This article was prepared during the development of the Corsairs Legacy pirate life simulator game by Ukrainian Mauris studio in order to popularize the marine theme in general and games about pirates in particular.
Learn more about the Corsairs Legacy - Historical Pirate RPG Simulator project and add it to your wishlist on the game's Steam page.
Continuing the topic of one of the best Russian franchises of games about pirates and naval battles, Sea Dogs, we want to note that we interviewed most of the developers of add-ons for both the Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships and Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales.
Now we will talk about mods, or more precisely, about one specific build of a considerable number of different modifications, accompanied by the transfer of most of the game to the MaelStrom Engine. To be more precise - about the Corsairs Ship Pack or just a ship pack.
Volodymyr: Alexander, hello!
Alexander: Hello, Volodymyr!
Volodymyr: MaelStrom update was released today. It is interesting to know what got into this update and do you plan to update Corsairs Ship Pack to a new version of the engine shortly?
Alexander: The current update includes very important changes regarding the sea. Looking at the sea in the previous version of the engine, it was very noticeable that there was not enough speed for the movement of shadows on the sea, and because of this, it seemed like jelly. I tried to get through to the developer for a long time and he finally heard me. Now the sea looks alive, it has shadows and everything works well. In addition, there were problems with particles, regarding fires on ships, or rather their very sharp attenuation. Well, we fixed that. And the last fix that was included in the update is the recording of crashes according to messages from the engine. Previously, we had a glitch that we could not catch in any way. And with this update, troubleshooting is much easier.
Volodymyr: You said that there were at least eight requests from your side, and I also noticed that you are very active on the official MaelStrom website. Please tell me, apart from these requests, do you still communicate with the developer somehow? In what context does the dialogue take place? Tell us more about communication with the developer.
Alexander: In fact, there is no close communication. However, in general, I started to build on this engine precisely because the developer himself is quite active and actually helps to implement this or that idea in order to popularize the engine. If I see some problem or need in the engine, I immediately report it to the developer. But our relationship is not always warm, and I found an effective way to force him to do something. I posted threads with obvious engine issues and asked the fanboys in my community if they also think some changes are needed to write about it too. And since the developer of MaelStrom values his reputation, he responded to these requests.
Volodymyr: It turns out that you initially paid 12 dollars and now he supports you for life or what?
Alexander: Most of our team bought this engine, even though I offered them to work together with what I bought. And as such, there is no support when buying an engine, but still, the developer keeps in touch with clients. How long this will last, I cannot say.
Volodymyr: Can you explain that “team members bought the engine”? Do you mean each of you bought a separate version with a separate key or something?
Alexander: No, when you are buying an engine, a unique URL link is sent to the mail, by which you can go and download this engine many times.
Volodymyr: Then, if you are one team and doing one project, then why did everyone need to buy an engine?
Alexander: They decided to support the developer.
Volodymyr: Do you know how many teams are currently involved in development on MaelStrom, and perhaps you can see from the activity on the forum how many interesting projects you can find or play now?
Alexander: Regarding the Russian-speaking community, I can’t say, because maybe someone is engaged, but does not advertise it. The one I do know is Roger Game Studio. Even before us, they wanted to make a game on the MaelStrom engine, but then we started working with this engine, and because of some edits, they decided to abandon MaelStrom and switch to the Sea Dogs: To Each His Own engine. As for Western companies, the developer page has a list of projects that were developed on the old Storm but then adapted to the MaelStrom engine. Unfortunately, most foreign add-ons are not fully tested. The only thing you can play is Historical Eras II. This is a mod that is still being improved and adapted to this day.
Volodymyr: Similarly, “New Horizons” is also on this list, because initially the engine itself was made specifically for this game. Therefore, it works stably on MaelStrom and there are no crashes. Please tell me why you are not on the list of games that are posted on the official website?
Alexander: Because we have Russian localization for the Russian-speaking community, and multilingualism is important for them. They have five languages in each project and this attracts more new audiences. Ours is exclusively Russian because it is easier for us to introduce localization directly into scripts. There are versions where localization goes through links to separate text files, from where links are already taken to specific pieces of localization, to specific parts of the text, and dialogues. We do not have this, and it is unlikely that our project will be suitable for multilingualism. If foreign users join the localization change, then at some point we will be able to help to do this if they want. We will not do this for sure, since I do not see any sense in this for us.
Volodymyr: You are making your add-on on top of Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships. CAS had different localizations. Does the version you are working on have a localization file, or do you have a Russian-language version, where all the translations were originally “embedded” into the code?
Alexander: Yes, we have a version where all the texts and dialogues are “sewn” into scripts.
Volodymyr: Alexander, tell us the main differences between MaelStrom and Storm Engine today.
Alexander: Firstly, due to anti-aliasing and triple buffering, the picture has become more pleasant and much smoother. This is the first thing I immediately noticed. Secondly, it is multithread. You can immediately see how all my 24 threads are loaded and used. The next one is memory leak fixes. This is not the case with the old engine. These are the most striking changes. Yes, as the guys from Roger Game Studio said, MaelStrom Engine is not a cure-all, not the top of evolution, but I have not seen any competitors for it yet. Even the TEHO engine update falls short of MaelStrom.
Volodymyr: Over the past six months, MaelStrom has been updated 7 times. Tell me, is it all done by one person? And how useful were the previous six updates and did they make any significant changes?
Alexander: Yes, now, only one person is engaged in updates, but he often consults with different cool programmers. The updates were really important, especially for us. For example, these are sea fixes, interface fixes, and support for other texture formats, it was even possible to load some texture formats into the engine without converting. Moreover, the engine supports 8K resolution.
Volodymyr: Do you think that in 2021 on MaelStrom it is possible to create a modern, new game that will not be Sea Dogs, but something separate, not an addon?
Alexander: We've been discussing how hard it is to make models in Sea Dogs for a long time. There is such a file format FBX, used to ensure compatibility between programs for creating digital content, that is, it can store a lot of different information, for example, animation, movement, and the whole scene. The fact is that if any engine was “taught” to use the FBX rather than Gm format, then we could see not just a new game, we would see the evolution of the Sea Dogs as a whole.
Volodymyr: Is it possible to make MaelStrom support FBX?
Alexander: Here you need to ask professional developers. Roger Game Studio is trying to "teach" the engine to accept the FBX format. And if they manage to do it and it will work, then it will really be progress and then MaelStrom can simply “die”. As a result of this evolution, we will be able to edit models without any conversion. Furthermore, everyone could do it on any of their favorite editors. But it is unlikely that we will be able to see this on MaelStrom because this is not a task for one person.
Volodymyr: Alexander, thank you for the interview! It was nice to chat. Good luck and see you next time!
Alexander: Thank you for your attention!