I am thinking about this idea for a very long time and since I see that the complaints about demasting are on the rise again and that many mostly blame the accuracy of our cannons for this, I decided to present this Idea in a hopefully fashionable manner. Keep in mind these are just some ideas I have and want to share. I don’t insist that these should be implemented nor would I be frustrated if they won’t (I will just write a bad steam review ).
I too think that our cannons are far too accurate and thus enable players to snipe for specific parts of an hostile ship. Especially at longer ranges. Also the speed of changing your point of aim, acquiring a new target and the feeling of disconnection of the cannons from the ship, bothers me. Our cannons act like they are mounted on modern turrets. You can single shoot masts and if you miss you can instantly adjust your point of aim (horizontal and vertical) and shoot again with almost no delay whatsoever. Also, the up and down motion of the ship doesn’t influence the aiming at all. Sure, heel does influence your max and min elevation, but doesn’t pose a real problem.
So the main subject of my idea is, that the cannons and their point of aim really get fixed to the deck and are affected by roll, pitch and heel. So our aim bar constantly moves with the ship. The roll in the game right now is moderate to almost nonexistent because the sea in the instances is very calm. Maybe that should change too (variation). Heel can be significant but everybody should know by now how to minimize it. I don’t know if pitch plays a role, since aiming at the moment is not very much affected by the movement of the ship.
Furthermore, the change of horizontal orientation and elevation of cannons should be a bit slower. Cannons were manhandled with handspikes to change these parameters. This took time and to instantly fire a cannon during this (like we can do now) wasn’t possible. So cannons in game should not be able to fire while being traversed or elevated.
A simple example of how it could be shown to the player that his cannons aren't ready to fire during adjustments
What will be the effects of this? Changing horizontal traverse and elevation isn’t almost instantly anymore. Adjusting your aim to snipe enemy masts in a fast manner isn’t an option anymore. To have a further option of balance. carronades could receive a buff in horizontal traverse speeds due to their carriages. Changing elevation fast to quickly aim at the waterline and right after that back at the hull or masts won’t be possible anymore. You must pre-plan your broadside. You must calculate how and where you want to aim and how to position your ship to get the best result. In fact you will mostly don’t touch the elevation setting of your cannons and aim with the ship now and keep your guns leveled to the deck and use roll to either shoot high or low. You don't wan't an arched flight path of your balls and want to keep it as flat as possible. Elevation then comes into place if you want to compensate for heel or are very close to your opponent but still want to shoot high.
Also there would be a use for battle sails and people wouldn’t sail around with all sails set all the time. Full sails let the ship heel but also stabilize it against roll (although I somewhere read that higher speed makes the roll more unpredictable, sailing experts?). No sails on the other hand won’t let your ship heel as much but let your ship roll too unpredictable. Battle sails could be the middle ground between both extremes. A moderate heel and a moderate more predictable roll. I also read somewhere on the forum that the current battles sails layout isn’t exactly correct with set topgallants and royals but again, I think our sailing experts can prove me wrong on this or give better explanations.
A downside with current firing mechanics in combination with my proposed idea above is that many shots of a broadside probably won’t hit due to the ship movement. Well at least if you are not right next to the enemy ship. Right now we can single shot with space bar or release a whole broadside with a mouse click, where many shots will miss and be wasted. I believe that no gun captain would fire his cannon if the target isn’t in sight (I assume he has a clear picture and is not hindered by smoke). Therefor I would like an additional way of releasing a broadside. This was an idea of @Hethwill some time ago. He suggested that, while you hold down spacebar your ship will fire a rolling broadside (front, back, random). If you release spacebar it will instantly stop and will continue at the next cannon if you hold spacebar down again. Maybe a general gimmick could be to let the player choose between 2 or 3 different rates of firing intervals. With one where almost all guns fire at the same time. This could increase the probability of a reload shock of your enemy. A downside could be that it also has a small negative effect on your structure. But that's just an extra and honestly not really needed.
Until now I just made it harder to actually hit a target. I would also propose something more positive for the gunplay.
As far as I know, the transparent fire sector roughly shows where the shots will land. I don’t know exactly where the aim bar is pointing but I assume it is somehow an elongation of the bore axis (of course somehow the average of all decks). I would like to keep it that way with a few adjustments. I will explain these things with a few pictures too. At first, all decks should be independent from each other. This means different point of aim and also different cannon loads per deck. You will basically see an aim bar for every deck (aiming all decks at once should still be possible). If you go into aim mode of a deck, the correspondent bar will be highlighted and a vertical axis for elevation and horizontal axis for traverse will appear. There would be middle markers (where the cannon is leveled/perpendicular to the deck) and min and max markers. This way you could load chain on the top deck and aim it a bit higher, while the two other decks are loaded with double shot. Or you are up close and preparing for a boarding action. So load your small top cannons with grape, while still pounding the gun deck and waterline with ball. Since it is a bit more complicated, I think UI wise it would be probably better to use the mouse for everything instead of smashing long button combinations (like 1 - 1 - 2 for example).
no deck selected
all decks selected and in aiming mode (chain loaded only on the top deck)
all decks selected and traversed to the right
example to show what I mean: only the lowest deck is selected and all decks are aimed differently
In addition to that, captains should be able to mark up to three individual set settings on the elevation bar. You can experiment against AI or whatever you like and find some good settings that will help you in future battles. For example, you roughly know how far 200 meters are. With simple trial and error you can set the cannons of all decks to an elevation, where they will hit the target at 200 meters and roughly the same spot and mark it on the elevation bar. Doesn’t matter if the top deck consists of carronades while the other deck mounts longs. Or you keep your top deck always loaded with chain and aimed higher, because the low caliber won’t penetrate the hull of the enemy ship.
example of premarked elevation settings. Deck 2 and 3 set to almost the same elevation, while deck one is elevated higher (the colors are just to make them more distinguishable)
Since gunnery would be less accurate with those ideas, other things could also be adjusted. Like the thickness of hulls back to normal values. Leaks can be more dangerous (although I think they are fine as they are right now). Performance of cannons and carronades could be adjusted. Maybe introduce different firing mechanisms for cannons like flint lock and fuse ignition, which affects the delay between the command to fire and actual release of the round.
So a rough overview of what these ideas can change
no more easy mast-sniping (especially at long ranges)
no more easy waterline sniping
long range chaining very difficult - easier to escape
a purpose for battle sails
positioning and maneuvers are even more important
more difficult to get the perfect rake (also affecting long range rakes)
individual loadouts and aiming of every deck
possible reintrodution of reasonable hull thickness because it is harder to hit consistently
also adjustments of cannon damage possible to make up for worse accuracy (a really good broadside should have a big impact)
too complex and over-complicating mechanics
can be frustrating
no real difference with current calm and invariable sea states/ship movements
many others I bet....
Since we introduced swivels with the new pirate refitted LGV I thought about a way to implement them to all ships. Every ship should have some places where you can install swivels if you want. An example is shown in the picture below. To fit swivels to your ship you have to select in port where you want them on your ship. Maybe limit the number of swivels so not every point can be equipped with them. The player could also be allowed to switch the positions during the battle. This should take some time of course.
To man the swivels in the battle instance with crew, there should be a second option in the boarding menu (like press 9 and then 2 for “man swivels”) to fire the swivels you can switch between them and aim them personally at your target. I made some example pictures with a swivel aft and one at the fighting top.
This can be a nuisance to smaller ships who like to stern camp your SoL. Those swivels can also be used in the new boarding mechanics if the devs are still on it.
So, this was it. Remember, these are just some ideas I had.If everything stays as it is, fair enough