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Announcing New Horizons Remastered - Bringing our best work to Unity

Discussion in 'PiratesAhoy! News' started by Armada, Jul 1, 2017.

  • by Armada, Jul 1, 2017 at 12:33 AM
  • Armada

    Armada Sea Dog Staff Member Administrator Project Manager 3D Artist Storm Modder

    Jun 11, 2010
    Game Developer
    Somerset, England
    Ahoy, everyone!

    Today, I'm very excited to reveal New Horizons Remastered; a new project to immortalise our much-loved New Horizons mod for PotC in the Unity engine, as a standalone game.


    Starting right now, you can play a short tech demo that incorporates several assets and locations from the New Horizons mod and reimagines them with modern graphics while emulating the same gameplay mechanics.

    Click here to download the demo

    Read on for a brief description of how this project came to be, what the demo includes and where it will go from here... as well as what this means for Hearts of Oak.

    A Fresh Start
    Many of you may have followed our progress on Hearts of Oak, which was the PiratesAhoy! community's first attempt at building a new game from scratch in Unity. Despite making more progress than some of us dared believe was possible, that project unfortunately came to a halt last year following the departure of key developers. We tried to keep it afloat with a smaller team in our spare time, but eventually this proved too difficult due to other commitments.

    Despite this outcome, we knew the potential for a Unity-based pirate game was still there, so a very small team of us decided to try again. We started to port PotC to Unity to see what was possible, and quickly found that this approach worked in our favour; we already had the content and a template to work from, so the scope was smaller and more manageable than before.

    Demo Features
    Land Exploration and Melee Combat
    Several locations ported from PotC are available to explore, including a port scene, town and tavern, all with real-time global illumination and improved materials with specularity and normal maps. The area should feel very familiar, and that's exactly the point. When you see an icon appear in the top left corner of the screen, press F3 to teleport to that location.




    If you take a stroll along the sea wall, you'll find a very angry NPC who is more than happy to fight you. Combat currently works similarly to PotC, using E to sheath/unsheath your sword, Left Mouse to attack and Right Mouse to defend. In this demo, the NPC stays still so you can easily avoid him, but he has the ability to follow and attack you at will, which will be enabled in a future release.


    Sailing and Ship Combat
    Walk over to the edge of the pier, and you can step on board your ship and explore the deck and cabin. If you then approach the ship's wheel, you can set sail and navigate your way around the island. Sailing works the same way as the Storm Engine games; use W and S to raise/lower the sails, A and D to turn, and Space to fire the guns if a target is in range. The ocean is calm for this demo, but it's capable of large waves all the way up to storm conditions.





    You will find a static enemy ship floating just outside the harbour, which you can attack once you get within range, which is fixed at 300 yards for this demo. Your ship has been given very powerful guns that should destroy the target in 5-6 broadsides. The target won't sink in this demo, but later versions will enable sinking as well as full AI patrolling and combat. You can try ramming it if you want, though. ;)


    An All-new Soundtrack
    A lot of very high-quality music was composed for Hearts of Oak, but only a fraction of it ever got used. Now, New Horizons Remastered uses some of this music for the first time, completely replacing the music from PotC. Enjoy a tranquil track in the port and town, or visit the tavern for a jolly soundtrack truly worthy of its name.

    Future Prospects
    This demo is just the start. Looking forward, there are several key features this game will include:

    More Custom-Made Assets
    Almost any ship, building, location or prop that was custom-built for our mods can be ported to New Horizons Remastered. This opens up a vast library of original content accumulated over many years at PiratesAhoy!, all of which can be given a new lease of life in a modern engine.

    Improved Combat
    The current fencing system is extremely simple, and could be vastly improved by taking cues from both CoAS and more modern RPGs to make the experience much more dynamic. More fencing moves could include parrying, heavy and light attacks, and a stamina bar to manage them.

    A Renewed Focus on Storytelling
    The aim is for quest writers to have an easy way to port their quests from PotC or CoAS, opening up new possibilities for storytelling. With the freedom provided by the Unity engine, old quests can take advantage of far more powerful features including in-game cutscenes, dynamic events and custom gameplay mechanics and animations.

    Does this mean Hearts of Oak is officially dead?
    Yes, development on Hearts of Oak has stopped.

    What about all the assets you made for Hearts of Oak?
    Thankfully, quite a few assets can be reused, including buildings, props, ships and other models. This extends to sound effects and music too, as seen in the demo.

    Why didn't you announce this new game sooner?
    We wanted to make sure we had a working, playable demo before making any announcements. We felt that it would have been unfair to announce another new project without something tangible to back it up.

    Why did you decide not to continue Hearts of Oak instead?
    Ultimately, this was a question of team size, resources and feature-creep. Making a new game from scratch was a mammoth task, and although we made quite a few assets for it, it was difficult to manage a large team of volunteer contributors. Due to the scope of what we were trying to make, the exact specifications kept changing, so our programmers ended up rewriting the code several times. In the end, it simply proved unsustainable.

    So, what exactly is New Horizons Remastered?
    It's a single-player open-world pirate RPG set in the Caribbean. You play as a captain with your own ship, and can freely explore and forge your own career as a naval officer, merchant or pirate.
    The demo only features basic exploration and combat.

    Do I need PotC to play this game?
    No, it's a standalone demo. It is not a mod for PotC or any other game.

    What does this mean for the New Horizons mod for PotC?
    New Horizons Remastered does not replace the original mod; it is being developed separately. Development will continue on the New Horizons mod for as long as there are modders willing to work on it.

    Why choose to remake New Horizons, as opposed to PotC or CoAS?
    This new project started as a PotC port, but due to potential legal issues surrounding the name, we decided to use the New Horizons name instead. As the New Horizons mod was the original inspiration for Hearts of Oak, it seemed like the natural choice for a spiritual successor.

    What content are you going to include in the game?
    At this stage in development, assets from PotC and CoAS will be used as placeholders, while custom-made assets will be used where available. The ultimate goal is to replace all the old assets with custom ones so the game will truly stand on its own.

    Will you include assets from the PotC films, or any other series?
    No, this game will not include any content related to the PotC franchise or any other franchise covered by copyright law.

    I've modded PotC and/or CoAS before. Would I be able to help make this game?
    Unity uses C#, which is very similar to the C-based language used in the Storm Engine games, so you should be able to adapt without too much trouble. You would need to learn how to use the Unity Editor in a basic capacity, which doesn't take too long. Once you're familiar with it, you'll appreciate how intuitive it is compared to using the Storm Engine's modding tools.

    Let us know what you think
    Although this demo is very basic and does have one or two minor bugs, we'd still love to hear your feedback.
    There will be a pause in development over the next week, but work should resume steadily after that.

    There are other elements of this demo that I've not had time to detail in this article, but feel free to ask any questions about what it can and can't do in its current form.

    In the meantime, have fun in New Horizons Remastered! :cheers
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017


Discussion in 'PiratesAhoy! News' started by Armada, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. Mad Jack Wolfe
    Actually, you'd be fine starting with the 2005 revival of the show. Christopher Eccleston plays the 9th Doctor, with Billie Piper as his companion. They do a very good job of introducing the classic baddies to a new audience, such as the Autons (and the Nestene Consciousness), the Daleks and their creator Davros, the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors, the Silurians, the Great Intelligence, and the Master.

    Make popcorn and enjoy binge watching. :yes
  2. Pieter Boelen
    You don't need to convince me of that; I started right there last year. ;)
    Took me about two seasons and a half before the insanity started to make any sense.
    But I definitely love it now; quickly became one of my favourite series.

    I do want to catch up on the old stuff too, though.
    Have seen some First Doctor which is interesting to be sure, but decidedly NOT the same! :wp
  3. Mad Jack Wolfe
    The pacing of the classic series is radically different. Half-hour episodes with loads of recap, it makes for ponderous storytelling. A number of the Frist Doctor's and most of the Second Doctor's stories are missing. The budget-minded BBC encouraged the reuse of videotape, so a shameful amount of episodes were lost. An animation company has taken on the task of recreating some stories based on film clips, photographs, and audio recordings that somehow didn't get erased. They did an amazing job with "The Power of the Daleks".

    Worth watching is the 2013 telefilm "An Adventure in Space and Time". It tells the story of the show's creation, with particular emphasis on William Hartnell (played by David Bradley) as the First Doctor. Mark Gatiss (of "Sherlock" fame) wrote the screenplay, and it's magnificent.
  4. Pieter Boelen
    Indeed those missing episodes are very annoying!!!
    I got up to a big gap and now I'm a bit at a loss on how to proceed.
    Ended up doing some catching up on Star Trek for now instead...

    Seen it! Bradley did an awesome job.
    Impressive movie to be sure. :shock
    Mad Jack Wolfe likes this.
  5. Jones
    I see I'm not the only Doctor Who fan:onya
    Mad Jack Wolfe and Pieter Boelen like this.
  6. JohnV
    Wow, that's a clever idea. It's like taking PotC to a whole new level with millions more possibilities in modding. You just have a PotC copy, but now it can be evolved in time to something huge, hopefully. It already has the much better graphics with Unity. I am really happy with this. I was frustrated that I couldn't continue on my terrain development in Hearts of Oak, due to lack of programming leading and other difficulties I was facing myself.

    Can't wait to see where this goes! :dance
    Jones and Pieter Boelen like this.
  7. Pieter Boelen
    I'm glad you approve!
    And that is indeed our eventual hope: start as simple as possible, but the sky is the limit. :cheeky
  8. Captain Murphy
    I recall a number of mechanics discussions back in the HoO meetings where I harped on just trying to copy the mechanics of PotC or similar so we had a very strict guideline to follow. That way it eliminated the scope creep right off the bat. Lord knows how many mini games I built trying to prototype all of the fancy ideas we had. :fiddle

    Anyhow, we are off to a good start with this game. I've been lending a hand with some code from other projects and trying to give Armada help as I can. We are coming to a point that we need to decide if we are going to go open or closed source on the project and I can see advantages and disadvantages to both routes. Any discussion on that?
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  9. RobinPC
    Long time no see, lads....

    Exciting project for sure.
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  10. Jackseno
    Sad to hear about hearts of oak, good luck with the new project!
  11. Homo eructus
    Nice. Looking forward to this.
  12. FrozenHeart
    Is all the story line from POTC & NEW HORIZON included in it? Or any new? I had read the details but little confused. And full version?
  13. Seb
    I'm really happy to read this, this good old mod and all the work done really deserves that upgrade, and a survival trough this porting :)
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  14. Killerjoy96
    Really loving this step, hopefully now progress will not stop.

    Is there already a seperate subforum?
  15. BlackHawk
    well for some reason can not run the demo the graphics r great just can not move--it is real choppy--i have an old computer--but it looks really good
  16. Killerjoy96
    Just downloaded and started it for a moment and the improvements in graphics are there, however obviously (in my opinion) still have a lot of improvement needed.

    Couldn't quite figure out how to get on the ship? I tried walking to the end of the pier and pressing F3 however that didn't seem to do much.

    Also I expect the current GUI is just placeholders to bind it all together quickly since too much of it would be from POTC this could cause legal issues I suppose?
  17. Armada
    I'll just start by giving a huge thanks to everyone for the kind comments. Your support is greatly appreciated! :cheers

    If any of you are able to create issue reports via the link Captain Murphy provided, that would be helpful for keeping track of them properly.
    You may need to create a GitLab account, but since we're hosting the code there, you'll need one if you want to contribute anyway.

    That input problem sounds familiar. Did you have that problem playing an old HoO build, or possibly the NH mod?

    As for the cannons, does that only apply to the bow chasers, or all sides?

    There will not be any quests or storylines relating to the PotC film franchise, for copyright reasons.
    We probably won't be able to use the story from PotC (Akella's game) either.

    However, the new quests and storylines added to the New Horizons mod, which aren't based on other franchises, can be ported to New Horizons Remastered in a future release. And any completely new quests could be added as well.

    We'll set something up soon. We did have a hidden subforum for those who were involved in the demo's development, but it might be best to start afresh so everyone's on the same page.

    The demo has antialiasing and ambient occlusion turned on, which are probably having an effect on performance.
    Also, I've only tested it on DX11 hardware, so I'm not sure how it performs on older DX9 graphics cards.

    I think the triggers for loading different scenes are a bit temperamental in the demo. Try walking away from it and approaching it again, and you should see the icon appear if it didn't before.

    As for the UI, most of it is taken from the NH mod, which completely overhauled the original PotC interface. Some icons will need to be replaced, but we can use a lot of the NH UI elements.
  18. Armada
    For anyone wanting to contribute models and/or textures, here's a quick summary of what we'll need:

    Replacements or new models for:
    • Locations (ports, towns and individual building interiors/exteriors
    • Fully-rigged characters and/or character animations
    • Weapons (swords, pistols, muskets etc.)
    Assistance with importing existing community-made assets from our mods, including:
    • Ships
    • Props (including weapons)
    • Buildings and locations
    • Custom characters (not including reskins of PotC/CoAS characters)
    Replacements for any stock game textures that haven't been heavily modified by the community.
  19. Flannery
    I just want to point out that there is no use in reporting anything regarding thoughts on the current graphics or looks. That is not the focus atm, and wont be until later in the development.
    Tuning such things is never the focus while in such a stage of development. Any real wish for beautification can be held off til we ask for it :)

    The current focus is ONLY mechanics, and working on the assets/locations
    Pieter Boelen likes this.

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