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Massive Hull/Tower/Module Suggestion that was too big to fit into the player suggestions thread


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I've been wanting custom hulls and modules for a while, but modding isn't on the horizon, I thought of something else: an ingame customizer.

Let's start with hulls.

The KGV hull is my absolute favorite hull in the game. Unfortunately, as a battleship hull it's only available to Britain (I think, might be available to something else) and as a cruiser hull it's only available to Britain and Italy as heavy cruiser hulls. 

How would a customizer fix this? Well, all the hulls in the game are basically stretched and scaled versions of a base hull. What if we had a window we could open in the main menu that let us interact with the base hulls? For example, I could bring up the base KGV hull and add that as a BC hull for Japan under a name, say "Modified Battlecruiser" and select the years it's available for, in this case let's say 1940. Then, I could move into the ship designer for the next part of the customization. I boot up a 1940s IJN designer with one BC, and my Modified Battlecruiser is now listed in the Hull selection tab. From here, I can start customizing the size.

On the corner of the selected hull or maybe in the top left of the hull build screen, there could be a menu to change the hull. From here, I could modify the length, width, and height of the base hull one step/stud/grid at a time to ensure some level of uniformity. So, let's say I took my Modified Battlecruiser hull and made it two steps longer and one step narrower and decreased its height by one step. I would now have a battlecruiser hull which looks kind of like the British Heavy Cruiser III hull (aka a skinnier, longer KGV).

This seems a bit far fetched, but we already have a system like this in game: the displacement slider. The displacement slider allows you to increase or decrease the length of the ship by a large amount depending on how you set it. Considering some hull customization is already possible in the base game, I don't see why expanding hull modification would be out of reach.

Let's take this a step further. Since every slider and option in the ship designer affects stats in some way, hull customization sliders could work the same way. Making a ship longer increases maximum displacement, increases hull form, increases pitch tolerance, makes the ship easier to hit, and makes the ship turn slower, with the opposite being true for a shorter hull. Making a ship wider increases maximum displacement, decreases hull form, increases roll tolerance, makes the ship easier to hit, and makes the ship turn faster, with the opposite being true for a skinner hull. Making a ship taller (or deeper I guess) would affect a lot of things with displacement, floatability, and hull form which I'm not educated enough on hydrodynamics to figure out.

Either way, these systems already exist in the game to some extent with the Unlock All hulls option and displacement modification, so why not open it up completely for players to mess with.

One definite advantage here is that you wouldn't need multiple sizes of the same hull for a ship class anymore. For example, a few nations right now have a normal battleship, a bigger battleship, and an even bigger battleship. They're all the same base hull, just stretched and scaled. With this system, all three hulls could be combined into one which the player would modify to suit their needs. This allows each nation and class to have only a few base hulls for people who don't feel like customizing, while allowing more involved ship design for everyone else.

With the hull set up, let's move on to towers and barbettes.

Like hulls, towers are made up of a base tower that's been scaled larger or smaller to fit on certain hulls. Since I was talking about an IJN BC earlier, let's go with the Cruiser Pagoda Tower. IJN BBs, BCs, and CAs have access to pagodas of varying sizes, but not all (looking at you Large Cruiser BC hull which doesn't have a cruiser pagoda for some reason). The customizer menu I mentioned above could fix this too. When assigning a base hull to a nation and class, we could assign main and secondary towers to that hull at the same time. For example, I could take the base pagoda tower and assign that to the KGV hull as a main tower, so when I load into the ship designer, the hull has access to the base pagoda tower.

All of the IJN pagodas (BB, BC, CA) have the same base model, they've just been scaled to a few different sizes. Once I've selected and customized the KGV hull in the designer, I could select the base pagoda tower and scale it to fit the hull before placing it down. Like the hulls, there would be steps to the scaling to ensure some level of uniformity. Barbettes could work the same way, with scaling allowing smaller barbette models to be scaled up to support larger guns.

Increasing the scale of a tower would increase its stats, but also its weight and make it easier to hit. 

As for how to determine what funnels and guns fit on scaled towers and barbettes, you could implement a size system. A few other games I've seen recently (tbf none of them being building games) use a "size" system for determining which modules can fit on it. For example, a ship could have one size-two mount and two size-three mounts, and you can select any size-two and size-three weapons to place in those mounts. UAD has a similar system with its mounting points, for example the mounts on the sides of some superstructures can accept single, twin, and triple 3-inch guns but not quads. 

Scaling up a tower or barbette would also scale up the size of the mounts. For example, if a base pagoda tower has mounts that can fit 2-inch guns, scaling the tower up twice could allow 3-inch guns in the mounts instead. For towers with funnels, scaling up the tower would also increase the size of the funnel slot, allowing larger funnels to be mounted.

On the topic of guns and funnels, let's talk about them next.

Each base funnel and gun model could be assigned a base size that determines which mounts it can fit into. Say, a 2-inch gun is a Size 2 and a small funnel is Size 4 or something like that. Since different gun calibers and funnel sizes or different marks use different models, we could have an alternate system where we can scale a particular base model to the correct size. 

Let's say I really like the MK4 8-inch Italian gun model (I do like it, why is it not available for mk5). I could take the base model for the gun which could be Size 8, and scale it up to Size 18 and use it as a battleship main gun. That way, we could have several models available for any given gun size without having to massively clutter the weapon selection menu with marks and sizes, we would only need an option for the base gun model and an option to scale it. Scaling the gun would modify its stats according to size, such as damage, reload speed, accuracy, range, etc, so that an 8-inch gun scaled up to an 18-inch gun would be statistically equivalent to current 18-inch guns just with a different model. 

The same could be done for funnels, with a few base funnels available that we can scale in steps to any size, for example allowing us to take a Size 10 German Uber Funnel and scale it down to Size 8 to fit on a smaller battlecruiser tower, with the scaled funnel having scaled stats to match.

The guns and funnels could also be added to the earlier mentioned customizer, allowing us to select which gun and funnel models should be available on custom hulls.

Customization of modules could go even deeper, such as barrel length and shell charge size, etc, but this is a good place to start which doesn't deviate too far from features already in the game.

So, how would the AI react to all of this? Well, it wouldn't.

Every other build and design game I've ever seen uses a selection of prebuilt designs from either the devs or community as random enemy ships. This isn't a bad thing, since it means the devs don't have to develop an AI generator and can use the extra time to do just about anything else. Also, designs built and perfected by humans will always be better than what AI can put together. I know it's hard to justify giving up on an aspect of the game you've spent so much time working on, but at some point you have to accept that putting more resources into a broken feature just isn't worth it. Instead of trying to code an AI to design ships in an increasingly complex game, just have the developper responsible for that coding, or even better, members of the community, design ships to be added into the game as potential enemy designs. 

This would allow players to enjoy a much more granular ship designer while not having to worry about the AI throwing a fit over all of the stuff it has to manage, and let us fight against ships that can match us from a design perspective.

So please Nick, I know this is a lot to read, but a hull and module customization feature like this would really let us run wild with our designs without being restricted by preselected hulls and towers and modules. Adding human made enemy designs on top, and the game would have infinite potential for much better designs from players and their enemies going forward.

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