our flintlock weapons going forward.

Why, you might ask? Well, mostly because we can! The idea that we can show how these firearms worked is really exciting to us. The cost to performance is negligible thanks to the amazing Nanite technology, but knowing that we’re not just creating an approximate fake of the weapon is really inspiring as we continually look for ways to get closer to historical reality.

The component parts of the Sea Service Pattern musket.

This recreation was the painstaking work of Maxime, one of the projects long-time contributors. It’s been fantastic to see the development of this weapon in our occasional Discord server live streams. While the ‘Bess’ is finished, we’re happy to say that more streams like this, showing the development process of the project (and initially – more weapons!) will continue over the coming months. Be sure to join our Discord server if you haven’t already! Another long-time member of the project, Mihai, is working on a French boarding axe at the moment.

We really like this format of showing each weapon in detail. We’ll be exploring this more in future with other weapons. It’s always great to see the artwork from a new perspective.

Buoyancy and Sail Forces

This month we’re excited to share more early structural development for the important physics forces of the sailing experience. As we’ve said before, some of this we’ve explored in the past in an extremely brief or instable way to assess the methods we might use in the future. The future is now! Here we can see a very approximate representation of some of Veloce’s sails, which is helpful in understanding the ship’s current configuration without necessarily burning time on complex sail animations and cloth simulations too early.

Additionally you can see a few arrows. The red arrow on the ‘wharf’ is the true wind direction. The white arrow over the mainmast of Veloce is the received true wind (currently not engaged as the simulation hasn’t started). The Red arrow is the ship’s inverse velocity, or ‘head wind’. The green arrow is then the calculated “apparent wind“.

For the purpose of this early experimentation, all sails are fully raised and facing forward, except the gaff which is “facing” right. We will need to create a set of special rules for fore-and-aft sails very soon.

It’s not necessarily clear to see here, but we are calculating accurate sail forces based on an approximate sail area, lift and drag forces, angle of attack (based on sail position and apparent wind direction), and more.

This is already showing a fairly accurate simulation. For those familiar, we’re working with approximated CLR (Center of Lateral Resistance) and CE (Center of Effort) vectors which provides a really interesting insight into how these ships must have operated in reality. Of course, there is still a LOT of development to be done here. We’re not taking into account the sail rotation/position, the variable sail area based on sail manipulation, wind shadows caused by sails blocking the wind from other sails, and so on.

Answering Your Questions

We’re continuing to answer the questions you’ve submitted in the previous month. So long as the number of questions doesn’t exceed a certain amount, we’ll aim to answer all sensible and insightful questions that are asked! Check at the end of the Journal for a link to submit your questions.

On Buoyancy Forces:
– Respondent, Community Questionnaire 2023.
Absolutely! The centre of mass is calculated based on the segmented portions of the hull shape, which means that the centre of mass for the ship is an average of the accumulated centre of mass of each of those segments. This means that while the resulting forces are not exactly correct, we get a great approximation without the performance cost of calculating the centre of mass from every object on the ship at once.
On Map Size & More:
– Respondent, Community Questionnaire 2023.
So the planned map size and the initial map size are two separate things to consider in this answer. The total planned map size can be roughly seen here. However, this map is quite outdated when it comes to the port coverage/inclusion/ownership, and of course this is a massive area to cover from the start, so we are planning to start with a smaller area (to be announced) within this space, and expand the map over time.

As for the content you'll find within the map - We have no immediate plans to add fishing, but it does make a lot of sense.

Storms will absolutely be a thing, but they'll be localised. This means that you'll find weather systems moving around the map as you sail and seeing storms on the horizon will be a sign of something to prepare for or avoid.

Tides at the equator are pretty limited, but we're planning on including a slight tidal change for a visual benefit. Tides won't really be significant to consider during gameplay.

As for cargo being lost (otherwise known as flotsam, or jetsam if intentionally 'lost'). this will stay around for a while for others to consider, but largely it will stay afloat until no players are 'witnessing' it anymore, at which point it will sink and become inaccessible. Some debris will sink immediately of course (anything too heavy to float) and there will be a time at which these objects will sink regardless of whether players are within range to witness it, and this will happen after some design-determined period of time.
On Ship Ramming & Collisions:
– Respondent, Community Questionnaire 2023.
Intentional ramming as a combat action is something we're not really going to design towards or encourage, as it's not that historically accurate. The mutual damage caused would not be beneficial to either party. Of course accidental ramming or collisions in general will be possible, but this will likely come at significant damage cost and structural integrity to both ships.

The same can be said about collisions with world objects. Colliding with terrain (such as shallow seabed, reefs, etc.) will cause damage to your ship and could end up with a situation where you run aground and get stuck. We're not yet sure what the method for recovering from this will be yet, but we'd love to explore the reality of that situation if at all possible.

Ship damage will certainly be an element of the experience, but we will likely not explore ship damage to the extremes where ships are torn apart like this. That is with one exception - Powder battery explosions will cause your ship to explode in an enormous fireball that everyone around will see and hear, but you won't see much of your ship remaining afterwards ;)
On Smuggling:
– Respondent, Community Questionnaire 2023.
In the future, we do have plans for smuggling as one of the major trade-related mechanics. Piracy, accepted piracy, and nation-funded piracy will all be things that exist within the world. Players can participate in that through fulfilling order requests, deliveries, etc. These voyages will likely pay more or return a higher benefit in other areas of the game, but at the significant risks of the participants.
On Gore:
– Respondent, Community Questionnaire 2023.
We're planning to show an accurate depiction of naval combat, so naturally - gore will be a significant part of that. We're not attempting to get this game rated below 18. Blood, lost body parts, scars, clouds of red mist, these things are likely to show depending on the brutality of the combat. Splinters will be the biggest killer, of course.
On The Team:
– Respondent, Community Questionnaire 2023.
Capstan Games is a fairly big team considering we're a volunteer initiative at this time. We have anywhere between 10-15 members active at the moment, and this can fluctuate quite a lot over the months as people become busy with personal and other professional commitments.

The team is filled with a mixture of experience levels as well! One of the amazing things about projects like ours is that it's a fantastic opportunity for people to learn new skillsets and expand their capabilities within game development. We have people who have worked in the industry for 10+ years, while others have never had the opportunity to work professionally in video games.

We feel confident that the scale of the project, especially the earlier stages (Sea Trials / Beat to Quarters) are within our technical ability as a team. The main challenge will be the larger 'full Ahoy' experience, which is something we're going to need to develop the team for as we continue through development.

For accurate information - It is always a challenge of course! It takes sometimes many hours to confirm a particular weapon design is accurate, or if a building in a port should look a certain way. Each element of the project is carefully checked for historical accuracy, and we're really proud of this work (and enjoy it!)

As for how you can help in this, we sometimes put out requests for information or for people who might own books that are very expensive to buy or rare to find. This enables us to at least keep the financial cost of the research as low as possible. Alternatively, of course, your support through Patreon/Ko-fi helps us if we need to finance the purchase of books or other research equipment. Visiting museums or national archives can become very expensive for the team.

Otherwise, you can assist by providing feedback! If you see something we do which is not as accurate as you think it could be, let us know and we'll consider how we might be able to adjust our representation. Of course this is not always possible, but we do like a challenge.

We’re really enjoying your questions each month, so please do keep sending them in. If you have more questions for the team and would like them answers next month, please submit your questions below.

Submit your questions:

Until next time, good day!

Sincerely your most humble servant,

Tyler – Project Lead

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