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Journal #15 – Answering Your Questions 7 June 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.

Given the current hustle and bustle of the team, with our focus on Kickstarter plans and creating accompanying trailers and video content for later this year, our availability to compile a deeply development-focused Journal has been rather limited this month.

However, as has become tradition now, we’re going to spend this month’s Journal answering more of your questions submitted since the last Journal. You can ask us questions about anything project related here.

On NPC Crew Routines:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Your NPC crew will carry out the officer's orders, including working the sails, handling the rigging, and manning the guns. In addition to these tasks, the crew will follow a routine. While we haven't finalized specifics on activities like changing watches, it is feasible to implement various crew concepts such as watches, punishments, off-duty activities, and shore leave.

Initially, these activities might be represented through the user interface rather than visually. However, it would be special to eventually see these routines in action, particularly after longer voyages.

Regarding shore leave, we may eventually depict the crew leaving the ship and heading to shore visually. However, it might not be possible to have the crew actively engaging in town during your visit. Instead, you might interact with certain representatives of the crew while on shore. Given the number of characters involved with multiple docked ships, fully animating all crew members' activities in town would be challenging. Instead, the ports will be occupied by existing characters that present the correct ambience and interactions needed during your visit.

On Dismasting:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Dismasting is planned as part of the ship damage model, though accurately representing it poses significant technical challenges. Consequently, the final design may evolve based on our implementation approach.

Currently, the dismasting process is based on an integrity system. Each mast depends on the surrounding standing rigging, with each piece contributing to the mast's overall integrity. As parts of the standing rigging are damaged or removed, the mast's integrity decreases. Once it falls below a certain threshold, the mast may become unstable and collapse under its own weight. This can occur due to battle damage (affecting either the masts or the standing rigging) or from strain while sailing in rough conditions.

Repairing such damage typically involves returning to port for repairs. While jury rigging is a concept we'd like to explore, its visual representation is challenging due to the variability of solutions, but it remains a feature we'd love to include for the journey back to port.

Obtaining replacement parts from islands is not part of our current plan. While theoretically possible, finding suitable timber for a mast is highly unlikely unless specifically cultivated for that purpose. Salvaging large parts like masts from other ships would require further research into its historical feasibility.

In the worst-case scenario, where all your masts are destroyed and you cannot return to port, the current design involves finding passage to the nearest port via another vessel. You would then arrange for a recovery vessel to retrieve your ship for repairs. This process would be automated, incurring some in-game currency costs and completion time.
On Studding Sails:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Currently, studding sails are not a priority in the implementation of sailing mechanics, but they are planned for future iterations. While studding sails are not inherently more challenging than other sail/rigging combinations, we've opted to exclude them for now to reduce overall development complexity, which remains quite high.

Looking ahead, when studding sails are added, they will enable you to increase your sail area and speed. However, using them in anything but fine weather is likely to cause significant damage to both the studding sails and the ship's rigging.

On Balancing Piracy:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Piracy is inherently designed to be more challenging than a life in the navy, as part of the risk/reward structure of that lifestyle choice. This means pirate players will face greater difficulties, but with the potential for higher rewards.

Pirates will indeed be able to intimidate merchant ships into surrendering cargo or ship without a fight, particularly when dealing with AI ships. Intimidation will be dependent on your player and ship reputation, which grows in infamy based on your previous actions. It will be unlikely you'll be able to use intimidation immediately in your piracy journey. Actions speak louder than words in that world!

Regarding the skills of sailors, while their initial abilities won't be defined any differently, crew members will be able to gain specialization and experience over time. Consequently, you might find that those who have served on pirate vessels become more or less adept in different areas of combat and seamanship.

As for false flags - Anyone can fly these, and historically this was often used as part of a ruse to trick the enemy into thinking you were less (or more) of a threat than you actually are. False flags must be replaced with the correct flag before engaging the enemy directly, however. Failing to do so will go a long way to having yourself branded as a pirate and can easily decimate your previous good standing with almost any nation.
On Crew / Ship Stats:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.

Yes, your crew will learn, maintain and develop specific skills throughout their journey with you. These stats will be influenced by the crew's experience and specialization in individual tasks. Tasks are assigned by officers through the "station bill", and as crew members are assigned to stations, they gain experience in those specific tasks.

Once a crew member gains enough experience, an officer can recommend them for a specialization. Specialization temporarily boosts the crew member's loyalty and morale, while also increasing the maximum experience threshold for that task. However, doing so also limits their maximum experience gain in other tasks and slows overall experience gain except for their specialization.

Regular training and drills will be necessary to maintain a base level of skill retention. For example, for gun crews, drilling your crew will likely increase your average "rounds per minute" estimate.

This system will lead to tangible improvements in your crew's abilities, resulting in faster and more effective ship operations. It also allows you to identify and assign specific crew members to important roles.

Ships, however, do not carry skills or stats in the same way as crew members. While ships have performance-related stats, armament specifications, and crew capacity limits, they do not gain experience through use.

Instead, ships have a notoriety statistic that tracks their fame or infamy based on their actions. As a ship becomes more notorious, it becomes more recognizable to others at sea and in port. This notoriety can manifest in various ways, from garrisons enthusiastically signalling you when entering ports to pressuring other ships into decisions before the need for an aggressive engagement.

Additionally, crew members aboard notorious ships will generally experience a morale boost, as the ship's reputation acts as a rallying force for those on board. Unless, of course, the individuals would rather the notoriety of the ship be at the opposite end of the spectrum than it currently is.

On In-game Currencies:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Yes, there will be different in-game currencies, such as the Spanish Dollar and the English Pound. However, if managing individual currencies and coinage becomes too complicated for most players, we may simplify this concept. In that case, we might either choose a single currency for all transactions or create a unique currency for Ahoy that incorporates aspects of the historical currencies. This approach would maintain a sense of authenticity while ensuring ease of use for players.
On Monetization:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Currently, the plan is that Ahoy will have two releases: Arena ('Beat to Quarters'), and the open world experience.

Arena will be buy-to-play, with the intention that we will reinvest back into Ahoy's development and the continued development of the open world experience.

How we will monetize the open world experience has not been decided yet. We feel that so long as there is an audience for the experience, we will find a monetization route that people are happy with. Free to play comes with pros and cons like any other path. Subscription-based models reduces the need to fall back on microtransactions to cover running costs. Buy-to-play makes it really low-friction to start playing but often cannot sustain a long-term online community forever.

In the end we will consult with the community as we approach these releases to ensure we can find a model that works to keep Ahoy online, while also enabling people to play in a fair way.

We also really want to avoid incentivizing the addition of dreadful over-the-top fantasy cosmetics.

On Gameplay Releases:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
We currently don't have a date in mind, but will keep everyone updated as soon as we have something concrete to share. At the moment, with our priority on securing long-term funding for the project, it is unlikely that a gameplay experience will be ready in 2024.

On Privateering:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Privateering mechanics will be implemented, allowing players to legally engage in activities on behalf of their nation. This system will provide players with opportunities to target enemy ships and disrupt enemy trade routes while still operating within the bounds of the law.

Usually (reputation dependent) you will need to pay a bond to acquire the contract. The validity of your actions would need to be determined by the admiralty court, to whom you submit your prize for condemnation. You are them apportioned an amount of the earnings from the action and the commission is concluded.

Privateer commissions will come in two varieties - "Open commissions", usually targeting a wider demographic of ships (such as all ships of a type belonging to a specific nation) and "Closed commissions", usually focusing on the capturing of a specific vessel.
On The Player Start:
– Respondent, Journal Questionnaire.
Players will embark on their journey in Ahoy after completing an introductory storyline tailored to their chosen nation. The goal is to provide a distinct introduction for each nation, reflecting its strengths, weaknesses, and current standing in the world of Ahoy.

Each nation will offer a unique starting port and progression path, considering historical context, economic conditions, and strategic significance. Upon completing the introductory experience, players will acquire a personal vessel for navigating between nearby ports.

From there, they can opt to follow the paths of the navy or merchant profession outlined in the opening missions provided by various port NPCs. Alternatively, they can sign up to join other player crews through the port's 'job board'.

Over time, through completing missions, voyages or trading, players will earn enough reputation or currency to explore further down their chosen character path.

Please do keep sending in your questions about Ahoy. 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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