View Full Version : The RPS Age of Sail Sim

20-01-2012, 11:57 PM
Inspired by the last couple The Flare Path posts, and their brilliant comments.

Here are a few of the features that a hypothetical Age of Sail game could include:
1. Real nautical charts - they are pretty, and could supplement the "real water view" (think of the beautiful scaling in Hegemony: Philip of Macedon)

2. Realistic navigation parameters - wind, weather, and tide should play a huge role; I'm looking forward to tinkering with the "HMS Surprise" sim to see how they handled this; barometric readings should allow for prediction of weather conditions based on the Beaufort scale

3. Realistic focus on crew dynamics - traits earned by the Captain would influence officers, crew, etc. Ratio of able seamen to landsmen would impact sailhandling, navigation, rate of fire, etc. For example, if a captain cannot generate enough loyalty, there would be a periodic threat of mutiny.

4. Beautiful dynamic UI - should incorporate polar diagrams (https://www.google.com/search?q=%22sailboat+polar+diagram%22&hl=en&sa=X&pws=0&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=1ZUZT8GzH6220QGbh4nhCw&ved=0CCIQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=1035), lines drawings, 18th century English script... all the things that make the Age of Sail so aesthetically pleasing

5. Character-driven story - a la the Crusader Kings games - this what gets people emotionally involved (just like with Patrick O'Brien books)... follow the career of your character from midshipman to admiral, earn accolades, prize money, and prestige. Manage your landbound estate with the help of your purser. Sons follow in your footsteps to establish a Royal Navy dynasty.

6. Missions! - The game should be mission-based, rather than open world. Royal Navy captains did not get to travel willy nilly in search of adventure an fortune! Lord Welby instructs Commander Forsyth, RN to proceed to Inaquatible Island to burn, sink, or destroy the French frigate of 34 guns which departed the Mediterranean in July. If you are sunk or wrecked and aren't assigned another RN vessel (there are scarcely enough commands to go around you know), you may take up a position in a merchant vessel, whaler, privateer. Etc, etc.

Here is a philosophical point: Realism does not require complexity on the surface; while most "sims" operate from a "player does everything" perspective, this is not actually what commanding a vessel is like. (If you've ever been sailboat racing you will know that the crew does not always do what you want!) For example, navigation can be a simple point and click on a chart, but the quality of crew, as well as wind, weather and tide, would dictate the odds of the vessel successfully completing a tack or arriving at your chosen destination at the time or in the condition that was expected.

21-01-2012, 07:28 PM
An age of sail sim is a game I have wanted for as long as I can remember. I don't want to 'drive' a boat, I want to command a crew to sail it as I wish, with proper consideration for wind, tack and all that fun sailing stuff. This is one instance where I believe the Kinect may actually be a great peripheral: Yell out your commands (in your best captain voice) and have the crew do you bidding. The ability to point and gesticulate in grand fashion and have it be recognized would also be pretty cool.

21-01-2012, 10:10 PM
Surely there are enough people with programming ambition on RPS to make this happen.

23-01-2012, 04:05 PM
The question is who wants to make it? It seems like a project that Paradox would take on, although perhaps only as a publisher.

Is there any precedent for funding a game development campaign through Kickstarter, or the equivalent?

In terms of manpower, I don't think this would actually be that massive of a project. There are existing game engines that could be adapted for use in an Age of Sail game, if they could be licensed. SailSimulator (http://us.sailsimulator.com/) handles the physics of sailing and weather wonderfully. Adding projectiles would be the difficult part, and crew.

The major piece of off-the-water development would be the "chart view" mode. Major pieces of the UI could be refined from the HMS Surprise simulator (http://home.wxs.nl/%7Epdavis/), and the remainder would be a relatively simple series of pop-up decision windows (a la Crusader Kings (http://pc.ign.com/dor/objects/84061/crusader-kings-ii/images/crusader-kings-ii-20110608020113045.html)).

23-01-2012, 04:13 PM
^Sorry for the OT but are you the same Master of None who mods the Total War games? If so, I have always enjoyed your work.

23-01-2012, 04:41 PM
A slight divergence from the original request - I know of no game that currently allows you to do this with modern graphics, but there is at least one game system that has been ported to the PC from a boardgame that *might* go some way toward scratching that itch.

Are you guys familiar with Youplay.it? Wooden Ships & Iron Men has some game mechanics that simulate Age of Sail combat. It's probably not as deep as you'd like, but it might fill a gap until someone creates it.

Link: http://www.youplay.it/play/cp_dynamicIndex2.asp

23-01-2012, 05:50 PM
Nope! The last game I modded was Marathon 1.

23-01-2012, 06:08 PM
there is at least one game system that has been ported to the PC from a boardgame that *might* go some way toward scratching that itch

Link: http://www.youplay.it/play/cp_dynamicIndex2.asp

This is FANTASTIC. Hexes are actually a brilliant way to account for movement restrictions based on various points of sail. A design like this would work for an iteration of this game that didn't involve a real-time 3D on-the-water experience. Great stuff, thanks!

23-01-2012, 06:11 PM
You're welcome. If you're so inclined, check Ebay for copies of the boardgame. It's a classic. I *think* I still have my copy from when I was a kid, but it may have been lost in a flood in my parents' basement. :(