Hello fellow sailors this will be a long reading. On the 28 August 2018 @admin posted this at the bottom of page 3 of the patch 26 thread
I always had some thoughts about this and now want to share it and explain how I imagine a new officer and crew system could potentially look like.
First of all I always thought that crew in this game stays to much on the sideline and has no real value other than being needed to crew a ship. Sure we have to pay a certain amount of reals to replace lost sailors but atm these are peanuts and nobody should have a problem to pay for crew. If you constantly loose first rates it could be expensive but if you constantly sail first rates, fight with them, lose and replace them, then I think that money isn't a real problem for you anyway.
What I also mean with value of crew is that we don’t really care about them. We don’t even surrender to lessen their suffering when we are completely outmatched or outgunned. Crew is simply to cheap and easily replaced. And with the new patch we have even less incentives to surrender because it lessens the chance to get your insurance for your ship if your enemy chooses to keep the ship and not sink it.
Our crew gloriously die for our cause and nobody even knows their names . Yet they are and should be the ones who make all our accomplishments possible. They load and aim the guns, they follow our (sometimes foolish) order to board and they set the sails and repair our ship. They keep the ship going.
So what I propose is in not to make hiring crew way more expensive but kind of a radical approach to the existing system. Mainly the system of ship knowledge and books on which the biggest emphasis lies at the moment and which is subject of many heated discussions. Additionally I also think that it is finally the time to introduce morale and fatigue during the battle and not only during the boarding mini-game.
So how do I imagine such a system?
The main part is to introduce certain officer roles and make the rest of the generic crew somehow persistent (until they die of course. This is debatable due to many issues but more to that further below)
To increase the performance of your ship you need an experienced crew and experienced officers who lead them. The officers and crew gain experience through sailing and fighting and they get better and better at what they do as long as they survive. So in short. Officers and crew take over the role of the current ship knowledge and books system. Basically this should make it possible for everyone who sails and fights a lot and is also successful during that to achieve a high level of knowledge and efficiency. It is not based on luck or plain grinding for rare books. Or paying a fortune to get the rarest and best books. It should level the playing field a bit and make it possible for everyone, even the average Joe and most casual player to achieve this if he wants.
The foundation of this is the officer corps of your ship. So in the ensuing chapter I would like to introduce and explain the main officer roles to you and what I think would be their skillset respectively their duties on board of the ship and of course why I think so. Furthermore, as a disclaimer, the whole system shouldn't get out of hands like some skill books obviously do. It is important that a fully experienced crew should never break current existing hard caps on bonuses. Maybe even those caps should be lowered all together. But this may be a whole different topic.
Players can have several officers because we also have several ships and of course need to crew them. We already had the officer mechanic (with name and perks) albeit only for one at a time. This time we get more. Maybe we can even implement some kind of training in the new academy building. So Officers who aren't on a ship can also be trained and gain xp at a smaller rate. I don't think that it should cost reals to hire officers. They get assigned by the admiralty and are also paid by it. No investment for the player here. On the other hand I can also imagine a market for good and experienced officers, so who knows.
The Lieutenants are the only other commissioned officers on board besides the captain. They are watchkeepers and have various other tasks on the ship. For example they commanded a sections of cannons and are in general a role model for the rest of the crew and supervise their work (hence the watchkeeping). That’s why I thought of these traits in the picture above. A very experienced lieutenant knows everything about his craft and naval warfare. He can teach how to increase the reload speed and how to aim properly because he also learned form the best. A very experienced Lieutenant is well respected and trusted. He gets the best out of his men and they do their best to not disappoint him. He keeps a cool head even in the fiercest battle and keeps the morale of his men high. He leads by example.
Since there were mostly more than one Lieutenant on the ship I think that their bonuses could add up but give diminishing returns as their number keeps rising. So SOLs will have an advantage over smaller ships in this case but still not as much as simply adding up the bonuses. Below a small table about the amount of officers on board of English ships I found (please correct me if this is wrong).
The master’s main responsibility is the navigation and sailing of the ship. To make sure of good sailing capabilities of the ship one of his tasks is to look after the stowing of the hold and the ballast to get the best possible weight distribution --> hence his effect on the roll angle and other sailing qualities of the ship. For navigation purposes his task is to calculate the position of the ship. So I would finally introduce a feature that makes it possible to get the players position on the map. For gameplay purposes and the possibility of gaining experience in this trait I would say the position should not be pinpoint exact but with good accuracy. Thus the accuracy increases with experience. I think the position on the map should be updated once per in game day and maybe the player could demand a rough position whenever he likes (maybe also only once or two times a day?).
His other traits derive of the fact, that he is responsible for the sailing and supervision of sailing maneuvers. Since one of his tasks is also the provision and condition of the sails and rigging, he could share some traits with the boatswain/bosun (further below, debatable!).
sorry, no picture here
Our beloved surgeon. His tasks are clear. Treat the wounded and amputate extremities. I would say his only in game skill should be that he affects the effectiveness of the rum usage. Though I would change rum to something more medical like bandages and bone saws or whatever
I also have an idea for a new casualty system but I will explain it further below when I come to the rest of the crew.
The gunner. An important person for us players who like to fight. He is in charge of the main guns and the rest of the armament and gunnery tools including the ammunition and the powder room itself. So a greater experience in his work will lead to better maintenance of weapons and ammunition. For example sharper cutlasses, cleaner and more accurate muskets/swivels. Well maintained cannons, tackles and cannonballs including well calculated powder charges (by experience) and their perfect composition for round shot, double shot and double charge will lead to better accuracy, penetration and reload speed. As he gains experience his supervision of the powder room makes it less likely that a catastrophic mishap will happen.
The carpenter’s duty is it to keep an eye on the condition of the ship. The maintenance of the hull, the seams and the caulking, the masts and the yards is his responsibility. During battle he and his mates will fix leaks and if possible take care of repairable damages.
A very important person on the ship. His main tasks include the inspection of the ships equipment and supervising the work that is done during the daily routine. He supervises the sailmaker and the ropemaker and is also responsible for maintenance of the sails, rigging and cordage. He is also responsible for the discipline of the ordinary crew in fulfilling their assigned tasks. During emergencies he coordinates the firefighting or other emergency procedures.
Another major change that I would like to see. Every warship has a certain complement of marines. No matter what and no extra books needed (we can talk about pirates who didn’t have them. Maybe everyone of them is a berserker ). I found some tables for the royal navy that showed the usual marine complement for every rate but I also think we could settle on some realistic values after a good debate. Back to the commanding officer of the marines. He is responsible for the training of his men to make sure they are the best at what they do. This includes offensive and defensive training with muskets, cutlasses, grenades and the deck cannons. A highly trained marine also has a higher morale and is a fierce fighter in a boarding action.
To not make books absolutely obsolete I can think about a slot for every officer where you can choose a duty specific book or perk but I am not really a fan of this.
I had no real idea for the purser but with the new patch and the introduction of doubloons I can think of one thing. Maybe the purser can hide a fraction of the looted doubloons during a cruise because he knows some place to hide it and in general is a sneaky bastard. This way there is always a part of your loot that is safe from the enemy in case you get captured.
The rest of the crew:
Now to the rest of the crew. Contrary to what I said earlier, we don’t need to know their names . But they are the most important people on the ship. They are the ones who fulfill the task that were assigned to them by their superiors. They should also gain experience with battles they survive and get better at what they do. I would say very small percentages that will add up if you are really successful and take care of your men.
Now comes the difficult part. How does the game keep track of unnamed sailors? How do we manage that without killing the database with too much information? How to keep track if a part of the crew dies and then the player decides to change the ship, let’s say from frigate to SOL, where he now has new crew with different xp additionally to the remaining crew from the frigate. I couldn’t find a simple and satisfying solution for that. Is it even worth to make such huge efforts to keep track of nameless sailors? Although I would really want a totally persistent crew, I can't really think of a system that wouldn't be a huge pain in the ass, overly complex and a giant strain on the database. Perhaps you have some great ideas for this?
So maybe we simply leave them as no-names and just make their performance dependent on the officers’ experience?
But then I would still implement a morale and fatigue value for the ordinary crew. The morale of the ship’s crew is important for their performance. With decreasing morale their performance also decreases. We could argue if this should affect the speed of their actions like reloading guns, setting sails and turning of the yards or if it should only play a role in case of a boarding action. But I would prefer the former solution.
The morale of the crew is affected by shock events on their own ship like rigging shock (maybe only when a mast actually falls), reload shock, and crew shock in a negative way but also in a positive way if the player inflicts a shock event on the enemy ship. Leaks, high fatigue and heavy losses decrease the morale. A crew/ship that initiates a boarding action should receive a very small additional bonus to morale hence they are the ones who take action and actively attack. In the case that an already heavily losing player initiates a boarding as a last desperate move, the small boost wouldn't really matter because he already lost so much more before. A loss of an officer also has a small negative impact on morale. Maybe you guys could think of more ways to affect morale, like being outnumbered, outgunned or gaining on the enemy but kind of complex and maybe just too much.
Very important: Low morale should never lead to auto-surrender. This should always be in the hands of the player/captain. Maybe morale should also never reach 0 during the battle. Some kind of lower limit for this value.
Fatigue should definitely affect the speed of the crews actions. Fatigue should start at 0 every battle and slowly increases over time. Very slow in the beginning and at an increasing rate the longer the battle lasts. With every reloading cycle of the main guns the crew gets more and more tired and reloads slower and their accuracy gets worse (Ok, impact on accuracy is maybe too hard). Every yard turn and setting of sails increases the fatigue level and lowers the speed with which these task are performed. Handling fewer sails could decrease the rate of fatigue gain. Pumping and repairing (emergency repairs) increases the value. Wounded soldiers returning to duty are more tired than fresh and healthy sailors (more to that below).
A very high fatigue value also affects the morale of the crew (some kind of threshold that needs to be reached in order to trigger this).
Both morale and fatigue should decrease/increase very slow at the beginning and should only have very small effects. With severe loss of morale and high fatigue levels the effects should increase dramatically. Morale loss and fatigue should also be a function of crew and officer xp (less if more experienced and trained).
Now to the part which I already mentioned during the description of the surgeon.
A new wounded state is introduced. Sailors can not only be killed and then magically brought back to life by rum but the casualties should be divided into dead and wounded. Only wounded can be treated by the surgeon and maybe return to duty. Also in case of a crew shock event like a very good rake, a part of the lost crew during that should slowly come back over time. I see no way around RNG here to determine how many are only in shock or just took cover and return to duty. The rest is either dead or wounded.
Even better would be to have three states. Dead, incapacitated and wounded. Only a part of the wounded can return to duty in a battle. Incapacitated sailors can only be brought back after a battle. But, this is just a bonus.
So how is this achievable? The way I understand our current crew loss system is that if a crew hit box is hit there is a probability calculation of how many are actually disabled. I don’t know if it is that simple to just add another probability calculation to determine if a man is dead or wounded. It would be a lot of rng and I know you guys don't like it but as I see it this is already the case when it comes to crew loss calculations?
For officers I think that a similar mechanic could be used. If this image below of the hit boxes on the ship is still accurate
then I would propose that at the start of a battle the officers are assigned randomly to certain hit boxes that are likely positions of the in a battle. Maybe add a few extra hit boxes because right now it looks like there are only hit boxes behind each gun (again, if this is still an accurate depiction of hit boxes). For example the surgeon down below in the ship, though it should be very unlikely that he gets hit there. Or assign the gunner to the magazine. A bigger hit box amidships where master and maybe (or maybe not) a lieutenant can be. And because this isn't complex enough already, we need another probability calculation on top for the officers which determines if an officer assigned to a hit box gets hit and killed/wounded. The chance to lose and officer due to enemy cannon fire is of course way lower than for the average sailor. But it can happen.
So why all the fuss? Mainly I would like to get rid off almost all skill books this way (please don't stone me to death). With a sophisticated crew mechanic every players has the possibility to get a good working and effective ship. On the other hand the crew and their officers have more value than simply a bit of gold. Maybe there also develops a better connection of players to their officers and crew. This is for all the roleplayers out there.
A surrender is a more likely option to safe the crew and prevent their total loss. This is where I come to my final point. Surrender. A historic aspect and probably the most likely outcome of a battle back in the day.
What happens after a surrender? After a surrender the remaining crew and officers are safe. No dead officers equals no hard earned experience is lost, which would be the case if the ship sinks. Maybe you lost a few officers but that’s still better than all of them. Doubloons are assigned to the captor and all captains that did damage to the ship. The captor additionally gets a monetary reward for the remaining enemy crew and their officers. The value is determined according to their experience. This is simulating the ransom for the prisoners of war, which the enemy nation would have to pay to get their officers and sailors back. The captor gets a part of that from his admiralty.
I don’t know if the captain who surrendered should be punished with a small real payment somehow. I would say no. It is debatable. Maybe the returning of the crew is delayed until he can pay his part (this would only make sense if we really track the xp of the ordinary crew, but see the problems above). The winner and captor is always paid immediately.
An additional scuttle mechanic could also be interesting. Ship gets abandoned and set on fire while the crew escapes into the ship's boats. Crew is still captured but the ship is sunk. Maybe if close to friendly ships/forces the crew doesn't get captured. Then all doubloons would be safe. Interesting but I can also see a lot possibilities to troll and grief here.
If this crew loss system is too harsh because you always lose all your experience when you sink we could talk about the possibility that a part of the crew and officers almost always survives via RNG. For example even if a ship sinks some swim away and get rescued by friendly or enemy ships (prisoners in that case and ransom/reward for the enemy).
A small summery:
the best possible ship performance isn't limited to players who have all the rare books
bonuses aren't over the top if they are capped at reasonable values
potential to make ship performances more equal or at least the difference between both extremes not so large
even the best sometimes have to start at zero again
crew has a real value and purpose
a new incentive to surrender
books can be wiped too at release (sorry)
hard earned and grinded books become useless and all the work was for nothing
too complicated and performance intensive
harsh impact on database
maybe frustrating if you lose too often and never really gain experience and knowledge
many more I can't think of right now but I bet you can
So this was a wall of text but I wanted to get this idea out. It is here to discuss and debate. I am not demanding this to be implemented. I often have some complicated ideas that might not really work or simply wouldn’t be fun in the long run and I just don’t see or realize it mainly because I have no clue how a game is developed or how hard to code it is. But nobody prevents me from posting it right?
In my mind this all works best with my other idea thread about new gunnery mechanics and maybe even with an overhauled ship damage/hit box/penetration system (perhaps I will write something about this too some day)