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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

    Joined:
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    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.

    [​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
    I will bet that the physics are set to a frame dependant speed instead of frame limited. We saw that issue with the ToW physics as well when folks with powerhouse machines would play. It would do certain calculations more often than things like gravity and stuff went bonkers a few seconds. If I get a chance I will look into porting an older ToW buoyancy over.
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  2. Sharlatan
    Tested time compression on the x64 build. Worked for me. But had to remap it; it wasn't +/- for me .. maybe because of region settings?
  3. Carl
    I tried the x64 version today, first time under sails. What I really like is the water, and that one can see the ground. I directly started looking for fish! :D

    And the ship... Splendid, especially, that I can walk inside the captains quarter through an open door.

    Also very nice was a trip inside the town. DId you remove the loading part between entrance and Mayor Home/Inn/Seller? I definatley would love to walk in one town instead of all the loading screens between parts of it.

    Thanks, and keep it on, you´re doing a simply fantastic job here! :cool:
  4. jaco
    Time compression worked fine for me on x64. Could speed it up or slow right down. I noticed it works for Nat walking around town as well. Could do with a notification of how fast or slow it's running.

    The new sinking mechanic looks good. I sank the ship twice, and it went down differently each time! The health bar seems to stay put even when the ship is sunk.

    The only thing I don't like is the way the ship pivots when you turn her while hardly moving forward. I can spin her right around in a circle virtually on the spot, but I guess all this will be adjusted later.

    This is really great, and it looks gorgeous!
  5. Captain Murphy
    We are currently going to follow the same flow as the Akella games use with each location being a separate scene that we can serialize the data from individually (helps with save files and abse scripting). We will be keeping the loading screen between scene changes just like the original until new towns can be made that are all one larger scene without the breaks.
  6. ColonelKetchup30
    Looks fabulous chaps! Couple quick questions: will there be PotC characters like Danielle and Rhys Bloom in the "finished" version? The Starting Up text when you load the game seems a bit odd. Something simple like just "Loading" would make more sense and be better aesthetically. Also is there hopes for all the islands to be added in including story specific such as Khael Roa/Cozumel? Anyway, great start and hope it all goes well :cheers
  7. con20or
    This is great news - good luck with the project!
  8. Jack Rackham
    I have to ask too, even if it may be too early: do you plan to import the storylines too?
    Or will it be a complete new game starting from the old POTC/NH?
  9. Pieter Boelen
    At the moment, there is no dialog, nor quest system at all.

    Technically it will be a completely new game; not a port.
    Eventually, @Armada does intend to allow for an easy way to port quests from PotC to NHR:
    I don't know yet what that will end up looking like though. There is no guarantee we'll end up with the same worldmap as PotC, or even the same locations.
    Eventually all of the 3D assets are supposed to be replaced with our own custom material.

    Also not sure how such special storylines like Woodes Rogers and The Gold-Bug would end up functioning.
    But I assume there must be a way of implementing your style of puzzles as well and probably much smoother than the Storm 2 engine allows.
  10. Armada
    I've listened to your tracks, as well as all the others Pieter gathered into the Hearts of Oak soundtrack, and I've given some thought to how all of them can fit into the game, so yours will find their way into a future build. :onya
    That was part of the reason I decided to scrap the old PotC music, as we've already got enough original music (of a very high quality!) to fill most of the game.

    For everyone's reference, these are the tracks currently used in the demo:
    • Main menu: "Hearts of Oak" by @Flannery
    • Port, town and ship deck: "The Dock" by @J. Cava
    • Tavern: "Pirate Tavern" by J. Cava
    • Sailing: "Far Away" by Flannery
    For me, it's = to increase and - to decrease time compression, by default. It might depend on your keyboard layout.

    As Captain Murphy says, we're keeping the individual town locations with loading between them for now.

    Fun fact: although we've blocked it off in the demo, the left side of the town (as you enter from the port) is partially modelled, so you could walk around it and end up back in the main town square. Obviously, quite a lot of that location is missing as it's meant to be a separate model, but it suggests the town was originally built as one model and then split up.

    Agreed, I'll look into that. I think we'll need to limit it to a minimum of 1x speed to prevent slow motion, too.

    Yeah, it's not perfect at the moment. This will be adjusted iteratively until it feels about right.

    Possibly. All the islands will eventually need to be replaced with new models, but we'll use the old ones as placeholders for now.

    We'd like to import as many of the storylines as possible. The only exceptions will be those that use copyrighted material, such as the Jack Sparrow and Hornblower stories.

    I'm hoping to have a basic dialogue and quest system implemented fairly soon, and at that point, I'll try to port something simple like the Rhys Bloom quest to demonstrate it.
    Tempesta likes this.
  11. Pieter Boelen
    On the other hand, some slow motion ship battles could look pretty epic in video trailers. :rolleyes:
  12. Cheeki
    Will it be possible to travel between the islands and meet other vessels in the high seas without going to the map of the world? Sorta like with 'Direct Sail' from the New Horizons.

    EDIT: Also which age the game will be represent? 1660-something like the COAS or 1750?
  13. Pieter Boelen
    Eventually this is intended to be an improved version of the New Horizons mod, so I imagine it'll aim to replicate the "Periods" functionality.
    That means it'll have several different ages included, spanning the range from Early Explorers to Napoleonic.

    So short answer: ALL of them. ;)
  14. con20or
    am i doing something wrong? i cant seem to get onto the ship - ive tried running in window and full mode, walking down every pier - i dont see any way of getting on or an anchor icon, etc. My version is 32 bit when i run it, i dont see a way of running 64bit?

    Edit - never mind see the comments about itch now
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  15. Armada
    We'd like to have a direct sail system, yes. It should be possible to do this without any loading screens between islands.

    The demo doesn't have a strict time period set yet, as it's basically a case of porting whatever we can to prototype the game systems first. The date is set to 1750, but this may change once we start adding storylines. Full support for multiple periods is the end goal, but we'll aim to get just one period implemented first (likely the mid-18th century).
  16. Armada
    Regarding open versus closed source:

    We have decided to remain closed source to allow use of additional assets from the Unity Store to speed up development.

    There will be a short initial period to set up the basic framework of the game using pre-made assets where applicable. After this period, we will open applications for developers to be granted access to the code to contribute to the game. We will outline the criteria for this process once they're finalised.

    This decision does not affect artists who wish to add their assets to the game. For now, you can submit FBX model files and PNG texture files if you want them to be added. Later on, we will provide a small Unity project to allow you to set up and submit game-ready assets to make the pipeline more efficient.
  17. ptisinge
    This sounds awesome, looking forward to see where this will go.

    Using Unity might be good news for the part that interests me the most: it's very easy to implement VR support using Unity. If I was not busy parenting with a 2 months old daughter I would have raised my hand to experiment with that (C/C++ coder, have played with VR in Unity to test that with my HTC Vive) as New Horizon in VR is a thing I've been dreaming to see since I first put my hands on VR headsets (and I'm pretty much immune to VR sickness, so I'm not afraid of VR sailing in a storm, bring it on!)
    Pieter Boelen likes this.
  18. Pieter Boelen
    That's a big decision right there! Probably a wise one too. :onya
    Captain Armstrong likes this.
  19. Captain Murphy
    Honestly, just adding VR is easy. The UI part is the complete and utter nightmare trying to build everything in world space and make it functional.
  20. Grey Roger
    How sensitive are you to copyright? If it's just the videos which are the issue, both storylines would work without them.

    If it's all material with copyright issues, would ships from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise (Black Pearl, Flying Dutchman, Queen Anne's Revenge) be left out? If so, that has implications for "Tales of a Sea Hawk" and the "Elizabeth Shaw" sidequest.

    Or are "Jack Sparrow" and "Hornblower" at risk because their plots are partly derived from their respective film and TV sources? In that case, anyone writing new storylines will need to be careful to write original stories not based on any existing film, TV or book.

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