All The Nice Buoys Love A Virtual Sailor

The sea is a cruel mistress. Forget her birthday and she’ll cut up your clothes, write ‘bastard’ on your front lawn with weedkiller, then drown you. Personally, I feel much safer doing my seafaring via salty software like Virtual Sailor. While VSTEP’s Ship Simulator enjoys a much higher profile, I find myself reaching for VS – ten years old this year – more often.


Why? I think it has a lot to do with the open architecture. VS doesn’t have the quality port sceneries of SS, the attractive stock ships, or the heap of game-like scenarios, but its user-staffed boatyards are regularly turning out splendid new craft that cry out to be captained. Some of the best vessels emanate from DVO Marine Design and Simpson’s Virtual Slipways.



VS also captures the mood and motion of the ocean better than SS. After a few hours of Chedaki culling or Bf-109 pursuit, nothing beats lounging on the deck of a yacht as the porpoises porpoise, the ripples ripple and the sun slowly slides into the Aegean. Everything from wave height and direction, to sea colour and transparency can be tweaked on the fly, meaning you can change the mood from serene to squall in seconds.



Subsurface simulation (capsize a boat and the waves become your rolling sky, the fish your wheeling seabirds) celestial accuracy (in theory, you can shun GPS and map screen and navigate with sextant, almanac and chart) expansive sceneries… there are plenty more reasons why VS still has a healthy following. Ironically, it may be creator Ilan Papini, rather than any outside competition, that ends up death-knelling the franchise. He’s recently launched a title that spans sea and sky. Currently Vehicle Simulator doesn’t have the marine sophistication of its specialised stablemate, but the potential is certainly there.


  1. Smurfy says:

    This is ten years old you say? I seriously thought it was brand new, looks really purdy.

  2. MrBejeebus says:

    Yeah I was suprised by how good it looks

  3. Tim Stone says:

    The series is ten years old, but there have been new versions during that time.

    Sadly, the good looks don’t extend to the default ports.

  4. Jayteh says:

    Trying out the demo, keep up the articles Tim

  5. BlackMage says:

    If you are looking for something with a naval combat edge, check out Dangerous Waters by Sonalysts. It’s VS with naval warfare, very slick.

  6. Bob says:

    That Dangerous Waters don’t look bad! My pc should be able to play it as well, which is a bonus :D

  7. Rosti says:

    Exploration by sextant sounds like a game-adventure-story-blog in the making, to me.

  8. Bryan says:

    You know, I have had Dangerous Waters on my steam account for the longest time (got it with some game pack that was on sale) and have never even installed it….

    Think I will try it out.

  9. Chaz says:

    Will have to give that a go.

  10. Po0py says:

    D’you know, I’d love a game that depicted the Britains sea faring exploits in the 1800 or there abouts. Imagine going round Patagonia and tha Galepagos islands in the Beagle. Having just read Harry Thomson’s This Thing Of Darkness, I’d say there is a game in that story. Play as Captain FitzRoy and escort Darwin around the Horn. That story is quite a thrill ride, it was no simple little trip in a boat, either. They almost got themselved murdered several times over on that Voyage. So it is very worthy of making a game out of it.

  11. charles says:

    I’m on a boat, bitch!

  12. Metal_Circus says:

    No way is that ten years old. Bloody impressive!

  13. Sunjammer says:

    Still playing Silent Hunter 4 here.. Keeps my hydrophobia nice and trim

  14. Erlend M says:

    Take a good, hard look at the m***********g boat!

  15. GRIMDARK says:

    makes me sea sick just looking at it.

  16. Borat says:

    it’s a good simulator for the virtual seamen. seamen get it ? yeah, i’m juvenile, so ?.

  17. ACESandElGHTS says:

    Better “bastard” in weed killer than “BARSTARD” on your car…

    link to