Port Royale 4 – Captain’s Log Update 1.1

Hi everyone,

My name is Moritz, also known on Steam as ‘Lord MK’, and I am the Producer of Port Royale 4.

Our aim with this captain’s log is to fill you in on the upcoming changes that will arrive alongside Update 1.1, as well as to offer some insight into why we’ve made these decisions.

Bringing back the old warehouses (while keeping the new ones)

The way in which warehouses work is different in Port Royale 4 than in previous entries in the series. In Port Royale 4, you can build production buildings without having to own a warehouse, meaning those goods produced will automatically be sold to the city. While some of you like this new system, we’ve heard loud and clear that not everyone does.

To remedy this, we have decided to bring back the old warehouse system as an option in Free Game Mode, requiring you to first build a warehouse before being able to construct any production buildings. The default system of auto-selling goods to towns is now gone. Instead, produced goods will be stored in your warehouse, just as long as you have enough storage capacity. If your warehouse is full, the goods will be sold to the city at the current market price.

More excitingly, you will also now get to choose how your warehouses work! The new warehouse system will stay put but, when starting a Free Game, you will be able to choose from the new or old system. In both versions, the choice to auto-sell goods from warehouses to towns will be relegated entirely to the player, requiring you to first hire a administrator to take care of your warehouse.

We also had another look at the upkeep costs associated with warehouses and decided to reduce these on lower difficulties.

Warehouse Administrator Screenshot - English

Tweaks to money harder to accrue and more rewarding in-game

In previous entries in the series, the amount of money you started with wouldn’t even net you one full shipment of expensive goods. However, in Port Royale 4 this system was a bit more generous, enabling you to purchase multiple shipments of goods, even those that were a bit more costly.

Upon reflection, we believe that this reduces the perceived value of money and we’ve decided to tweak it to better represent the cash flow in previous games – where every dollar you earned was meaningful, especially in the early-game.

To achieve this, we are introducing the following changes to money in Port Royale 4:

  • We’ve removed the trading licence requirement from your nation’s towns, as this meant starting the game with more funds than were strictly needed. Now, you will only require a trading licence to trade with other nations. We feel this offers the additional strategic choice of decking out your empire with new ships and buildings, or focusing more on your trade network and expanding this to include more towns and nations
  • We’ve tweaked price curves to reduce price plateaus
  • We’ve increased the cost of buying ships. We feel this gives meaning back to the tactic of ordering ships instead of simply buying them for a slightly higher price.

These changes will allow us to reduce the amount of money you start the game with and, as with previous entries, give a sense of achievement when you are finally able to make that first big purchase, such as ordering a second ship.

Difficulty settings – helping you find the right level of challenge

We received a lot of feedback about the difficulty of Port Royale 4, a common criticism being that when you start a Free Game without altering your difficulty settings, you will likely have a very easy play through. While we heard this was good for new players, allowing them to learn the ropes without being tested too much, we were made aware that this lack of challenge wasn’t living up to the difficulty expectations of those more familiar with the series and trade sims in general.

We also had it brought to our attention that those more advanced difficulty settings are currently quite tough to find, so we decided to introduce a dedicated difficulty screen to Free Game mode from which you can select your desired level of challenge.

Here, you will be asked to choose between three different pre-set difficulties, or a fourth ‘Custom’ setting which allows you to tweak certain difficulty-related aspects of the game such as the aforementioned warehouse systems and the choice between armed and unarmed trading convoys. We hope that this new approach will greatly reduce the frustration surrounding difficulty, and make things clearer for newcomers and experienced players alike.

Difficulty Settings Screenshot - English

As you can see, the option ‘I Want A Relaxing Game’ includes all of the newer features of the series such as automated trade routes and the new approach to warehouses. This difficulty is recommended to those who are new to the series and the trading sim sub-genre.

The second option, ‘I Want A Decent Challenge’, uses the original iterations of these features, which can increase the difficulty of the game and should feel more familiar to long-time fans of the series. We recommend this difficulty to players who are looking for a challenge and familiar with the trading sim sub-genre.

The third difficulty option ‘I Am The Ruler Of The Seas’ will deliver what we believe to be the hardest difficulty Port Royale 4 has to offer. This option will test your endurance and trade acumen. We recommend this option only to those looking to put their skills to the absolute test.

Finally, there is the ‘Custom Game’ difficulty option. This allows you to customize your difficulty curve to your liking. We thought that some of you might enjoy a mix of both old and new features. If so, this option is for you.

In Port Royale 4, choice is key. Including as many options as possible so to allow players to customize the experience to their liking is one of the general design philosophies we have tried to follow with this update. We know the game’s player base is very broad, so we hope that everyone will be happy with the level of difficulty customization now available. It is also likely that more options will follow in the future.

Armed AI merchant convoys (arriving shortly after Update 1.1)

Before we dig deeper into this topic, it is important to note that this mechanic will not arrive with Update 1.1 as initially planned. We have been experimenting with different implementations and we feel that we have found a solution. However, this will take time, so instead of delaying Update 1.1, we have decided to add this mechanic as a hotfix following the deployment of the update, so that we don’t have to keep anyone waiting any longer than necessary for the new update.

On to the mechanic itself.

We’ve heard from the community that early-game piracy is not rewarding enough for those looking for action and naval battles over peaceful trading. At the same time, we had it brought to our attention that due to there not being any weak military convoys in the game, you never really get the chance for early-game low-tier battles. To address this, we decided to now arm AI merchant convoys with weak military escorts. We feel this will make early-game piracy more challenging but also more rewarding, as you will have access to even more loot from the vanquished military escorts and even an opportunity to increase your fleet should you choose to board and commandeer a warship.

As with the new approach to warehouses, this mechanic will be entirely optional, and it is up to you as to if you would like the additional challenge of battling these escorts.

Closing words

We hope that you are as excited as we are about the upcoming changes and we would love to hear your thoughts once you get the chance to try out the new adjustments. Of course, this won’t be the last update, and we will iterate further if we feel that things could be even more improved.

Additionally, we are aware that these are not all topics that you would like us to tackle but we ask that you bear with us. There will be more updates in the future, so please keep the feedback coming. We’re proud to have such an engaged and passionate community and we can’t wait to see what you think about the new changes to Port Royale 4.

Thank you for your patience and happy sailing!

Moritz and the Port Royale 4 team