Sailaway casts off and sails into early access

Orinoco Flow is my favourite Grimes song.

I’m fascinated by the idea of Sailaway [official site], a persistent sailing simulator where boats sail life-sized oceans in real time and continue when you’re not playing. In-game weather conditions are shaped by real-world meterological data too, and your boat can even e-mail you if something bad’s brewing. While some may adore the idea of spending weeks at the helm, constantly fine-tuning their rigging, I’m more into the idea of boat as virtual pet – a Tamayachtchi to occasionally visit. Sailaway last night sailed into the early access ocean, so I’ll have to see if I can befriend a boat myself.

I’m into that. I’m happier in the water than on it but those wide horizons with only waves are grand. I suppose you could stick close to land, if you’ve a latent fear that maybe, just maybe, Sailaway simulates unspeakable horrors rising from the depths. It doesn’t. As far as I know. But it could. We all thought Mountain was a friendly pet rock sim until Graham murdered his so I’ll steel myself for anything. Shoulder to the wheel.

Sailaway is meant to be friendly to newbies (newboaties) and salty seadogs alike, with difficulty options that can help lots or let players fiddle endlessly with trimming sheets and whatnot. Right now, it has a choice of three boats from 38 to 52 feet long.

Obviously multiplayer is in, letting folks chat, sail alongside each other, compete in races, and crew ships together.

One-man studio OrbCreation plan to launch Sailaway in full after six-ish months in early access. They want to use this time to add new boats, more tutorials and challenges, and extra events, guided by player feedback, and to make the world more detailed.

Sailaway is £26.99/33,29€/$35.99 on Steam Early Access or Steam-free from OrbCreation, which includes a small launch discount.


  1. Seafoam says:

    I hope they have really old-timey boats along with the ultra modern ones. I don’t want to feel like some rich business man who just bought a yacht, I want to feel like i’d be hunting the goddamn Moby Dick with my yellow rain coat, Sou’wester and a pipe, screaming at the storm. Like something from a Modest Mouse music video y’know what I mean?
    No gps or other electrical nonsense, you have to rely on paper maps, compass and the stars.
    That’s the kinda sailing game I want, so I hope they add old boats as a DLC item at least.

    • Tanngnjost says:

      That’d instantly make this game a lot more interesting.

      Polynesian catamarans and Scandinavian longships!

      • Seafoam says:

        I thought more like late 19th or early to mid 20th century, but those would be really cool too!

    • skorpeyon says:

      You can own a modern sailboat without being a rich businessman. Based on the amount I’ve known people to spend on TVs, computers, cars, motorcycles, etc. it’s comparable. My father has one and races it locally against other similarly-sized boats (different models receive different time handicaps to even the playing field similar to some types of car racing), and some were CLEARLY not “new” or “expensive” or “posh” or anything. His isn’t even the greatest at 30′, but he loves it. I’m honestly finding this really cool because I used to race on it as a kid every summer with him and it’d be interesting to see how well they recreate that. It can be some nerve-wracking stuff.

      • Seafoam says:

        Regardless that’s not the “Nautical fantasy” I was talking about isn’t it?

        • skorpeyon says:

          Very true! I don’t deny that it would be a lot of fun, and I’d love to see it happen as well. I think it’d actually make a great follow-up or expansion or something to this game if it could happen. Hell, I’m just glad it appears they make you move around the boat somehow instead of simply pressing specific keys to make things happen and watching the various aspects of the rigging change. Like actually seeing a line being hauled in rather than simply pushing a button to see a sail move.

  2. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    Oh, Alice i knew here will be murder mentioned…

  3. Emperor Norton I says:

    I am much less interested in the possibility of sailing the vastness of the ocean over weeks of real time, and much more interested in the degree of actual water physics simulation. Is it simulating the contact between your boat and the ocean’s surface? Is it simulating the way in which sails pull and push at different parts of your ship, and how that interacts with the weight distribution of your ship?
    That is, how much would playing this help you actually learn the basic of sailing a real ship, and how much is this Horizon 3 on a boat?

    • duns4t says:

      It’s the simulation of wind, and specifically how it interacts with the sail based on angle, trim, and sail shape, that has much more impact on simulation of real sailing. It’s impossible to tell from the video how accurate it might be, but the little bit shown is promising and I plan to pick it up for playing around with during the offseason.

      • The Bitcher III says:

        I’m not so sure. The hull is the fundamental design characteristic of a boat.

        Any fule can mark a decent course and set the sail, or sails, but being fast involves managing the hull with regard to water conditions. Smooth, flat and stable = fast.

        Basic dingy training is weight forward upwind, so the narrow bow cuts through the adverse current. But don’t let the nose dive into the waves/swell, or when hitting the bottom after sliding down. Weight backwards downwind to reduce volume of hull displacement (= friction). Most designs work best when the hull is perfectly flat on the roll axis. Centreboards and currents are hardly insignificant, and in competition factors like patches of disturbed water can be very significant.

        The relationship between hull and water is in constant flux. Many of the effects are small in isolation, but relative speeds of hull and water can produce dramatic effects. At 20 knots, it barely resembles a fluid.

        • The Bitcher III says:

          Forgot to mention plaining. As the relative velocity of the hull through the water increases, the bouyancy of the hull becomes less significant. The water ‘hardens’, providing extra lift. In a boat with a planing hull, as much as 70% of the hull lifts entirely out of the water. Rate of acceleration increases dramatically, it skips across the lapping waves, and stability and handling characteristics change radically.

          I think all of these effects are likely much more significant in dinghies, cats and racing yachts, which is why I was unsuprised that this appears to be a fairly leisurely simulation of easy going yachts.

    • skorpeyon says:

      This is what I’d like to know as well, though as commented above it’s not to do much with the actual water. A generalized friction calculation plus the kind of physics shown in games like Assassin’s Creed could conceivably emulate that “good enough”, but the wind, and how things affect steering, pull, etc would be incredibly interesting. I’d also like to see if you can do absolutely insane things like let your spinnaker out completely and have it drag your boat sideways… I hated sailing with newbies.

  4. poliovaccine says:

    I, for one, would love if it secretly *does* have sea monsters. They should definitely never mention em at all, except maybe to reassure players they will never be there if asked, but they should totally be there.

    • Chann3l says:

      Yes, sea monsters, cannons, and piracy. Add these things and I’m sold.

      • poliovaccine says:

        It still kinda boggles my mind whenever I remember that Assassin’s Creed IV is basically the closest thing we’ve got to a good, modern pirate game. I realize there’s a few valiant attempts out there, but I said both “modern” and “good.”

    • maxcolby says:

      They just need Somali and East Pacific Pirates. End game is you get killed because you’ve no money for ransom.

    • MajorLag says:

      My conception for a horror game was along those lines. Make a relatively normal game, but on a random number of installs patch in a bit that monitors the player’s activity on their PC. Reads their emails, tries to work out details about them, what’s important to them, what they’re afraid of, etc.

      Then one day it starts incorporating that stuff into the game, starts breaking in Ben Drowned kind of ways, doing creepy shit like starting up and playing itself in the middle of the night and mysteriously reinstalling itself when you remove it, etc.

      And the best part is that the vast majority of players have no idea what you’re talking about. No one involved would ever let on that this was intended.

  5. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I’m sailing away
    Set an open course for the virgin seas

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      I’ve got to be free,
      Free to face the life that’s ahead of me

  6. Rainshine says:

    This sounds quite interesting! I will have to keep an eye out for this! Boats are massive money sinks, but this sounds cheaper