Hi there, this is my first post on the forums. I'd just like to start by saying this game is really cool. There's a few things about designing ships that kind of bug me, and I'd like to propose something that gets at my biggest irk.
I'd like to propose weapon sponsons - modules that allow weapons to be placed along the sides of the ship instead of only the front/rear/top/bottom. Why do this? It allows for more flexibility in ship designs, my main motivation though is that it allows for more satisfying and "believeable" ships, instead of all the weapons being concentrated at the front.
It makes sense, too. Although the game takes place in 2D, ships can still take hits along their sides. So clearly targets that are in front of your airship is not directly in front, but some distance to the left or right as well. Otherwise hitting anything beyond the very front would not be possible.
Allowing players to place weapons on the sides of the ship (effectively the "interior" of the ship) would have a big impact on ship design gameplay. So it should come with some costs and restrictions. I really think it is worth considering though.
Logically I can already think of two natural drawbacks. One is that adding a weapon sponson actually adds two weapons, even though one will be firing at a target at one time. So a cannon sponson module would act like a single cannon, but have the weight and cost of two, perhaps even more. The gunners would probably switch from one side to the other, so the crew requirement is the same.
Furthermore while a front mounted weapons have a generous up/down firing arc, the way a sponson traverses would mean that traversal up/down would be much more limited. Unless that sponson was actually a side mounted turret, in which case you are now adding the weight and cost of two turrets.
I'd like to see sponson versons of a weapon module take up a bit more vertical space, just so they can't be packed so easily. I'm thinking of a flat +1 increase to the vertical size for a sponson. It would make filling up the interior of your ship with guns to boost firepower fairly awkward. Bigger weapons would be penelized less by this, which is good as they are not as easily packable anyways.
I think these three drawbacks would be sufficient to keep sponsons balanced.
In terms of implementation I think the bulk of the work would be graphical. Sponson modules would probably need some part of their graphic to layer over the hull armour in order to look nice.
Anyways, thank you for reading this, it is a very long post, but something I feel kind of strongly. I look forwards to hearing your thoughts.
P.S. I tend to prefer ship designs that are at least a bit visually pleasing, which is part of why this idea excites me. A bit off-topic but I'd like to see more emphasis on zeppelin and ballonet based airships, instead of the "wooden UFOs" that the AI seems to like to use.
I guess it's a matter of taste, but it would be nice if dust balloons were less fragile. I would also make the suspendium crystals instead a high-tech option (i.e. not available by default in the campaign) whose benefit is primarily high lift to weight ratio instead of durability. It would make sense if dust balloons were made of many small cells, gradually loosing lift as they take damage, instead of just popping all at once. Anyways those seem like they can be done with modding (ok maybe not the last one) which is why the sponsons are the focus of this post.
It has been suggested before that side-weapons should have a limited 360 degree firing range, rather than an unlimited arc. But I've never heard the suggestion that side weapons should weigh twice as much.
This... really sounds like it could be balanced. I think Zarkonnen should try it, and then make adjustments based on player feedback. Or he could try it and test it himself before releasing it.
I also like the idea of suspendium dust tanks loosing lift gradually instead of just popping.
Perhaps side mounted cannons could have a ridiculously small firing range?
@madking321: They should be balanced, not worthless.
Ah, wrong wording on my part. What i meant was "firing angle"
As well, I think such a system would make the very small weapons, rifles and grenades, much more usable. Because they are already light and cheap, paying double so you can put a rifle on both sides of the ship isn't a huge issue.
I like to imagine large ships with rifles and grenades placed at various points as backup weapons or just to pad out the ship with some extra armament. I like the idea because it seems like it would "make sense" if airships was real. Because they take up precious front/rear real-estate though, I never use these modules except on the smallest of ships. With this system, I would be able to add that kind of detail to my ships.
Before anyone asks, I don't think interior rifles and grenades would be particularly unbalanced. The weapons would still take up space, still require nearby ammunition stores, and would still have a different damage profiles than the heavier guns. And while double the weight/cost of a rifle isn't much, it's still double, an inefficiency that becomes more prominent if you try to use them en-mass instead of just a sprinkle around your ship.
Anyways, the entire motivation behind this thread is that airships like these are basically impossible to create in this game, because all the weapons must go in the front:
Which is a huge portion of design space that is basically taken away.