Happy New Year mates, and welcome to 2013! This year Pirates Ahoy! Marks it's 10 year anniversary! That's right, a full decade of modding and mayhem here at PA! A lot has changed around here since our humble beginnings, a lot of good people have come and gone, but I do believe that we are stronger as a community today than we have ever been. I keep hearing over and over that forums are dying, that they are an archaic and outdated form of communication. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are taking over. Personally, I think that is a load of bull! Just take a look at how fast Facebook's stock plummeted after that initial IPO!
It hasn't been all smooth sailing for us either to be sure, our first year was quite ...eventful to say the least! Originally the forum was hosted on Keith's companies website (www.megastra.com/piratesahoy) using PHPnuke. Then as the site continued to grow, and PHP nuke was really just a toy CMS, we had the problem of shifting over to IPB. That's where we lost our first chunk of data, I believe we lost several months worth of posts, attachments, pictures and other things. That is why you won't see many posts actually from 2003, or posts detailing a lot of the early work on the Build Mod.
We also had some very big personality clashes early on, other server crashes, some very unfortunate misunderstandings, and a couple of outright fights. A lot of these things are better left forgotten, like the now infamous Playmobil Pirate indecent! Sometimes it is really easy to misunderstand things that get posted, even with the use of emoticons, things can still be taken completely out of context. The fact that PA! is a worldwide community mixing different cultures and languages only adds to the misunderstandings and can make things take a lot longer than they really need to. I think that also shows just how strong of a community we have managed to build here though. While we did manage to hold it all together, we did loose some good people early on that have been sorely missed.
A decade on the Internet is a very long time compared with the real world. When you consider just how fast Internet company's and community’s come and go. I have seen many come and go over the 20 years I have been online. Just to put it into perspective a bit, we have been around longer than
Reddit(2005) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit
Digg(November 2004) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg
Facebook( February 2004) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook
Myspace(August 2003) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace
Twitter(March 2006) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter
4Chan(1 October, 2003) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4chan
Mashable(July 2005) - https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Mashable
Youtube(February 2005) - https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Youtube
Neatorama(August, 2005) - http://profileengine.com/groups/profile/434054026/neatorama
The Pirate Bay(13 Sptember, 2003) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirate_Bay
A lot of you, especially our newer members, really don't know the story behind PA, so I will do my best to try and sum up just how PA started from my perspective. I have also pestered Keith a bit to fill in some of the details that my addled brain has forgotten, thanks Keith! Ten years ago I was aimlessly wondering around the internet, I was hanging around SubSim and the old Sea Dogs forum that was ran by Bethesda at the time, but I really didn't have a place that I called home. I have mixed feelings when I remember the old Sea Dogs forums, it was a place where I met some great people, names that a lot of you are familiar with such as Keith, Fred Bob, William, NathanKell, Draksen, Hosehead, Suraknar and many, many more.
Hosehead and Suraknar hailed from a modding forum community called Ellaybe Island, the home of the infamous League of Independent Buccaneers! These fine bunch of scallywags had spent quite a lot of time developing a fantastic mod for Sea Dogs that fixed a whole lot of bugs that the stock game had. It also added quite a lot of new ships, quests, characters and a lot more! This was, and still is, the definitive Sea Dogs mod. You can find out more information from Hosehead's web page, and over at the LIB forums.
There were some problems with the Sea Dogs forums however, regular members were doing a lot of the tech support for Bethesda, and the forum moderator's were obvious corporate lackey’s and wouldn't hesitate to tow the corporate line. I remember many instances of posts simply disappearing if the wrong questions were asked, or if something was brought up that questioned Bethesda's knowledge or authority. I wasn't really active posting wise, but I did read quite a bit and made the occasional post when I felt I had something to contribute. That usually involved raiding the Spanish Treasure Fleet, my favorite Sea Dogs pastime!
I don't remember exactly how long the Sea Dogs forum was up, but I think it was a couple of years, but my memory really isn't that good. Anyway, one day there was an announcement about Sea Dogs II being in development by Akella and we were all of course extremely excited and spent the next few months discussing what we hoped was coming. Late in 2002, we got news that Disney was “partnering” with Bethesda to market the game to tie in with it's upcoming Pirates of The Caribbean movie, and that meant at least a 6 month delay. We also learned that neither Disney or Bethesda planned on setting up a forum for the newly rechristened Pirates of The Caribbean.
During those six months there were a lot of discussions going on about whether the game would be as modable as Sea Dogs, at the time I really had no clue how to mod anything other than simple text file mods or hardware, so I was really just a spectator in most of these discussions. The members of the LIB were convinced that it would be very modable and would probably be based a lot on the same engine that Sea Dogs used. These discussions went on for a while; and then one day a few weeks before POTC's release, I logged on to find a post by Keith stating that he had set up a new forum called Pirates Ahoy! This forum would be free from all the Bethesda moderators and corporate crap, it would be dedicated to modding POTC, and helping each other with tech support. Best of all, we would have allegiance to no one but ourselves!
It took a bit of convincing at the start to get anyone to sign up. Once Keith, Draksen and Suraknar convinced Fred Bob to join PA, basically the rest of the old Sea Dogs forum followed shortly thereafter. I headed over here as fast as I could and signed up on June 26'th 2003, I was a bit slow though, 432 people beat me to it. I don't remember exactly when the old Sea Dogs forum went down, but I know that it wasn't long after PA started. After all, why should they waste resources supporting one of their own games when a dedicated modding community was doing a much better job of it for them for free!
Since then, we as a community have created one of the longest running, consistently updated mods for any game. Originally simply known as the Build Mod, our New Horizon's mod has changed POTC in to something much more than anyone ever imagined it could be in those first few months of modding. I do remember a lot of those early discussions, and the early group of modders ran in to quite a lot of challenges that almost stopped us dead in our tracks. If it had not been for the guidance, knowledge and encouragement of those fantastic modders of the LIB, the Build Mod may have died off completely. It certainly would not be anywhere near what it is today without their help.
Our past achievements with the Build Mod are really far to numerous to mention here, but I simply don't have the time or space. There were a couple achievements that I did want to highlight. We were told by one of the original Akella developers that we would never be able to get Direct Sailing in to POTC, thanks to Couch Captain Charles we proved them wrong! We also did such a good job of added content and fixing the bugs that Akella had missed, that they actually borrowed some of our code for Age of Pirates : Caribbean Tales!
We have had a great number of fantastic people over the years that have helped contribute to keeping this community going, Admins, Mods, modders and regular members. I can't possibly name them all here, but there are a few that I wanted to take the time to thank personally for all their efforts and hard work over the years. First I want to thank NathanKell, he has been gone from these forums for a while now, and his presence is sorely missed. Thanks for your leadership mate, and for helping us get started on the right track.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of meeting Fred Bob, he is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met online, and he had a great deal to do with this forums success! Another is CatalinaThePirate, finest wench to ever set foot on the Burning Brig! It was her Cat-o-nine tails that almost single handedly kept this unruly lot from getting too out of hand for many years.
And then of course there is Pieter Boelen, Pieter took over the leadership role on the Build Mod after NathnKell left; and his contributions to this community and our efforts are so numerous that they could never be properly credited. And lastly I want to thank Keith, who has provided us with a home port and safe haven to work from. I know he never expected PA to still be here a full decade after he started it, and I am pretty sure that no one else did either.
There is certainly a LOT more to our story than what I have posted above, but that is a “brief” explanation of where we have come from. So, where do we go from here? Well, a lot of you already know that we recently started working on our own full blown Age of Sail game called Hearts Of Oak: Conquest of the Seas. This is a major undertaking, and we did literally spend years discussing whether it would even be possible for us to attempt such a thing.
We have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but I think we really have a chance to achieve something special with Hearts of Oak, and we plan on doing just that! This project will take a lot of time, hard work and dedication and we can not do it alone! We need your help to make Hearts of Oak all that it can be! So if you haven't done so already, sign up, climb on board and join us on one of the greatest adventures to ever set sail on the Internet!