Blackwake Full Release

Posted on February 19th, 2020 06:57 PM EST
Ahoy there!

Today we have finally fully released our game Blackwake! After three years in early access we are happy with the current state of the game. It has gone above and beyond the base game standard we initially had. It’s been a long journey with many ups and downs, we made mistakes, learned from our failures and pushed forward to bring Blackwake where it is today.

We have permanently dropped the price to $9.99USD

We have pushed out a small patch for the game as well.
- Addressed tortuga colliders that may have been causing memory leaks
- Removed some unused assets from scene to free up memory
- Small update to make vote screen clearer
- Bots will now only occupy cannons loaded with normal shot
- Handmortar/grenades damage radius halved
- Permanent double XP for all

THE IDEA
Blackwake started as an idea by Dakota in 2013. There was a lack of proper naval warfare games that existed at the time. Mods like Pirate Ship Wars and Battlefield Pirates were some inspiration in the initial journey in developing the game. Tyler saw Dakota’s small demos on an online forum, and offered to help push Dakota’s small idea into something much larger.

We failed a Kickstarter in 2014, with the game catering to a more realistic naval sim audience, even though we threw in a sea monster at the end of the pitch trailer. It was far too serious, and overambitious to garner any attention. While we were disheartened at the fact of this failure we tried to see if more people were interested in the concept. A few youtubers, DarkLiberator and SMii7y tried out our game with their friends, to our surprise their time playing the game was full of laughter. We realised at that point that we took our game far too seriously.

2014 Kickstarter Pitch


So in 2015, we attempted another Kickstarter, but this time with the aim for a more casual approach. That is when the comedic voice acting was born, we realized the game would be a hit. Many Twitch streamers took part in promoting the Kickstarter, we couldn’t have done it without Ngotie and Bikeman. The Kickstarter was a success raising $170k AUD. Over two years we developed the game, hired out the necessary artists, animators and voice actors to push an early access version. Our Kickstarter backers were a huge help in continuous play testing each weekend, finding bugs and suggesting features.

2015 Kickstarter Pitch


We tried to be as realistic as possible on the player base and sales for the game. Comparing ourselves to other games in similar scope and price range, we expected around 300 concurrent players at launch and selling around 30,000 copies after a MONTH.

THE LAUNCH
In 2017 we finally released the game. We had some stroke of luck, the PUBG beta servers were down, the streamers waiting at the time needed something to play so they picked up Blackwake. This led to a HUGE influx of players, our servers filled up so fast we couldn’t spin up new ones in time.

After 3 years of being in early access we have sold over 1.2 million copies! We never expected the game to get as big as it did. If anyone remembers the launch we only had two ships in the game at the time, the Galleon and the Hoy. We had only planned to possibly add more ships and polish the game off, but due to the positivity of the community we continued to develop the game further.

WHAT WE HAVE ADDED SINCE EARLY ACCESS
Over the course of early access we added and removed a lot of things due to community feedback. Some things worked, some did not. Pioneering the naval genre at the time took a lot of experimenting.

New Modes
Capture the Booty mode
Teams would fight over a treasure chest to bring back to their base. First to 2 points wins.


Seige Mode
A faction would attack a fort with their ships, push a cart of explosives to a gate, then capture a flag to win.


Update 3.0 was a huge undertaking, we wanted to give players the ability to choose which ship they fought with. So we introduced ship building from docks. We had combined TDM with Siege mode to bring a mode called Conquest, which attempted to give more variance per match by letting players choose if they wanted to win by naval combat, or capturing the fort. Unfortunately this was not received well for the players that purely liked naval combat, so eventually it was scrapped.



We also implemented a new cannon aiming system. After much demand from crewman for more importance, experimenting with different methods we settled on the “grenade launcher” approach to cannon aiming. You can also turn the cannons too, which you couldn’t before. You also needed the range of ships by using the spyglass which we implemented as an item.


New Ships
Small crew vessels

Junk Ship
Tanky ship with 4 cannons a side and one front cannon


Schooner
Fast moving ship with 5 cannons a side


Cutter
Sort of an agile anti-boarding ship with 2 rear guns and 4 guns a side


Bomb Vessel
3 Cannons a side, 2 rear guns and a Mortar


Gunboat
Smallest most agile ship in the game with 2 cannons a side, and 2 front guns.


Carrack
The tankiest small vessel in the game with 5 guns a side and multiple decks


Large Vessels
The Bomb Vessel, 7 guns a side, 2 front and with 2 mortars


Xebec
The fastest large ship in the game, with 9 guns a side, 2 rear and 2 anti sails per side


The Cruizer
The tankiest large ship in the game with 10 guns a side


New Shot types
Initially we only had cannonballs, grapeshot and grapples in the game. We decided to expand the mechanics of it during the massive 3.0 update.

Barshot demasted ships



Chainshot was an anti sail


Heated shot caught ships on fire. No more RNG fire from cannonballs, it had to be planned for.

ENVIRONMENTAL MAPS
We wanted a bit more variance to TDM matches so we added maps that had certain environmental settings.
A volcano map which when erupted, the entire environment would turn red with ash and ships would get damaged if they were close to the volcano


An iceberg arena, with ice patches which would slow down your ship and cause holes if sailed through.


Waterspouts
These would pick up ships and kill the crew if they were not aware of their surroundings and raised their sails.


Tortuga map arena with new islands


A ranking/prestige system, we wanted to reward players with long playtime. This worked together with unlocking of cosmetic items. The longer you played the cooler you could make your character look.



Ingame stats for those wanting to achieve some interesting things



QUALITY OF LIFE CHANGES
Bots
We added crew bots to extend the life of the game. Players will replace them as they join the game.



The ability to vote and choose mode. At launch we only had TDM available, so during the 3.0 update allowed players to vote for a mode at the end of the round.


PARTY UP SYSTEM
We added the ability for friends to stay together for the following rounds, by setting an ingame tag.


A new team selects a screen. Initially you didn’t even know who was on what ship until you selected it, leading to very frustrating moments trying to group with friends or balance team.

A new win screen to show players outfits and their achievements through stats and leaderboards.


A lot of new cosmetics for both factions were also added!



We also had over 500+ bug fixes and quality of life changes over the course of early access. We are quite happy with what we achieved as a two man dev team, who hired some help along the way. Seeing people enjoy the game and the happiness it brought you was the main driving factor for us to push as far as we did. Blackwake was truly driven by the community and we are proud of what we have achieved.

Thank you all for the support you have given over the years! For now we see the game as complete. Dakota plans to do a few more small fixes in the meantime.

See you on the seven seas!

Tyler & Dakota
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