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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. Homo eructus
    Do you aim to have greater character customization? Being able to change clothes or hats without having to switch to a different character model?
  2. Thiil
    As for mechanics:
    - Not being able to jump in 2017 is dull
    - Ship speed?!?!?! How does it take 5 minutes to get out there? (Sure sure, "realism" and stuff, but it's unfun with current ship speeds)
  3. fjx
    Wonderful news, I have a problem though. After unzippping the archive and trying to run the exe file, it says this application won't run on my computer and I should contact the software publisher (I have win 10)
  4. Jones
    Is this a compatibility problem?
    If so, try using the following method:
    Right click on the Program
    Click on Properties
    Click on Compatibility tab
    Select Run this program in compatibility mode and select Windows Vista or whatever operating system the program was running successfully.
  5. Pieter Boelen
    This is still a very basic version.
    No quest content yet.

    First step is to replicate PotC functionality.
    Improvements such as that may eventually be added if somebody makes it happen.
    But it isn't the focus for now.

    My brother noted the same two things.
    He really missed the "time compression" button and I can understand why.
    I'm sure this will be improved on soon enough. :yes
  6. fjx
    Thanks, it was failed download's fault.
    Jones and Pieter Boelen like this.
  7. Armada
    Jumping wouldn't serve any purpose in the current locations, since they weren't designed for it. Unless we want to include platforming, I don't really see a point to including jumping, but that's not to say it won't be included eventually.

    As for ship speed, that's just down to the low wind speed in the demo. It currently uses a very crude calculation so that a ship will reach its maximum speed when the wind speed is double that and coming from behind. The demo ship has the same stats as its PotC:NH version (top speed of 13 knots), but it can't reach that with the fixed wind in this release. We'll be making improvements to this system in subsequent releases, including a time compression option.
    I will be watching this Game's development with great interest.
  9. Captain Murphy
    I'll be real blunt here, ANY mechanic that does not strictly exist in the current game design for PotC and NH will not be added to the initial build of the game. No jumping, no climbing, no swimming, no uber-awesome-feature-that-will-make-the-game-great, etc. We are NOT repeating HoO and the massive scope creep that plagued the project. Until this is at 1.0 with all of the base locations, base quest mechanics, and base combat mechanics we will not be putting anything on the board that does not currently have a place in the original games.
  10. Hylie Pistof
    I tried the demo and it is pretty good for a start! :onya

    It seems to be locked at 60fps, which is fine for now. It does look smooth enough.

    There is one thing that POTC is very good at and that is how the characters go up and down stairs. Most AAA games aren't very good there at all and POTC really shines there. How hard would it be to add that animation?

    For some reason I could not get onto the ship. I could walk to the end of the pier and the icon would appear but no button I tried did anything. It has been a long time since I played and I might have simply forgotten which button it is.

    The music is pretty loud in my system.
  11. Captain Murphy
    F3 is the button to travel somewhere in the hotbar. We mimicked the PotC controls for now until we can rewire them a bit better.
  12. Pieter Boelen
    Just so you know, thanks to @Jack Rackham, PotC does now accept the Spacebar for such reloads too. :yes

    Very, VERY wise.
    The smaller the scope, the higher the success! :onya

    PotC does have swimming though, but just on the water surface.
  13. Homo eructus
    True. As my fencing instructor says: A small target means a small error margin.
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  14. Pieter Boelen
    Just to clarify:
    - "Closed source" does not necessarily mean "commercial/pay-to-play", right?
    - To what extent can "closed source" still be moddable by anyone? And how much complexity does modding support add to the development?
    - Switching TO "closed source" is an easy thing to do, right? But I imagine going back to "open source" would be far more difficult, if not impossible.
    - What would be the main advantages/disadvantages of both scenarios?

    Is that correct?

    Just an idea:
    Maybe it is an option to remain "open source" for a period of time, to get more people actively involved in development.
    Then if that seems to work out, the game can remain "open source" for the foreseeable future.
    But if I understand correctly, going "closed source" allows using more pre-made assets, which could speed up development.
    So if "open source" development is too slow, then a (mostly irreversible) decision can be made to go to "closed source".
    Hopefully that "open source" period would establish a team of people who are willing to work together to so what needs to be done.
    Those actively contributing people can be the ones who maintain access to the "closed source", while other people would end up being "locked out".

    To make this more specific, perhaps it would be worthwhile to set milestones with accompanying dates.
    For example:
    v0.1 to include AI for the enemy ship and ships sinking - To be ready by 30 Sep 2017
    v0.2 to include a second Sailing Mode island and a WorldMap linking the two - To be ready by 31 Oct 2017
    v0.3 to include some measure of dialog system - To be ready by 30 Nov 2017
    v0.4 to include some measure of quest system - To be ready by 31 Dec 2017

    Maybe even define TWO sets of milestones:
    One set (#1) that can be accomplished with the current development team and another that relies on extra people (#2).
    Count every time the deadline for #2 is not reached because the needed external support did not materialize.
    If #2 is not met 10 times in a row, decide to go to "closed source".

    If the above is defined well in advance and known in public,
    hopefully that gives an incentive for people to focus primarily on that set plan.
    Especially this early in development, it is very important to do what needs doing and get all the base functionality working.
    Once all that is in place, people could start working on "what they feel like". But not before.

    Bonus thought:
    I imagine the ideal situation would be for a small team to focus on replicating the current game design for PotC and NH.
    But I imagine that if somebody else decides to try something out of scope and manages to do that, it can be included too.
    So we don't necessarily rule out "uber-awesome-feature-that-will-make-the-game-great", but their inclusion would be conditional on the person suggesting it finding somebody to actually make it happen.
    That "somebody" would, by definition, NOT be somebody on the "small base team".
    The responsibility for the inclusion of bonus features therefore lies on the person suggesting them and NOT the development team.

    Would that sound reasonable?
  15. Carl
    This sounds wise. I would be totally happy to be able to play the "original" New Horizon in a more modern shape, nothing else, nothing more. And if I see it right, then the new engine is capable to improve things later on. And if I look to the development of New Horizons - well, there aren´t many teams out there, who worked for such a long time on a mod than the New Horizon team. I am totally trustful, that this new project will become the most exiting naval game ever! Keep it on, guys, it´s simply awesome since years!
  16. fjx
    Well, another thing, stuff works and, graphics are sharp, game runs smoothly, but I can't seem to get any option to board a ship at any pier (no icons). The thing I like the most is the ability to scale the terrain objects which were impossible to walk on in POTC like carts, boats, beach in port or grass areas, that really adds an open world feeling. Hope to see more of this brilliant stuff in the future, much respect and thanks to all contributing.
  17. Pieter Boelen
    The location where the player is loaded should be the spot where you can reload to sea.
    I only tested it for a very short time and don't remember if a reload icon appeared.
    But try to walk on/off that pier a few times and press F3 at the edge to see if you can convince it to work.
    Feedback on the sailing part would be welcome too, I think. ;)
  18. Captain Murphy
    Good questions, I'll clarify what I mean with open and closed source and try to outline their advantages (A) /disadvantages (and risks) (D/R).

    Open source - Code freely available on a repository that allows for free and open usage (under a license) and contribution
    • A - Anyone can download the base code
    • D/R - Anyone can download the code and sell the end result under their own name, we all know someone WILL do it
    • A - Possibly more input on the code from community coders/asset makers
    • D - Limited number of assets available, limited to free versions of assets or ones with no licensing
    • D - Slower development, all systems have to be written from scratch
    • D - High risk of malicious code added to project and released as an 'official build'.
    • A - the 'official' build could be a closed source version that is just built on top of the open source base, so we can have paid assets in the 'official' build and leave the rest open for users to play with.
    Open source sounds great in theory but can become problematic. It also opens the code up to be taken and used by anyone that wants to. After having been immersed in the game dev world for the past couple of years I see it all the time with an asset flip where they change a few details of an open source project and sell it until they get caught. A downside is it can end up with tons of splinter versions too. You will see a thousand knock offs that use the same base but convert the game to their own style and pass it off as the original.​

    Closed Source - Code is behind a wall of some sort. Only 'authorized' users are allowed to have access to the 'core' of the game through community/moderator approval.
    • A - Code structure can be kept up to specific standards
    • A - Code can be obfuscated to minimize theft of IP
    • A - Allows access to my considerable library of assets
    • A - Rapid development, I have everything needed for the game in asset form
    • D - Possibly less direct contribution
    • D - Less transparent development process
    • A - Pieces of the core code can be left open source, while the rest of the project is still closed source.
    Closed source means faster development, more varied asset possibilities, tighter control over the code base, and more direct control of the project. It also means less contribution to the 'core' of the code, which I will explain in shortly.
    Now, what does Open vs Closed source mean for modding?

    Open - Modders can simply add their code to the codebase and build their own game. Could mean some impressive mods made for the game, but also allows modder to break everything and require more support from core developers to get it working.

    Closed - Mod development would be done through a modding system built into the core. It would be much more limited (can't do things like delete the hard drive or such). Adding things like ships, locations, characters, items, etc would be through a framework of code that gives them access to all of the existing items already there plus allows for adding new items in, including limited code support.
    My thought it to do a hybrid of the two. We make a version that is entirely open source, can be built as is using all open source assets and code. But the 'official' version can use paid assets in place of the open source assets for a more refined and 'clean' look as well as being branded the 'official' build. This way we still let people put their mods and code into an open project with git pushes but have more control over what is added to the 'official' version that gets pushed out on the mod sites under the PA! name and logo.
  19. Pieter Boelen
    Thanks, @Captain Murphy.

    Then some more questions:
    1. How easy/hard is it to add "modding support" to the 'official' version? How much modding would be possible?
    2. How much extra work would it be to maintain two code bases at the same time, one "open source" and one "'official' closed source"?
    3. For "closed source", how would it be decided who gets access and who does not?

    You definitely have a lot of very valid points there.
    It actually matches relatively well with what I had hoped to get going with PotC:NH,
    to have one person in charge of sticking all experimental code into an "alpha" mod
    and have another person in charge of a more polished official version.
    I do believe that could make for a very workable situation, but does rely on having the manpower to pull it off.

    To clarify on my other question: If I read your answer correctly, "closed source" has nothing to do with "commercial/pay-for-play".
  20. Legendary_Spider
    Only the bow. Didn't test the stern. And I never played any of the HoO builds.

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