I do currently play Sailaway, the sailing simulator on Steam. I sometimes really like simulations, because they can give you an impression how something would be, in this case how it would be to sail through the waters. And yes, it’s still not the same like in real, but who didn’t have questions like “How long would it take from A to B with a sailing boat?”. Maybe not everyone, but I find that intriguing. Simulations are to me a bit like role-play, I can try something out that I could not try out in real, unless I purchase a sailing boat, or unless I join a sailing club. You get what I mean, PC simulations allow me to take a role.
That’s one of the big reasons why I wanted to try out Sailaway. But another reason is that I loved a similar game back then, it was called Silent Hunter II and as you might expect, it was a game where you had to command a German submarine. That was already interesting, but what fascinated me the most about it was that you could for example start in the German military harbour in Kiel, but from there you could go anywhere. And yes, if you did not use the game feature to accelerate the time, it took you a lot of time to get from Kiel to the English Channel where you would expect a lot of enemy movement. And while the whole navy aspect of the game was very interesting, the moving of your own naval unit through the waters was even more so. And this is what I like about Sailaway as well, you can travel the whole world with your sail boat, it just takes a lot of time. They designed the game on a way that a trip across the Pacific take months, just as it would on a real boat.
You might think that sounds boring, but there are many different reasons why people would want to achieve this on a computer. It’s all about the experience but in my case it’s also because I like games for the times in between. What I mean is, I don’t always like action, and sometimes I do enjoy games where I can relax. Sometimes I am just online to hang around with my friends on our TeamSpeak server, to have voice-chat, but staring at the Google logo in my browser makes me tired. We do usually play games together, but sometimes we’re just online to talk and these are times where I like to start games that are less complicated. You can play Sailaway on a very complicated way, but there is also a difficulty level where you don’t have to set the sails on your own, you just need to steer. That’s what I like, chatting with friends and doing something on the screen in a less complicated game.
Since simulations are usually about what you want to achieve, and not what the game tells you to achieve, I had to come up with a plan. As someone from Lübeck, I decided to start my sail boat in Travemünde because that’s just outside of my own city. I do identify myself with this place and since simulations are to me also like role-play, I decided to start where I live. I had lots of ideas where my route could go, but after a few hours on my way to the small island Fehrmarn near Lübeck, I continued to sail to the North without a certain destination in my mind. But looking at the map in the game I decided to continue my route to the Danish island Lolland. When I arrived I created some waypoints on the map because I got the idea to set the Swedish city Malmö as destination.
As you can see on the game map, at the time I write this, I am still in the North-West of Lolland but already pretty far away from Travemünde where I started. But now you maybe see my point, what is so great about simulations is that you have the freedom to choose whatever you want to achieve in the game. It’s all about you and the things you want to try out. By the way there is a faster way to the Swedish city but I really wanted to cruise through the Danish islands as well. To the point where I am right now, it took me about 15 hours, or three days of chatting with my friends in TeamSpeak, while taking care that my boat is not set in iron (stopped with the sails unable to catch wind because of the wind direction). I am pretty sure that you could have been faster, but curious as I am, I was a few times on detours because I wanted to see something near the land. Before I went offline, I threw the anchor because otherwise your boat will continue even if your PC is shut down.
As you can see in the screenshot above, I also threw the anchor a few times to customize my boat. There is a tool in the game that allows you customize some things. I didn’t want to spend too much time on it, but I liked the fact that you could type in your home port and then it would be visible on the back of the boat. I had also chosen a German flag, but you can do a lot more than that, like adjusting how your sails look like and so on. Since this is an online world, it can happen that you see other boats and I liked the idea that someone could see where I am from. I saw one sail boat with “Rostock” on the boat and wondered if he was like me, using his real home port on the boat. This is so intriguing about simulations, in this case you see nothing except water but out of the sudden you spot another boat on the horizon. You start to wonder if they have similar reasons to play the game, or if they are really into sailing and need simulations for the times being at home.
I myself, I will continue on my route whenever I want to enjoy a less complicated game, and when I do voice-chat with my friends. Apart from talking, it keeps me a bit busy on the computer and I like the idea to find out how long it would take to a certain destination with a sail boat. My plan is now to reach Malmö and it will probably take some time and lots of talking on our TeamSpeak server, but then again it’s interesting pastime. Maybe when I am arrived, I could cruise around Denmark, reaching the North Sea, and maybe from the the English channel. And maybe I will get totally insane to sail over the Atlantic, but probably not (laugh). But you get my point, the game is not running away and even if I just play it once in a month for a few hours, it’ll be funny to see where I end up.
If you wonder how detailed the game is, well, they used real maps and as said it’ll take you as much time as in real to sail from one point to the next one. But of course they can’t be accurate with structures on the land, and I think a lot of it are just randomly generated assets except for some important landmarks. I was for example sad when I found out the Fehmarn Sound Bridge is not in the game, but it would take ages to design every single structure on this earth. In other words it’s impossible. But immersion can also come from the fact that routes take as long as in real. I also liked that you see seagulls whenever you are near land mass. And the fact that the weather is real since they take the data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which means the weather changes depending on how the weather is at the real location. There is also a day night cycle in the game, and the sky is beautiful. The water looks great and the waves are never the same since it is calculated by the wind data.
So far I did pretty much enjoy what I saw in the game. Sailway is a really nice sailing simulation for PC. If you are into this type of stuff, I suggest you to try it out.