Design it, Drive it: Speedboats is a speedboat simulator with high fidelity physics that lets you design and drive your own speedboats from more than 25 adjustable parameters on a Windows PC, then compete with it against other players via a leaderboard in a top speed shootout, run lapped solo time trials, or just free drive as you please with no constraints. Whether you end up with boats that are slow, fast, turn well, chine walk, or tend to blow over at high speeds or not depends on what you do with the shape and design of the hull.

Boat Design Variables:

There are more than 25 adjustable parameters in the simulator you can play with that affect not only the boat’s appearance, but also the performance and handling. Some of these include:

  • Single, twin, and triple engine outboard installations (up to 900 total horsepower with triples)
  • Engine power (150 hp through 300 hp in 25 hp increments guided by or using real outboard engine dyno data)
  • Propeller pitch
  • Overall hull length, width, and molded depth
  • Transom height
  • Chine width
  • Bow and transom deadrise angles
  • Cockpit position, width, and dash height
  • Seat positions and floor depth (the driver’s position matters a great deal for balance)
  • Bow top shape
  • Overall hull curvature
  • Pad or no pad: With a pad you can choose the pad deadrise (side) angle, length, width, and height.
  • Strakes/Step positions, width, and deadrise (side) angle. You can run two steps or no steps.
  • Jackplate setback (from 4 to 12 inches)
  • Weight can be adjusted from 0% (lightest) to 100% (double the lightest weight) in 10% increments.

The boat mesh is generated procedurally (mathematically) from the above parameters. The physics computations are run directly on those mesh triangles for your design. All parameters affect the handling and top speed of the boat in much the same way they do on a real boat.

The physics code/vehicle simulation model driving all this is a proprietary system that solves thousands of hydrodynamic, skin friction, buoyancy, and aerodynamic forces separately on almost every triangle in the boat mesh, lower unit, and powerhead as well as the individual propeller blades. This is not your typical boat game!

Because of the high level of physics computation and the flexible, engineering oriented, procedural approach to boat design, the boat meshes are low poly compared to most simulators. You are literally driving the physics model here, not some hyper detailed 3D mesh with a simple physics model underneath it that’s in no way related to the visuals like in most games and simulators. What you see is what you get, and what it may lack in the visual department, it makes up for in physics. Real life boat racers including Formula 1, 2, 3, and offshore powerboat racers use this simulator to keep their driving skills sharp.

A Few Physics Details:

  • Chine walk naturally comes out of the model as well as blowover. A lot can be learned about both by experimenting with the hull design and driving techniques inside the boat sim. You can learn to control chine walk in a real boat by practicing it safely in the simulator first.
  • Skin friction at the hull and lower unit is computed using a sophisticated Reynold’s number approach that depends on the details of the water/hull interaction, so as you trim the engine or adjust the hull or pad design to raise the bow or hull out of the water with aerodynamic lift, the effect on top speed is similar to what you would get with a real boat. The same goes for the cockpit operated hydraulic jackplate which can be used to raise the entire engine up to minimize wetted drag on the lower unit to attain even higher speeds.
  • Paddlewheel effects due to surface piercing propellers come out of the physics model due to the individual propeller blade modelling, so when the jack plate is raised or the engine trim is adjusted to lift the propeller partly out of the water (surface piercing prop) in the hunt for maximum speed, the lopsided propeller forces from blades exposed to the air tend to steer the boat which requires a steering correction similar to real life surfacing propellers.

VR support

Oculus VR headsets are optional. Multimonitors are supported. The developer runs this on Oculus Rift DK2 or triple monitors at 5870×1200 resolution. Several players are running it on CV1 too and have reported that it runs as smooth as silk.

  • Oculus Rift DK1, DK2, and CV1 : Fully supported. Requires Oculus Home 1.3 or higher.
  • Vive: NOT YET supported, but will come.

Controller support

  • Fully configurable with axes/buttons. Use a keyboard, gamepad buttons/axes, joystick, steering wheel (force feedback supported), a combination of all of these, etc.. Anything that DirectInput can see should work for a controller.
  • Steam Controller does not have full native support, but can be made to work with some effort. See tutorial:
  • VR handheld controllers are NOT supported. In VR mode you use a mouse and keyboard to navigate the user interface, change cameras, etc..

The best setup is a force feedback steering wheel + pedals with a mouse and keyboard within reach.

Developer info

This solo indie project is written/created by Todd Wasson, formerly the physics engine programmer/vehicle dynamics engineer behind Virtual RC Racing and it’s successor, VRC Pro. Todd has been writing physics engines and vehicle models since before 2000 and specializes in vehicle dynamics.

Audio was created by Greg Hill of Soundwave Concepts, the master car (and now boat) engine audio developer behind iRacing and many other sim racing titles.

Future development

Provided there’s enough support from the community, this product’s development will continue after Steam release with an aim first on providing more types of boats and fixing any issues that arise. In development next: Tunnel boats!