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Tides of War: Letters of Marque - Naval Combat in the Age of Sail

Discussion in 'Works In Progress' started by CaptainMurphy, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Download now available on our site at
    www.TidesOfWarGame.com



    Heart-pounding naval combat with wooden ships and iron men! Take command of your ship and crew to sail into battle with iconic ships from the golden age of sail. Balance your offence and defense to outlast, dismast, sink, board, and plunder your enemies. Challenge your friends in thrilling smoke filled multiplayer battles or sail solo in missions to challenge your command skills. Become a Pirate Lord in the Brethren of the Coast or hunt down your nations enemies as the Captain of a Ship of the Line. Earn your Letters of Marque and start your voyage, if you dare.

    Take part in large scale battles in both multiplayer and single player naval combat that spans the golden age of sail. Sail iconic ships and lead your crew in sinking, capturing, plundering, and razing enemy ships for King and Country or for your own personal wealth. "Raise the Black" against merchant ships or seize cargo for your nation is varied multiplayer battles that will test your abilities as a Captain, or lead your squadron and test your abilities as a Commodore as well. Manage officers, crew, and specialists to give your ship an advantage in situations and train and keep your crew alive to make sure your veterans can train the latest recruits. Balanced gameplay will give your decisions weight in the fray. Rush in and rely on your heavy armored Ship of the Line or slowly pick at the enemy from afar with your light and fast Schooner. Your play style can be as varied as you want.




    Quick synopsis: Letters of Marque is a multiplayer and single player game that is designed to allow the player to test their crew management and ship handling skills in challenging, dynamic missions and environments. Players will be in 3rd person control of their ship with 1st person views over the guns when needing precision firing control. The play will revolve around players earning/purchasing Letters of Marque to be able to play as certain countries in later matches. It will offer variable realism levels from an arcade type feel to a more realistic and challenging historical mode. We are planning to even recreate some historical battles for players to take part in and change history!



    Game format: Multiplayer and Single player. Game style ranging from arcade to historical based on each game that is hosted.

    Gameplay Basics: Players take part in single or multiplayer battles by taking direct control over a ship of their choosing (earned through gameplay). If a player is able to board and capture a ship on the enemy team they will earn their team Gold (plus a bonus for himself) and get XP for himself. Gold is divided at the end of the mission among players that are still in the server. Players start with the ability to play as 2 starting nations with the ability to purchase a Letter of Marque to play as other nations.



    Game Currency: Players complete missions to earn Gold and Reputation XP. Gold is used mostly for ship/player upgrades that are akin to tangible items. Reputation XP is used in two ways, the first is a currency version that allows XP earned in missions to be ‘spent’ on skills or crew updates while the overall XP earned is used to track the player’s ‘rank’, which is used to determine what class of ships a player can use for that nation. Reputation XP is specific to a nation and does not carry over to a new nation when a player purchases a Letter of Marque. The Reputation XP starts over with that nation with a base amount.

    Goals of Gameplay: Players will be challenged to complete specific goals as part of their team in a cooperative method. One player in the team will be elected as the Commodore and be able to give orders to their team, with bonuses earned in XP or Gold for completion of those orders. The XP is used to add specific skills to your player skills set and to 'purchase' crew and ship upgrades that are consumable (ammo, shot, injured/killed crew, damaged ship components). Gold can be used to add special upgrades to the ships such as hull upgrades, sail changes, gun upgrades/sizes, and crew boarding advantages. Players also manage how their crew is set up to maximize their play style.



    Major Game Mechanics:

    Sailing - Done in a third person view. Players in arcade mode have a HUD available to maximize wind usage, players in Historical games must use flags and other wind indicators for their apparent wind. Sailing skills of the player can affect the speed of actions, as well as the number of 'sailor' crew that are on board. More sailors means the actions will complete faster or more efficiently so ships will accelerate faster and change sails quicker. Turning will also improve as the sailors count or skill increases.

    Battle - Players can fire cannons using third person view or switch to a 1st person type view looking over the area that the guns cover for more precision. Players have control over the different batteries on board separately and can manage them individually to change the shot type (double shot, single shot, bombs, hot shot, grapeshot, knipple), elevation set, and powder charges used. Ships have the ability to take damage from 4 quadrants with each quadrant able to be upgraded with components that can increase the 'armor' rating to stop shot from penetrating. Each armor quadrant can be damaged and depleted so players have to keep track of how much damage each side is taking to keep too many shots from getting through. Guns also can be damaged or destroyed once an armor rating has dropped sufficiently. Battle skills of the player affect reload speeds, accuracy, and timing of the guns (broadside effectiveness) as well as the number/skill of 'Gunner' crew type on board. If a player's ship is sunk or captured in a battle then the player has a cooldown time before (typically) respawning at the spawn point that is designated in the mission. Some historical missions will allow the player to assume control of an AI ship that is part of the fleet instead. If there are no AI ships left or respawn tickets left then the player becomes an observer for the remainder of the match.

    Boarding - Players set up their crew with a third type of crew called 'Marines' that are the boarding/repelling specialists. A player can capture a ship that has not struck their colors by grappling the ship and bringing it along side. Be aware that the battle continues around the player while grappling and a grapple must be 'cut away' before it a ship is free to move again. Marines specialize in repelling/boarding, and Sailors and Gunners can repel boarders just not as effectively as Marines, and both can be augmented by optional items like boarding nets. Ships that have lost morale will strike their colors and Marines can board by using launches from the player's ship. Beware, launches can be destroyed while in transit so don't send them from too far away. They are slow and vulnerable. Once a ship is captured it is given a prize crew and the player can then give it simple orders to follow. If the captured ship survives to the end of the level then the player is given a lions share of the prize money with the rest divided up among the other remaining players.



    Upgrades and Addons: Ships and players can be upgraded with bonus items.

    Player Skills (Costs XP): A player earns 'reputation points' (XP) by surviving battles and damaging/sinking/capturing enemy ships. Rep points can be used to increase a player's skill level in certain areas such as gunnery, sailing, boarding, or command. These player skills are locked to the nation under which they are earned. Certain nations will have special skill sets that are limited to that one nation.

    Player Addons (Costs Gold): Players will have the ability to upgrade their avatar with better equipment like clothing, hats, boots, weapons, etc that will have an effect on their stats. COLLECT THOSE HATS!!! Addons stay with the player across all nations/ships.

    Crew Skills (Costs XP): Players can 'teach' their crew new skills by purchasing certain skillsets. Crew skills are limited to the nation that the player purchased them under.

    Crew Upgrades (Costs Gold): Upgraded boarding equipment, better training, higher level crew can all be purchased with Gold for the ship that is outfitted. Crew upgrades are limited to the ship that is upgraded with them.

    Officers (Costs Rep XP and Gold): Officers are a consumable item that assist the player in increasing the speed of actions taken on board and increasing the morale of the crew during battle. If an officer is killed in battle they will not be available after that mission and must be replaced. Ships only have limited officer slots that can be filled. The more missions an officer survives the better their rating gets and increases bonuses in battle.

    Ship Upgrades (Costs Gold): Ships can hold a number of upgrades for battle. A ship has a limited amount of free weight available and upgrades, crew, and consumables like ammo will take this weight. If a player is planning to be a fast boarding vessel then the crew may be filled with more Marines and Sailors and less Gunners. Upgrades like increased hull plating will add weight that will slow a ship down, while lighter sails will remove weight but reduce the damage resistance of the sails. Each upgrade set is unique to each ship so that a player can tailor their ship for the play style they want to do. Fast boarders, slow damage tanks, long range harassers, and more can be done through the upgrades system.

    New Ships (Costs Gold and XP): Players will be able to use their gold to purchase access to new ships for a nation. The new ship will be completely un-rigged and must be set up by the player with crew, upgrades, consumables, officers, etc. A player can only purchase a ship if their current reputation and rank are high enough to captain that ship. Outfitting a ship is expensive so prepare to have a lot of Gold on hand to complete the process.

    Consumables (Costs Gold or XP): These are things like gun/swords for boarding, cannon shot, gunpowder, rations/rum (morale), launches, and spare components for repairs.

    Missions: Different nations will have access to different missions. A mission can be done with a mixture of AI and Players if there are not enough players to fill out the team. Certain missions may also have AI mixed in as a normal part of the mission (escort and protect, for instance). The mission parameters will vary from being an out-and-out brawl to being a speed and control set. Capture and hold, king of the hill, escort and protect, and more. Historical missions will be designed to replicate real world battles including the location and weather conditions throughout the battle.

    Weather/Time: Most dynamic missions will have the option to vary the weather conditions and time that the battle takes place. Having linstock guns won't be good when fighting under gale conditions and fighting in high heat or extreme cold will exhaust your crews faster so plan your actions accordingly. Losing crew overboard can have a drastic effect on morale so try to keep your major sail changes to a minimum in heavy seas. Don't forget that running a lot of sail under high winds can damage your rigging to the point of dismasting so be careful of your orders and watch your rigging for damage indicators.

    Damage Model: Ships have a single 'health' component that indicates the current status of the inside of the ship. In order for this to be reduced, opposing players have to damage the outside of another ship (armor) to the point that their shot will go through. For upgraded or larger guns this will be easier but for lighter guns it may take several broadsides to knock the armor down enough to begin to damage the internals of the ship. Once the health begins to drop the crew will begin to lose morale and take casualties much faster. Hot shot can start random fires that damage armor and internal components and can even cause magazine explosions if not caught in time. Flooding will have to be managed through crew interaction. Different shot types will cause different damage at different rates.

    Hull Planking/Plating/Armor: A player can upgrade their ship with better hull components or plating/planking to help reduce the amount of damage done by enemy shot. Armor is tracked per quadrant and is non-replenishable in battle. A player will have to manage and mitigate their armor loss during a battle by not keeping the same side of their ship exposed to the enemy.

    Damage Control: Players can assign Sailors to be part of Damage Control teams that will manage flooding, fires, and repairs. As a ship floods it will slow down and begin to list so be sure to keep your DC teams topped off to make repairs as quick as possible. A player can also use a special command to send all sailors and gunners into firefighting mode as this is a critical component in Damage Control. During this action all other activities like sail changes and gunnery will cease until ordered to resume or the fires are stopped.

    Rigging: A rig can be damaged and destroyed using any ammunition type. Certain shots will do more damage to different components.

    Crew: A player can use special shot and ship upgrades to devastate the enemy crew prior to boarding. Arming Marines with upgrade muskets can increase enemy casualties quicker. Grape shot can be used to sweep the decks of enemies to reduce their crew effectiveness and possibly drop the morale enough to cause them to strike their colors. Be quick to board, however, as an enemy captain or officer can rally the crew back into battle over time.



    How much will it cost?

    Cheap. Like ridiculously so. Current estimates are around the $15 mark. There will be a free version available for players to try out that has a level cap per nation. You can continue to earn rep for that nation but will not be able to captain higher level ships. You can still take part in all battles like normal and will not be restricted on what else you can do. Paid players will also get the ability to sync their profile to an online system that will allow them to play on multiple computers using the same profile. Also, there will be no DRM that limits the player in how many machines they can play on, just how many of their profile that can be online at a time.

    How can I help?

    The initial battle system is nearly working with the ability to join online games coming very soon. The detail levels of the models and assets are fairly low (similar to PotC levels) and we could really use some help getting some ships into the game. The ship model setups are very similar to the Akella games in that the rigging is separate and uses markers to generate the components in the correct places. What we would love to do is allow modelers to features their ship models in the game. We are willing to take existing models (with the author’s permission) and re-texture them to a higher level, but are also willing to pay modelers for their license to use the asset as long as it meets our minimum level of detail and configuration. If you are interested in offering a model then contact us through PM here or by sending an email to support@wolfpackgames.co and we can get the details about model setup there. We CANNOT use reskinned/slightly modified Akella models due to licensing concerns so the model should be owned by you and built from scratch. You will also get a chance to use your model in game with a free license to the game for each model you submit that we can use (including pre-alpha and above access). Payment will depend on the model detail and usability, as well as how much work will be involved to convert it to the game standards. Detailed ship models range from $10-99 on most 3D model sites so we are easily willing to offer top dollar for good detail and usable models. If you are offering a license to use an existing model that is PotC/AoP ready then we will start at the free license price range and work up from there depending on what you are willing to complete on it. Any models submitted will be credited to the original artist and each model will have a credits/contact button that players can click to link to any additional info/sites that you want to be visited. We want to give as much credit as possible to artists for their hard work and skills in the craft.


    Testers will also be allowed as well as artwork that folks want to submit. Please contact us before submitting artwork for compensation.

    When will it be available?

    Current plans are for an pre-alpha release with basic gameplay in ~2 months (Q3 2015). After that will be the ability for upgrades and addons, crew management, and some advanced damage control to round out the Alpha stage in another ~2-3 months (Q4 2015). Beta stage is expected to take a good bit to finalize the networking and distribution channels as well as get the marketing into full effect with finalized UI and gameplay mechanics taking around 3 months more. All times are subject to changes due to development hurdles but we anticipate no major issues.

    Are you going to make it into DLC heaven?

    No. In our opinion splitting up a multiplayer game into DLC is akin to pay-to-win games and we do not want that at all. We have several additional changes that are planned for the post-release game including increasing ship details, changes to the water systems, better weather, and adding ships/upgrades/locations/missions. However, none of those additions are going to cost end users a single dime.

    Will I be able to Mod the base game?

    Modding has been discussed and will not be available for the initial game release but is on the roadmap for much later releases. We hope to have so much content in the game initially that modding will be done in-house by adding new ships, locations, upgrades, and more at a sufficient pace to keep players excited to play. If modding is allowed we have to determine the correct way to manage it so that it does not cause any issues with the balance of the online play. More than likely modding will be restricted to privately hosted servers so that clients can all match in their mod base.

    I think that wraps up the basics. If you have further questions or comments post them here or contact us at support@wolfpackgames.co and you can visit our new website and forums at www.wolfpackgames.co or follow us @wolfpackgamesco on Twitter.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
    John-G and chingwa like this.
  2. Serinx

    Serinx

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    I love this idea, I've yet to see a really good multiplayer sailing naval combat game and I really hope this one delivers!

    When can we expect to see a video?
     
  3. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    As soon as we can get the AI logic to stop the boats from driving backwards randomly, lol. We think we got it ironed out, so it should be soon, a day or two at most.
     
  4. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Some in game shots taken this morning.



     
  5. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Week 4 is upon us and we would like to say a sincere THANK YOU to all of our fans and followers! As a token of our appreciation our artist has made a desktop background for you. You can download it from IndieDB here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @wolfpackgamesco or #LettersOfMarque to keep up with the latest news and updates.

    Updates

    Updated HMS Victory model – Some of the textures are modified and a few of the higher detail objects have been removed. The whole model was gone over and smoothed out and reduced in poly to keep the frame rates high. Windows have been made into glass and PBR textures have been cleaned up and optimized. Next up will be adding in LOD and getting some of the cloth objects working.



    New keybindings – All new keys are set up. We are using a much more refined input manager that allows us to quickly create mappings for not only keyboard but for controllers as well! Look for an update next week with controller support. Gun elevation, sail control, and rudder position are all updated to be smoother and more controller friendly.



    Camera Control – A new camera control was created to make for a smooth camera motion for battle scenes. Currently the ‘deck view’ system is removed until it is finally sorted out for keybinds, but should be back in before next week.

    Victory AI – The Victory class ship has been added to the battle scene on both the Spanish AND English sides as their flagship. Don’t get between them as they duke it out as they both have 55 guns per side that will tear a player Brig to pieces.



    AI Updates – The AI is now smarter about gun usage and speed matching. Our test battle scene is an amazing amount of carnage in a short period with the AI able to manage player ship movements and range estimation.

    Battle UI – The new UI is now functional for the ship health, rudder position, gun elevation, sail setting, and heading. Players can get a lot of info from one glance at the UI object with more items coming soon.



    Updated Main Menu splash screens – All new splashes are in place for the main menu. We were able to cut the size and maintain the quality of the splash images while making them more detailed and beautiful.



    Updated particles – Particle management got a bit smarter with the ability for a particle pooler to handle large and small explosions/splashes/smoke without needing to load another particle system. Through management of the particle components in the pool we were able to effectively halve our memory usage for particle effects without needing to lose any detail. In fact the smoke and fire have gotten even MORE detailed in the past week with better performance.

    Roadmap
    In the next week we hope to have more AI updates, more graphical updates, and quite possibly a new water system in beta testing. We expect to have a playable pre-alpha in less than 2 weeks and are going to be taking applications to become a tester in the next week. Be sure to follow us on Twitter or in IndieDB to be notified of the tester access positions available.

    Stay up to date, follow us on Twitter @wolfpackgamesco and here at IndieDB.
     
  6. John-G

    John-G

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    Best of luck with release. Looking forward to seeing this.
     
    CaptainMurphy likes this.
  7. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Week 5 Update
    Now that we are in the 5th week of development, things are starting to move smoother and with better results. Our optimizations last week paid off this week with new water systems adding a large chunk of performance back to the game. Here is a rundown of what our team has accomplished this week.

    New Water


    With every build we have been trying to optimize and enhance the water, and this week it has been taken to a whole new level. We switched to a prototype water system and have been able to increase our frame rate by almost tenfold. At the same time we now have energy based foam, wakes behind moving vessels, and better transparency/refraction. The best part is that this system is fully networkable for our later builds for multiplayer!




    Wind Integration

    The UI now reflects the correct wind direction and speed. This will better help Captains to decide on their maneuvers in battle.



    Vessel Dynamics and Movement

    Vessel movement has been overhauled to include actual drag force calculations on the hull, real wind force information on the sails, and more accurate and smoother buoyancy calculations. The system is designed to allow us to compress real world values to a more manageable and usable amount.

    Mission Weather Selection

    Dynamic weather systems help to bring variety to battles. The same small bay can be a totally different place with high winds and choppy seas if you are used to light winds and smooth sailing. Now you can change the weather to be what you want for single player testing battles.



    Cannon UI

    The cannon system now talks to a UI so that players can see where their gun crews are currently at in the reloading process. It reflects the number of active guns, the readiness of the battery, and what shot type the battery is currently loaded with.



    Updated Cannon Elevation and UI

    The main battle UI has been updated to reflect the expanded cannon controls so that guns can be more precisely elevated. Guns have also had their range increased to give more extended range gun battles. Each gun size and type will have unique range and damage abilities with different types of shot.



    New Particles and Particle Handlers

    When working with hundreds of individual cannon shots we are looking at the possibility of thousands of particles being generated between the splashes, smoke, fire, debris and more. As a result the particles have been reworked by our artist to make them lighter and cleaner so that we can have multiple levels of detail at different ranges. This helps to keep quality consistent for the player and performance high.

    Objective Icons

    With our expanded objective system you can now quickly see overhead markers for both your objective targets and for defence goals.



    Updated loading logo for Wolf Pack Games
    To go along better with the theme of Letters of Marque, our artist has made us an all new loading image for the splash screen.



    Roadmap

    Our pre-alpha testing is getting closer with more AI updates in the works, expanded shot types available, more ship/water interaction through bow waves and kinetic particles to show a vessel plunging into the sea. Camera updates are planned and controller support should be shortly after that. If you are interested in helping test please contact us at support@wolfpackgames.co for more information.


    Remember to be sure to follow us at Twitter @wolfpackgames.co, over at IndieDB, or at our website www.wolfpackgames.co to keep up with our latest developments.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
  8. Yarbius

    Yarbius

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    Looks awesome, I have always been a fan of the age of sail. If you are at Unite 2015 in Boston be sure to see the USS Constitution while you are there (I'm headed there Thursday after the conference Is over). She is in drydock right now but you can still board the main deck
     
  9. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    I wish we could attend but our game might be a bit early in development at that point to really benefit.

    On a side note, I was able to record a video earlier this morning for those that are interested in seeing it in motion.
     
    Triunity and John-G like this.
  10. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    One of the low level Pirate Ships Christian is making/modeling is almost ready to make its way into the game. The textures are just placeholders, and a lot of detailing is still to be done.

    She is a Hackman Ketch, with 10 guns (most likely 4lb cannons)
    4 on each side, and two bow chasers.

    We are getting closer and closer to start Pre-Alpha testing, so head over to www.lettersofmarquegame.com to keep up to date.
    More artwork and "behind the scenes" will soon be coming.
     
    Flannery247 likes this.
  11. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    We were contacted by the writers over at GC and they were kind enough to get an interview with us. You can check it out HERE. It gives a bit more insight into the game design and how it is planned to work.
     
  12. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    I am looking forward to this release. What controllers will you be supporting? This seems like it would be perfect for the VrInsight's Ship Console controller.
     
  13. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    We are utilizing Rewired, so the controllers are nearly endless in support. It also has the ability to handle just about any custom controller so hopefully it can do that one, though I am not sure how well the throttle sticks will handle sails, lol. Maybe closer to release we will be able to work with someone that has one to get it set up.
     
  14. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    The VrInsight Ship Console controller is on Rewired supported controllers list. So that part is covered.

    There is a video on youtube that shows how they use VrInsight Ship Console controller with various boats/ships including sailing ships.

     
  15. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Thanks for the info! We will definitely look into it. We are building the game to be very controller friendly, so it won't be limited to keyboard/mouse. As of now we are already using the standard xbox controllers to great effect, so I doubt this system will be much different.
     
  16. John-G

    John-G

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    If you need someone to test hotas setup, I can do it for you. Using a Thrustmaster Cougar setup.
     
  17. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    That is good to hear. The ship console looks like it would be great since you can have all of your camera angles and the extra buttons can be for handling your weapons. I think the video mentioned it has 26 buttons so that should work well for battles in your game.

    Glad you are using Rewired so you can get support for all of those great controllers (including HOTAS setups) too.

    I am still amazed at how great the new water/ocean system looks too.
     
  18. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Networking is getting along finally! The hosting and connection code is in place and we have begun getting the environmental objects synced up (time, weather, wind, seas) and finally have our first ship test in engine with the server authoritative model working flawless!

    Server is on the right, client is on the left. The number in the top right is a frame syncing object to make sure the visual indicators match between the two computers.

     
  19. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    3 clients and the server all in the scene together. Controls are working for rudder, sail settings, and gun elevation right now. All physics, wind, buoyancy are working as well. Time to wire in some of the guns and particles and we may have a game!

     
    John-G likes this.
  20. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    This is getting better all the time.
     
  21. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Quick demo of the networking showing a server and client in a scene and going over some of the features.

     
  22. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Can anyone create their own dedicated network server or does a does it require to use a specific hosted server?

    In historical mode of your game what time period does it cover?
     
  23. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Anyone can run their own self hosted server (playing as client and host) at the current time, and the plan is to allow anyone to host a headless dedicated server as well. We will provide some online servers that will be remotely controlled for those that just want to play on a server as well. We just finished the base of the server browser integration and will be coming out with a video of it in action before too long.

    Each 'period' will be a range of years and the server can select what ranges are allowed in. That could mean that servers can run the same map, same mission type, but completely different periods so that players will have different ships. The difference between historical and arcade will mostly be in the mechanics of the ships and guns and less about what years are available. It would be perfectly acceptable to have a battle in historical settings but with completely out of period ships if a player wants. We will be building more of the code for historical and arcade in the near future, and we would welcome any input!
     
  24. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    That is great news on the networking front. Do you have typical use case of how many players per server you would expect? Is 20 or 30 players an expected use case per server?

    I am thinking some more about your second part about "time period" and will post something by next week.
     
  25. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Right now the testing indicates ~30 is a good number for a self hosted server. A lot of it comes down to the servers processing since it is fully authoritative and is doing all of the environmental code in one place, so it does get quite heavy, but that alleviates overall traffic by only having a single source for position references. If you are interested in taking part in some of the early testing (I do mean early testing) you can check out our forums for more info: http://www.lettersofmarquegame.com/Forum/tabid/638/aft/97/Default.aspx
     
  26. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    We've been quiet, but we haven't been lazy! Here is what has been accomplished in the past few weeks. To start, if you want to stay up to date with us, we recommend following us on one of the social media accounts we have set up. We are aiming to get 1,000 twitter followers before the end of the month and would LOVE for everyone to follow us!



    Multiplayer!!!

    The largest enhancement, and probably the most complex, has been adding networking and multiplayer ability to the game! Players can beat each up over LAN and the Internet in game after game now. The server design is 'authoritative' meaning that the server is doing all of the motion calculations, hit calculations, and other physics. That leaves the client side to simply move the object where the server tells it to and to render things like particles.

    Currently, only one game mode is available and that is a simple brawl. Players can choose a nation and jump in and fire away till they sink, choose another nation, and join the fight anew.

    Three players in a fight

    Three players in a fight

    Master Server Browser
    We have our own master server system now that allows us to control what games players see when they are looking for something to play.


    Nation Skins

    In a precursor to our final version of player customization, the nation skins are a quick way to identify a nation by sight. Each nation has a unique color scheme and flies the basic flag(s) and pennants) for that nation (flags will be year specific later, but now it is simply 1 design).

    French ship patrolling

    New particle effects
    All of the cannons, splashes, and smoke are reworked to be lit by light sources in game. This makes the particles look much more natural in game.

    Bow splashes are also being added and a temporary particle is in place for the bow so that we can test water height tracking. This allows the splashes to rise and fall with the bow and tracks the velocity of the bow in relation to the water height, allowing us to make the splashes larger/smaller based on velocity forward and up/down.

    Simple particles on test probe


    Placement trackers

    New Textures
    The sails and planking are getting reworked to be specific to our shader system and are coming out very nice. They are designed to be tinted in game to any color using a masking system to allow wood to show through the tinted areas without the coloring.

    Planking

    Sails

    Updated Water System
    The water system keeps getting better and better. With the addition of new underwater effects (in case your camera goes underwater) and better handling of fog and particles.


    Updates and Patching
    Players and testers no longer need to download a new version every day! With the new patching system an update can be mere KB instead of being another 60-80 megs.


    Smoke, Fire, Flooding
    It is now much easier to see what kind of damage you are dealing to your opponent. Smoke will come from multiple places on the vessel as your shots ring home.


    When a player is taking hull damage, it is now possible for a fire to randomly start on the ship. It is also possible that shots below the waterline (or near it) can cause some flooding. Flooding will be able to be plugged (slowing the flow) and pumped (removing it from the vessel). As a vessel floods it can sit lower in the water and eventually become subject to downflooding, at which point the damage control teams will have a hard time keeping her afloat.



    Fire spreads throughout the ship and can take over the vessel quickly if not checked and doused. With the addition of the crew systems next week we will see the first parts of the fire fighting mechanics. If a fire reaches the maximum limit unchecked, it will result in the ship having a magazine explosion.




    Armor
    Each quadrant of the ship has a certain 'armor' factor to represent the hull damage taken in that area. Once the armor in a zone is penetrated then more shots will start to damage the hull section and eventually cause the vessel to flood and sink. Also as more shots make it into the interior, crew will be hurt or killed and fires become more likely to break out.


    That wraps up this news update. Be sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to see more frequent updates!

    Also, we are accepting our first round of testers, so head over to our site and check out the requirements:
    http://www.lettersofmarquegame.com/Forum/tabid/638/aft/97/Default.aspx

    Until next time, keep your powder dry!
     
  27. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Just a quick video showing how armor and hull damage work in Letters of Marque.

     
  28. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Looking good. I know your system handles individual controllers but does it limit the total number of controllers allowed for each player? In Flight Simulation I would expect to be able to hook up 3 controllers (3 different USB devices) and use them all.

    Are the battles restricted to just two nations?

    I did notice on the twitter feed that you can sail almost anywhere. Also are there reefs and sand bars in your game? That would make it interesting for defense measures for smaller ships to be able to navigate around those and let bigger ships get stuck and/or receive hull damage.
     
  29. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    We are using Rewired for our controls, and according to their docs it can handle a nearly unlimited number of simultaneous controllers per player. I will test this sometime this week to be sure, but there doesn't seem to be anything to limit using HOTAS individual units for control.
    That will depend on the period chosen for battle and the area chosen if playing historical areas. In the free play (which will be ready first) it will be up to the host to determine the number of factions that are in play and what team they are on. It could easily become a multinational battle by allowing each faction to be their own team in a free-for-all, or it could become a war of allies with all possible factions on only 2 teams. We hope to get some of the team system in place after the ship modifications are working.
    The mechanics for limiting area are still in the works, but we don't want to set arbitrary limits on the player through invisible walls if possible. Likely it will take the form of areas of high wind that won't let the player go out of the battle area easily. The current testing zone is around 10km x 10km and has many varying conditions including shallows, a small river, a small inlet, and an isthmus that can be sailed over if the seas are calm enough (high seas causes the Ketch to bottom out every so often). We hope to have several new terrains before the end of the month that have more pronounced features such as shallows and rock jetties so that we can test their tactical usage with larger and smaller ships. Many of our planned maps are based on real world locations that are scaled, and there are plenty of interesting real world locations to choose from.
     
  30. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    (a) Open Rewired Input Manager:
    (b) Settings
    (c) Under the Joystick Auto-Assignment section
    Change "Max Joysticks Per Player:" from the default value of 1 to a nice large value like 9.

    That should handle 99.999% of most players needs I believe.


    That sounds so exciting.

    Real world locations will definitely make it more interesting. Combined with all of the possible issues with weather and day and night sailing it is going to be very challenging. Looking forward to your release.
     
  31. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Someone else has another Unity thread called "Letters of Marque iOS" (the first post was in 2013). I thought it was related to your product until I took a closer look at it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  32. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    October Screenshots
    Expanding the rough weather conditions



    Fires should be spreading from boat to boat soon



    Camera angles and on deck views are now expanded and reworked to be much more stable



    Just a French ship after sinking a pirate



    At boarding distances. The damage and noise at this distance is pretty intense.



    Collision damage will be added in the next update


    Added in some new camera effects and bloom

     
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  33. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    New PBR Substances





    2 Ships collided and were stuck when the bowsprit of one got fouled in the mizzen mast of the other. A close quarters brawl ensued with one ship sunk and the other heavily damaged.





    4 ships duking it out










    New Telescope view for on-deck




    Doh. Run aground... the hard way.
     
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  34. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Any updates on your multiple controller testing?

    Enjoying the screen shots that you are posting.
     
  35. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    We upped the controller limit in the Rewired settings but have not spent much time testing it other than some cursory checks to see if two xbox controllers could box run different functions. This past week we have been working on damage control, firefighting, crew casualties, crew morale, and starting into the effect of crew on ship functions like setting sails, manning guns, etc.

    We also now have the ability to enable/disable visual effects and increase/decrease certain channels of sound like effects/music/ambience.

    This coming week is set to lay groundwork to incorporate the ship mods (better equipment for money/reputation), XP for captains, player profiles, supplies and equipment purchase, and finally different shot types and their effects.
     
  36. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    That sounds great on the Rewired front. I am interested in learning more about the fire fighting.
     
  37. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Unfortunately, this week we were set back a bit by having to completely rewrite networking. It will help in the long run because it is a more fitting solution for us than what we were using and is more low level than most systems allow so we have better control over the packets and traffic. On the plus side it has allowed us to expand to a much more flexible master server system that will make it much easier to players to find matches. On the downside it starts us over in bug testing for network games. We also moved to a new web server and updated the system to allow for remote storage of player profiles through site integration, so a player can log into another computer and have their profile transferred from the web. I am trying to get a news article together for it all, but there are so many changes lately that it will be a bit disjointed.
     
  38. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Download “Letters of Marque Test Build” Letters-of-Marque.zip – 82 MB

    Wha?!?! Did you say the demo was playable by everyone?!?!?!

    YES! It is playable and downloadable and free to play. No ‘Early Access’ or fees to pay, just a plain ol’ game in testing that you can play with your friends. Now, there is one limitation, it requires you to sign up on our website for an account, but that is the only stipulation. We are using the login to track some basic metrics and crash reports so it helps us help you! Now, on to some of the details of the latest build.

    Installation

    Download, extract to your favorite games folder, enjoy. It is just that simple. No installer to worry about. Just put it somewhere that has decent file permissions and you are good to go.

    Patcher/Launcher

    In order to stay up to date we have included a patcher that will download and install new patches to the game. In your game folder there are two executable files. The one with “launcher” in the name is… well… the launcher. It patches the program and makes sure you are up to date. It is recommended to run it instead of the other executable simply because we release patches constantly.

    Multiplayer

    In order to host a multiplayer match you will need to forward your chosen port to your computer. By default we are using port 15937 for the game, but you are welcome to host on any port you please. When someone picks your game to join from the master server list, it will pass along what port to use so you don’t have to.

    When playing locally with multiple clients on one machine or on LAN, you will need to use the ‘Join IP’ and type in the IP of the hosting machine. We will, one day, make that automatic but that is fairly low priority right now, sorry.

    Input and Keys

    When in game you can press the Options button from the main menu, or the Exit menu from in a game to get to your settings. On the top right is the Controls button that lets you reassign your keys to your hearts content. Here are some of the defaults:

    Camera Type
    Change View Type (On-deck or 3rd Person) – F
    Change View Point (On-deck Only) – R

    Camera 3rd Person
    Mouse Right Click – Unlock camera to move
    Mouse Left/Right/Up/Down – Orbit around ship (While right clicking)
    Mouse Scroll Wheel – Zoom in/out (while right clicking)

    Camera 1st Person
    Mouse Right Click – Unlock camera to move
    Mouse Left/Right/Up/Down – Look (While right clicking)
    Mouse Scroll Wheel – Use telescope (while right clicking)

    Movement
    W/S – Sails raise/lower (double tap to full/douse sails)
    A/D – Rudder left/right (double tap to full left/right rudder)

    Gunnery
    Space – Fire battery that is facing the same direction the camera is
    E -Fire one shot from the battery
    Shift + W/S – Elevate guns

    Other
    C – Begin Damage Control
    O – Take Screenshot without GUI
    P – Take Screenshot with GUI
    Enter – focus on text box/send chat message
    ~ – see your current FPS and memory usage
     
  39. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    This is nice. I hope to look at this after the holiday.

    What is the minimum system requirements to play this game?
     
  40. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    So far the lowest we have tried was on an older laptop (i3 I think) that had a dx11 gpu. The first loadup can also take some time because of substances loading the first time through, but after that it seems to be much quicker due to caching.
     
  41. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Thanks for clarification on system specs. I attempted to download (the 82 GB file) a few times yesterday but it kept failing. Also what tool did you use for zipping up everything? Is this winzip, or 7-zip or something else?
     
  42. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Try the mirror over on IndieDB. For some reason people trying to download from our server in different zones are getting some kind of DNS issue where they get a 3.8kb file instead of the 81.9mb compressed archive. We have been chasing it all weekend and so far are clueless as to why it started doing it.
     
  43. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Ok, so after chasing this error all weekend and finding nothing, I think we just stumbled on the issue this morning. Just for posterity, our patcher uses MG Patcher and the files are a simple zip compression with a *.patch name. Our full game used a .zip extension and our server is an apache on ubuntu box. So it seems that default apache now uses gzip on every file unless excluded specifically, including files that are served as zips by MIME type, meaning it was trying to compress a compressed file, failing, and serving either a tiny version or a renamed broken link.

    If you could, please, try downloading from our site again after our latest round of access and gzip changes to see if it is working for you.
     
  44. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    I was able to download it and extract it using 7-zip (64-bit). The patcher/launcher did not seem to work. Even after downloading the latest one from your site. I was able to just run the non launcher version and I did get to basic setup screen, options, etc. Not quite sure if the original download had a problem or not. I did download it a few times and still seem to get the same result.

    It does look nice and sound nice and ocean looks amazing when looking at the startup screen. Still need to spend some time and look into playing locally options. Have to check all of my firewall settings. I am guessing that you can play single player against the computer.
     
  45. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Did you get an error in the patcher? The last build should work good for the patch, but there is a file error for the current version file, nothing that stops the actual patch but just that the file ends up in use for the speed of the patch happening.

    Currently the only play option is multiplayer. The AI for single based play is in the works but will be waiting for some of the last mechanics to get in place first.
     
  46. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Yes. I got the error with the patcher. I will try out your latest build. Looking forward to the single player option too.
     
  47. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    Quick vid I tossed together last night after finishing up some AI. Goes over simple gunnery interface and practices.


     
  48. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    While it isn't quite 'single player' we do have the option to put some AI in a scene now. I have a vid coming to show how do it (it is really simple, can't miss the option when setting up a game). The vid I posted shows some AI beating each other up. Their logic is a simple state machine for now until we get the behaviour hooks in place for the new ship scripting that is getting built.

    You can get the latest version from IndieDB. Our server is still having issues serving the archive files. One day we will get it ironed out....

    http://www.indiedb.com/games/letters-of-marque-and-reprisal
     
  49. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

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    Great video it really looks good with those AI ships. The sound of those cannons is so cool.
     
  50. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy

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    We actually think the guns sound a bit anemic. We want more of a thundering note to them, even though it isn't actually realistic.
     
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