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I was recently wondering how exactly the process of spotting and identifying an unknown ship on the high seas worked during and prior to WW1. I imagine lookouts were stationed on the masts, reporting smoke pillars on the horizon etc. However, how would a crew go about identifying a sighted unknown vessel? Especially in poor conditions or long range, where identification / national flags would be hard to see? Did ships carry something akin to an encyclopedia, like Jane's Warships at a glance? Were they general issue?
We don't see any activity from the land in this game. Presumably there would be military men stationed at each port, at every tower. Every time an unknown man o' war passed within sight it was likely marked down and sent as a letter to warn the admiralty. This is my suggestion. Ships within sight of a enemy port, forts, or towers, there's a % that they will be spotted within X time, percentage increasing with how many ships are spotted within that time. So say if 1 ship passes within sight of the people at the tower, there's something like an 11% chance that that nation will be warned of a ship within 10 minutes or so (a delay to simulate the time it takes for a message to travel by horse or small boat) If 20 ships pass within sight of a port, there's a 90% chance that the message will be broadcasted. Basically unless you have players themselves posted at these ports dedicated to typing away on nation chat then people easily go unnoticed, no one finds them and no PVP takes place. The forts, towers and port towers are there for exactly this reason. Take the annoying step of players having to do these entities jobs and make it a feature. Then more PVP can take place and less searching. Just imagine as a player sitting in port getting a message that 25+ enemy ships are about to converge on x port. Yeah I would shite myself in excitement. Pic related, the view from a tower where men are posted for this exact reason
Get the Captain off the Masts and back into the Cabin! (during wait times) Basic Feature: Button Toggle On/Off - Sends spotters to the Masts in Open-World. The spotters will report every Player-Ship that has Sails-Up within visible range. The report will have an Audio and Visual component, for example: "Enemy Ship Spotted!" (ding)(ding)(ding) - "Ally Ship Spotted!" (ding) Edit: Limited to 5th rates and above. This basic feature is critical to facilitate PvP in remote locations and ambush situations on the Open-World map, particularly when the server has a low-population. The basic version of this feature should be implemented ASAP, without delaying for more advanced versions. Examples of use: - Ambush - sail your ship to the ambush point, reduce sails to 0, turn on Sail Spotting. You can now step away from your PC until there is a chance for PvP happening. You don't have to keep scanning the horizon for the next minutes-hours. You will spot the enemy likely before they spot you because your sails are down. - Patrol - same as the above but while sailing somewhere, both you and anyone else with spotting will get a notification, resulting in a player interaction or PvP When close to an active port the feature can be turned off to avoid overload of notifications. Advanced Features: Not important right now. Could add extra features from a perk or improve the detail of scouting orders. Could add items and skills that improve range and detail of information. This was suggested in more elaborate ways many times in the past - I believe that when some servers are near-dead this feature is CRITICAL to keep OW alive. Many people log-off simply because it's too much of a hassle to find others in the OW. More Ambushes, more Patrols, more PvP = More people playing over time.
So, as everyone playing the game knows, you can outfit your ship with officers, I've got a few suggestions and would also ask for some player feedback into what officers roles should be and how that would affect your sailing; if they go down with the ship or have a chance of getting onto the longboat and paddling to the nearest pirate port, whether they can be injured, gain XP and rank up just like you; or just simply be modules you plug into your ship, leaving all the captaining and micromanagement to you, though captaining a ship would be no easy task. Firstly I'll take a look at navigation. What I'd propose is, with an officer who fills the role of your navigator is access to your captains quarters (though in a 'locked' isometric position) where you would get to see your map spread out over a table, along with all the ports and their flags. When asking a basic/low level navigator where you are he would simply reply "Nearest to <portnamehere>", however as you got better navigators (or your navigator got better) a circle would appear around your ship on the map like GPS on your phone with bad sattelite reception, as the navigator gets better and better or the best one is got the circle would shrink until you had a very reasonable idea of where you were, along with the navigator telling you where the nearest port is provided it's on the map. Officer of the watch - This officer would stop you having to buy a 72" 4k TV to tell if there is a ship in the distance. Of course like the navigator not all officers are as good as others so you may still have to keep an eye open for ships he might miss. However, he would be tasked with one other important thing, logging ships and fleets into the ship's map a lower-level/rarity officer would have them as lines coming out from the ship indicating heading, but not exact distance, somewhat like the sonar map in silent hunter; as he gets better he will begin to mark the lines red, white or green according to whether they are neutral, an enemy or an ally (He would start with black lines), eventually he would work his way up the skill/rarity tree to map the ship's approximate location, heading and speed he would also give call when land is spotted and if it's uncharted you could have him and your navigator draw up a rough shape (accuracy dependant on how skilled both officers are) of an island that was not on your 'original' chart. As a pair the navigator and officer of the watch can map out shallows and put them on your map too. Bosun - (or whichever way you want to spell it), generally keeps the morale of your crew up and gives shipwide bonuses if morale is high (almost as if you had added more crew), he keeps you aware of your crew's status, if any are sick (if this is added in the future) or if they are annoyed to the point of mutiny due to a series of failed encounters and not having a captain of the correct rank controlling the vessel. Your bosun could also double as a carpenter or surgeon, the carpenter getting more effectiveness out of repair kits and allowing you to repair about 20% of your armour if in survival mode, though patching a ship up with bits of shattered ship takes time. Him doubling as a surgeon would reduce crew loss in battle and reduce crew loss during boarding and regain some crew who would have otherwise died during boarding, they would mend slowly over a matter of days depending on their injuries. If he is acting out other roles then shipwide bonuses would Gunnery Officer - Pretty simple this one really, firstly you can set him to fire broadsides if you wish, possibly manning starboard and firing salvos at an easily hit ship while you pick off the little guy in a gunboat. If he isn't on firing duty he would assist with aiming, giving you somewhat of a trajectory arc, as all other officers some are better than others. As well as that a modest increase in gun damage would be nice as well as the ability to have him suggest where to shoot (eg armor, rudder, sails; though this may be very difficult to code) if trajectory arcs are a bit too Assassin's Creed for you then let him widen the little red line, essentially adjusting guns on the fly to hit where you may have just missed. Just to add a quick edit here. Should ships with multiple gundecks benefit from only one gunnery officer or should you have to have one for each gun-deck or set him as a ship-wide gunnery officer who's task is just to maintain the guns and keep the firing crews trained, giving less bonuses to all the guns on your ship than say 3 gunnery officers for each gun-deck of the HMS Victory who would actively be running fire control for each deck. Edit: one more thing he would do is tell you how close your ranging shots are to the enemy ship rather than you having to fire and get a spyglass on the ship (a feat impossible/very very difficult in real life if you are controlling the gunner's aim first) naturally as the officer got better by way of experience he would be able to tell you how far you missed by, by saying "Your shot missed her" at the beginning to "You hit just short/long of her cap'n" to giving more accurate descriptions of how much you missed by such as "You only missed by a few yards short cap'n" as well as letting you know how well you are damaging the ship from telling you whether you scored a hit to whether the shot hit her sails (though ball going through sails would not count as a hit when he feeds back to you), her mast or her hull (higher levels would be able to tell you if you hit her on the waterline and higher levels yet would tell you if you have created a leak) essentially a high level gunnery officer takes you away from mundane tasks and allows you to focus on things like manual sails. Boarding commander - takes care of boarding tasks, gives a modest increase in turn rate and fire rate prior to boarding(once again increasing with experience or rarity) during boarding he gives a recharge rate bonus as well as a morale and damage bonus. If there are any roles I've missed, let me know and let me know how you feel about things. Main questions would be: - Should officers be bought from the store as an item or hired from the tavern (Yes I got most of those roles from Age of Pirates 3 City of Lost Ships; a great game with mods, though it is somewhat buggy). - Should officers require pay to function (a good bosun would lower their wages by keeping them and the crew happy)? - Leading on from this, if officers have an XP based levelling function should they level automatically (thus requiring you to pay them more) or should you need to promote them. However officers that have gone a long time with max XP and no promotion may get a little annoyed and demand you promote them or you part ways next time you make port. - Should officers die upon sinking? Or should those that make it to a boat in time (wounded officers are slower) so having "fill boat" and a countdown running until all officers are on board (at risk of your ship sinking and you losing all your officers if it's taking on water fast) then a command to "Scuttle ship and escape" Any and all feedback is much appreciated, even if it's a link from a devblog going deep into officer mechanics and you calling me a fool for not finding it (I used both the forum search and Google, neither turned up anything like this so I'm sorry if I'm making you read the same stuff twice) anyway, that's all I've got to say for now until I retreat to the batcove and think of moar stuffs.