Given the amount of time players will spend touring the high seas in Sea of Thieves—Rare’s forthcoming sea-faring sandbox adventure—it’s of little surprise work on its water is considered top priority. That’s according to software director Andy Dennison and senior software engineer Mark Lucas, both of whom discuss the intricacies and challenges posed by designing a believable briny deep in the game’s latest Inn-Side Story miniseries.
Research and striking a balance between dynamic control and looks is key, Lucas explains below, citing Hollywood movies as a main source of inspiration when designing Sea of Thieves’ water aesthetic.
Starting out with a photo-realistic base, Rare’s art team is then free to add on top of that, the video above explains. Dennison suggests the reason the water looks so good is down to the way in which the lights reflects off it. “Obviously we needed the water to look in daytime and nighttime,” adds Lucas. “We’ve got great-looking sunsets where you can see all the reflections and sparkles on the water… you can read the time of day ahead of time, almost, by looking at the water.”
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That last part is particularly important in Sea of Thieves in both attack and defence. Visibility out on the water is governed by the amount of shadow, light and clouds present—all of which is dictated by the time of day. This can in turn hide or reveal enemies, therefore, due to the era’s absence of digital wristwatches, keeping an eye on drink is essential.
The above trailer marks the Sea of Thieves Inn-Side Story miniseries’ third episode. The first can be found here, while the second—which explores how the PC version of the game is being handled—is featured below.
Sea of Thieves is due to launch early next year as a Microsoft cross-buy Play Anywhere game.