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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

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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. ;)

    [​IMG]

    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.

    FAQ
    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

Comments

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

  1. Captain Murphy
    1. Mods would be serialized asset bundles that can be 'picked up' on by the core code on startup or on a demand (i.e we could have a web based mod downloader that adds the mod to the game). Modders would use a toolset that we provide to build their mod. It could be as simple as adding a ship (serialized code file and model file) to including a new character controller (managed code that extends or overrides the current classes).
    2. The code could be abstracted out so that the second code base simply extends or overrides the open source code instead of trying to replace it.
    3. Based on the same type of control we currently use for almost all other code that PA! controls.

    Correct, closed source does not mean a paid version, simply a version that is more accepted and supported by the PA! staff directly with some unique added features.
  2. Pieter Boelen
    How much extra work would it be to create that required toolset?

    Cool! :cheers

    PotC:NH has "everything available for everyone".
    But the "CoAS Source Code" has been kept within a small group of people.
    HoO was different again.

    My main question is: If there is a closed source, how would we determine who to trust with it?
    Would we need to set some requirements for people to fill in order to gain access?
    For example, for them to have substantially contributed to the open source version first?
    If so, what is "substantially"?

    Well, I personally am not opposed to the concept, that's for sure. :onya
  3. Jack Rackham
    Looks very good in Unity! :onya
  4. Carl
    I tried the demo today, and I am simply wowed. Cool graphics, very good lighting. Someone else stated, that it is nice to be able to leave the paths and go over the greens - and yes, this is a feature, that should be expanded.
    Sadly I wasn´t able to find the button to sail around, did read it later here. But hopefully tomorrow I´ll have some time to sail around the island.

    In short: the demo hooks! :monkeydance
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  5. Captain Armstrong
    Really really thrilled to see this come to fruition! I can't wait to try the demo once I'm back from vacation :dance

    The graphical difference (and potential) in the screens between this and potc New Horizons is very apparent!
    I'm happy to help with testing and assets, and I'll get an inventory of what I might have ready to be ported over.

    For now though, I'll test the demo, and see what feedback I can give!
    Armada and Pieter Boelen like this.
  6. Peter Willemoes
    Sink me if this demo is not the best loot I've tailed aboard in a long time!
    A good crew built this. With a good captain at the wheel, aye Armada.
    It looks like the good ol' ship "New Horizons" is coming about once again.
    Oh well, she might still be a bit loose on the stays, but the timbers seem solid - sailing feels more natural than ever and the character control is logic and intuitive.
    And somebody listened to the old bilge rats and our prayers about not taking on too big a mouthful.
    Putting a small amount of toys in a small sandbox was a wise decision.
    Like every great story have humble beginnings and a small cargo hold won't wear down the crew or sink the ship in a storm :onya
    I have no doubt this crew can do it :cheers have fun and wish ya'll the best! :thumbs1
    And nice to see you're still in here, Pieter and Rackham mateys :beer:
  7. Pieter Boelen
    Good to see you in these waters again and thanks for the kind words, @Peter Willemoes!
    They're much appreciated, I'm sure. :doff
    Peter Willemoes likes this.
  8. Peter Willemoes
    Yeah Pieter I hope so, afterall they are almost starting from scratch.
    Remember how you started modding an (un)finished game in 2003 and eight years later a huge crowd were still on it? Must be a Guiness Book of Records "longest modding marathon" record, I am sure :D
  9. Pieter Boelen
    Definitely!

    How could I forget?
    And we're still going now, 14 years later, though that's largely thanks to @Grey Roger and @Jack Rackham as well.
    I myself didn't join until 2004 though, so I missed the really early bit.
  10. sixthrate
    Sad that HoO won't see the light of day, but this is the next best thing. I'm very much looking forward to it.

    Great work with the demo, especially the ships. The gentle rocking/swaying makes them really come alive. And I absolutely love the seamless transition between the deck and cabin. Makes me want to start unpacking my sea chest.

    A few questions:

    1. Is it in the cards for the player to eventually be able to walk around the ship while controlling/sailing it? (PotC/CoAS mods have spoiled me in that regard)

    2. Any chance you can widen the aft hatch? The player avatar currently can't squeeze through to access the lower decks.

    3. Is there a first-person player camera? (Can't remember if PotC had that)


    Thanks.
  11. Pieter Boelen
    You mean in 3D Sailing Mode? Indeed I imagine that will eventually be included.

    What I personally wonder about is whether it is feasible to have you control your player character on deck while the ship sails.
    That's one thing PotC/CoAS doesn't do and would be a huge step up in my book.

    You mean while controlling your player character ashore?
    PotC does have one, but I'm not convinced it is particularly useful/playable with that.
  12. Hylie Pistof
    Hey, you modeled the entire island! It took 2:40 to circumnavigate it. This could get interesting later.
  13. Armada
    Thanks! You've probably got enough ships to make up a large chunk of the Napoleonic fleet alone, which will be useful. :sail

    1. Yes, I'd like to add an on-deck camera of some sort for manually aiming the guns and using a spyglass.

    2. This is a tricky one. I think we'll either need to add a teleport between decks, or create an animation for seamlessly climbing up and down ladders with the character collider disabled so it can fit through. The latter would be preferable, but the former is probably a good short-term solution.

    3. There's no first-person camera yet, but it's fairly straightforward to implement. I don't think we'll want that for combat, but we could have one for exploration like PotC does.

    In theory, that's also doable, so long as we keep the player firmly glued to the deck so you can't fall off the ship. :razz

    This would have some implications for the typical functions you perform on deck, such as visiting your cabin, since the ship would still be moving and potentially being fired at. We'll probably have to keep using static decks until we can work this out properly.

    Either way, I'm fairly confident we can ditch the old static deck models from PotC and CoAS and just use the ships themselves from now on. I know this leaves us without boarding locations with two ships, but I reckon we can combine two static ships into a single scene and add boarding ramps for this purpose.
  14. Homo eructus
    All of this is sounding better and better, and looking amazing. I took a couple of screenshots from the demo and the ships look stunning even up close. Truly , the Storm engine, God bless it, didn't do them justice.

    Attached Files:

    GAZ Vodnik, jaco and Armada like this.
  15. MrMundy
    Goodness me this looks absolutly fantastic!
    I am in deep love with you guys now; it's time to pirate! :ship
    I believe I said this before, but you guys really deserve money for this. Would donate if you gave us the option.
  16. SuperCrumpets
    Omg this is amazing, just thinking of the possibilities is already too much.
    without the limits of the old engine you could literally turn NH into my ultimate dream game :O :O :O :O
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  17. jaco
    Wow! This is the news we've been waiting for.

    I sailed right around the island. It took hours. I like realistic sailing, but time compression option would take some of the tedium out of it. The new music is great, but I missed all the familiar sfx from the Build mod - wind, crew chatter etc. Had to do a lot of tacking to get around the island and noticed that turning the ship is quite arcade-y. It seems to pivot without moving forward.

    The combat practice was fun. Looking forward to seeing how these develop!

    A really outstanding demo -- thanks guys.
  18. Sherlockzor
    Hey guys,

    Is it okay to assume the hearts of oak forum will become the forum for this game or will there be a new forum for New Horizon standalone?
    I've got some questions and points I'd like to address and I would love to get involved into the team working on this.
  19. Captain Murphy
    We will be creating a new forum for the game. We don't want to confuse any of the older posts and mechanics with this game. We also want to make a clear line between the two projects so as to minimize future issues.
    ANSEL and Pieter Boelen like this.
  20. Armada
    For those asking about a forum: I've now set up a new category for New Horizons Remastered, which you'll see in the forum list.
    You can discuss anything about its development (e.g. gameplay mechanics) in the Development sub-forum, and if you want to make a model or port a model for the game, you can post about that in the Assets sub-forum.

    It will be a bit of a free-for-all to start with, but we'll add some guidelines to keep things organised later on.

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