Multipirate: Naval FPS Blackwake

The sea was black, wet, and angry, like an angry wet black dog.

Oh no. Readers, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know about it, I swear, but that’s hardly a defence is it? Give me a taste of the bosun’s rope-end, if you insist. Lock me in the guard room till I get sober, it’s only fair, or put me in the bilge and make me drink it. If you heave me by the leg in a runnin’ bowline, I’ll understand. It’s all warranted. I’ve been at RPS for seven months and am only now posting about Blackwake: Dead Marque, a multiplayer naval FPS about broadsiding and boarding with destructible ships. I know! Come look, then we can decide what to do with this drunken sailor.

The grand dream is large-scale naval warfare where each player holds a role on the crew, from navigating to manning guns. Ships are destructible and sinkable, cannons blowing great holes in them, but boarding with guns and cutlasses is also a murder option. Along with plain old team deathmatch, the two-man dev team (!) are planning objective scenarios like trying to capture bounty targets or plundering merchant vessels. It’s the sort of ambitious idea that I imagine will come out a bit wonky, but hope the ambition will shine through.

Pre-alpha tests have shown it’ll work with around 120 players, and the developers hope to hit 300 by launch. That’s broadly planned for “mid 2015”. Here, point your one remaining eye at this early footage from last week, bearing in mind it’s still pre-alpha:


  1. jpm224 says:

    looks like a mod for Mount & Blade.

    • Graves says:

      That could be what it’s based off of. I’ve been under the impression that they have been licensing the base game/engine to mod/devs to heavily modify and then charge for. Not a bad system, to be honest, so long as the end result is worth the price. I’ve gotten a lot of entertainment value from Mount and Blade mods over the years, and there are some I would be willing to pay for. Like this, for example. I’m a huge fan of this sort of thing, and if they can deliver on what they appear to be promising, I would be on board.

      • jpm224 says:

        Pun entirely intended on that last part of your comment, I hope.

        • Graves says:

          Of course. I didn’t want to pirate your thread completely with my own pun-based naval gazing, but I’d schooner take an opportunity to make a pun than pass it up

      • facedyork says:

        Hi Graves, we are actually using Unity.

        • Graves says:

          Good to know, thanks for the clarification. As I said, looking forward to giving it a go!

    • darkshadow42 says:

      Mount and Blade but with better ships can only be a good thing. The boats in the NW add-on is hilariously glitchy, and naval combat is terrible when water has no buoyancy.

  2. Kyber says:

    That rifle holding method is the wrongest thing I’ve ever seen. Also 300 people sounds like it could get mental.

  3. Lucid says:

    Uhh, you’re forgiven because it looks like crap.

    Also yet another multiplayer only naval game, what the hell’s with the lack of Seadog-esque games?

  4. G-Lord says:

    That video brings up memories of Air Buccaneers. I’ll keep it on my radar.

  5. Chuckleluck says:

    300 people sounds a little far fetched. Maybe not for Ubisoft or EA or Sony, but lest we not forget how quickly a multiplayer indie game can die out.

    • Peter says:

      By the time you add large physical entities like ships you actually add a huge load to the server. Maybe their engine can handle 300 players, more likely it can handle 64 players when there are also ships in game with no lag and final assets. They have also opted for a more physics based destruction system which while it looks good on paper really impacts of performance. I hope it works, but I don’t think it will (with that sort of player numbers). Also I hate the whole re-spawning on ships thing. This is 2014 lets think of better ways to keep players involved.

      • Lanfranc says:

        *you die*
        *you respawn in a dark alley*
        *you’re drunk and surrounded by a Royal Navy press gang*
        *they beat you up and take you to your new ship*
        *the next round starts*


  6. HothMonster says:

    The Yarr tag needs more love.

  7. Jorum says:

    Guns of Icarus for non-flying ships sounds interesting. Although making it seem like naval battle rather than chaotic bundle could be hard.
    Also pretty sure thats not how you hold a musket. Because ,you know, anatomy.

    • Gog Magog says:

      They were originally supposed to be holding muskrats but there was a mistake with the modelling guys

    • facedyork says:

      Developer here, until we get around to actually doing the proper first person arms/animations we threw together some ‘passable’ first person weapons. We simply used a pistol hand on everything, which is why the wrist appears broken. We laugh at it every time we test.

  8. thebigJ_A says:


  9. Arathorn says:

    Is it me or does that guy really suck at playing his own game?
    Anyway, the idea is interesting and the game could become interesting, but this is so pre-alpha that it’s impossible to say right now.

    • facedyork says:

      Since this is pre-alpha design flaws were expected in this gamemode. One of the major ones was the inability for the larger ship to hit the smaller ships when they were close because we have not implemented swivel guns yet. This forced me/others to just take pot shots at the other ship with very inaccurate weapons.

  10. Gog Magog says:

    I beg your pardon, but which letter exactly do you think comes before Alpha that you would refer to it as Pre-Alpha?

    That’s right. The CHIM who is that CHIM is.


  11. trooperwally says:

    Thank you RPS! I’ve had a tough day and that has really lightened the mood!

    That was simply the worst video ever contrived. I know it’s pre-alpha and all but it really begs the question why they made a video at all with it in this state. Maybe they knew I would find it hilariously awful, in which case: “Thank you devs. And good luck for the future”.

    I think it’s the dramatic music juxtaposed with the horrendous animations and outrageous glitches. And the fact that the French win approximately half way through and the action continues entirely unconcerned by this victory. And the fact that the player appears to be doing their first let’s play and/or be totally drunk on sailor Jerry rum. And maybe the dreadful editing makes it too, cutting between inconsequential shots of hacking and I consequential shots of firing cannons that pop with all the force of a sneeze. Oh crikey. I think it’s the whole lot.

    No idea if the game will be any good, too early to say. But if these folks make any more videos keep me posted!

    • facedyork says:

      I’m one of the developers and registered just to reply to some of these comments. I should first make it clear we did _not_ ask for this article, someone told us about it. While we’re grateful for exposure we were planning a press release in the future with different footage. We are 100% aware the game is not pretty in its current state. We’re actually going to redo every asset once we have the time to ensure our best quality. We reiterate this on every bit of media we post, and the one video where we didn’t happens to get featured here, just our luck!

      As to why make a video? We wanted make a sort of proof of concept. It’s better than just posting a video with concept art and ideas. So even though its a glitchy mannequin deathmatch with broken wrists we hope it gives people a jist of what we’re envisioning here.

      • MattMk1 says:

        For what it’s worth, I was tickled by the fact one of the ships actually was armed with carronades, and that it doesn’t look like you’re going for the absurd “let’s make every combat about 1st rates duking it out” thing every big(ish) game featuring sailing ships falls prey to.

        The crews did look a little sparse, is that expected to go up? Though I guess a boarding battle featuring realistic crew numbers would be about as playable as a Mount and Blade siege…

        • facedyork says:

          Yes crew amounts are expected to go up. We only had so many people to work with so between the two small ships and the big one everyone became too spread out

          We want as many players as possible but we won’t allow it if it is going to make certain game modes more frustrating than fun.

  12. Powderhorn says:

    I feel like Naval Action needs to get mention here, a game well into development and Greenlit on Steam.

  13. racccoon says:

    I know its early stages but it needs a lot more in it to be anything but a free for all with not much purpose or reason.

  14. BathroomCitizen says:

    I remember there was a similar game being developed a couple of years ago..? But I think it was about submersibles, or something along those lines; I remember trying a buggy online multiplayer alpha test for it, and it was on the Unreal engine, me-thinks.

    Can anyone recall that long-lost title?

    • Peter says:

      Was is a scifi space game called Planetstorm? That one occasionally releases a video but for the most part looks so slow as to be basically dead.

  15. ncnavguy says:

    The video annotation thingie said 2016 not 15 so no sure which is right. I will say that I like the sense of presence it seems to have, I know part of it is the shift in perspective but when looking into a passing ship it seemed more real and more their than Black Flags even with such sparse detail. There’s lots to be done still but I will be keeping m y eye on this to see where it goes.