Thar She Blows! Whaling Gameplay In Nantucket Trailer

A whale of a time

There was once a man from Nantucket/Who hunted whales in a bucket/He got together a crew/Because that’s what you do/And ended up giving the beast the flu — er, I tried, okay? Don’t judge me. Nantucket [official site] is a name you may recognize from our PC Games Of 2015: Those Wot Could Conceivably Be Good. It’s about Ishmael and Moby Dick and the golden era of American Whaling and and — check out the first gameplay trailer while I catch my breath.

Currently in pre-alpha, Nantucket will, if all goes well, have you meandering through the seven seas in pursuit of fame, fortune, and dead whale bits. You’ll have the opportunity to be the captain you want to be, which seems to translate to levelling your character up and putting together a shipshape crew. Given that this is a game about whaling, it looks like you’ll also be discovering new whaling areas, lowering your whaleboats, and fighting “them” for precious blubber. (Who is the mysterious ‘them?’ No clue. We’ll let you know when we find out, though.)

Before anyone goes up in arms over the game, developers Picaresque Studio have made it rather amply clear that Nantucket was born out of a love for history and great literature, as opposed to a fondness for whaling. The game is currently on Steam Greenlight, where it is slowly accumulating eyeballs and curious comments. Nantucket will most likely pop into the waters of actual release sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

51 Comments

  1. Hunchback says:

    Love the art, what we can see of the mechanics and all that… but i really hate whaling.

    I am not a tree-hugger, but whaling is a nasty business. They might as well make an “SS barracks simulator”.

    • GernauMorat says:

      Oh come on, SS barracks? Really? It’s very obviously a love letter to Moby Dick. Not advocating whaling, but we’ll have to discard most of our classic literature if we ignore anything that involves unsavory activities.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        There’s a difference between saying “I love Moby Dick”, and modernizing animal cruelty. Moby Dick was written a long time ago, this game was not.

        • UncleLou says:

          I would understand your concern if this was a game taking place now, glorifying modern whale-hunting, but we’re talking about the early 19th century. If this is “modernizing animal cruelty”, what about, say, the Total War games, or Civilization? Crusader Kings?

          Even if we ignore all the modern war games for a moment, there can’t be (m)any historical games left you can play, either, can there?

          • Hunchback says:

            I can see your point, but most (all?) war games are built on the idea that the opposing factions are on the same evolution level, are there by choice and have more or less the same resources/chances to win/lose.

            Morals are a problem though, that’s why Company of Heroes has a hard time making a “German” single-player campaign… Nobody would play a game where you lead the nazi to victory. In multiplayer they’ve completely un-personalized the soldiers and the sides and are using them only as a technological base, matches are “duels” and everything’s fine.
            Basically, people killing people is fine, even if frowned at. People killing animals is less ok.

          • cakeisalie says:

            The Total War games also feature a fair bit of animal cruelty too. The Rome TW games feature burning pigs you can unleash on the enemy, and the death of countless war dogs, cavalry horses and elephants, there is even the ability to drive nails into the heads of your elephant units (to stop them rampaging through your own ranks). Not mention slavery and the option to put populations to the sword. No one seems to complain about that.

          • Shadow says:

            I don’t see why a species killing itself (humans) should be any better than that species killing others, lesser or not.

            And no, wargames don’t always portray evenly matched adversaries. The whole point of strategy games is to bring your faction to a superior position, so that it can trample opponents underfoot. If done right, the enemy has no chance to survive. In certain games (grand strategy comes to mind), there’s tremendous disparity between certain nations, and the lesser are often hopeless in their position, or at the very least require a lot of effort to get ahead with.

            And the combatants, there by choice? Since when is war agreed upon by all parties? War is always forced upon one side, often the one in disadvantage.

            But anyway, I don’t think it’s particularly believable to shun animal killing while at the same time bending over backwards to whitewash human killing. I’d sooner condone harpooning a whale than burning a native village, but if I were to get strict about it, reversing the reasoning wouldn’t make any sense.

        • KevinLew says:

          I can end all complaints about “animal cruelty” in this game very quickly by saying: You do realize that you’re advocating censorship in video games, right? Because that’s what censorship is: I don’t like the subject and therefore it shouldn’t be made.

          Also, if the game has any kind of accuracy at all, then I’d say that the sperm whales have a chance of attacking your ship and potentially killing your crew. Not only did this happen in real life, it actually happened in Moby Dick twice. The point isn’t that whaling is right, but it was a dangerous profession which could end up getting you killed.

          • Durkonkell says:

            You do realise that “I don’t like this and I’m not sure making it was a good idea” is not the same as “I think the authorities should step in and make this game illegal”, right? One of the two is censorship, the other isn’t.

            (I don’t think I really have an opinion on this game one way or another, except that I don’t think I really want to play it. I DO have an opinion on people throwing ‘censorship’ around every time somebody says they don’t approve of anything)

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            Phasma Felis says:

            No, of course that’s not what fucking censorship is. “I don’t like what you’re doing” is not censorship. “You should stop what you’re doing” is not censorship. Only “You should be forced to stop what you’re doing” is censorship.

            Seriously, what is it with people redefining “censorship” to mean “disagreeing with me”? Are we 12?

    • GernauMorat says:

      People seem OK playing prison tycoon, which seems much dodgier as a premise to me.

      • Cinek says:

        That’s not related.

        • GernauMorat says:

          How is it not related? People are avowing outrage at a game which involves whaling. I find the idea of a game, (prison tycoon) set in the present day, which simulates the extremely unjust American system of mass incarceration to be very distasteful.

          • Cinek says:

            “extremely unjust” ? Now we know you’re trolling.

          • Shake Appeal says:

            Exactly. Prison Simulator is far more distasteful than this given all the issues surrounding America’s mass incarceration.

            Nantucket is a somewhat fantastical, abstract simulator of historical sailing and, yes, whaling. While its subject matter is controversial, there are dozens of games on the market with more controversial subject matter (like Prison Simulator) that no one complains about.

            Also, the devs said this on their Greenlight page:

            Picaresque Studio does not support illegal whaling and invites you all to be aware about the endangered species problems caused by industrial whaling. Check the the International Whaling Commission’s website for more information link to iwc.int

          • Didero says:

            Except in Prison Architect (which I assume is the game you mean), it’s perfectly viable to make a prison where you treat your prisoners fairly, and give them an education and teach them a trade. You don’t HAVE to make a torture prison.

            Whereas it seems like in this game you have to hunt animals to progress?

          • Boothie says:

            Think the devs say practically every damn Alpha update that Prison architect is not simulating american prisons specifically.
            In the end people are uneccesarily getting their panties in a twist about both these games in my opinion.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      I’d rather play SS simulator than a whaling game, actually.

      • GernauMorat says:

        “I’d rather play SS simulator than a whaling game, actually.”

        Are you joking? That seems a very strange statement. At worst, one is dealing with the murder of animals and another the murder of humans. (I’m a veggie by the way, so I don’t discount animal suffering, but that does not seem morally equivalent)

        • BobbyDylan says:

          Not really. It’s a bit weird, but I’ve been murdering people in games for years with little thought into it. But cruelty to animals just rubs me the wrong way. I didn’t do the whaling missions in Black Flag cos I found them quite distasteful.
          But Nuking a town in FO3…. I was ok with.

      • Sarfrin says:

        Trollery of the most obvious kind. Whales are asking for it, with those flukes and all that tasty blubber.

    • UncleLou says:

      Mind, I can absolutely see where you’re coming from – I had no trouble slaughtering massed of virtual humans in Far Cry 4, but killing (which you have to, because they’re so agrressive) nearly extinct animals disgusted me.

      Regarding the games I mentioned though, I meant not only the war aspect rather than things like slavery, dropping nuclear bombs on cities, putting down peasant rebellions, etc.

    • Alien426 says:

      Well, at least the whales back then had chances to survive. If the wind was not in favor of the sailboats. If the whales were able to outrun the rowboats.

      Nowadays it’s a different story. And whale meat / blubber is not even needed anymore.

    • Beanbee says:

      I’d be okay with it, but I’d focus on a specific timeline.

      Perhaps start around the 1890s and finish up around 1930s by which time the seas have been fully mechanized and you just send voyage after voyage without seeing a single whale. So for each upgrade you take, or forced to take to remain competitive, that population starts to waiver and finally crashes.

      A Rogue-like whaling game. Where the rogue like element is you are trashing the very goal of the game.

      I don’t mind an uncomfortable game, but let’s make the game world react uncomfortably as well.

    • Tanngnjost says:

      What about all the games about hunting elk and deer? In Unreal World you can make a trap pit and leave some poor reindeer stuck on the spikes for days. Other games let you pelt certain land animals with dozens of javelin/arrows/rocks/whathaveyous until they eventually die. 19th century whalers were just trying to make a profit and feed their families, there was no one there to tell them that what they were doing was wrong.

      I don’t like how whaling is so awfully evil and taboo for some, Norway practices whaling to this day on minke whales. That’s not because Norwegians are evil and hate whales, but because they’re edible and certainly a more sustainable source of meat than modern factory farms.

      • Shadow says:

        It baffles me as well. Years and years of videogames have desensitized gamers about the killing and dismemberment of fellow humans, but whoa, is that a whale? Are you driving a harpoon through its back? BARBARIC! Boycott that!

    • Chaz says:

      They might as well make an “SS barracks simulator”.

      In the style of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS or Love Camp 7 and other similarly themed exploitation flicks. I think you may have something there.

    • Lowbrow says:

      And here I thought the problem with whaling was the excess and unsustainability of the practice. Missed the memo that hunting large mammals was equivalent to genocide. I guess only large LAND-mammals are fair game for hunting/eating.

      I can’t believe the FIRST comment on this article invokes the Nazis. I expected better of RPS. Must we Bowlderize all history?

  2. GernauMorat says:

    Call me Ishamael.

  3. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    Well this is quite handy. Maybe now I can finally publish my game about the history of American Cotton fields. There’s a lot of whipping black slaves and a bit of rape, but i really believe it’s my fondness for history and literature will shine through.

    • Hunchback says:

      Cotton Fields Overseer 2015?

    • Master_of_None says:

      This game doesn’t seem to be about how fun it is to kill whales. I don’t want to pretend that it’s fun to kill whales (i.e. a game about killing whales), but I do want to play this game. I found the whaling mini-game in AssCreed Black Flag to be much more offensive.

      In fact, this game fits part of what I have been craving for a long time, which is a character/story/management driven game that focuses on the Age of Sail. I would also like options to play as a merchantman/navy vessel/privateer, but whaler is a good start.

      I love the art as well; exactly the aesthetic that appeals to me. It would be nice if they could add some nuance to the navigational aspects of the game, rather than just clicking a point on the map. Getting to the chosen destination was 90% of the battle in this era.

      • GernauMorat says:

        Master_of _None: Well said, this is exactly what appeals to me about this game. Not really getting the negative reactions to it, but there you are.

        • 65 says:

          I suppose, they’re afraid some poor misguided young man might buy himself a schooner and start harpooning whales all over the place.

          • GernauMorat says:

            “Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particularly to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”

            Quick, ban this sick filth!

          • gombicek says:

            I would totally buy me a schooner:) Not sure about the whaling part but a schooner?Who doesn’t want one:)

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        Uncharted Waters: New Horizons for the SNES.

        Kinda old, though.

    • Vin_Howard says:

      Well that could actually be an incredibly good and informative game if done right. It would explore how it is in the very nature of civilized humans to exploitative and dehumanize minorities weaker than them when it convenient. How even a country that proudly declared “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” could consider slavery justifiable. And how this is an issue which has existed in the past (the first major occurrence that I can think of on the top of my head is the Spanish Conquest of the New World) and continues to exist even now.

  4. Shiloh says:

    There once was a man from Nantucket
    Who put out to see in a bucket
    He sighted a whale
    But only its tail
    “Not enough whale to aim at – so fuck it”

    • RobotsForBreakfast says:

      There once was a man from Nantucket
      Who put out to sea in a bucket
      T’was mermaids he sought
      But a sperm whale he caught
      ‘Oh WHALE! I’m still gonna-‘ *CHOMP*

  5. fredc says:

    Don’t worry folks, there won’t be any actual whaling in Nantucket.

    Most of the 100 hours in gameplay will be spent sitting in traffic on route 6 trying to get to or from the ferry terminal at Hyannis. The remaining 5 hours will be spent fighting the undead hordes of wealthy retirees and property developers attempting to convert your boatyard into an upmarket eatery.

  6. Pantalaimon says:

    Exactly the kind of intricate and artistic game that I like to see indies making. I’ll make sure to shed a tear for every sea cow that I chop up into delicious morsels of blubbery goodness.

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    teije says:

    This looks interesting, but it needs the Sunless Sea touch to truly be worthy of Melville’s epic.

  8. king0zymandias says:

    From what I have see it’s reminding me of Sunless Sea. Which can only be a good thing.

  9. Stargazer86 says:

    Do I think whaling should be completely abolished? Definitely. Do I still want to play this game? I do. Just because I think whaling is an awful practice doesn’t mean I don’t find the aesthetic of the game to look neat or the time-period it takes place in to be interesting. If you can play GTA without being an advocate of crime, or play any war game without being an advocate of war, you can play a whaling game without being an advocate for whaling.

  10. Sarfrin says:

    From the gameplay trailer it looks like Sunless Sea without the sailing about on the sea part. :/