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Is the spotting mechanic necessary?


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Hi!

First time Poster, have been lurking for a while, and bought the game a while ago after looking into it. I am impressed, and am enjoying it greatly. One thing that seems to come up often, both here on the Forum and in my own playing is the weird Situation the current WOWS style on-off spotting mechanic creates, where ships of similar size and capability have one that can spot the other from a significantly greater distance even though realistically, both should be able to spot the other easily (say, two battleships at 10 km distance. In one particular instance I was able to kill two much more powerful BCs with a heavy cruiser, by kiting just outside their view range and needle-stabbing them to death. I compared the height of the ships in the builder afterwards (Hull and Tower combination), and the spotting top and rangefinder of the BCs tower was in fact taller (thus able to see further, physically.)

In real life, the difference between seeing the enemy and not appears to be environmental conditions and target size + distance + resolution and accuracy of optics.

My Question is the reasoning behind choosing the currently implemented way spotting works. In WOWS it enables players that use their knowledge about the spotting mechanics and capabilities of their ships to work together, so that the enemy is visible but they themselves can stay concealed, and it provides a fog of war to enable movement across the map, and necessitating active reconnaissance to get a picture of the enemy. With this game, especially given how many (and random!) combinations of equipment ships can have, it is hard to know beforehand how far your spotting distance actually is. As campaigns progress, knowledge gained will also get obsolete quickly, if it is possible to learn at all?

I am hoping to warm up to the mechanic more if I get why it is the way it is. My experience with strategy and especially naval games is very limited. The last I played was Silent Hunter II and Age of Sail at the turn of the Millenium, and I only dabbled in WOWs for a short time before getting turned off by the grind and competetive, angry edge. Maybe either some players or the devs themselves could provide some insight?

 

Cheers
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2 hours ago, Instant_Goats said:

Hi!

First time Poster, have been lurking for a while, and bought the game a while ago after looking into it. I am impressed, and am enjoying it greatly. One thing that seems to come up often, both here on the Forum and in my own playing is the weird Situation the current WOWS style on-off spotting mechanic creates, where ships of similar size and capability have one that can spot the other from a significantly greater distance even though realistically, both should be able to spot the other easily (say, two battleships at 10 km distance. In one particular instance I was able to kill two much more powerful BCs with a heavy cruiser, by kiting just outside their view range and needle-stabbing them to death. I compared the height of the ships in the builder afterwards (Hull and Tower combination), and the spotting top and rangefinder of the BCs tower was in fact taller (thus able to see further, physically.)

In real life, the difference between seeing the enemy and not appears to be environmental conditions and target size + distance + resolution and accuracy of optics.

My Question is the reasoning behind choosing the currently implemented way spotting works. In WOWS it enables players that use their knowledge about the spotting mechanics and capabilities of their ships to work together, so that the enemy is visible but they themselves can stay concealed, and it provides a fog of war to enable movement across the map, and necessitating active reconnaissance to get a picture of the enemy. With this game, especially given how many (and random!) combinations of equipment ships can have, it is hard to know beforehand how far your spotting distance actually is. As campaigns progress, knowledge gained will also get obsolete quickly, if it is possible to learn at all?

I am hoping to warm up to the mechanic more if I get why it is the way it is. My experience with strategy and especially naval games is very limited. The last I played was Silent Hunter II and Age of Sail at the turn of the Millenium, and I only dabbled in WOWs for a short time before getting turned off by the grind and competetive, angry edge. Maybe either some players or the devs themselves could provide some insight?

 

Cheers
Insta

I think the spotting value of towers should be mostly applied to torpedos and (to a much less degree) small DDs/TPs. Even the enemy managed to sneak to you and got a first volley, your spotters would immediatly search for the origin of that volley and detect the enemy ships. 

This mechanic is made worse when the AI apears sometimes to have a much higher spotting range. In the mission German Wrath (at the North Sea?), even if you have top grade towers, your ships will have to endure a huge rain of shell fire from the enemy until you get, like, 3,5 km (2 miles) from them. Almost like every single ship in the enemy fleet is able to see and take a shot at you, but your spotters were hired due to blindness because they salaries were cheaper.

Edited by Stormnet
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Mechanic is necessary, but it should be "balanced" differently, more dependent on your crew abilities, spotting equipment (and radar later on) and weather conditions and much MUCH less dependent on just "better tower" or ship class. They do it utterly wrong now.

Aalso needs better visual representation for "forg of war" or it'll always feel that ships pop in out of nowhere, even if the ranges will be proper.

Edited by Cpt.Hissy
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Similar concerns were raised in the alpha thread, but blind firing (which is what is happening now) needs to be addressed with specific changes. It is realistically impossible for 1 ship to be able to see another ship and fire on it accurately without the reverse being true (talking 1v1 for simplicity). Shell splashes are much smaller than the ship, so if you can make out your splashes, both ships being visible is a given. 

Now assuming we are talking about blind fire, you either need a ship with radar good enough to see those splashes, or have another ship in communication that can see those splashes and relay back. Otherwise you are launching salvos with no ability to confirm their dispersion. This were the current game needs fixes first. There should be a huge accuracy penalty to blind fire that basically means the AI doesn't waste ammo (player can choose to of course). That penalty should be lessened with advanced radar, crew training, or if another ship has the ability to relay. The penalty amount could be adjusted for all of these.

Now for the quirks of detection ranges, we really need some data to determine how detection is really working. I've seen various theories, but don't think they explain every situation reported. I remember someone sharing the theoretical limit of sight on the horizon was something close to 40K yds (for capital ship mast height).  For reference, Warspite's longest confirmed hit was 26K yds against a moving target. So that illustrates that max spotting range is very different from even extreme engagement range. 

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It’s all about-face, actual visibility is based on the observer, in-game it’s based on the object visible range (typical/standard game mechanic).

I think it’s a carryover from a Unity template and by the time Dev’s realized it wasn't realistic enough it was too late to change – too many academy missions, too many mechanic’s based around it – and now it has raised an arcade flag.

IMO Dev's should have bit the bullet and written in an override but they didn’t and now it's here to stay! probably for good.

Edited by Skeksis
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^^^ he's probably right, unfortunately. On that nonsense is here to stay. None of the nonsense had any attention yet, except torpedoes (which aren't a nonsence but just arcadish thing) .

Although current implementation is optimal way to do AI "sight" for games so it would be there anyway, and it's easily possible to adjust existing mechanic to work more "realistically" by just changing a bunch of multipliers here and there. Let's hope.
 

Couple relevant thoughts, just some half-educated guessing with no proofs though. Correct me if i'm wrong, i wanna learn.

-Range where you can *notice* another ship is rather huge, but it'll take some time for one of the spotters to notice that tiny thing on the horizon/edge of radar's screen, and some experience to understand it's not a random light reflection or noise. So, max spotting range should be high, highly dependent on spotter's skills, and while it tells you there is A ship, it can't tell what kind of ship, only rough size, accurate bearing and very rough range, but not the type and faction. It also may take long time to spot a ship if it stays at high range.

-Range where it's worth trying to fire is much less than that, but still far enough that recognizing a ship may be difficult. So it's impossible to shoot at something an stay invisible, regardless of what you are and what they have, unless your target is blind, dumb and dead; but it's possible to stay unknown. Range where you may actually expect hits is even less than that, and probably below where you can recognize a target type at least. Not necessarily the class and faction.

- Before decent radars, time of day and weather VASTLY influence your spotting abilities, to the point of blind ramming in especially bad conditions. As well as targeting. Shooting at something you can't see due to weather is probably possible, but stupid and not worth a try. Radar seem to be a gamechanger.

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If I had to build the ship spotting and Fire control system from scratch it would look something like this:

Ship spotting under Fairweather conditions should always be even and symmetrical. If your tower is tall enough to see another ship, that ship should be able to spot your ships tower. You could probably do some general game formula to figure out for a tower of given height, how close does a ship of another given height have to get before they become visible to each other (given the curvature of the earth)

But things like weather and time of day throw grist into the mill. Weather condition you would also need some 'visibility' parameter that represents the maximum absolute distance that *anything* could be spotted. Assuming neither side has radar these numbers would be the same. If one ship has a radar and the other doesn't, asymmetric spotting is reasonable. The Radar can effectively negates penalties for as long as it remains functional. If you want an additional parameter representing crew quality you could add a delay between when ships fall within a detectible range and when they are actually detected. 

Probably the biggest issue with blindfire is that if you disallow it then you need some way to easily inform the player which warships are visible to any GIVEN ship at any given time, as ships can theoretically be visible to one ship in the fleet and not another. 

Once you've handled detection, which is a binary, you can go into visibility, which is a percentage value. 

If we're talking about the most advanced warship with radar and late game fire control computers, that ship should theoretically be able get an accurate fire solution on the first salvo . That ships hit chance then becomes solely a function of how accurate the guns are (And maybe also sea conditions, not sure) relative to the displacement (a reasonable proxy for silhouette)  Visibility is also not much of a factor as long as the radar is active since you're not relying on anyone's eyeballs to track the target.

To the extent the ship relies on older methods to get a firing solution, lower visibility reduces the 'data' [i.e the progress towards a perfect firing solution] the ship gets after each salvo. Other factors that might reduce the progress speed of solution might be splash from other ships (discouraging concentration of fire at a single target when other targets are available) or splash from the same ship with gun calibers that are close but not the same (like 11 and 12 inch at the same target)  and obviously any alteration a ship makes in speed or direction will cause some deterioration in the solution progress. 

I don't know if there are any cases of one ship spotting another ship and then relaying information back to allow for naval blindfire. 




 

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7 minutes ago, Cpt.Hissy said:

Good point, except this
"displacement (a reasonable proxy for silhouette)" - maybe not necessary, heavier ship can be visually smaller.

My understanding was that if you wanted a heavier ship to stay afloat, you needed it to displace greater volumes of water, although that technically only tells you the volume of the ship below the waterline. I guess technically a better proxy for silluiette is some function of "reserve bouyancy", deck and superstructure size. Except reserve boyancy isn't really a thing in UAD. 

If the game can measure the ships volume above water then there would be no need for a proxy.

Edited by admiralsnackbar
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3 hours ago, Skeksis said:

It’s all about-face, actual visibility is based on the observer, in-game it’s based on the object visible range (typical/standard game mechanic).

I think it’s a carryover from a Unity template and by the time Dev’s realized it wasn't realistic enough it was too late to change – too many academy missions, too many mechanic’s based around it – and now it has raised an arcade flag.

IMO Dev's should have bit the bullet and written in an override but they didn’t and now it's here to stay! probably for good.

If so, I think we should focus on the penalties for blind firing. It would at least balance those "stealth DDs" allowing the the bigger units to fire accurately like happens now. 

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1 hour ago, madham82 said:

If so, I think we should focus on the penalties for blind firing. It would at least balance those "stealth DDs" allowing the the bigger units to fire accurately like happens now. 

Or Dev’s could go the way of WOWS, when any ship firers its visibility range increases - balloons out.

Edited by Skeksis
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I think right now all parts already have a signature level attached, which makes it so you can build ships that are visible much further than they themselves can spot. And I think that even a small destroyer being invisible to a battleship beyond 9 kilometers (which happens very regularily, up to heavy cruisers or sometimes battleships if no Radar is involved.) is nothing that is ever going to happen under clear conditions in real life.

Maybe there should only be three values, independent of mark or tech level, mast height, superstructure height and hull height. Mast height would be the spotting top, superstructure would be main observation post/rangefinder height and superstructure would be turret on deck height. Ships should only be invisible if they actually have not been spotted by the crew. In game you could add tech for observation equipment (handheld binoculars vs. stabilized spotting scopes or surface search radar or something.) and make environment a bigger factor. For example at Jutland, in the late evening the germans could not fire back because they were shooting away from the setting sun, completely obscuring the enemy ships while they themselves were backlit by the sky. Maybe add 3D fog banks, rain squalls or other weather that affects the battle (Think Battle of Cape Sarych, where Goeben slipped in and out of the fog to control the engagement.) Simple barriers, or volumes with graphical effects on top that cut line of sight, or add an accuracy penalty. Smoke generated by ships would probably work best as an actual screen (affected by the wind or rain, for example.) because you could set up actual smoke barriers to hinder the enemy.

With the three height values, as each level of the ship becomes more visible, accuracy in identifying hits and misses increases. (If you can only see the masttops, you probably can't see the splashes of your shells either. If your shells are heavy enough, they might obscure parts of the superstructure when landing in front, increasing accuracy, and you maybe even see hits. Once you see the hull, even better.) That way stealth snipes by torpedoes become more unlikely. The main gist seems to be, though, that instead of becoming invisible, ships should only become harder to hit once spotted. Maybe give us the opportunity to make a small scale test, if at all possible? Even if it is just a seperate, fixed demo without building ships or features removed to see if something other than the WOWS system can be fun.

On a sidenote, don't display the enemy ships where  they actually are, but where your ships think they are, like transparent ghosts that become more visible or less visible depending on the conditions? Obscuring all information about the enemy ships, especially in campaign would also be good. For example, all you know about a ship should be supplied by Intelligence (which could be wrong), so for example a ship may be identified but have had a refit in the meantime. Ingame it will be shown as the pre-refit, because that's what your crews think it is, until close enough to visually ID difference, or getting hit by a ship that was supposed to be a 12x 6 Inch cruiser that suddenly packs 8x 9 Inch guns; this means also that until otherwise identified, the ship would display range radii and weapons of the pre-refit state that was known. That would make things much more interesting, especially in the campaign.

Cheers,

Insta

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Definitely agree the "threat" (think that is the one that changes detectability) metric is completely unrealistic and likely causing many of the issues we are seeing with detection. Should be removed from every module except hull (scale as hull size changes with displacement), funnels, and the masts. 

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The thing to realize is destroyers are very large ships and can be seen the instance they come over the horizon, 20-22km thereabouts, clear day. WW1 era you would see thick billowing funnel smoke first while the ship is still over the horizon.

Edited by Skeksis
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Posted (edited)

Edit: (Today some more Battles, and I still don't understand the gameplay value of this mechanic, especially in the light of my inability to suspend my disbelief. Two Battleships (1915 Vintage), and consistently the enemy outspotted me (I didn't pick max Tech to see what happens.). Dreadnoughts, unable to spot other Dreadnoughts at 8 kilometers (!!!) Range. While the opposite side, of same tech level, with ships of same weight class can somehow see 12.5 kilometers. This is what I mean with inability to suspend disbelief: the mechanic is at worst frustrating and unfair (If on the receiving end) or tedious and boring (if on the giving end), and at best gives a reason to play some rock paper scissors with towers and ships. IE, building a spot-only-cruiser with one gun, max speed, max towers and max armor (I have to test to see if this works). And all the while, I can see that both ships have the same height of masts, two funnels, rangefinders at the same height, similar guns with similar optics and yet one always has a romulan cloaking device that says "if distance < X = turn invisible", which is annoying. In campaign, catching out a battleship with another battleship that has a slightly better tower or smaller hull size will have the advantage, and a battleship faced with torpedo slinging destroyers outside view range has even more fun.)

 

Today I did some testing, and here's a picture with ships set for year 1915. The ships spotted each other at 8.2 kilometers distance, +/- maybe 200 meters. Ranges for battleships were around that range every time, no matter the weather. At Jutland, the cruisers shot at each other from distances as far as 14 kilometers, and spotted each other further out.

And assuming the height of my battleships spotting top is about the height of that on HMS Dreadnought (about 25 ish meters, I think, from drawings I could find.), it should see the top of the chinese BCs Deck at 26 kilometers distance (assuming it is about 3 meters above the waterline), and the waterline at 19 kilometers, more than twice the distance the ships spotted each other in game.

I am beginning to understand that this spotting mechanic is there as a kind of fog of war. I think it's not working. I had another battle today where I skirted a couple hundreds of meters outside the spotting range of an enemy ship, and spent an entire 4 hours ingame time battle without having one shell fired at my own battleship. Only the spotting cruiser occasionally got shot when it accidentially slipped into view range, which was corrected with a quick course change.

Is it at all possible to make some adjustments to this?

Screenshot below is first shots right after spotting each other, at about 8.5 kilometers distance.

 

 

Desktop Screenshot 2021.04.25 - 12.14.07.93.png

Edited by Instant_Goats
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On 4/15/2021 at 2:21 PM, madham82 said:

Similar concerns were raised in the alpha thread, but blind firing (which is what is happening now) needs to be addressed with specific changes. It is realistically impossible for 1 ship to be able to see another ship and fire on it accurately without the reverse being true (talking 1v1 for simplicity). Shell splashes are much smaller than the ship, so if you can make out your splashes, both ships being visible is a given. 

Now assuming we are talking about blind fire, you either need a ship with radar good enough to see those splashes, or have another ship in communication that can see those splashes and relay back. Otherwise you are launching salvos with no ability to confirm their dispersion. This were the current game needs fixes first. There should be a huge accuracy penalty to blind fire that basically means the AI doesn't waste ammo (player can choose to of course). That penalty should be lessened with advanced radar, crew training, or if another ship has the ability to relay. The penalty amount could be adjusted for all of these.

Now for the quirks of detection ranges, we really need some data to determine how detection is really working. I've seen various theories, but don't think they explain every situation reported. I remember someone sharing the theoretical limit of sight on the horizon was something close to 40K yds (for capital ship mast height).  For reference, Warspite's longest confirmed hit was 26K yds against a moving target. So that illustrates that max spotting range is very different from even extreme engagement range. 

There are some edge cases where spotting is not always going to be symmetrical:

1)  One side has Radar and the other doesn't (At night or in other weather that obscures visual spotting)
2) One side is shooting in the dark and the other is not 
3) One side has star shells and the other does not

One other semi-side case would be where one side's gunners are facing the sun and another side's gunners have their backs to the sun, though this would more affect gunnery then raw spotting ability. 

_____________________
 

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45 minutes ago, admiralsnackbar said:

There are some edge cases where spotting is not always going to be symmetrical:

1)  One side has Radar and the other doesn't (At night or in other weather that obscures visual spotting)
2) One side is shooting in the dark and the other is not 
3) One side has star shells and the other does not

One other semi-side case would be where one side's gunners are facing the sun and another side's gunners have their backs to the sun, though this would more affect gunnery then raw spotting ability. 

_____________________
 

1) This is considered blind fire (i.e. no visual spotting of the ship being fired on or splashes). Early Radars couldn't give precise bearing or ranges to calculate a decent solution, and were often ignored by commanders who doubted the technology. By the end of WW2, Radars were now advanced enough to see the splashes (at least from what I have read on American ships). I'm sure there are British examples as well. 

2) Night battles present their own list of issues not addressed in the game currently, but ultimately night engagements happened at much closer ranges than daylight (most being point blank). Also the fact one side starts firing first, means they can immediately take counterfire. 

3) Related to point 2 in that we don't even simulate star shells. I would love for night engagements to be included, but so far nothing from the Devs.

The sun is being accounted for at least if you look at some of the penalties related to time of day and weather.

Edited by madham82
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On 5/5/2021 at 3:27 PM, admiralsnackbar said:

There are some edge cases where spotting is not always going to be symmetrical:

1)  One side has Radar and the other doesn't (At night or in other weather that obscures visual spotting)
2) One side is shooting in the dark and the other is not 
3) One side has star shells and the other does not

Missing two other scenarios:

One side has a spotter plane and the other does not.

One ship in a division can see the enemy, but the others cannot due to smoke etc. The blind ships can get spotting data from the one in visual contact using special equipment.

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On 5/5/2021 at 4:11 PM, madham82 said:

1) This is considered blind fire (i.e. no visual spotting of the ship being fired on or splashes). Early Radars couldn't give precise bearing or ranges to calculate a decent solution, and were often ignored by commanders who doubted the technology. By the end of WW2, Radars were now advanced enough to see the splashes (at least from what I have read on American ships). I'm sure there are British examples as well. 

2) Night battles present their own list of issues not addressed in the game currently, but ultimately night engagements happened at much closer ranges than daylight (most being point blank). Also the fact one side starts firing first, means they can immediately take counterfire. 

3) Related to point 2 in that we don't even simulate star shells. I would love for night engagements to be included, but so far nothing from the Devs.

The sun is being accounted for at least if you look at some of the penalties related to time of day and weather.


I understand the rationale against blind-fire. But to do away with blind fire the player needs to have a very quick way of knowing which enemy ships are visible to which allied ships. 

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46 minutes ago, admiralsnackbar said:


I understand the rationale against blind-fire. But to do away with blind fire the player needs to have a very quick way of knowing which enemy ships are visible to which allied ships. 

Agreed, I think at the very least seeing a penalty in the left "accuracy breakdown" screen (can't remember what it is called) could work. I would prefer something like the targeting line be a different color than red. 

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On 5/7/2021 at 8:46 AM, madham82 said:

Agreed, I think at the very least seeing a penalty in the left "accuracy breakdown" screen (can't remember what it is called) could work. I would prefer something like the targeting line be a different color than red. 


What I think could be done, as part of the UI system, is that for any ship the player selects, one of the configurable/filterable options shows above each enemy ship whether or not and/or to what degree that ship is visible, just as you might show the ships health, speed, name, and type (BB/CA/CL etc.) without having to click on that ship to get that information. 

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Another couple of attempts where not having the most advanced tower did me in. I tried building a budget Battlecruiser, going up against Destroyers and Light Cruisers, 1911 vintage. I spotted the Destroyers only after they had already launched their torpedoes (at 6 kilometers range.). The Chinese BC at that year is a smaller dreadnought hull, and I used the dreadnought-like tower (lowest tech one). The ship had a length of 158 meters, so I eyeballed the tower height from that number. The spotting top is at 26 meters (ish) height above the water, with the bridge of the destroyer (without mast) about 5 meters above the water as a ballpark. So by the numbers:

c = f * ( √a + √b )  (f=2R, R being mean radius of Earth. a and b are the heights of the observation points and c is distance to horizon between both points.)

Which gives for the observation point heights a distance of 25 kilometers. Weather was fair, so maybe drop it to 18 kilometers because of the haze. But this was 1911, so there are thick smoke plumes coming from the stacks, and they were making pretty amazing glass for optics at that time already.

Long story short, my BC was sinking after firing only one salvo, from eight torpedo hits, by two destroyers who only turned visible at the same time the torpedoes were spotted. Two more destroyers remained invisible and probably also had torpedoes in the water.

Is this really necessary? I could have had my own destroyers way ahead of the formation, but their spotting range was also lower than the enemies, and at less than 5 kilometers they would have been overwhelmed going 2 against potentially 6 (4 DD and the 2 CL). All structures already have a spotting distance attached: in case of the BCs tower, 3500 tower spotting (is that meters? what does the value mean?). If that is meters to horizon, it is almost 14k meters short of the actual distance to horizon from the spotting top as represented in game. Even from the deck, the distance would be over 7k meters. So, what do the numbers really mean, and why do it this way? It harbours so much potential for frustration, and breaks suspension of disbelief every time ships teleport in and out of existence (essentially.).

This is about the only gripe I have with the game. I don't need a campaign, I don't need more complicated armour simulation or officers altering stats. Only ships stopping to teleport out of sight by the decision of an arbitrarily assembled table would be great.

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