I think its generally agreed that a fleet of small ships has a significant advantage over a single large ship of equal value. It's probably even a deliberate design decision. And in any case, it won't matter so much if you introduce "squadron" battles (see #6).
Obviously size is subjective, you think a 5k ship is big, I think a 10k one is, other guys think a 50k one is. But I'm going to persist with suggestions 41 - 47 anyway, which in addition to redressing the disadvantages of bigger ships, will mostly improve the game in their own right.
After, all, the steampunk era was the era of the dreadnought rather than the carrier.
The first problem is that range doesn't seem to matter much. Weapons have ranges, but for practical purposes most of the time most of them can hit anything. I think I have noticed some effect on accuracy, but it must be minimal, rather than fundamental.
I'd encourage you to take an axe to weapon ranges, especially those of the lighter weapons (for the heck of me, I cannot understand why rifles have a longer range than cannon or heavy cannon).
It would be nice to have a reference picture or game mode which shows both weapon arcs, the weapons range and at what point long range penalties, if any, apply.
One easy way to reduce the swarm advantage is to have every weapon start loaded. At the moment, the small ships get to fire off a few rounds before the big ships have even loaded their big guns, which is kind of weird, given the whole point of big guns is to pound the enemy before they get into range.
It also creates another jarring effect. Say I design a big ship. I put most of the heavy armament, say heavy cannon, facing forward. I also put a few light weapons, say guns and rockets, facing the rear, just in case. Come deployment time - I am better off facing with my rear to the enemy! - so that my light weapons get some shots off while I waiting for my heavy weapons to load (while my ship turns around). Sailing into battle ass first just doesn't sound right.
In general, I think crew suffer just a fraction too many casualties, especially from light weapons (not sure why), fires and boarders.
Admittedly, there is a lot I don't understand, for example whether all casualties are wounded that can be healed, or a fraction are dead and the others wounded.
Just guessing, I would reduce casualty rates:
I don't pretend to understand the game physics, and I might not be doing it right (does collision speed matter?) but generally speaking, I think collisions between large and very small ships should have a more decisive impact on the smaller entity. I often see a 5,000 ton ship smash into a 500 ton one and the 500 tonner just kind of bounces off, leaving both just floating there. Lacks a certain drama. I kinda expect the smaller one would be heavily damaged at the least.
Maybe increase the damage suffered by the smaller ship in a collision in some relation to the ratio between the ship's weights?
I guess you have something like this already, but I think that it could be tweaked to the benefit of larger ships.
How about, once a ship has lost, say, 25% of its total hit points, it loses 25% hit points off everything remaining. Or something like that.
Get unused crew to reallocate themselves to maintain efficiency of modules which are still functioning.
I guess you do already have some reallocation process in place, but I still often see crew standing around in pointless locations rather than shifting to a still usable gun or whatever. If the reallocation was more prompt and effective, I think it would reduce the small vs large ship imbalance.
I thoroughly enjoy ramming, but maybe it's a bit too easy (especially in ship coated with struts, see #49). The ram modules seem a bit overpriced or overheavy by the way - or is it just that struts are too good, see #49). Kamikaze ramming is also fun, but maybe a bit too prevalent, and makes small ships even better, as they can be used as flying bombs once they run out of ammo - I am pretty sure the IASU (International Air Sailor's Union) frowns up this practice. So:
(i) Maybe add a rule that a ship can only use the "Ram" command if it is equipped with a ram.
(ii) Add a cheaper "light ram" or "prow" for small ships to use.
Ramble: Suicide ramming idea - maybe ships without a ram could could be allowed to ram after their captain orders abandon ship. This would reduce the crew to 1, and allow it one final ramming run with the coal in its boilers (OK, I am getting carried away, but it would be fun).
Maybe the AI should takeover a ship which has run out of ammo and boarding troops, and doesn't have a ram, and simply fly it off the map. It could be a nice touch, and would limit suicide ramming.
About the only things more uncombatable than boarding ships are the downward thrust of a giant strut spear ship or the smashing impact of a spherical strut ship. Strut fences (mandatory when playing boarder crazy players) are also a cheap way to impede the mobility and enjoyment of multiplayer battles.
I also get the vague impression that struts also dilute the damage from shots by increasing your ships surface area. I could be wrong on that, but if it's true, this effect makes struts even more useful.
Don't get me wrong, I love them (unlike marines, struts rarely cause lag) but I think they need to be toned down a dash. Some possibilities:
(a) Add a rule that a unit cannot have more more struts than it has cells.
(b) Increase their price. I don't recommend this because it would affect existing designs.
(c) Reduce the number of hit points they have. Currently 50. Reducing it to 40 would help, but wouldn't make a really long single row or column of struts less dangerous. So how about making strut strength dependent on the number of neighbouring cells, this will make it easier to topple strut fences or break strut spears.
Would I recalculate this during play as struts fall off? Yes. Which means in effect you could leave struts at 40 HP, but implement double damage against a strut with only a single adjacent cell, and increase damage by half against struts with only 2 adjacent cells.
While I have read a few posts saying that bombers are overpowered, I haven't found them to be the reliable superweapons that boarding ships, and under some circumstances rammers or buildings can be. The reason is that their weak offensive power means they will take a long time to kill you, so even a modest flak armament will give you a fighting chance, or failing that, you can try to avoid combat and hold out for a draw.
Still, if you needed to weaken bombers just a fraction, my suggestion would be to make propulsion marginally less effective at higher altitudes, we're talking about propellers and sails here after all. Just a small amount, say -1% speed for every 5m over 200m altitude.
I think the ground generation algorithm creates landscapes which are just a tiny bit too rough for landships.
I love it - but it is totally useless. It is just a little bit too EXPLOSIVE to actually use in a serious way.
So as mentioned elsewhere, a big problem here is that computers aren't infinitely fast, and if people keep making bigger ships, they'll eventually run into performance problems. And yes, I have spent a lot of time in the profiler making sure the game runs efficiently - there aren't any low-hanging fruit to produce huge speed-ups by now. So to keep the game's performance decent, a 5k ship IS defined as big, a 10k ship is huge, and a 50k ship is, well, just not a thing anyone should ever make.
I am really confused by this, because in my experience, weapon ranges matter a lot, and weapons are pretty bad at hitting targets. Are all your combats with all the ships right next to each other? Do you never use grenades or rockets? If you find that your weapons are more than accurate enough, I encourage you to switch to rapid fire, as you'll do more damage that way. Anyway, I like the idea of (perhaps optionally) showing effective weapon ranges.
I'll switch weapons to start (mostly) loaded, yeah.
My intended fix here is to make it much more likely for crew to be just wounded rather than dead, to make the whole hospital thing more of a relevant factor, and to improve the "Rat" charge.
I'll look into this, but collision damage is a really finicky thing that I already spent a lot of time balancing, preventing weird things from happening.
There is something like that in that adjacency HP bonuses for modules stop applying when adjacent modules get shot off. But I kind of like the idea of having a general HP boost/loss formula that can be relentlessly tweaked to benefit certain ship sizes. So make those sweet-spot $700-2200 ships tougher, but make small ships weaker because they're small, and big ships weaker because they strain under their own weight. After all, unlike as with a sea-going ship, there is no water that very evenly carries the ship - all the weight's hanging off the Suspendium chambers and tanks.
I'll look into this to check, but that is totally what they are meant to do.
Yeah, struts need to become less powerful in a variety of ways, as you mention below. Making them do less damage on impact would make sense as they're kind of "crumply" and wouldn't be as damaging as a giant bronze spike.
So currently suicide ramming happens at medium and high difficulty levels. I'll probably switch it to only happen at high difficulty, but then, well, anything goes. :D
This is exactly what happens with all modules already, actually. Anyway, yes, struts need to become less powerful in a variety of ways.
Maybe - arguably sails would become stronger. If/when I get around to implementing wind that actually pushes ships around, it could be an interesting balance wherein ships high up need big engines to move against the wind.
Yeah, it does. That and landships are not good enough yet at navigating rough terrain.
That's true, no one uses it. I'll make it a little less 'splody and we'll see. :)
Anyway, thank you again for the vast quantities of feedback. It is highly appreciated. As usual, I may or may not end up acting on it for a whole bunch of reasons, so please don't take me saying "yes" to something as a firm promise that it will happen.
Right, and now I've extracted all the potential TODO items from this, 45 in number. I'll have to think about what goes into dev 9 and what not, because if I put in everything I've just doubled the time until its release!
45/50 ain't bad!
Bah, easy peasy, barely a morning's work :-)