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Live Oak Framing and Diagonal Riders Don't Necessarily Reduce Speed!

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Hi there,

It seems that with respect to the Live Oak Framing and Diagonal Riders ship qualities/refits, the developers have sought to create a statistical tradeoff between increased hull strength and reduced speed.  I'm not sure this is necessarily historically accurate.  Live Oak is certainly an extremely dense material, and diagonal riders do add additional weight, but a ship's speed depends on hull form as much as, if not more than overall weight.  In the case of the most famous live oak-framed ship with diagonal riders, USS Constitution, these characteristics played a key role in not just strengthening the ship's ability to resist enemy fire but maintaining the shape of the hull over time--which allowed her to be a remarkably fast vessel (fast enough to escape 5 pursuing British warships in a dead calm at the start of the War of 1812).  Moreover, Constitution's partial-sister ships, which were also Live Oak-framed and had diagonal riders, had speeds that varied significantly: USS United States was notoriously slow, while USS President and USS Constellation were renowned for their swiftness.

If the developers are looking for a statistical tradeoff, it may be more realistic to increase expense and labor time when working with Live Oak, as the wood was notorious for wearing out carpenters' tools more quickly than any other.  As for diagonal riders, the tradeoff may come in the form of reduced space in the hold--as indeed these additional frames lay over the main frames of the ship and marginally reduce hold volume (pictures of Constitution's hold will demonstrate what I'm talking about in this regard).  If there is a metric for it, both refits can also increase total ship weight--the same way gun armaments presently do in-game--which would have some more limited impact on speed than what is currently modeled for ship design characteristics.

Many thanks--

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Great post, the points you make are really quite sensible. The tradeoffs you've mentioned also seem reasonable enough for serious consideration. This does deserve developer attention.

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Problem IMO is you cant really balance combat settings by increasing the labor cost. If live oak didnt have any negativities in combat, why use anything other than said wood?

After all this is a game and some tradeoffs have to be made for gameplay balance purpose

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Realistically speaking diagonal riders should increase speed slightly as there isn't so much drag from hogging, they are one of those things that you can't really balance properly with real world physics, which is why they likely get that trade off they do. Historically speaking both the US diagonals design and the more advanced Seppings method both contributed towards ship speed, they also consumed less resources as a whole, as their frame style created stronger geometric shapes so less materials could be used to get the same effect, or the same materials could be used to get a much stronger hull structure. The other issue is its not particularly difficult to understand as a concept either, so could easily be learned as a technology, balancing with physics and history is kind of a nightmare, which is a bit of a shame.

Live oak on the other hand could be balanced a bit more accurately by making ships a bit less stable, the heavier wood mean that their is more weight higher up in the ship, so you are either forced to have less ballast or design a deeper draft. As it currently stands I don't believe drafts change in the game to what you equip and build your ship with, but realistically if you built a ship of the line out of live oak it would need to have a much rounder or deeper hull to support the extra structural weight, therefore the same hull form or ship design would either have to be less stable, modified slightly to give it more buoyancy (leading on to a less streamlined hull and slower ship) or be forced to take a hit on the weight of their guns by either cutting them down to be smaller guns, therefore less accurate, or alternatively just carrying a slightly lower poundage weapon, sadly different gun cuts arent in the game as it currently stands, so you can't get a short 24lb or a cut down 24lb gun, which is a shame for authenticity.

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38 minutes ago, Fluffy Fishy said:

Realistically speaking diagonal riders should increase speed slightly as there isn't so much drag from hogging, they are one of those things that you can't really balance properly with real world physics, which is why they likely get that trade off they do. Historically speaking both the US diagonals design and the more advanced Seppings method both contributed towards ship speed, they also consumed less resources as a whole, as their frame style created stronger geometric shapes so less materials could be used to get the same effect, or the same materials could be used to get a much stronger hull structure. The other issue is its not particularly difficult to understand as a concept either, so could easily be learned as a technology, balancing with physics and history is kind of a nightmare, which is a bit of a shame.

Live oak on the other hand could be balanced a bit more accurately by making ships a bit less stable, the heavier wood mean that their is more weight higher up in the ship, so you are either forced to have less ballast or design a deeper draft. As it currently stands I don't believe drafts change in the game to what you equip and build your ship with, but realistically if you built a ship of the line out of live oak it would need to have a much rounder or deeper hull to support the extra structural weight, therefore the same hull form or ship design would either have to be less stable, modified slightly to give it more buoyancy (leading on to a less streamlined hull and slower ship) or be forced to take a hit on the weight of their guns by either cutting them down to be smaller guns, therefore less accurate, or alternatively just carrying a slightly lower poundage weapon, sadly different gun cuts arent in the game as it currently stands, so you can't get a short 24lb or a cut down 24lb gun, which is a shame for authenticity.

Great points on Diagonal Riders.  Not sure whether Live Oak would impact stability, as the weight is distributed through the frames of the ship (and my understanding is that the bulk of the frame is closer to the keel).  Might come back to the idea of reducing hold space?

1 hour ago, Liq said:

Problem IMO is you cant really balance combat settings by increasing the labor cost. If live oak didnt have any negativities in combat, why use anything other than said wood?

After all this is a game and some tradeoffs have to be made for gameplay balance purpose

I think the key part is making sure there's a premium for a superior wood.  It was historically quite rare, which is part of the reason why the U.S. six frigates were so special.  I think the game currently does a good job of reducing the number of places where it's available, and players can't produce it themselves.

Would be grateful for your thoughts--

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8 hours ago, Preble said:
10 hours ago, Liq said:

 

I think the key part is making sure there's a premium for a superior wood.  It was historically quite rare, which is part of the reason why the U.S. six frigates were so special.  I think the game currently does a good job of reducing the number of places where it's available, and players can't produce it themselves.

Would be grateful for your thoughts--

However rare we make it to be in game, people with alts will still be able to get it easily. I honestly believe that current wood balance is ok and doesn't need much change.

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11 hours ago, Preble said:

Great points on Diagonal Riders.  Not sure whether Live Oak would impact stability, as the weight is distributed through the frames of the ship (and my understanding is that the bulk of the frame is closer to the keel).  Might come back to the idea of reducing hold space?

I think the key part is making sure there's a premium for a superior wood.  It was historically quite rare, which is part of the reason why the U.S. six frigates were so special.  I think the game currently does a good job of reducing the number of places where it's available, and players can't produce it themselves.

Would be grateful for your thoughts--

I think you misunderstood the point i was making slightly, although it's more likely I just explained it badly. The bulk of the frame is closer to the keel as you say and the woodwork does nearly always taper into thinner cuts as you go higher up the ship but it's not this that causes the problem in itself, live oak is a far heavier framing wood than most, it's something like 20-30% denser than standard oak if I remember correctly which means increased weight of the wood used. The effect of this increase in weight means the ships need to counteract this force otherwise a ship of the same design built from live oak would sit much lower in the water than the exact same build made from standard oak or even more dramatically compared to a softwood ship made of something like pine. To counter this generally speaking the ship would have to either take less ballast, making it more unstable, potentially even limiting the amount of sail that could be used in certain wind conditions, or modify the hull to displace more water either through depth or width which makes it slower overall.

Hold space isn't really effected by the type of wood you use unless you are using poor quality wood that needs to be thicker to make up for it's poor structural properties. You don't really see a major change or difference in frames and their effect on hold space until the introduction of iron frames.

It's also important to remember that the specialness of the 6 US frigates is quite overstated and distorted due to historical propaganda and that live oak doesn't give a great advantage over oak in frigate or line battles, guns will penetrate live oak without too much bother at the close ranges needed to make cannon fire at sea at all accurate which is something not really represented in naval action. The best part about live oak is it's longevity meaning similarly to teak the ship weather much better which is why we are still lucky enough to be able to visit the gorgeous USS Constitution, it does also have the advantage over teak by not being poisonous too. While we are on the topic of Constitution, feeding back into the hull shape changes, she very much has a typical design modification of a live oak ship, she takes a much deeper draft than would normally be expected of a ship of her size, allowing her to maintain a good centre of gravity below the waterline and increase her stability to make her a relatively fast ship able to carry heavy guns. The difference Constitution would have in her behaviour should she have been made out of oak or even a lighter wood with regards to speed and handling would be astonishing sadly this isnt something naval action really represents either.

I hope this helps explain a little better :)

Edited by Fluffy Fishy
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15 hours ago, Preble said:

Great points on Diagonal Riders.  Not sure whether Live Oak would impact stability, as the weight is distributed through the frames of the ship (and my understanding is that the bulk of the frame is closer to the keel).  Might come back to the idea of reducing hold space?

I think the key part is making sure there's a premium for a superior wood.  It was historically quite rare, which is part of the reason why the U.S. six frigates were so special.  I think the game currently does a good job of reducing the number of places where it's available, and players can't produce it themselves.

Would be grateful for your thoughts--

I like the idea of it impacting hold space. 

 

The funny thing about the US 6 Frigates.... Only 3 of them were built the same, the others were actually quite different than the first 3.

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This thread brings up the possibility of an interesting change to mods in the (far) future: mods that have differing effects depending on the ship they’re assigned.

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I will be honest with you guys. From pvp perspective having reduced cargohold as penalty is not penalty really.

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I think this is where historical accuracy and game stats are forced to be different. If a wood type has a bonus, it needs to have a negative somewhere, otherwise that wood type will become the meta for everyone. From what I have heard, live oak barely had any real life negatives, so the game is forced to assign something, and the choice was speed. 

I think the wood stats are pretty okay right now. Live Oak, Caguarian, Sabicu, Teak, Fir, and Bermuda all have their place, and are well balanced. I do think the stats should be adjusted slightly for Oak and Mahogany, as they are rather useless at the moment. 



 

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43 minutes ago, Zoky said:

I will be honest with you guys. From pvp perspective having reduced cargohold as penalty is not penalty really.

Depends on the hit to cargo space.

If you lose 20-25% of your cargo space, that means your hull repairs and rig repairs will take up more of your available space thus slowing you down more.

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1 hour ago, EliteDelta said:

I think this is where historical accuracy and game stats are forced to be different. If a wood type has a bonus, it needs to have a negative somewhere, otherwise that wood type will become the meta for everyone. From what I have heard, live oak barely had any real life negatives, so the game is forced to assign something, and the choice was speed. 

I think the wood stats are pretty okay right now. Live Oak, Caguarian, Sabicu, Teak, Fir, and Bermuda all have their place, and are well balanced. I do think the stats should be adjusted slightly for Oak and Mahogany, as they are rather useless at the moment. 



 

from a curious eye looking to find "anything" in sabicu and cag. What would you say are their bonuses over say, teak?

what incentives do those woods have for me to pick them over a combination like fir/fir, teak/teak, or teak/wo?

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I think Caguairan used to have a good role as a budget wood if you didn't have reliable access to Live Oak or Teak. Right after the "big wipe" Teak was only available in like 5 ports.

Live Oak is still mostly limited to the American coast, but now that Teak is available in more than a handful of ports I imagine most people just build out of that.

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51 minutes ago, Teutonic said:

from a curious eye looking to find "anything" in sabicu and cag. What would you say are their bonuses over say, teak?

what incentives do those woods have for me to pick them over a combination like fir/fir, teak/teak, or teak/wo?


Caguarian can be used instead of Live Oak, and it is much cheaper and more easily accessible. It's stats are close enough to still be competitive.

Sabicu is basically the poor mans version of White Oak. It is very close, but lacks a few percentages of thickness and armour.  However it is also very easy to find, and is normally very cheap.

Neither of these woods would create a "perfect" build, but they are good for the game, as they allow people that don't have access to the much rarer woods to still be able to compete. 
 

 

Edited by EliteDelta
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Multiple options were thought about when building the woods and the upgrades.

 

History

Realistically, as Fluffy Fishy explained, a hull built from a wood with a better resistance/weight ratio ends up lighter for the same resistance to sea loads. To keep the same heel, some ballast has to be added. But since the ballast is placed directly at the bottom, less weight is needed overall (compared to the hull built from the worse wood). Thus the ship will have less draught, which enables to:

  • Keep her as is, and get a better sailor which can open the lower deck ports in rougher seas
  • Increase her cargo weight, or maybe her gunnery
  • Lower her total height (depth in hold) during the construction and get a better sailor with less freeboard

This principle can be applied to any weight of the hull (frames, planking, knees, fastenings).

 

Stats principle for woods

When looking at possible ways for different woods to affect the stats, 3 options were possible:

  1. The resistance to sea loads stays the same
  2. The weight of wood stays the same
  3. The volume of wood stays the same

Option 1 is the one described previously, however it caused an issue with the other stats: a ship built with a heavier wood could have ended with worse HPs unless the wood properties would have been mixed. In the end this option wasn't the most intuitive one or the easiest to setup.

Option 2 wouldn't have provided a speed modification, which was one of the stats looked for.

Option 3 enabled to determine all the stats quite easily. Lighter woods would create lighter hulls, so those vessels could have heeled more. But it was more interesting for gameplay to have speed directly affected, so instead the ballast weight was varied (approximately - which was only reflected in the construction materials) to keep the heel stable from a wood to another. In the end lighter woods could bring a better speed. And the heel stat could be affected via upgrades (Additional Ballast and others).

 

Other tradeoffs

Although currently the harvesting stats are already affected by the wood species, this isn't enough of an effect to base the whole balance on. Denser woods have to have other drawbacks.

Hold space could be interesting, but in the end the PvPers would keep the minimum amount of required stuff, which would lead to a constant speed debuff as the woods already apply. The values would be lower, but in any case the current lerp from cargo to speed debuff isn't fully realistic neither (ships sailed best with neither empty nor full cargo, and the best setup varied from vessel to vessel and depended on the weather).

Diagonal riders were balanced with speed since the structure HP stat only affects the resistance to gunfire, but the idea of a speed bonus is interesting (same averaged life-time principle as for the copper plating), then the upgrade would get some little structure and some little speed (though generally the principle of bonus+malus was preferred for upgrades).

In the initial draft of balancing, the wood durability (based on Lloyds assurance years) was used to affect the structure HPs and the speed due to planking.

 

Current stats and values

Overall, stats and values aren't fully realistic but provide gameplay tradeoffs, with an acceptable level of realism. There's probably some room for improvement both in realism and in gameplay though.

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@Barberouge, thanks so much for your reply.  Grateful for your and other developers' attention on this issue.

Passing along an interesting article about the advantages and relative costs of Live Oak vs. White Oak, from the USS Constitution Museum during the restoration that is just now concluding:

https://ussconstitutionmuseum.org/2016/06/09/the-cutting-edge/

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