Skulls & Timber - Pirate Survival Game - WIP Thread

Hello everyone of the Unreal community!

We would like to present our work in progress project called “Skulls and Timber”.

About the game

Skulls and Timber is a third person multiplayer survival game set in fantasy version of the golden age of piracy. The goal of the game is to survive, find treasure, plunder enemy ships and become the richest most notorious pirate of the server. Set sail to mysterious islands littered with jumping puzzles, temples, dungeons, dangerous jungles where you will find legendary treasures or simply grant everyone that crosses your path a one way ticket to Davey Jones’ locker.
The game features several ships that are available to buy using gold you will get from selling treasures to traders. You are also able to craft clothing, weaponry and tools. Skulls and Timber features ships combat, survival gameplay such as cooking, gathering and crafting, combat with pistols, rifles, and melee weapons, trading, exploring and advanced server-side pvp competition.

Customization and interactivity is key in Skulls & Timber. We want players to be able to leave their mark on the seven seas by allowing in-depth customization of your ship, such as colors, sail logos, different types of ship parts that allow for faster turning, top speed, hit points and cannon damage. As well as player loadout and customization through awesome clothes, weapons, hair styles, tattoos, skin color, scars and much more!

You can choose to join a dedicated server which will hold up to 25 - 50 people or host your own server to play alone or with friends.

Later on we will also add mpre NPC enemies and ships. But for now we will first focus on the multiplayer aspects of the game.

And remember, as Mr. Gibbs once said to a rather notorious captain, “Take what ye can, give nothing back!”

Ship combat preview:

Some very early screenshots:





  • Fully multiplayer synchronised water shader with bouyancy
  • Ship sailing and combat with cannons
  • Melee combat
  • Ranged combat (pistols, muskets,…)
  • Repairing, actionbar and weapon switching
  • day and night cycle
  • Interactable system (Lots of small things to interact with such as lamps, hatches, rope ladders, …)
  • Advanced ship repair system (localized damage)
  • water culling system (below sea level ship interiors)
  • Chat system
  • Ship resource system (wood, cannon balls, … )
  • Main character and animations

Current W.I.P:

  • Optimization, bug fixing and multiplayer testing
  • Inventory, crafting, treasures and NPC trading

Thanks for checking out our game project!

Please, let us know what you like / dislike, pointers, opinions, ideas, …anything that can help us evolve this game into an awesome pirate game.

Skulls & Timber is a 2 man project so development might be slow at times. But know that we are living for this project. Meaning we work on it every single chance we get. We really hope that many people will play and enjoy our game and therefor want to make it as great as we can. We also care deeply about optimization and want the game to look as good and more importantly run great on as wide a range of systems as possible.

Thanks for your time! :slight_smile:

Sounds like a fun concept!

I always love the stylish graphic, keep it up :smiley:

Thanks godmachine33 and raventhebird! We don’t have much to show right now. But in a few days we will be able to showcase our final character with animations and some more gameplay footage. :slight_smile:

I love the looks and the ideas - survival has always been a rush, and I absolutely love the Age of Sail. Went from lurker to poster just because of your post. So, if you need someone to test, play, record - I’d love to have a whack and a play about.

I love the color of the ocean!

What water material are you using custom, or modified?

This looks Ace, the look is really nice, cant wait to see more of it

Hey all thanks for the comments! The Ocean material is completely custom made although not finished yet (foam texture and fine detail still need to be added). The bouyancy is based on the market place addon called “physical water surface”. I’ve been in close contact with the maker through email and he has provided a marvelous amount of support. So definitely go check out his addon, it’s very user friendly and well made.

Some basic gameplay is almost ready. You can already take the wheel of ships and sail them around with other players on board. And melee combat is almost done. When the melee combat is finished we will make a small gameplay video to show you all where we are at.

After that we will be adding cannons you can fire, ship damage, repairing and ranged combat. This should be finished in the next few weeks if things go as planned. Stay tuned! :slight_smile:

Here are some small teaser previews:

new player models and animations

ship controlling

first person run / jump and attack animations

Small update:

damage indicator and particle / sound effects as well as ballistic projectile drop and projectile trail

and ships can now be sunk

melee combat, death and respawn (melee combat is completely ray cast based, the blade generates a trail of perpendicular rays which makes melee combat very accurate and fun)

Cannon models are already finished just need to bring them in. Next up is new ship model.

Looks amazing, I’ve been waiting for a game following by this pirate themed idea

good to see that u keep the promise of updating :D, nice job and it look nice

Thanks! And yes I want to keep you guys posted on what we are doing as much as possible! :slight_smile:

What we have finished last few days:

  • Cannons, complete with particle effects, model, mechanics
  • New weapon system and action bar. New weapons can now very easily be added and players can now have weapons in their action bar and switch to them.
  • Ships take damage and sink from cannon fire
  • Damage indicator (screenshot below)
  • Some new icons, models, sounds, particles


And as some gyazos:

As you can see in the screenshots, you will be able to craft land cannons to fire on ships at sea. Say you have found a nice island, you can choose to stay there a while to gather all it’s resources and find all it’s treasures and build a few cannons on top of a cliff to fend off other pirates that might want to come ashore.

Next up:

  • New ship model and interactable / repairable parts such as hull, masts, sails, cabin and canons will also break and can be repaired.
  • Cannon loading system. (grab balls from deck, place in cannon wait for it to load and extra fire mode: quick fire when pressing “f” which will fire the cannon without actually going in it for fast firing of loaded cannons in close range combat)
  • New ship will also have crows nest in which you can climb
  • The press “e” ladder needs to change in real ladder (it was just a placeholder to get on ship fast when in the water)
  • flintlock pistol to be added and perhaps also a fuse bomb
  • some water imporvements (foam, distant water visual tweaks, shore opacity …)

And our blog will go online in one of next few days, we will post a link to it as soon as it’s online. Updates will be more structured and organized and you will be able to leave comments.

And good news for those that would like to try our game in realtime, we will release a small demo build after our blog has launched and when we get a few more things working. You will be able to play it with your friends. We will add a guide on how to connect to your friend as a fully fledged server browser is not yet complete.

wow, looks amazing
and in case you are looking for a modeler i’ll be happy to work on such a project :slight_smile:

This looks really cool, am looking forward to see more from you guys!

And you should check out the “Orbit - Weather and Seasons” pack from the marketplace. It’s super cheap and will give you a full, customizable day & night system + weather effects (even storms). I bought it a while ago for my own project and am really happy with it.
The link is here: Orbit Weather and Seasons in Blueprints - UE Marketplace

That looks really interesting indeed. Just 2 questions. Does the day and night cycle include moon lighting? And how performance heavy is this? Those volumetric clouds look extremely nice and would fit our game perfect. But I fear they will require a bit too much computing power. Knowing that we already have a very demaning water shader.

It indeed comes with moon lightning, it really has tons of options and as I remember you can also set how much moonlight there is, the angle, color, etc.

I can’t really give you a definite answer about how performance heavy it is, it’s probably better to ask the Maker of it (he’s a nice guy and usually replies very fast). But it has a few options for the quality level of the volumetric clouds, the lightning, and all the stuff that affects performance, without (in my opinion) looking bad on the low levels.
I saw only a few fps (like 2-4) drop in my project, but that was in a rather empty scene without a lot going on. I yet have to test it in a heavy load scene. So I think it really depends on how you set it up.

My guess is, as you’ve a talented developer in your team already, he should be able to tweak it enough to make it usable without a big performance loss. And you could always just use it for the very customizable day & night cycle and maybe the weather effects, since your clouds look really nice already and fit your artstyle very well. Or just use it as a base to build / expand your own system.

Hope that helps. (:

Thanks for the info! I’ve contacted the maker and watched videos of the system and others like it for almost an entire day. You really got me into finding a good sky solution. And yesterday evening I came to a conclussion after exntensive comparing between Orbit and Ultra dynamic sky. And we finally settled for ultra dynamic sky due to the fact it’s a very leight weight solution. Orbit has a LOT of awesome features and for it’s price it’s definitely a solid buy. But most of the features provided in Orbit are features that we are probably never going to use and weren’t really looking for in particular. For example the rain and snow effects use distant fields which we can’t enable in our project due to heavy performance hits when combined with our water shader as we use a transparency sorting workaround that is quite the hit on FPS and causes issues with distance field generating. Also, we didn’t really like the night time cloud look and the system doesn’t come with a good fog solution. It requires us to enable yet another performance hungry feature (volumetric lighting) which would end being way over our graphical budget. One of the main goals of creating our game is still providing a VERY smooth experience for as many systems as possible. The thunder and rain by itself could be useful in our project in the distant future though. That was one thing that had us interested. But in the end we came down to the conclusion that we just wanted an epic day night cycle that creates the exact atmosphere and mood we want at any second of the day. And we found that Ultra dynamic sky does exactly that. In terms of atmosphere color and also because it’s lightweight, very easy to customize (as is Orbit of course) and set up. I’ve now implemented UDS and we are all very happy with the results. It’s very customizable and all the color curves are very easy to adjust. So I can definitely recommend UDS as day and night solution as well.

Orbit is a brilliant system, especially for it’s very modest price. But the out of the box beauty and lightweight solution of UDS won us over. We thank you in particular for bringing it to our attention that there are full blown day and night systems out there. We were actually going to create our own. Which would most likely not be anywhere as great as Orbit or UDS and take forever. :slight_smile:

Some screenshots of different times of day will follow shortly when our water shader has reached it’s next step. We have also added a few new features to the game as wel as a fully completed (VERY awesome) ship model. I can’t get over how awesome a job our artist did and can’t wait to show you folks. So stay tuned!

A very darkish sneak peak, as to not reveal too much yet: Screen capture - 4f399ecaba25294f87d012b522c46714 - Gyazo :3 (And yes that’s UDS in action. The moon still has to change to something more fitting though)

Some new screenshots for you guys:

Most of the things you see in the screenshots are interactable. You can turn off/ on lanterns, you can go into the crow’s nest, use cannons, steer the ship, repair the ship, open hatches, drop ladders, open sails, … and much much more will folow. There are also a lot of things that are moving, such as sails, masts, ladders, hanging lanterns, … We want the gameplay on the ships to be really interactive. Lots of small things you can change and do. We are now in the process of fixing some bugs and getting some players together for some extensive multiplayer testing. All the while we will be recording. And in a few days we will release our first gameplay video.

For some reason the screenshots are not showing in this post. Just check the first opening post to see them. I updated it with the new screenshots. Cheers!

A small video of me going through some of the stuff we have atm. It’s a bit of crappy video with not much actual gameplay. But we are working on getting some people together to do a live multiplayer video. So stay tuned. :slight_smile:

Hello everyone!

We have a small announcement to make. We have been debating over a few things concerning the roadmap of Skulls & Timber. Out of this debate came two major decisions.

First off we will be changing from a 1st person camera to a 3rd person camera. Reason being this will save us A LOT of time and headaches, so we can focus on content and quality of awesome animations / models.

Secondly, we will be overhauling our graphical style a little bit. We initially chose for a diffuse none-texture style. But we have decided to add some texture detail after all. We will be adding normal detail using zbrush to pretty much everything we make, giving it more character and making our world feel less empty.

What does this mean for development? Well, we will have to rework quite a bit of models (unwrapping them, adding detail, reimporting) and we have to rewrite some code to make everything based on 1 third person camera viewpoint. This will halt further development for about a week. After that we will do some more bug fixing and tweaking and then we hope to finally make a multiplayer video. We have promised this for much too long now and it’s really time we made one. The difficulty is getting people together to record the gameplay. As everyone we can send the build always has something to do that prevents them from being able to play when everyone else does. But redemption is close as we are looking to set up a dedicated server soon once we get a stable build with little to no bugs and then we will send out some builds to folks so they can connect to the server whenever they want. The server will most likely have 50 slots. Which should be plenty to always have at least a few players online. If you are interested in receiving a build to play test, please don’t hesitate to send me a pm!

We are sorry for the delay and the fact we haven’t updated the thread in more than a week, we needed some time to clear some things up and discuss some important matters about the future of our game. But everything is now back on track and we are ready to throw you guys new updates weekly. So stick around! :slight_smile: