Another month passes at sea. In fact, it’s been nearly 6 months since I started work on Ships and Scurvy. That’s pretty scary.

I originally came up with the idea for the game in December of last year as chronicled in the first dev diary, and six months later I would estimate the game’s probably about 50% built. Progress has been at times slow, and at other times really rapid, but every day I’ve been adding something to the game to get it to this point.

So what’s the latest? Since we last talked, I’ve fully sorted out the island resource gathering and adventures. They’re actually pretty cool – some of them see you fleeing from exploding volcanos, while in another you might be trying to diplomatically excuse yourself from a boring tribal dance. Check it out:


Aside from the island adventures,  I spent the last few weeks building the cargo hold / shop system. This took several iterations but I’m pretty happy with where it’s at, considering how much information needs to be displayed. You can buy, sell, drop items all from the one screen and get information about each resource at a glance. UI is hard, man. So time consuming – I estimate it’s about 50% of game dev.



So, it’s time to take a look at how far we’ve come this last 6 months.


  • A large ocean, fully sailable. It takes about 5 minutes to sail from one corner to the other ( and then it loops , like a round earth should.)
  • Over 100 ships and 2 sea monsters that sail around the ocean. This number is going to increase later.
  • A weather system , with storms, wind directions, waves. The sun rises and sets, our ship has a spotlight for the dark.
  • A game introduction animation
  • A character creation system where the player can customise their avatar and ship’s flag/crest.
  •  25 of the game’s 50+ islands fully built, with resources to gather and adventures to be had.
  • A’Choose Your Own Adventure’ style adventure for each island, with 4 possible outcomes – there’s nearly 10,000 words of stories so far and counting.
  • Each island also has up to 10 activites to do, from harvesting and foraging to hunting, diving and mining.
  • There’s over 200 resources to be gathered, from the very common items such as wood and cloth to very rare treasures. Each one has a description, weight, nutritional value and so on.
  • A fully scrollable world map that uncovers islands as they are discovered.
  • An army to army combat system for land based battles between up to 80 troops.
  • A ship to ship turn based battle system , with fully firing cannons and ship movement.
  • A shop system and cargo hold , buy sell and trade items.

So , in a nutshell, there’s been a stack achieved. When I tally it all up like that, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done so far as a one man band. There’s so much to do when you’re building an RPG. It sounds funny but I’m only just coming to the point where the game is playable. Each individual system works, but only now am I tying them together. You can visit an island, mine a resource, sell it to a merchant or drop it in the ocean. You can lose troops in battle and so on, but you can’t buy more crew members because I haven’t built the tavern yet, and so on. There are no enemy pirate captains to face.

Speaking of which, here’s broadly what’s left to build.


  • 25 more islands to craft ( the stories are written on paper but it’s time consuming to add them to the game )
  • 25+ ‘ocean based’ adventures which randomly happen at sea
  • The tavern ( hire crew , get  rumours of adventure and so on, have a good meal )
  • Captain vs Captain single combat -this will be a simple turn based system
  • Flotsam , drowning sailors and other objects in the sea to find
  • Crew page ( feeding the crew, dealing with disease and morale , singing sea shanties etc )
  • Trophies – keeping track of all your achievements in the game )
  • Journal – a page to keep track of how many pirate captains you’ve defeated, how many islands visited, how many seamonsters defeated etc
  • I have to draw about 20 sea monsters , from the giant squid to the White Whale. These will be fought in combat exactly like ship to ship combat
  • I have to draw about 20 ‘island guardian’ monsters, from King Kong to a giant bronze statue. These are fought just like army vs army combats, except it’s army vs monster!
  • I have to create outfits for 20 or so pirate captains for you to face. Mainly just a hat , a crest and a weapon – as well as a simple back story for each.
  • Character skill / level up page – you get XP in the game, I want characters to be able to improve their skills, everything from cooking to fighting to mining. Your choice.
  • Crew officers – basically ‘special units’ that don’t appear in combat, but rather grant bonuses to things in the game. One officer might allow for +2 combat while at night etc.
  • Disease screen – when you get diseases, there’s a sarcastic celebratory screen ….’ Congratulations, You’ve Got Scurvy!’ and so on.
  • Ship upgrade screen – get more cannons, improve the ship’s hull, faster sails etc.

Woah… that’s a pretty big list. We’re definitely on track though. I’m fully committed to the game thus far. That’s the good news.

And now the bad news.

So…I just landed a contract job building a Unity game with a game development company here in Sydney. It’s a really cool project will be a massive learning experience for me – in order to stay relevant in the game industry, I have to improve my skillset in languages other than ActionScript / Adobe AIR ( which is what Ships and Scurvy is built in ) . I’m self funding the development of this game, and I have to support that with client work. This gig is going to be fulltime until November, so unfortunely development on Ships will slow down a fair bit , mainly nights and weekends, until that contract is over.

After that, however, I should be sufficiently funded enough to be able to dedicate enough time to finish the game by early next year and get it launched. It’s tough, but indie developers gotta make money any way they can, and I’m very fortunate to have landed a contract job building games, rather than having to flip burgers ( not that that isn’t a noble, delicious profession.)

Oh, one more thing before I sign off – I’ve built a fully functioning game map , divided into four seas; the Uveric, Pilthian, T’Kash and Cycladian oceans. It’s a lot of fun sailing out into the vast ocean and seeing little islands pop up on your map as you visit them. The islands in the image below don’t have proper names yet but that’s coming soon ( 25 of 50+ islands built already ).



Anyway, that’s it for this month – sorry the updates have been so slow but rest assured I’m working hard to get a game trailer out this month for everyone to see. In a few months I’m hoping to have a playable alpha for people to try out. You can email me here if you want to be notified when it’s available. Any game reviewers who want an early copy to check out, that would be brilliant – I’ve hardly done any promotion thus far but I’ll be looking for a game publisher pretty soon – please do get in touch if you want to talk biz, I’m pretty confident this game is going to be great but I’d love your help.

Happy journeys in your game development!

Cheers, Oliver Joyce
Whiskeybarrel Studios