Welcome to our second monthly Developer Journal. 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.
Port Royal Experience
Our main focus of development at the moment is the upcoming release of the Port Royal Experience. Port Royal represents many months of work. The journey of Port Royal started with an enormous amount of research from contemporary sources to ensure we had the necessary information to begin it’s digital development.
The question might be – why bother? Why go to this much effort to recreate the towns when the game is about sailing? The simple response is that we believe that the overall experience of the sailing portion of the game dramatically benefits from the immersion and world-building that realistic port environments introduce.
These port locations should be something you are excited to visit and explore, rather than simply an approximation, or worse yet an annoyance which provides the expected function but none of the important historical context. When you are able to put the original maps or surviving buildings alongside the in-game counterpart and not only recognise the structures but see their representation at the true scale, it is like stepping back in time.
As a result, Port Royal has paved the way for our future port reconstructions and highlighted many areas of production which will require additional tools to be development to assist us. Namely, the process of placing buildings, roads and foliage will change to include some elements of procedural generation within strict limitations. This will ensure that the overall appearance of future Ahoy towns will match that of the historical reference material, but speed up the development of these towns and remove much of the minutia that is experienced through placing individual trees and clutter.
One of the recent areas of Port Royal which has seen the addition of interior details is the Naval Hospital. Today, the “Old” Naval Hospital of Port Royal sits in roughly the same spot as our own reconstruction. However the building that remains there is a later construction between 1817 and 1826. Much of the history of the previous Naval Hospital which stood before it had been lost, and it took a significant effort to figure out just how it might have looked in Ahoy’s time of 1780.
As we prepare for the release of the Port Royal Experience, more of these interior spaces will be populated with objects, tools and other details to bring each space to life.
Alongside the visual development of Port Royal, work has continued to prepare it for release. Development of the core multiplayer functionality has started. This will allow you to gather in Port Royal and talk together while you explore the town, but also form the basis of our planned set of social features.
Additionally, a lot of effort is going into optimising the town environment as much as possible to ensure it runs well on a variety of hardware. Sadly, our experience with the latest version (5.1) of Unreal Engine 5 has highlighted a few issues in this area, but we are hopeful that some of these teething issues will be resolved once Unreal Engine 5.2 is available.
Last month we spoke briefly about Move.ai, a vision-based motion capture solution. The previous experiments with this technology did not return the greatest results, however with the assembly of a new multi-camera capture volume, we are now seeing much, much better results from our experimentation.
You’ll notice that unlike the previous tests, the results are much more stable and require far less additional processing to turn into usage in-game animations. The final step in this new Mocap solution is to move the volume to a more permanent location.
One downside to the visual capturing method in Move.ai is that even the slightest camera movement between (or during) takes will completely destroy the output file quality. With our current volume occupying a rather awkwardly positioned dining room, the move to a separate space which can be used completely uninterrupted and without the risk of cameras getting knocked will allow for less repetitive setup each time we choose to record there.
We are continuing the development of clothing for both the NPCs of the Port Royal Experience, but also for player outfits planned for the Arena and beyond. Here you can see some fantastic progress on the Royal Navy captain’s uniform.
Perhaps a quick-fire update for this month, however as always we’re keeping very busy with production. Port Royal continues to develop towards it’s eventual release and this has brought some interesting challenges to overcome.
One area we’re excited to showcase next month is the introductory experience to Port Royal.
Yesterday, 30th April, the Discord community was treated to a LIVE tour of Götheborg of Sweden, the largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship in the world. The tour was kindly provided by John, a long time community member and resident scholar to Ahoy for all things naval.
John has just completed his voyage aboard the ship for just under 1,000 nautical miles – Setting out from Gibraltar and arriving in Jersey.
The live tour was hosted on the Discord server in our special “dev-stream” channel, and we took questions from the community, allowing John to answer them while aboard and able to point out particular highlights of the ship itself.
We have recorded this event for your viewing pleasure. You can watch the video in full here:
If you would like to be featured as part of our Community Mentions section of the Journal, please make sure to share your creations or community contributions in our Discord server!
Until next time, good day!
Join The Discussion!
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!