Program Help

How to use Archipelago

Racing into the sunset


The Archipelago program is 100% FREE to install and use and it is fully functional but if you don’t mind, send me an optional email as I’d like to know whether you like the program (or not) or tell me what you want changed and in return I will try to do my best to accommodate your wish and keep you updated about the latest developments, etc…

NOTE: if you have not yet installed Archipelago, download the 100% functional free program (for Windows only) from there are instructions on how to install over there; really simple.

You can always contact me by email here

Rest assured that I will never disclose your email address to anyone as I hate spam as much as you do!


The program always starts with a “Scene” of a wide calm ocean, the sky and a couple of simple buoys. You are looking WEST and you are the world’s “Origin”. Big colored “XYZ” coordinates show up at the origin and smaller XYZ at the “selected” object (a buoy at startup) and a tiny “+” floating over the waves at the center of the screen (this is a center pointer). The XYZ’s are RGB (Red, Green, Blue) denoting the (X, Y, Z) axis; these can be turned off under the tab named “Other” (as well as some other less-needed-options)

Startup screen

For people with short attention span, this startup screen may look a little “boring” but wait! It gets better! Please keep reading:

You move around your scene using the mouse (better to use a REGULAR MOUSE left/right button down and drag and wheel) or you can use the arrow keys (Up/Down/Left/Right arrows combined with Shift button and Ctrl button). I included a file Keys.txt in folder where the program installs; the file shows important keyboard “shortcuts” which are really convenient; you can also read this file using the program’s menu: “Help/Key Shortcuts” – the program also supports Joystick if you have one present.

You will notice that as you move the mouse pointer toward the left side of the window scene, the “CONTROL PANEL” side window will pop up. It has tabs “Main“, “Weather“, “Map” and “Other“. This is where you can control important aspects of the simulation which will become obvious as you try to use them. I will explain below. Move mouse pointer back toward the scene to make the control panel window disappear. There is also an important MENU at the top to load Files and “Situations” and to access the Help.

Startup Screen with Control Panel

HINT: you may notice that after moving back to the scene you might have to click the mouse to get the keyboard “focus” back on that window for keyboard shortcuts to work as expected.

First you create a RANDOM TERRAIN by selecting from the menu “File/ New Archipelago”.

It is always different unless you save it in a “Situation”(more about that later)! It generates a number of terrains (10 exactly = “the Archipelago world”) and locates them randomly. If you don’t like the terrain, just remove it (“File/Remove Archipelago”) and generate a new one. NOTE: although unlikely, it is possible when generating new terrain that you may end up “inside” the terrain (like in a cave); if this happens, just remove terrain and recreate.

When happy with the terrain you can start adding boats/structures (use menu “File / Load Model”). Objects are located at the position of the center-of-screen “pointer” (the small red “+”)

Cursor File/Load Model/Marlow66 make sure you are not pointing to the sky or objects may end up “behind” you !!

Note: The program accepts any number of OBJ models and I included several: an OBJ file (and it corresponding material MTL file) need to be slightly modified to be brought into Archipelago; this is to be able to scale it, tell if it “floats” or not etc…. but theoretically you could use your own OBJ files or downloaded from the internet (i.e: ); I will explain somewhere else how to modify OBJ files; but for now if you want to add your own models, please send me an email and I’ll be glad to help you 🙂


Obviously you don’t have to recreate every Situation every time! Right? You can save it and later re-load it. To save your “situation” use “File/Save Situation”; this will save the isles (terrain) and all the current models, structures, time, weather etc… which you can reload some other time. You will notice that within a “Situation” you can have multiple “Cases” that share the same TERRAIN.

You can share Situations with your friends: from the Files menu use Export/Import which will ZIP / UNZIP any situation.


In the “main” tab notice the check-boxes labeled “fly mode”, “on board” and “Horizon”; these control how the “camera” (YOU) move in relation to the scene. In “fly mode” (F key toggles this mode) you are free to “fly” over your world as if in a crude airplane; use the mouse, keyboard or joystick(if present) to move around. Practice! You can also use the CURSOR keys to look/move around (the “SHIFT” button accelerates the movement). Check “on board”(O key toggles this mode) to tie the view to the selected boat (camera will move with the boat – but… YOU BETTER BE CLOSE TO THE BOAT or you will swing up and down crazy!). When “on-board” you can check the “horizon” (H key to toggle) to keep it horizontal; un-check “horizon” for more realistic view … but may get a little dizzy… and start feeling “sea sick”; I don’t want you to throw-up and make a mess on my boat!


Notice the small red “o” cursor in the middle of the screen (on the waves) as you “look around”; when adding objects (models) they will be initially placed at the position of the small cursor (the small red “o”); make sure to are not pointing to the sky or objects may end up “behind” you !! On LAND when placing structures, the “o” cursor, that points to the surface of the ocean, splits now showing a “+” where the structure will be added. Use menu “File/Load Model at Cursor”; a Windows File Explorer dialog is displayed; under the “models” folder, select a boat (i.e: vagabond, bochica, seaangler, marlow66 etc…) which obviously float, OR you can select a structure (houses, docks etc…) which (obviously) do NOT float. The object remains selected until you change it:

Selected object

Once added the model shows in the corresponding “combo box” which shows the selected model. Only ONE object/model (OBJ) can be “selected” at a time: either a “boat” or a “structure”; use the combo box under the “main” tab to select a boat, or the combo box under the “Other” tab to select a structure or buoy; you can move them around (using cursor keys) by checking “rotate/translate model”. IMPORTANT: after you are done moving, translating or rotating an object in your scene remember to TURN the checkbox OFF … it will become obvious why.

Boats (and sailboats) are automatically “Anchored and Docked” when you load them. Free them using Ctrl-A and Ctrl-D. The difference between “anchored” and “docked” is that when anchored the boat is free to rotate with the wind; when docked it is not. Notice that you need to be UN-Docked to do a manual Y rotation on a boat.

REMINDER: all keyboard shortcuts are displayed under menu Help

Use the “E” key to start/stop engine (or the Engine button in the Power Panel); “R” for reverse (or the Rev checkbox); following many game standards, ASDWX keys control typical things: “W” and “X” for throttle up/down (or the vertical slidebar). Rudder is controlled with “A” (left), “S” (center” and “R” (right) (or horizontal slidebar).

For sailboats, use the “M”, “J”, “Ctrl-M” to rig up/down the “Main”, “Jib” and “Mizzen”(if present); you can lose or tighten the boom with “B” and “Ctrl-B” … or use the control panel corresponding checkboxes.

When navigating long distances (unless you are feeling more “adventurous”) you may want to use the “AutoPilotand / or “AutoSail features; just point in the direction you want to go and press “Ctrl-P” to keep heading in that direction and “Ctrl-S” to let the program automatically adjust sails according to wind/boat direction/speed; remember you can still jump from one boat to another (select boat) and the program remembers your position in relation to the boat unless you are “flying”. If you are flying, get close to the boat and press “O” to get “on-board”.

CORRECTION: AutoSail is automatically turned on for all sailboats EXCEPT the one you selected (the one you are piloting) because… it makes it too easy 😉 and… it is more realistic/challenging when racing other computer-controlled sailboats.

The “weather” tab is used to change things like wind strength and direction; these also
control the deep-sea wave height and direction. Wave length is controlled by Depth.
Notice that wind GUSTS do not affect waves but will definitively affect sailing; also in this tab you can add FOG effects and you can change time-of-day. Here you have to play a little bit to make it “realistic”. For instance: in deep sea you should increase depth which will increase wave length.

Weather tab


The “Map” tab has an abbreviated MINI-MAP which show your position (red square) in relation to all (ten) randomly generated terrains (green) and gaze direction. It will also show position of other boats in your scene (orange)

Map Simple More Detail Checked

When “show more detail” is checked you can zoom in/out (using the horizontal slidebar) your closest terrain and you can add “Markers” to your scenery (cone buoys): by CLICKING ON THE MINI-MAP.

Markers are the numbers in green

Any boat can be selected to follow the ROUTE by pressing “Assign route from markers” and then “START assigned route”; of course you have to be “piloting” (select) that particular boat. Remember you can switch to any boat at any time!

Markers Assignment

Of course different boats CAN HAVE different routes using this mechanism and the routes are not necessarily visible buoys unless you press “Place markers at route”. If you are following a route you can temporarily “pause” following and later “resume”. These routes and the markers are saved in the Situation file.

Now you can see how to use the MAP, MARKERS and ROUTES to set up a race against the computer: this is because any boat/sailboat that has a route assigned and which is NOT your currently selected boat will automatically follow the route using AutoPilot and AutoSail!

Bochica approaching marker # 3

The “Other” Tab

These tab contains things that are rather optional; like whether you like showing the global XYZ axis or not. Also important nice-to-have options that may or may not affect performance like: shadows, choppy waters, waves spray, reflections, ropes and pulleys and Kelvin wakes. If your CPU / GPU is struggling to keep up the frame rate, you can try turning off some of these options. It will be saved as your preference for the next time you boot-up the program.

But the highest impact in graphics performance (FPS = frames per second) is of course the complexity of your scene, the quality of your graphics card, CPU and total available memory

It is notable that this is the tab where you can “manually” move or rotate any currently selected object.

Rotate/Translate or move

You can also take a “ScreenShot”, reset the Camera view (back to the origin) and you may choose to show/hide the global XYZ axis and/or the Selected object XYZ axis.

But the highest impact in graphics performance (FPS = frames per second) is of course the complexity of your scene, the quality of your graphics card, CPU and total available memory

DEAR VISITOR: IF this GAME/SIMULATOR PROGRAM “catches-on” (meaning: lots of downloads + active user feedback) I will certainly add a MULTIPLAYER option …. so, it is up to YOU!

  • Program Menu
    • File
      • New Archipelago
        • Creates a new terrain (it is really a set of 10 isles)
      • Remove Archipelago
        • Removes terrain
      • Load Situation
        • Load a previously saved Situation
      • Save Situation
        • Saves or updates current scenery into current or new situation – a “Situation” is really defined by the terrain. You can have multiple “Cases” within a Situation with different objects, models, weather etc… but all cases share the same terrain.
      • Load Model
        • You can select a model (boat or structure) to place where the “+” pointer is. The model will be added to one of the combo lists (boats under the “main” tab and structures under the “Other” tab
      • Remove Model
        • Selected boat or structure can be removed or “All models”
      • Import Situation
        • Choose any situation to be ZIPPED for sharing with other users
      • Export Situation
        • Point to a ZIPPED Situation that was stored anywhere in your hard drive
    • Edit
      • Model Viewer / Editor – you can see any OBJ file in your hard drive to see how it will display in Archipelago – modifying OBJ files and MATERIAL files for proper use in Archipelago is considered too advanced for this help – I will include a link in the near future if the interest arise 🙂
    • Options
      • Lines – developer option displays polygons as lines rather than filled
      • Application Folder – opens Windows file explorer where the program is located
    • Help
      • Key Shortcuts – displays the keyboard shortcuts (file keys.txt) It is IMPORTANT to become familiar with these shortcuts
      • Readme – displays file Readme2.txt with short help
      • Legal – displays some legal jargon
      • Req Lic File – use to request a LIC file that will allow to program to run more than 10 minutes at a time. Will generate a code that you send me (PapaySailor)
      • About – info about Archipelago
  • Program TABS
    • Main – here you control the “camera” (views), the “Selected” boat and other aspects about the selected boat (anchor, docking, engine); most of these aspects can be controlled via keyboard shortcuts (see menu Help)
    • Weather – you can control waves and wind; the wind direction, wind speed and depth controls the waves direction, height and wavelength; notice that wind gusts do not change waves. In this tab you can also control the time-of-day and FOG.
    • Map – this tab gives you a small picture of the “world” you are in and where are you in relation to the terrain and other boats and it will also allow you to assign ROUTES for any selected boat (in case you want to) … this is totally optional – you can use MARKERS (cone buoys) to simulate racing other boats.
    • Other – controls some Scene options like visibility of XYZ markers and some other things but more importantly, by using the combo box this is where you can SELECT structures (buoys, cabins, docks etc…) to be moved or rotated – you can also use this tab to move selected boat quickly from one place to another (to where “+” cursor is pointing).
    • When “flying”, no boat is active (Selected). Just fly close to a boat and press “o” to get “on-board” and automatically select it – avoid getting “on board” when too far (it will become obvious why); press “o” again to get off-board or “f” to fly.
    • Press “Q” to switch between visible boats

%d bloggers like this: