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Barberouge

Navigation, exploration and time travel

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I've been reading devs would like to make exploration something worth experimenting in NA. As I agree it could hardly become a main feature of a game that is supposed to be played in the long run, I think it would add to the immersion – and immersion is important in an Age of Sail game. Exploration is linked to navigation, which at those times relied on observation and techniques. Devs said they're fine with a navigation map like the PotBS one. That brings up questions about the possible ways to deal with travel time scale, seasons duration, and all the situations where distance has to be taken from reality in order to provide an entertaining gaming experience – while maintaining a close relationship to immersion.

 

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I'll guess the map used is the map of our world. But basically, everything could be translated into a fantasy world.

 

 

 

1. World maps, views and mini-maps

 

 

To keep things clear, I'll use this distinction between the different representations of the environment:

 

- the world map is the map the captain has in his cabin
- the navigation view is the perspective of the player when navigating
- the navigation mini-map is where the player can display a map when in navigation view
- the local view is the perspective of the player when fighting other ships
- the local mini-map is where the player can display a map when in local view

 

There could be different types of world maps displayed on the mini-maps:

 

- an approximate world map (drawn by amateurs, or deducted from rumors)

 

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- a cartographer world map (more precise and giving the best possible information)

 

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- a landscape map (corresponding to what a captain on the deck could draw when looking around)

 

The approximate world map and the cartographer world map would be used on big scale and small scale, as the landscape map could only be used on small scale (for tactical navigation moves).

 

I'm not sure how far it would be interesting to go with realism. Maybe some maps could be purchasable, salable, or shareable within a society or a nation. Maybe some maps could be lost. But that doesn't matter much yet.

 

 

 

2. A quick look at navigation techniques from 16th to 18th century

 

 

The purpose of sea navigation techniques is to determine where a ship is. There are two factors that make it an approximation when one leaves sight of the shore: the wind and the current. Because of those, the true course of a ship (course over ground) can't be determined without further calculations than the observations given by a speed log and a compass.

 

In dead reckoning navigation, only a speed log, a compass and an hourglass are used, and a correction is applied, estimating the influences of the wind and the current. The position is estimated from known land, point after point. The more time spent at sea, the less precise the estimated position will be.

 

In celestial navigation, the position is determined whatever the time spent at sea. It can be separated into two parts: latitude determination and longitude determination.

 

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The latitude of a ship is the angle between the pole axis and the straight line passing through the center of the Earth and this ship. In the northern hemisphere, it can be determined with an astrolabe by measuring during the night the angle between the northern horizon and the Pole Star. From the end of the 15th century, the latitude was quite easily determined by measuring the Sun meridian height and using a declination almanac.

 

The longitude however, was more difficult to determine (because the Earth is turning). In astronomy, the longitude is the difference between the hour angle of a star at the actual point and the hour angle of this star at a reference point (usually the Greenwich meridian). The hour angle of a star at an actual point could be quite easily determined, but the difficulty was in determining the hour angle of the star at the reference point. There are two ways to achieve this: either doing measures at the actual point and using an ascension almanac, or keeping the precise time of the reference point.

 

The first way has been used by measuring the angle between the Moon and a star, and using a Moon almanac. However, this method wasn't reliable: any error in the measure results in a 30 times bigger error in the longitude estimation. The second way just requires a precise stopwatch, which didn't existed yet during those times – and an error of 0.1s results in an error of 46m.

 

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So basically, from the 16th to the 18th century, the sailors had a quite precise estimation of the latitude, but only very rough data about the longitude (that explains why some maps look so strange). Many traders, to reach a destination, just sailed to the latitude of that destination and set course full east or full west, correcting it every day to stay on the same latitude until the end of the trip.

 

 

 

3. How to make navigation exciting

 

 

My guess is navigation in games usually rhymes with boring travels. That's because we know exactly where we go: our position on the map is our position in the world.

 

By making the position on the world map different than the real position (when leaving the sight of the shore), navigation becomes exciting. After an oceanic trip, I get to an unknown land. Until I reach a port I know, the information displayed by the world map might be inaccurate: I drifted during the travel, and either my sextant isn't precise enough or my pilot skilled enough. If I can recognize the land I see, I'll find my way easily. If I don't though, I'll have to sail blindly until I reach a place where I can resupply. And we are running short of hardtack...

 

For that to happen, there has to be two parameters that make a ship drift: winds and currents. The surface currents often match the winds because they are partly created by them. Some currents are quite stable during the year. For example, the Gulf Stream (discovered in the beginning of the 16th century, mapped in 1769) provides a drift to the north east on the north of the Atlantic. The equatorial currents however, can change depending on the seasons. The monsoon for example, provides in the Indian Ocean a drift to the south west in winter and to the north east in summer.

 

How does that translate into the environment representations ? Quite simply, by drawing an estimation zone around the ship in the world map. Using dead reckoning navigation, this zone would be a circle, and using celestial navigation, an ellipse. I won't put the formulas here, but they are quite simple. I don't know if sailing in a battle will feature wind drift, but if it doesn't it might be better to remove it as well from the navigation. Then there would be only currents, represented by arrows on the map. There should be an option to force the ship positioning on the world map if we have a more precise idea of our position than the one given by the estimation.

 

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Finally, even if the arrival might become surprising, the travel itself would still be boring. That's why the oceans should be shortcut, and maybe continents as well. It wouldn't remove so much to the immersion (it might actually add to the immersion), but would add so much to the gaming experience.

 

Also one last thing that could make oceanic navigation less boring: a news system. I guess that with port building, economy in general, conquest (maybe diplomacy ?), the world would change quite fast. Everyone would be interested into how it changes depending on their interests. What if each time we reach a supply port, we got news to read about the mainland or the zone we are heading to ? That might be tricky to implement though, and may be circumvented by Team Speak especially concerning conquest. Still a possible feature. On the main trade routes, many other players could be met anyway.

 

 

 

4. What to explore ?

 

 

Players would quickly get bored of exploring if there is only land visuals to explore. To make exploration exciting, interesting and useful, the game has to feature the use of land or sea characteristics that can be discovered, remembered and exploited.

 

The first characteristic is of course the land visuals. The navigation map should feature a “fog of war that would disappear when we sail in a zone. If we navigate in an unknown zone, our range of sight would be the horizon i.e. quite a small part of the navigation view. There would be no indication of the land beyond. If we navigate in a known zone however, the navigation view would be almost fulfilled by the landscape over the horizon.

 

Then there are the weather and sea characteristics that could be actively observed and measured. Winds, currents, but also seabed heights depending on the tide, or ice floe limits. This exploration is more about local weather than oceanic weather. It gives information about how to sail next to the coasts. Is it possible to reach that trading post in the lower Kaveri river during spring ? Where does it become dangerous to proceed up the St. Lawrence during winter ? Will my frigate be able to flee from this 4th rates patrol if I sail around those reefs ? Should I set sails to load my smuggling shipment tonight or wait for a favorable tide current ?

 

For example, the Iroise Sea in the west of Brittany contains lots of reefs. When zooming in on the approximate world map, those reefs would be approximately displayed with a map code such as ^ ^ ^. When zooming in on the cartographer map, they would be displayed as a slightly red zone whose limits would depend on the tide height and the draught of the ship. This way, a well informed captain engaging a battle would have more safe tactical options at his disposal, or could take more risks.

 

Observing the winds, measuring the currents, plumbing the shoals should be done passively when navigating. The observed zone should be a circle around the ship. For immersion purposes, maybe a light speed debuff could be applied. But basically this activity would be boring and should be made easier than in reality.

 

caoc.png
 

Lastly, the characteristics of the land regions and the port locations could be explored. I guess the map would contain many possible port or beach sites all over the coast. When entering one of those sites, the player would become aware of the region resources and the build-able port or military infrastructures. How well the port would be protected from the weather by natural things such as a bay ? How high would be the seabed next to the coast ? Would there be heights around the harbor ? All those kinds of information would be critical regarding the possibility of building high-end infrastructures in this location.

 

Finally, the players should be given the possibility to jump on the local view when they want to. It would be great if the local maps would superpose to the navigation map.

 

Also there are two things that would help exploration to remain interesting in the long run: a big world map, and tuning the economy (especially the infrastructure costs) so that the world would always have some uncontrolled territories left.

 

 

 

5. Immersion

 

 

After our main trading post of Ambon in the East Indies has been conquered by the Swedes last week, the United Provinces lack a supply port to provide cloves to our mainland market. Since our military forces are held back in the Northern Sea to fight against Britain, my society decided to find a discrete port, give it economical infrastructures and restore this lucrative trade.

 

We set sails from Amsterdam with three Indiamen and two 44-gun frigates. An escort of four 3rd rates has been provided by the Dutch Navy until we pass the British coasts. They help us to sail safely to the Iroise Sea, and we leave sight of the coast.

 

One of my society mates knows the trip to the East Indies. To avoid any patrolling British force, we pass a long way offshore of Gibraltar. Sailing with the Canary current in the west of Africa, and then the Alizées around the Equator, we head to the east of Brasil. When we reach the 33°55' south latitude of Cape Town, we proceed full east with the West Wind Drift, and reach the Dutch port where we can resupply.

 

Since we are in mid-spring, the monsoon can help us to cross the Indian Ocean. To avoid any risk with the British, we won't resupply in India. And since the Admiralty told us that the Malacca Strait is also controlled by the British, we will reach the East Indies by Java. We pass Madagascar by the south and leave sight of the shore once again.

 

bikc.jpg

When we get to 10° south, we sail full east all over the Indian Ocean, and eventually discover some unknown land. As we are about to set course to a fishing village, we spot sails on the horizon. We turn back as soon as we discover this is a Swedish fleet ! We sailed too far to the east and reached the zone controlled by them. Fortunately our ships are faster, we manage to get out of sight and set course to the north west.

 

We eventually find the town of Cilacap controlled by the Banten Sultanate, who welcomes us and proposes to resupply our five ships. They are cloves here, but they aren't cheap ! Conquering this town would for sure decrease the prices, but the garrison is strong and we don't have enough men.

 

Since the monsoon can bring us here regularly, we decide to observe the local winds and currents, and plumb the shoals around the coast while looking for a good site. After a few tries we land on a location further east in the southern coast of Java. There are many cloves in the hinterland, and the shore presents a deep lagoon, difficult to identify from the open sea. That port will be called Orange Town.

 

We'll come back here with a bigger expedition tomorrow. But for the time being, the winter monsoon is coming, and we decide to go back to Cilacap to load a cloves cargo. It will sell for 300% profits anyway.

 

 

 

6. Scales and travel times

 

 

I'm not sure how much time trade players would be willing to spend navigating. If a player has one hour of play time, I think he should be able to sail to the East Indies. This trip would give the best profits, but shouldn't be required to become rich. In reality, the back and forth travel took about 20 months. The fastest captains could do a one-way run in 6 months (including stops).

 

In PotBS, sailing from one edge of the map to the other took about 20min, and sailing from Whitby to Matthew Town took about 1 min.

 

If sailing from London to Amsterdam would take 1min, sailing to Cuba would take 20min, and to Indonesia one hour. With the use of currents and cut oceans, maybe the duration could be divided by 2 or more. This could give a 30min trip to Indonesia, or a 2min travel to Amsterdam. Crossing the Mediterranean from west to east would take 10min.

 

Anyway, I'd say the minimum could be 30min to sail to Indonesia (1 year per hour), and the maximum could be one hour to sail to South Africa (1 year per 4 hours). The seasonal currents would fit to either. If a year duration is too short, players may find unfavorable winds after a long battle.

 

Then the night/day cycle shouldn't be displayed on the navigation view (at best there would be 40sec per day). The tides could be random for open sea fights, and chosen by attackers in port battles.

 

Even if the global map would be the map of our world, the coasts could be drawn with more fantasy, in order to create interesting battle maps.

 

 

 

 

One complaint of the PotBS players was the lack of port battle maps. With tides, winds and currents changes, there would be no need to create more maps in order to provide a diversity in tactical options.

 

All the proposals aren't meant to be core features of the game. I just wanted to mention those possibilities.

 

Still, it is the sum of every little added feature that will create the global immersion of the game.

 

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One of the things that I have wondered about, is if Naval Action is to be an MMO. How to deal with in game "time"? Single player there could be time compression. That's nothing new, many games and simulators have that. 

 

One idea I have is have a global in game time. Make it so a 24 hour period takes only an hour. If it is an MMO we are not going to be able to cross the Atlantic if it is the real size in game. Talk about time consuming MMO LOL The reality is the map is going to have to be smaller...still big but with in reason. Or maybe have it set up in zones, which is probably the best way. Were you have to sail to one zone to another. Having zones may help out with internet connectivity and latency. At least in theory. 

 

As far as maps go. I like the system that was in Age of Pirates 2. Were you collect them. The in games maps looked similar too how one would have looked during that period. Which was pretty cool. I loved Age of Pirates 2 with the Gentlemen of Fortune mod.

 

Barberouge yes having some realistic to the period navigation would be pretty cool. Sextant navigation or have a navigator as part of your crew that does it. But I agree it should be realistic, but with in reason.  Because lets face it....it took a really looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time to get across the Atlantic during the age of sail  :P

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I'm not an exploration player, and I'd be fine with a smaller map. I'm rather a battle/conquest player, and all what I proposed is aimed at building good economy and conquest.

 

I've been thinking about zones aswell, and I don't know much about latency or system requirements. So basically I agree with you, although the Atlantic travel wasn't as long as we could think.

 

In reality crossing the Atlantic was quite a short travel for good sailors. To get to the West Indies, the sailors took the Canary Current, then used the North Equatorial Current and the Alizées to proceed west. For the return, they took a more northern way, using the Gulf Stream.

 

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Nelson's fleet spent one month at sea from Gibraltar to the Caribbean in 1805. The big monopoly companies of the 18th century were more focused on the East Indies, because the Atlantic was easier to sail through, and the competition was fierce against individual shippers or smaller companies.

 

 

 

Speaking about immersion, I agree that a one day per hour scale seems more real than one year per hour. But then a travel from London to Amsterdam at 10 knots would take... 50min ! I think any map and scale system that provides an interesting conquest is fine. Just let me defend a bigger scale and a real world map:

 

- The trade isn't meant to be world wide for everyone. I rather see it as an opportunity for players interested in rare goods markets, best profits and longer travels.

 

- Local trade systems would exist, such as the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, ... When players would settle in new sites, some other local trading systems could emerge, such as the Pacific Islands.

 

- As wars and conquest would modify the possible or best markets, the trading routes would be changed, and new areas would become interesting to conquer.

 

- I would see a world map as a sum of areas with their own local trade and balance of forces. Europe would be the area of the playable factions homeland, with SoLs fleets every evening and hardcore conquest. The Caribbean for example, could become an area of local trades and privateering, while staying a good base for cross-Atlantic heavy convoys and as such a coveted zone for arsenals.

 

- Individual players and societies could decide to settle in one or another area. I'm not interested in conquest and prefer to trade sugar across the Atlantic ? I can do that. My society doesn't have enough power to compete in the European coasts ? It can settle in Quebec and build up from there. My society already controls arsenals in the homeland and wants to help the faction traders to establish long-term routes ? It can send an expedition to the East Indies and build a fortified place there.

 

- Each profitable trade route would become a good lurking zone for pirates or privateers, giving them a possibility to counter their opponents supply system. The best privateering zones were the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, but basically any area could become good for hunting.

 

- The costs should be tuned to make long travels very profitable, and as such not repeatedly necessary. So the travels wouldn't be heavily time consuming, especially if currents and winds could be used and the oceans shortcut. Using a one year per hour scale, a cross-Atlantic travel would take 5min.

 

To resume, I'd say a real world map with a big scale not only gives a good immersion tradeoff, but also provides the best trade and conquest strategy opportunities. Devs said land can be generated quite quickly.

 

 

 

Also I didn't meant navigation to be done on the deck with a sextant. The estimation zones would just be drawn on the world map. Navigating would take a bit of understanding about the drift due to winds and currents, but that's it.

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Well the more content the better, the more map the better. But 1st one must ask how. 

 

Having the complete world rendered in 3D is possible to a degree. FSX has the whole world in the simulator. Most airports too. Real weather updated every 15 min from. But were talking airplanes that fly anywhere from 120 mph to mach 2. The highest speed jets it takes several hours to travel across the ocean. 

 

The Silent Hunter series also had the whole world rendered that you could sail. They put time compression in the game. I traveled across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and even one to the other playing that game. Takes a while but can be done. That brings up a vary important Question, how do you deal with things like time compression in an or traveling long distances with realism in an MMO? I can see it in a single player with multi player. I would love to see the use of jet streams, currents and any other age of sail navigation situation in the game. But how in an MMO? 

 

The only thing I can think of is either a zone to zone system or a navigation map view that you spend your time in while traveling from point a to b. Also the whole world would not be rendered in 3D, but instead a navigation map and a series of battle maps that are in 3D, possibly ports too in 3D. Of course I'm not a video game developer lol, so maybe there's another way. 

 

I would like to see Naval Action have as much realism as there can be. 

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My post assumed that there would be a navigation view (not only a world map where we don't navigate but jump between local encounters).

 

The navigation view would be quite exactly like the PotBS one, in 3D. There could be both a navigation view and navigation zones.

 

 

 

As I'd be fine with navigation zones (instead of a fully navigable navigation map), I'm more strongly supporting a navigation view (instead of a world map and local encounters), because it gives a sailing freedom feeling, and enables real time strategical and tactical moves. Both possibilities somehow break realism.

 

This subject has already been partly discussed here: http://forum.game-labs.net/index.php?/topic/113-thoughts-on-age-of-sail-games/

 

 

 

This thread would be more about proposing and discussing how to include navigation view features that could add to the immersion while creating an interesting environment regarding economy and conquest.

 

Whether there should be a small scale and navigation zones, or a big scale and a fully navigable map, depends on latency problems and realism feeling as you mentioned, but also on global gameplay. A compromise has to be found. And I'm not sure we got the information to find it yet, because it also depends on the servers organization, the population, and the economy/conquest mechanics.

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there could be 3 implementations

 

1) of course POTBS map - but done in a bit less cartoony way, and lower camera (to actually encourage to search for enemy sails)

2) skyrim (no global map) - you travel everywhere yourself first time. after first time travel you can teleport to key locations. 

3) full realism (no teleports) - possible only in the single player environment. 

 

empty oceans without land can easily be implemented by just a large square of water big enough to not be congested and will act as a whole atlantic ocean (or north and south) so players traveling from the Caribbean to Europe will have to pass that square. allowing privateers to catch traders and such. 

 

time compression is possible in multiplayer, we have a great idea how to make it work in safe zones and oceans. but it will not work when enemies enter your zone of influence. 

 

hauling will be done by NPCs mostly, unless you really want that parcel in London fast. 

 

they key question is 

how long should travel from london to port royal take in real life hours? in UWO it took long time and encouraged AFK travel and botting.

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Don't safe zones and NPC hauling counter naval combat ? I'd rather have a full PvP world (except maybe newbie areas) and hauling done by players, which would naturally bring a lot of PvP life to the seas.

 

About the London-Caribbean travel, if there is no problem with oceanic time compression, I'd say 15min would be a bit long (including the coastal parts at the beginning and at the end of the travel). But it depends on how often the travel should be done, and what could happen during it.

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there could be 3 implementations

 

1) of course POTBS map - but done in a bit less cartoony way, and lower camera (to actually encourage to search for enemy sails)

2) skyrim (no global map) - you travel everywhere yourself first time. after first time travel you can teleport to key locations. 

3) full realism (no teleports) - possible only in the single player environment. 

 

empty oceans without land can easily be implemented by just a large square of water big enough to not be congested and will act as a whole atlantic ocean (or north and south) so players traveling from the Caribbean to Europe will have to pass that square. allowing privateers to catch traders and such. 

 

time compression is possible in multiplayer, we have a great idea how to make it work in safe zones and oceans. but it will not work when enemies enter your zone of influence. 

 

hauling will be done by NPCs mostly, unless you really want that parcel in London fast. 

 

they key question is 

how long should travel from london to port royal take in real life hours? in UWO it took long time and encouraged AFK travel and botting.

If I have a say, I would go with 2&3. With maybe zone to zone travel. I much  rather stay in a  3d rendered world vs going to navigation map like on potbs.

I always thought the navigation map was a little blan in POTBS, it lacked detail ( like something out of the late 90s). I also don't want the combat tool bars to be any thing like POTBS with a ton of skill buttons either. I prefer less clutler on the screen instead have windows I can pull up when I need them.

 

London to port royal......I would say 30 minute to an hour

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I agree, navigation and more importantly the real possibility of getting lost, would make exploration and sailing from place to place much more of an adventure rather than just a time consuming chore.

 

A world map with an icon of your ship telling you exaclty where you are completely removes any sense of that adventure, and is what every other sailing game always does.

 

I like Barberouge's idea of at least having some uncertainty about your displayed position.  This uncertainty, or circle of possible error (perhaps it should be more of an elipse - elongated greatly in the east-west axis), could grow the longer you are out of sight of (charted) land.

 

Also, the difficulty of determining longitute cannot be overstated.  I don't know exactly when this game is going to be set but the lunar distance method Barberouge mentioned wasn't available until (I think) the late 1700s.  The Royal Observatory in Greenwhich was I believe founded specifically to do the observations/calculations necessary to produce the tables.  It literally took lifetimes to compile the info required. Up until then, and reliable timepieces being introduced, once a ship was out of sight of land it was to all intents and purposes effectively lost and its east/west position based purely on guesswork.

 

 

In response to the Admin's question, I actually like the idea of Option 1 - a map with a very low camera position, but I've never played this Pirates of the Burning Sea game everyone talks about.

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I like the navigation idea, with the possibility to navigation errors. The better your crew is at navigation, the chance of a navigation error goes down.

 

I never had anything against the potbs map, but having a way of navigating your ship and having to watch for sails at the horizon would be absolutely awsome.

 

I'm thinking the more you've visited certain waters/sailed certain routes, the less time it'll take, and the less probability for navigational errors. To this could be added a greater chance of spotting sails when moving in known waters. This would add to the combat probability in often contested areas, as well as an increased chance of interception around friendly ports.

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If Naval Action was to have a navigation map kind of like POTBS, I really want to see much more graghical detail to the map, and added things like global weather, sea conditions, wind and global time. POTBS's navigation map was really crude looking for today's standards, at the time of its release 2008 it was ok.

 

Also I really really think that Naval Action should not adopt ideas or emulate POTBS. POTBS was a great game at its time of release. It was a game that blended fiction with none fiction. Over time the game went south with a series have bad patch's and poor choices made by the developers. Its also a dated game. 

 

If had to pick a age of sail game that I thought I would want it to be like, it would be age of pirates 2 city of abandon ships. That's also a dated game though.

 

I really don't like bashing POTBS, but I just don't want to steer towards a similar template. 

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If I have a say, I would go with 2&3. With maybe zone to zone travel. I much  rather stay in a  3d rendered world vs going to navigation map like on potbs.

I always thought the navigation map was a little blan in POTBS, it lacked detail ( like something out of the late 90s). I also don't want the combat tool bars to be any thing like POTBS with a ton of skill buttons either. I prefer less clutler on the screen instead have windows I can pull up when I need them.

 

London to port royal......I would say 30 minute to an hour

 

I just didn't realise that some of the features I was mentioning could fit to other game modes aswell. I misunderstood the purpose of your posts, I thought you were advocating skipping navigation altogether because it would be too long... Navigation could even be done from a local view then, from the deck with a sextant.

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I agree, navigation and more importantly the real possibility of getting lost, would make exploration and sailing from place to place much more of an adventure rather than just a time consuming chore.

 

A world map with an icon of your ship telling you exaclty where you are completely removes any sense of that adventure, and is what every other sailing game always does.

 

I like Barberouge's idea of at least having some uncertainty about your displayed position.  This uncertainty, or circle of possible error (perhaps it should be more of an elipse - elongated greatly in the east-west axis), could grow the longer you are out of sight of (charted) land.

 

Also, the difficulty of determining longitute cannot be overstated.  I don't know exactly when this game is going to be set but the lunar distance method Barberouge mentioned wasn't available until (I think) the late 1700s.  The Royal Observatory in Greenwhich was I believe founded specifically to do the observations/calculations necessary to produce the tables.  It literally took lifetimes to compile the info required. Up until then, and reliable timepieces being introduced, once a ship was out of sight of land it was to all intents and purposes effectively lost and its east/west position based purely on guesswork.

 

 

In response to the Admin's question, I actually like the idea of Option 1 - a map with a very low camera position, but I've never played this Pirates of the Burning Sea game everyone talks about.

 

I think the circle from dead reckoning estimation would increase depending on the time spent at sea, but the elipse from celestial navigation would stay the same.

 

Devs said there will be frigates from the American War of Independance. The lunar distance method was used at least during the 18th century, but was unreliable because of the difficulty of accurately measuring the angles (it would have required a stable ship). I think the tables compilation required calculations mostly. During their travel to the East Indies, the sailors always recognised the South African coast to verify their longitude. And they could, by staying on their latitudes, reach islands such as the Ascension and St. Helen in the Atlantic or St. Paul and Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean.

 

So maybe better skip longitude estimation... But still an ellipse - even large - would look better than a line.

 

Depending on opinions, NA should be the loyal son or the rebellious son of PotBS. Probably a bit of both. PotBS is an MMO with magical skills (30sec invincibility :P ), which featured an excellent PvP ship combat at its beginning, and also economy, conquest and avatar combat. It started declining when it went free to play, and is now the shadow of its former glory.

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I like the navigation idea, with the possibility to navigation errors. The better your crew is at navigation, the chance of a navigation error goes down.

 

I never had anything against the potbs map, but having a way of navigating your ship and having to watch for sails at the horizon would be absolutely awsome.

 

I'm thinking the more you've visited certain waters/sailed certain routes, the less time it'll take, and the less probability for navigational errors. To this could be added a greater chance of spotting sails when moving in known waters. This would add to the combat probability in often contested areas, as well as an increased chance of interception around friendly ports.

 

I'm not a big fan of the lower camera on the navigation view. From my point of view, the navigation map is rather a convenience to avoid a gigantic local map than a way to bring a realism feeling. Since there is a scale already, the speed and range of sight break realism in any case. But I'd be fine with it as long as it wouldn't interfere with tactical moves, i.e. if the minimap would show the surrounding ships accurately - the spotting was done by the crew anyway.

 

I like the speed increase and the decrease in navigational errors. I've been navigating with some true seamen, and it's incredible the amount of information those guys can read at sea. I'm not sure about greater chances of spotting sails though. That doesn't sound real.

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I like the speed increase and the decrease in navigational errors. I've been navigating with some true seamen, and it's incredible the amount of information those guys can read at sea. 

 

Can you provide examples please? What can be read at sea by true sailors?

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I just didn't realise that some of the features I was mentioning could fit to other game modes aswell. I misunderstood the purpose of your posts, I thought you were advocating skipping navigation altogether because it would be too long... Navigation could even be done from a local h I defiview then, from the deck with a sextant.

I def want navigation. The more realistic the better. Mainly I was wondering how would be the best way.

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True seamen rather than true sailors, because the ship had a diesel (sea-going tug). Those guys knew the weather (wind force, wind direction, rain, sea state) coming next day. Not because of the wind, but because of the shape of the clouds. They could also say if there was a storm coming in the next days. They played a game which consisted of looking only at the compass and trying to reach specific coordinates. They knew their ship and the area (between Massilia and Corsica) so well that they could predict the effect of the wind and the current on the drift. As a tug they sometimes had to tow much bigger ships, and they also knew the drift due to both ships. One of their jobs was to locate dead wales. They saw the oily mark when I just saw the sea. They also knew when we would have more chances to see dolphins at the front of the ship. But basically those guys were navigating since their youth, had spent half of their life on ships and a lot of years in that particular area.

 

Since the sailors from the Age of Sail were spending at least the same time at sea, and always had to refer to their senses and knowledge (as opposed to electronic navigation), it would be realistic to add a decrease in navigational errors in dead reckoning navigation even if they hadn't precise maps of the oceanic currents. I don't know how much it could be though.

 

The speed increase would be more about knowing how a ship sails in a particular sea. When you stear a ship it feels different depending on the state of the sea and the wind. And the state of the sea and the wind change depending on the area. What is especially important is if the wind is from the same direction as the swell, and how large and deep the swell is. For example, the sea doesn't form up the same way in the Mediterranean as it does in open oceans. But that's more accentuated around specific coasts. I'd say the basic helmsman skill could give up to +5% speed (0.5knots at 10 knots), and knowing the area could give up to +2% speed. Those aren't accurate numbers.

 

On a side note, those seamen had to watch out for potential terrorist tankers which would crash on the French ports, and could recognize the type of ship (gas tanker, bulk tanker...) from far away. Don't worry they also had radar and radio :P Same goes in recreational boating, people can recognize the yacht types from far away. Maybe this could be translated into the game as a longer range of identification (the shapes of the hull and the sails, the paintings were good information) rather than a longer range of spotting, depending on the look-out skill.

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I'm not a big fan of the lower camera on the navigation view. From my point of view, the navigation map is rather a convenience to avoid a gigantic local map than a way to bring a realism feeling. Since there is a scale already, the speed and range of sight break realism in any case. But I'd be fine with it as long as it wouldn't interfere with tactical moves, i.e. if the minimap would show the surrounding ships accurately - the spotting was done by the crew anyway.

 

I like the speed increase and the decrease in navigational errors. I've been navigating with some true seamen, and it's incredible the amount of information those guys can read at sea. I'm not sure about greater chances of spotting sails though. That doesn't sound real.

 

It's more about knowing the area, with that knowing from what direction ships usually come etc, as for typical approaches to an harbour.

 

Can you provide examples please? What can be read at sea by true sailors?

 

One thing here coupled to knowing waters is the behaviour of currents in a certain area, which most definetly will have an effect on speed.

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I will confess I'm not at an expert on Age of Sail Navigation. But I have done quite abit of sailing. When we go out we check on a several factors. 1st tide charts. Were we do most of our sailing is in the Puget Sound which is were tides larger effect on currents then other places in the world. So Im not talking about the current caused by the jet stream that's a whole different story. So basiclly we prefer to make use of currents then to fight them. So we normally plan departing times around, and what time to return. It could make the difference between sailing at 3 to 4 knots or sailing at 10 knots. For us its more of a fuel econ thing then anything. We sail a 51 foot motor sailor, which un like age sail boats has a detriot dessel to provide power during poor wind, as well as the sails.

 

Navigation is preformed by GPS, radar, depth sounder and paper chart. When we sail from point a to b we use the "markers", "light houses" and "navigation buoys". Its almost like driving the markers are color coded, their are also sea lanes for larger ships. There is passing rules and everything. Our GPS, radar talk back and forth and VHF radio provides postions to other vessels and vs versa which provides a high level of accuracy.  But we often still use paper charts just as much. As far as a Sextant goes along time ago my dad showed me how to use one, but the cold reality we don't need to use one. At night we have navigation lights so we are visible. Also markers, buoys are lite and of course light houses. Some flash at certain times, some are colored. I sail about 2 times a month right now

 

According to what I read navigation markers, buoys and light houses are nothing new. Neither are shipping lanes. I was looking at a book the other day that showed them, it 1600s I believe. so it would be best to add them too.  Also age of sail ships used tide charts. They were able to check the depth to by using a rope with a weight on the end of it. Forgot the name of that method. Open Sea navigation they used sextants, and rode currents caused by jet streams. I'm sure like barb was saying there was prob a great deal of error sometimes.

 

Now the question is do we want a complete age of sail simulation? Or do we want some realism but not so much that it would drive instant grad players away. If we really want an age of sail simulator, with competly realistic navigation. It will have to be single player, with maybe the option of multi player. Due to time compression...the earth is a vary large place when your traveling at 5 to 10 knots. It would be nothing like POTBS at all. 

 

I have played flight simulators for years, like FSX and Rise of Flight among others. FSX has vary realistic navigation. Is it for everyone.....not at all. They are vary unforgiving. If we were to have a completely realistic age of sail simulation, going off everything I read it would be unforgiving.

 

Or there's the semi realistic option, so you could have it be a MMO. Were quite frankly going from point a to b does not take weeks. 

 

Speaking for just my self I prefer realism and as much detail as it can have, but would like to see a new age of sail game MMO. I am under no illusion that we can have complete realism in an age of sail MMO when it comes to navigation. Maybe single player, but not MMO. We could have some more important aspects of it, enough to keep history and simulation buffs some what happy, but not so much that it would drive away everyone else. Also there's the whole time factor.

 

My answer is to doing navigation in an age of sail MMO, keeping realism and making it fun . Make the map seem really big, but in scale to the earth much smaller. Make it take along time to get to one end to the other, like maybe 3 hours. Hours not days or weeks lol Make an in game global time were one 24 hour day cycle = 1 hour or 2. Add in game global weather patterns, sea conditions and currents. Add the sextant in or a navigator npc who uses one. Add charts the have to be collected.  A completely living breathing 3d rendered world, with no 3d navigation POTBS style map. your always in your 1st or 3rd person ship view unless at port. Possibly set it up in zones to ease server strain. So maybe a zone set up for European theater then if you want to go say to the example the east coast of the Americas you would sail east for a time and transfer to that zone. How ever many needed to keep it running (if it helps). Same thing for anywhere in the world, one zone to another. Leaving it completely 3d rendered. Would it be 100% accurate to the way things were done during that period, time wise no. But with the proper amount of immersion it would be pretty cool I think. Immersion would have to be key. Navigation would have some realness to it, were it does not make up for it in immersion. Then save the simulator style realism for ship handling, crew/ship logistics and combat. 

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Navigation wouldn't be developped soon, but since everyone seem interested in estimation, I thought I'd dig out my old navigation manual and put some formulas here.

 

 

 

Dead reckoning navigation

 

The action of the current is represented by a vector relation:

 

a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (Cg) = a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (Cs) + a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (C )

Cg: course over ground

Cs: course on surface

C: current

 

The action of the wind is represented by an angle relation:

 

Cs = Ht + Dw

Cs: course on surface

Ht: true heading

Dw: drift due to wind

 

The action of the compass (true north / magnetic north, iron on board) could also be taken into account, but should be skipped for clarity IMO. Basically it's just another angle relation.

 

The estimated latitude is equivalent to the distance on the ordinate axis (y), and depends on this formula:

 

Δφ <=> Δyg = t ( Ss*cos(Cs) + Sc*cos(C ) )

Δφ: latitude difference (1' <=> 1 mile)

Δyg: distance difference over ground (miles)

t: time (hours)

Ss: speed on surface (knots)

Cs: course on surface (°)

Sc: current speed (knots)

C: current direction (°)

 

The estimated distance on the abscissa axis (x) depends on this formula:

 

Δxg = t ( Ss*sin(Cs) + Sc*sin(C ) )

Δxg: distance difference over ground (miles)

t: time (hours)

Ss: speed on surface (knots)

Cs: course on surface (°)

Sc: current speed (knots)

C: current heading (°)

 

The longitude is then deducted depending on the latitude:

 

Δλ <=> Δxg / cos (φ) (°)

 

The estimation zone is a ring portion, treated as a circle whose radius is:

 

r = t 32adcbbf3e30ff724fdca3bad4b173c3.png ( USg² + ( (UCg*Sg) / 57.3 )² )

t: time (hours)

USg: uncertainty about the speed over ground ( +- knots)

Sg: estimated speed over ground (knots)

UCg: uncertainty about the course over ground ( +- °)

 

There's also the problem of the map projection. Loxodromy is the route at constant heading. Orthodromy is the fastest route. Depending on the map projection, loxodromy or orthodromy can be represented by a line on the map. Also depending on the map projection, the orthodromy can be the same as the loxodromy in some parts of the world.

 

A loxodromic projection would fit well, since it is a quite intuitive projection. In the Mercator projection (1569), the loxodromy is represented by a line on the map, and the orthodromy is the same as the loxodromy along the equator. The deformation isn't considerable in latitudes below 60°, i.e. 85% of the surface of the Earth and almost all the waterways.

 

 

 

Latitude determination with the meridian height method

 

The meridian height method consists of measuring the height of a star at the meridian, i.e. at the azimuth of 0° (north) or 180° (south), and deducting the latitude from declination tables. The formula is:

 

φ = D + ( 90 - Ht )

φ: latitude

D: declination

Ht: true height, deducted from observation

 

Since the Polar Star has a stable declination of 89°12' N, its azimuth is always close to the north, and its height is always close to the latitude of the location.

 

Many possible errors due to the sextant itself could make the determination approximate: excentricity (fixed or fluctuating, due to the rotation axis, up to a few ', difficult to determine because depending on the height), big mirror and small mirror errors (easily rectifiable), collimation error (easily measurable).

 

Ho = Hi + ε

Ho: observed height

Hi: instruments height

ε: instrumental correction

 

ε = e + C

e: excentricity

C: collimation

 

Then other errors could further decrease the accuracy: horizon depression (depends on the eye elevation and the atmospheric conditions), astronomical refraction (depends on the height of the star and the atmospheric conditions), parallax (depends on the star, its height and the date) and half-diameter (depends on the star and the date). Most of those corrections can be read on almanacs, others can be calculated from temperature and pression.

 

Ht = Ho - d - R + p +- 1/2 D

Ht: true height

Ho: observed height

d: depression

R: refraction

p: parallax

1/2 D: half-diameter

 

Basically all those errors could lead to some ' accuracy. The Sun was the most used star. The meridian transition could be confused with the culmination (midday). With their latitude estimation, the sailors could reach islands in the middle of the ocean.

 

 

 

 

Longitude determination with the Lunar distances method

 

The lunar distance method has been described in 1514, but reliable tables weren't available. In 1713, Newton published his lunar tables, which still weren't accurate enough (3° i.e. 180 miles at the equator i.e. 330km). In 1753, an astronomer published lunar tables of oustanding accuracy (1°), and in 1755 the tables were sent to the Navy Admiralty. The method required three people on the deck, measuring the Sun height, the Lunar height, and the Sun-Lunar distance (three times and using the average). This method hasn't been much used at the beginning however, since it required solid knowledge and a lot of calculations (many hours), although many derived methods have been proposed including graphical solutions. To overcome this problem, an astronomer decided to compute the lunar distances, decreasing the time needed to use the tables. The Nautical Almanac published precomputed Lunar distances from 1767 to 1905 (date of the first radio time signals). La Pérouse and Cook were great navigators who used this method (with astronomers on board). The method was actually in use between 1780 and 1840 approximately, but rather in the navies than in the merchant ships.

 

The true time of the location could be known with the Sun height, its declination and the latitude. Then the true Sun-Lunar distance could be known by correcting the measures. Then the time of the reference point (Greenwich for example) could be known with the true distance and by using the Lunar tables. The principle of the tables is simple: since the orbit duration of the Moon is known, the position of the Moon relative to the stars is a measure of time, like the hands of a clock relative to the dial. And finally, the longitude is the difference between the time of the location and the time of the reference point. "Sea, Sextant and Fun" is a freeware that uses computed Lunar tables: http://www.stw.fr/Download/softs_jt/sea_sextant_fun.zip

 

The same errors as for the latitude determination can be taken into account. Any error on the true Lunar distance lead to a 27 times bigger error on the longitude. And there are also the errors on the heights and on the tables themselves (around 1°). Lacaille announced a total minimum of 3° estimation at sea at the end of the 18th century.

 

 

 

Longitude determination with a stopwatch

 

The stopwatch method has been described in 1530. In 1720, the British Parliament offered £20000 to anyone who would solve the longitude problem with a 1/2° (2min) accuracy between Great Britain and the West Indies. In 1760, the cabinetmaker John Harrison finalised his fourth watch model (the H4). He would win the prize a few years later, his pocket maritime stopwatch having made an error of 5s from London to Jamaica in 1762, and an error of 49s from the Barbados to Madeira in 1764. The stopwatches weren't much in use except in the big expeditions, because they were expensive and unaccurate due to temperature variations, oil thickening and ships sharp movements. The Royal Navy started equipping its ships around 1825.

 

The longitude is calculated with this formula:

 

λ = GHAs - LHAs

λ: longitude

GHAs: hour angle of the Sun at its culmination, from a reference point (Greenwich)

LHAs: local hour angle of the Sun at its culmination

 

GHAs is given by the Sun tables, after a read of the stopwatch, corrected by the estimated longitude. LHAs is a correction calculated from the difference between the culmination height and the meridian height. But they could be confused. An error of 1s on the stopwatch leads to an error of 460m.

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How could all this be translated into the game ? The purpose here is to provide an intuitive approach of navigation, while keeping estimation as an important information during open sea travels. I'll describe the navigation map, but anything could be used in local navigation.

Another purpose is to keep the overall drift from being able to be observed and calculated by players: no advantage should be given to those who would spend time analysing the mechanics. But for those interested in actual navigation, the estimation could be done by players instead of the pilot.

I'll suppose a ship would be navigating in a planar landscape, with the true north to the top. The loxodromy (route at constant heading) and orthodromy (fastest route) would be the same and could be represented by a line on a local scale.

 


True positioning

The action of the wind on the position of a ship (also called leeway) depends on complex formulas. An approximated formula should be used, with the speed and direction of the wind and the exposed surfaces of the ship as parameters. As seen in the previous post, estimation uses an angle relation, however the real relation is rather a vector one:

 

a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (Cs) = a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (Ht) + ES * a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (W)

Cs: course on surface and speed on surface

Ht: true heading and own speed

W: wind direction and wind speed

ES: exposed surfaces factor

 

Hence the overall drift formula would be:

 

a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (Cg) = a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (Ht) + ES * a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (W) + a7e55df0e36b3dec3ccba64420ac3003.png (C )

 

This is in no way an accurate formula, but it gives an intuitive feeling of drifting. The exposed surfaces factor could be constant or depend on other parameters.

 

 

 

Estimation

 

For the estimation to be partly done by a pilot instead of players only, the real parameters should be unknown and different than the estimation parameters. For that to happen, the real parameters should be simply randomized. The real direction and speed of the wind and the current would be slightly different than the estimated ones, and changing over time. So players couldn't memorize the real parameters and use them to skip uncertainty. The estimation of the range of those changes would determine the dead reckoning estimation done by the pilot.

 

On sight of charted land, the position would be independent from estimation since the pilot would correct it using coastal navigation techniques.

 

The different wind and current zones could be spread on the map as hexagonal zones, and the estimated informations could be drawn as arrows on those zones, or on multiple zones.

 

There could be two ways to implement estimation from a player point of view. Make it done by players, or by an AI pilot. Player navigation would create a gameplay more close to the experience of navigating, but would require to apply heading correction which would be known either by calculations or by a strong feeling of the effects of the environment. The good new, is that the speeds shouldn't have to be taken into account (for the player estimation, not the real position): the vectors could be translated into angle relations, since what would matter is where we reach a point rather than when we reach it. Maybe some angle clues could be given.

 

An AI pilot would just require to automatically change the heading depending on the AI estimation of the environment. The big problem, is that the point of sail would become different than what would be shown, creating a very strange speed feeling. The simple solution would be to draw an estimated course over ground arrow on the compass. Then the player could decide to follow the arrow or to modify his course to keep a good speed. This solution might seem over-simplifying, but in fact it would give an accurate estimation only for direct travels in a constant environment. When turning, players might loose track of the direct route, and would have to rely on the estimation zones drawn on their map. If we imagine that lazy navigators could sail directly to a destination (like in PotBS, a ship could sail upwind), this arrow would be sufficient enough to reduce the uncertainty for small travels. For those who would like to reach a location quickly, using currents, winds, and weaving would increase the uncertainty hence the importance of having accurate estimation zones.

The celestial navigation estimation zone would be rather a rectangle than an elipse. After some time spent at sea, it would become more accurate than the dead reckoning circle.

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Hi All,

 

I came looking for this subject....and wish I had never found it. You all seem to be trying to outdo one another with your formulae etc. etc.  And in doing so you have, I think, lost sight of the question and what we are trying to achieve.

 

First of all let me declare myself as a 22years served Royal Navy Navigation Officer. From the word go, even in the 1970s we were trained to navigate without electronic aids and to maintain the practice of such throughout our careers. I am also a great believer in the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).

 

Throughout the vast majority of the period of this game ocean navigation was at best a game of guesstimation. You start from a known point and aim to get to another known point. The further you travel over the greater period of time the larger will become the circle of error of your position. Celestial navigation notwithstanding, as was correctly observed above, latitude was reasonable accurate but longitude not. So the main method was to get yourself to the latitude of your destination and then sail directly East or West. It should not be beyond the wit of man and the devs to come up with a reasonably realistic approximation of the decreasing level of accuracy over time allowing for regular latitudinal updates from celestial navigation means. There should also be a randomisation of that accuracy, because sometimes, just sometimes, dead reckoning is dead right!

 

Lets not overthink this....realism yes...but if it is fudged for gameplay purposes, I doubt more than a handful of us would actually, genuinely be able to tell.

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The purpose of the formulas was to make the subject more concrete than word explanations. Also it has been said the same as what you say.

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