Crew are precious and a limited resource in naval/airnaval warfare, and a crew can be difficult to replace, so a feature for conserving crewmen would be really cool to see.
I'm thinking of two ways of doing this:
The Parachute exit could work in two ways:
The Grounding option would not need a lot of work. Basically, you ground the ship and tell the crew to bail out. If the ship is grounded, instead of parachuting, they just leave the ship and walk away.
Once on the ground, the crew can either go attack towers or other grounded ships (marines would likely do this--airsailors wouldn't be that crazy!).
The incentive for saving your crew could be money. Since crew are expensive (trained, adult humans don't grow on trees!), you could get some money back for each crew member you save this way. Not too much, but enough to make people think about using this. Also, it would be morally right to save your crew!
I hope you all like this idea! It could add a moral question to the game.
Commander, Engineering Corps
Like this idea.
If we need to pay to replace died crew, but also use surviving crew from "destroyed" airships. this replace mechenic could also be used for caputured ships.
And a Leveling System for the crew, not directly for the Ships
So, if you lose an airship, but the trained crew can be used in another airship and the "level" balanced out, like high skilled crew gets some new crew the "crew level" may shrink.
Captain, Engineering Corps
Airsailors on the ground, I can see D-Day already
Wow, that is an awesome idea =)
But I'm not sure about an Escape Hatch. May be it is OK for small ships, but for large ships it would be more logical to put a room with parashutes next to a normal exit. Why? Because you can put much more parashutes in an empty room, than in a room with a door and other enter/exit accessories...
It also seems logical that if you add another statistic to the game, you should provide a dedicated room for that kind of things. This present in all sandboxes, as far as I remember...
How about if we have it where each city has a set population? This way you wouldn't be preserving crew for money, but instead for the simple purpose of having a population to command your ships. Also something i would recommend is xp for your crew members. Which they gain from battles, so when you lose crew members you lose men with valuable experience!
Just don't call it population. Population does not command ships. Call it somehow like "available sailors". Should not be hard to implement.. If it was an empire-wide resourse, it would work just the same way as money does.
XP is another story... I'm not sure it is required in the game at all. And if it is, there is no point to make it before the parashutes and other escape metods. May be later it would be fine, for now it would be an uncontrolable source of confusion, IMHO.