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Improve sailing and 'the chase'
SueMyChin posted a topic in Current Feature Improvement SuggestionsGiven the recent discussions regarding speed mods (and here), why PVP is currently at a premium and the changes to rules of engagement, it's becoming more apparent that 'the chase' in this game will be just as, if not more important than the actual battles. If you can set up a ship to outrun anyone then you win, or more importantly you never lose. Recent nerfs to the faster ships also highlight this. We need variation when it comes to ships and in particular, speed. Firstly, I think every ship should have inherent variations to the base stats of it's class. No two ships were ever made alike and they shouldn't in game either. These variations should be small, maybe 5-10% difference either way perhaps. Mods should be limited, as they're just as likely to end up balancing the ships as they are to vary them. If my ship is faster than most of it's class but has weak planking, I'll add more planking. If it's strong but slow, I'll mod for more speed. I'm all for mods like copper sheathing that reduce biofouling and thus speed degradation but it shouldn't be an instant 5% boost to top speed. The weight of the ships cargo and load-out should come into it also. A ship packed full of shot and powder with 100 extra men and the supplies to keep them alive should be 5-10% slower than the same ship when it's under crewed, low on supplies with a near empty hold. I appreciate this is exaggerated compared to how it would have effected a ship but so long as it's not too over emphasised then I think it will improve the game. All of the above are well and good but they still don't help make sailing or 'the chase' any more interesting beyond the first couple of seconds, as by then you'll know who's going to win. What I propose is we actually make sailing a thing in game rather than merely point and go, bring skill and a slight element of luck into this part of the game. It was the 'age of sail' after all. What we first need to do this is wind speed variation (discussed here). You might have the faster ship in all but the strongest of gales but if you were running and the wind began to pick up it would rank up the tension no end. Nobody is proposing dead clams, I'd prefer having ships reduced to 1/3 - 1/2 speed in the calmest of conditions at the most. It's a must at some point and it will add variation, realism and better game play. Also, if we weren't able to see our speed at all times but could only bring it up on a delay (something like 10 seconds) as you would aboard a ship when you threw out the log. It too opens up some interesting game-play avenues and allows us to bring player skill into sailing. The skill part. Note this would only apply in 'sailing mode', the other modes work as they do now but with a small limitation on speed (maybe 5% slower than maximum speed but to be decided through testing), so that in order to reach maximum you must be in 'sailing mode'. You wouldn't know when you were going top speed until a couple of logs have been taken and you'd adjusted the angle of ship & sail according to the wind, as well as the amount of sails you have set to suit the strength of the wind (more on this to come). The player who gets this right quickest would get that head start and it would need to be adjusted every time the wind speed or direction changes. Hidden from the UI you have two figures* : One represents the amount of sails set, like the % number we do now but we just can't see it in the UI. The other is variable wind strength, let's just say another % figure to keep it simple. This wind strength figure is obviously hidden from the UI too. They're both represented visually** and audibly in game, perhaps with a handful of vague worded descriptions too taken from wind scales like (someone with a greater understanding of sailing a ship could come up with better examples): Examples for wind strength: 'light airs', 'Moderate breeze', 'Strong gale' and sail plan examples 'light air', 'close reefed', 'storm sails' A few ideas for showing wind speed visually would be : The size of the swell The sounds you hear The way the flag behaves in the wind You have to use the visual queues and sounds as well as the vague descriptions to discern both figures but these would just give you the starting point. Once you have an idea of the wind speed, your aim is to keep the sails-set % figure as close to the strength of wind as possible. 95% wind (stormy seas) you want 5% sails set for optimum speed. 10% wind strength (calm seas) you would want 90% sail showing for best performance etc. In order to judge if you're at optimum sail setting you throw out your log and if it comes back at what you know to be 80% of your top speed, you adjust sail and try again. If you're then going faster, you're moving in the right direction, trim again and test your speed until you find the sweet spot. Again the actual figures are hidden from the UI, they are purely for back-end coding. The only feedback we see to help us adjust is the speed taken from the log (on a 10s delay when you call for it) and the visual and audible queues. Creaking masts and yards from the wood working (maybe before they break/cause damage to sails) when we have too much sail set and the reduced speed when you have too little set. Players who know their ship's inherent attributes like it's top speed, it's best point of sail combined with it's favoured conditions will reach top speed quicker. The skilled players will judge conditions better and make more accurate adjustments than inexperienced players. * These figures would be variables in the code, they wouldn't be % percentages, I've just used that for ease of understanding. '100%' wind strength simply means the highest wind strength in the game. '0%' does not mean dead calm - no wind at all. It represents the slowest wind speed in the game. Obviously for gameplay purposes this would not be too slow. Maybe enough wind so that all ships hit at least 1/3- 1/2 of their top speed when wind variation is at '0%' **The sails set figure is obviously represented visually on the ship. Depending on how much detail the devs think we can go into, you would have a number of sail plans, just like we do currently in game but ideally a few more of them. The 100% would include stunsl's like this not, the 'white elephant' sail plan we often see, they weren't commonly (if at all) used like that.