Disclaimer: I enjoyed the game, this is just critical feedback for balance etc.
The most prominent problem about the game is that for a steampunk game it really does not reward you to build your ships with Steampunk stuff.
Sharing some of heavily R & D builds below that won me every campaign game and is highly value for money. Notice the universal theme:
Sails, Pressurised Suspendium Tanks, Low maintenance cost.
Gunboat $385 https://www.flickr.com/photos/105212745@N06/29486510863/
I have a 4 rifles only variant for cheaper $279.
Destroyer $623 https://www.flickr.com/photos/105212745@N06/29819708000/
Bomber $478 https://flic.kr/p/Mr4V8s
Crusier $963 https://flic.kr/p/LVBZDG
I have a $1782 Battlecrusier (4 cannons, 2 rifles, 1 ventral turret) but its really useless compared any combination of the above ships in terms of value for money.
Lift to Weight ratios with fixed cost of coal stores (Without adjusting for the weight of Crew as quarters/Berth)
Efficiency (Lift / Weight) - Higher is Better
Cost Efficiency (Price / (Lift / Weight)) - Lower is Better
Pressurised Suspendium Tank: 9, 9
(900 Lift, Unlimited Flight)
Small Sus. Chamb. w/ Small Coal: 7.5, 10.4
(600 Lift, 320s Flight )
Small Sus. Chamb. w/ Coal: 4.615, 22.97
(600 Lift, 1,280s Flight)
Suspendium Chamber w/ Small Coal: 13.3334, 15.45
(2000 Lift , 160s Flight)
Suspendium Chamber w/ Coal: 10, 23.4
(2,000 Lift, 640s Flight)
Large Sus. Chamb. w/ Coal: 16.6667, 24.96
(5,000 Lift, 320s Flight)
It goes without saying that everyone who doesn't realise the pressurised suspendium tanks is the best, will always go for Suspendium Chamber w/ Normal Coal Store as it is the most optimal trade off (unless you are building a big ship) and since you already have Coal you may as well take a propeller to co-share resource as u won't be fighting for 10 mins.
You pay a really excessive premium for Suspendium Chambers that are unreliable in combat. I have to armour both the Coal stores and the Chamber where as I just need to armour the Pressurised Suspendium Tank and cross my fingers. If it gets blown up, its cheap enough. I have a few more Ships/Tanks to spare.
It is impossible to build sustainable/usable large ships unless resource is unlimited (when you're already winning). It just doesn't make sense to dump so much money on something extremely vulnerable. You can't repair in time, water points are bloody heavy, too large still doesn't put out fire in time (fire extinguishers should just be a normal/common feature or have smaller water points). It just makes more sense to build a BARE MINIMAL weapons platform.
Special weapons are pointless. The conditions to get them are so volatile and they are inefficient in terms of cost and damage.
Wooden armour is pointless. Once I swapped over to pure steel walls and armour, I reduced my ship loss rate to fire breakouts significantly.
Trade off for smaller parts (Berth, Small Coal, Small Ammo, Small Propeller, Small Suspendium) fails the cost (Price, Weight, Space/Grid) to benefit (Capacity) ratio tests.
A couple points and counterpoints.
If you're doing calculations, you should probably be normalizing parts for the same operating time. That means 2 medium suspendium to 1 large coal. I've had engagements last nearly 5 minutes when I used less destructive ships and had too many things to kill, so 320 seconds is a fine benchmark for security. Anything that goes beyond is completely wasted mass.
There's also the armor behind your modules, for considering lift/weight. Admittedly steel wall doesn't change it much, but if you're putting steel armor behind tanks, they are doing very poorly at their job of providing lift.
A high service ceiling is hugely overpowering for a bomber, with the current stock ships and AI. The boosted lift efficiency is worth it for gaining the ability to reach this threshold with less overall cost and volume. Example: the cost and volume of my bomber (see my ships thread ... ) would go up 30% to reach the same 330m on pressurized suspendium, and it would be impossible to repair if damaged. Good bombers can be sitting up there and trolling the AI all day, with only paint scratches and a few dead crew at the end of an engagement.
Because it is so important for bombers, it is also relevant for things intending to clear away enemy bombers without risk, or clear space for your bombers to fly in, and so on. Sadly, this part is only a concern for multiplayer so far.
Funny you mention manpower. Sails are big, fragile, heavy, and ... labor-intensive. Great for cheap throwaway ships, for sure, but only those. I used to have 2 sails each on my bombers, but I sometimes lost a sail and it had trouble moving. Since changing my design for a propeller, with adjacent modules to buff its HP, I haven't lost one. The people saved were shifted to man more bombs.
Repair bays and fire points are very relevant for ships that won't be seeing heavy fire in the first place, to stretch their lifespan greatly. Make sure to have enough crew to fully man them so they actually get used as they should, and make sure their walking distances to target are short. With a sole suspendium chamber for lift, even if it catches fire, that fire can be put out before lift is lost. Probably not an option for your sizes and prices though.
Multiplayer has no part limits (rockets for example make sense there, as do torpedoes).
Nice ships. They look very efficient as swarmers.
Your flickr photos are too compressed for me to read the stats. Too lazy to build them myself and see... <.<
Thanks for the feedback. It's really helpful.
2 Med Sus. Chamb. w/ 1 Coal vs 1 Large Sus. Chamb. w/ 1 coal. These two have same operational flight time BUT its $426 vs $416 in favour of large chamb and lift capacity of 4000 vs 5000, again in favour of large. Only advantage is redundancy in systems. Hence my last point arguing small parts fail the trade-off of ratios and comparisons.
I realised steel walls really aren't much help but it's better than burning to death xD I also realised Steel Armour is useless because of cannons and the additional toughness of Wooden Armour is good enough because it takes 25 rifle hits vs 18 rifle hits of steel wall and both still die to a single cannonball shot, breaking the armour and susp. tank rapidly. As such, I managed to achieve ever higher operational ceilings with my units
I always found high altitude bombing to take too long to blow things up though you are correct that it's useful. I'll try experimenting with some.
Correct sails are labour intensive but think of the trade off. I need 3 manpower for sails which I don't use very often and position from time to time. If you use coal, you will want maximum efficiency and use propeller and susp. which means you'll have 3-4 personnel locked down, extra cost and unreliability in combat! I build bare minimum cost ships for maximum efficiency hence the difference in opinion.
I tried using fire points and repair bays. I realised I rather have 2 ships for the price of 1 and the firepower would take out that 1 ship faster than it can repair / put out fire anyway though I may lose one ship.
I haven't tried multiplayer yet though but I have to say, the fire extinguisher is the most powerful custom part. I haven't tried rockets/torpedoes yet as well.
Thx, I didn't intend to design them as swarmers but going for efficiency means lowest cost, lowest maintenance, biggest guns.
If you click on a photo flickr will open it up and show you the stats clearly. My HP for my ships are probably pretty weak. They tend to die mostly to fire outbreaks from sustained rifle fire.
I have posted a couple guides both kind of talking about efficiency and how large ships tend to be ineffective.
I highly prefer coal independent ships but most of my ships are cheap "throwaway ships". Most of my financial resources goes into bunkers as they are the most efficient way to get heavy firepower with great protection. Currently bunkers are super OP if used properly.
Also another thought on ship efficiency, unrelated to the combat mechanisms of the game. I gave it some thought and realized coal ships couldn't fly very far without a incredible supply line, a ship carrier, or some sort of detachable suspedium balloon. Ships would burn out of coal before being able to go any reasonable range. They would need additional support to be able to travel any reasonable distance.
Small test- Don't know the size of the map in meters exactly but a rough measurement with ceiling height brought me to between 1,200 and 1,500 meters, although I may be super off.
So lets say it's 1,500 meters, I built a tiny tiny super lightweight ship (weight 148). Takes it 30ish second to cross the screen. 3 Kilometers a minute, 180/hr. Not too bad speed wise. Although it uses around 1 coal every 30 seconds (more accurate 7 coal every 200 seconds), this gives it a running time of around 5 minutes, and a 15 kilometers range. Which for a tiny lightweight ship is pretty poor. Even if we say in a non combat situation running at a lower speed and altitude and we give it x4 efficiency the range of the ship is 60 Kilometers.
Summary- Light weight small ship
Speed 180 Kilometers a hour
Coal-10 total, 8 in storage 1 in propeller and suspedium chamber
Range- 15 Kilometers (60 if generous, say efficent in non combat)
So after this test in "reality" coal independent ships would be incredibly attractive in comparison, even if less effective in combat the ability to actually have your ships independently travel further than a drive to the grocery store would be a massive advantage.
I see the point that pressurized Suspendium is overpowered for small swarm ships. If they're the kind of ship that can't take any significant damage anyway, it doesn't matter that the pressurized tanks are basically giant bombs. Hmm...
Yeah, the balloons are way too fragile and the suspedium chambers way too expensive. Leaves pressurized suspendium as the only good option for featherweight and lightweight ships.
what about special balloon covers (as in armor) that dont add much weight but do cost a good extra buck.
it would give the classic zeplin design a come back