Naval combat revamp

Naval combat is one of the biggest selling points of Darkfall.
Very few games out there offer something like that. It required coordination and has such a cool factor that even being on small ships was thrilling.

Unfortunately, the game was set up in ways that ships were a rare sight. There was also some flaws in design that inhibited the depth of gameplay that could arise from naval warfare.

Just like warhulks, all ships need a purpose and a specific niche in which they can shine. But more than that, they need to become the best and almost only way to fight and travel on water.

We’re also considering modifying some of the actual naval gameplay, notably repairs, to encourage more fleet interactions and enable some interesting piracy features.

General changes to water combat

We cannot touch naval combat before first addressing the issues with water combat: it was lame.

In addition, some of the abilities greatly negated the advantages of ships and made them in some case too risky to use. As we play test we may decide to alter how movement spells work on targets that are in water.

The main changes are geared towards underwater fighting:

  • Rivers flow most of the time. Some already did.
  • Random currents in large bodies of water.
  • Bows can now shoot under water by default, but with much lower projectile speed.
  • Attacks speed and damage are halved in water.
  • Ranged attacks can still be done from the surface towards out of water targets.
  • Everything takes more stamina/mana in water.
  • Equipped gear takes some durability damage from being in water for long.
  • Sailor title only partially mitigates these drawbacks.

We will also be adding sea predators that are attracted when players bleed in the water. After a few minutes, sharks will show up, and if a large concentration of players have been hurt in the water, it could scale up to a kraken showing up for a snack.
Those monsters will not provide skill ups or loot so as not to be exploited.

The end goal here is that fighting in water should be a pain and avoided at all costs. We want people to use ships even if it is just a raft to travel.

We also don’t want to have “escaping in water” be a safe choice. If you flee and end up in water, even if your pursuers can’t shoot at you through the water, you will be pretty much dead.

Once we have confirmation through play testing that our previous changes are enough to reach these goals, then we will implement harpoons as a non magic type of weapon to fight in water and give water magic spells a perk enabling underwater casting.

 

General changes

Here is a quick bullet list of what we would like to change:

  • Astrolabs and mariner astrolabs are now craftable, but the recipes will be expensive.
  • Ships costs are all readjusted in order to be balanced but used daily.
  • Ships can be crafted in some NPC cities but will cost 15% more materials.
  • Ship figurines, except the raft, cannot be carried around without overburdening. They need to be transported with mounts or strongboxes.
  • If boarded, ships can be sabotaged by lowering their anchor (20sec with noises).
  • Captains can despawn ships from the wheel.
  • Ships can only be spawned/despawned around harbors.
  • Spawning takes 30 seconds.
  • We will increase amount of harbors in the world (with NPC ones).
  • Pinnace, raft and launch can be spawned/despawned everywhere and instantly.
  • All battle ships are now equipped natively with underwater bombs
  • In addition to the underwater bombs, ship can now slightly raise their boarding nets.
  • Players with the Sailor title may climb raised nets.
  • Mast nets on ships are climbable like ladders.
  • Players with the sailor title can sit on top masts equipped with crows-nets.
  • Crows-nests are a position from which you can’t repair but have a bonus at spotting/heal range/etc. Can be combined with telescopes.
  • There are crew quarters on ships with games and things to do. (fluff and charged buff)
  • Fishing rods work from the side of a ship, even higher ones.
  • Captain may order boarding planks to extend so that higher ships have advantages when boarding.

The general idea being to add the quality of life changes that were asked a lot back in the days. We’re also adding some fluff and utilities to make ships and long trips fun.

We’re also giving purposes to the Sailor title.

 

Customizing ships

The first change we want to implement is complete fluff. We want to give players the ability to name ships the same way we can name bags.

Instead of:
Brigantine(Random Guy)
We would see:
USS Enterprise(Captain Kirk)
Clan of the Federation

A ship’s name will be permanent once set, this means that even if it changes hands, the enterprise will always be the enterprise.

This goes in line with the customization system we want to implement for ships. We want people to get attached to their ships as they survive encounters, and try to recapture them when they have been lost in battle.

Aside from a name, a ship will receive a few upgrade slots depending on its size that can be filled with craftable parts:

  • Sails: Slight speed increase to ship.
  • Rudders: Slight turning radius increase to ship.
  • Metal Plating: Slightly decreases damage taken, decreases speed.
  • Reinforced Structure: Slight increases ship health.

One captain could prefer to go full sails for a merchant ship while another would take a healthy mixture of each for more versatility. It won’t happen straight away, but we consider making upgrades be equipped and visible just like armors are on characters. Perhaps even have individual hitboxes to target and destroy them. For example shooting at the sails to catch up and board another ship.

Aside from upgrades, ships will be able to have a variety of craftable modules, some of which will be destroyed at despawn:

  • Won’t get destroyed until unequipping:
    • Fishing nets: the same fishing nets we’re all familiar with.
    • Strongboxes: Like their land based counterparts. Useful to keep the crew resupplied or have a merchant vessel.
  • Will get destroyed at despawn:
    • Buff orbs: Will provide a pulse that provides a general haste effect  (ranged, casting and melee speed buff).
    • Healing orbs: Will heal anyone nearby.
    • Bindstones: can provide a limited amount of binds for the crew.

With those, not only will ship be unique and custom fit for the crew, they will also have new roles in combat and in the daily life of players.

 

Ship repairs

Naval combat was very much a matter of whom could out repair the other one. And repairing was not a fun or glamorous activity. Most of the time it was just hiding in the hull, repairing on cooldown. We hope to make it a bit more interesting.

First, only a limited amount of people can repair a ship at the same time. The number will increase with the size of the ship, to give them more durability. But for two ships of the same size, piloting and accurate shooting will be more important than who has the most repair shards.

However, more people can repair the ship from “repair planks” which are craftable items that can be used from the captain’s inventory or the ship’s strongbox. The ship has to be stopped and it takes a bit of time to lower the planks, and a bit of time to raise them back up. The captain may chose to cut the ropes  to start moving again, but that means losing the planks and whatever crew were standing on it.

For a single ship, this is meant for repairs after surviving an encounter or when using a ship in PvE in between Kraken spawns.

For a fleet, this should open up tactics to cover a friendly ship while the crew does hastened repairs but are immobilized in the process. We will play test the lowering speed for the repair planks to have this be a viable tactic but very hard to pull off.

Boarding and piracy mechanics

We already mentioned a boarding plank that the captain can extend. This is meant to board other ships but can also be used to make an unruly crew walk the plank. Yaarrrr.

Aside from that, we want to give incentives for players to try and board ships and either capture them or loot them without necessarily  sinking them.

Here are some details on what we have in mind:

  • Ships bellow 5% health will stop moving, be unrepairable and boarding nets will lower.
  • It will regenerate on its own up to 5% hp per minute and It will be able to move and be repaired again at 80% (so 15mins stranded).
  • A ship strongbox can only be used by friendlies of the original owner.
  • However, everyone can see the content of the strongbox.
  • Cracking open a strongbox will take 10mins uninterrupted on a static ship.
  • Cracking open a strongbox will destroy 50% of its content.
  • When a ship is sunk, 85% of all content in strongboxes is destroyed.

This should hopefully encourage pirates to board and try to threaten merchant ships: Give us your bounty or lose your ship.

If the crew gets wiped out, boarders are left with three choices:

  • Sinking the ship for 15% of the loot.
  • Cracking open the strongbox for 50% of the loot.
  • Waiting for the ship to be able to move again and capture it.

In all cases, there is a material sink when a ship gets defeated and the crew doesn’t or cannot collaborate. In some case, if the pirates get greedy, it leaves time for backup to come and salvage the ship and perhaps take revenge on the previous defeat.
If the crew collaborates, then they can give more than 50% of the loot to the pirates and then be left alone with their ship repairing.

We’re not sure how players will use these systems, but we’re looking forward to hear of legendary crews plundering the high seas of Agon.

 

Individual Ship changes

In the same spirit than the warhulks changes, we’re going to try a specific niches to all classes of ships.

Raft:

  • Is now as fast as player sprint swimming (speed 1).
  • Basic transportation, doesn’t make you go faster but longer.

Launch:

  • Half the price than before.
  • Goes at speed 1.5.
  • Expandable fast boarding ship.

Pinnace:

  • Goes at speed 1.3.
  • Somewhat resistant to land based attack (canons, warhulks, towers).
  • Weak against ships.
  • Light troop transport.

Sloop:

  • Goes at speed 1.4.
  • Very maneuverable.
  • Bonus damage against ships.
  • Weak against land based attacks.
  • Light anti ship. Meant to be used in a squad and circle larger ships.

Brigantine:

  • Goes at speed 1.3.
  • Can equip 2 special module (fishing, strongbox, healing, buffing).
  • Medium versatile ship.

Schooner:

  • Goes at speed 1.2.
  • Bonus damage against ships.
  • Resistant to ship attacks.
  • Can equip 1 strongbox.
  • Skirmish ship. Meant to follow fleeing ships, damage them enough to slow them down or run away while doing more damage all while soaking up hits due to it’s armor.
  • Good against large ships, vulnerable to Sloops.

Junk:

  • Goes at speed 1.2.
  • Goes at speed 1.0 in siege mode.
  • Cannons do half damage when not in siege mode.
  • Captain decides to go in siege modes from the helm.
  • Switch to siege mode takes 30sec.
  • Vulnerable to all attacks.
  • Does extremly high damage to buildings.
  • Can equip 2 special modules (strongbox, buffing).
  • Siege glass canon, needs to be escorted.

Reed Boat:

  • Goes at speed 1.5.
  • Weak to damage.
  • Can equip 1 strongbox.
  • Fragile fast courier/merchant ship.

Composite raft:

  • Goes at speed 1.3.
  • Weak to damage.
  • Can equip 3 strongbox.
  • Fragile merchant boat.

Large Raft:

  • Goes at speed 1.1.
  • Can equip 4 special modules (fishing box, strongbox(max2), healing(max1) buffing(max1)).
  • Warhulks may ride spawned on this boat.
  • Fishing ship or warhulk dropship.

Barque:

  • Goes at speed 1.2.
  • Can equip 5 modules (strongbox, buffing, healing, fishing).
  • Resistant to all kind of damage.
  • Bonus damage against ships.
  • Cannons may be spawned on this ship(they’ll be destroyed with ship).
  • Sturdy versatile ship:
    • Heavy merchant ship,
    • or large troop transport/support,
    • or artillery platform,
    • or advanced fishing ship.

Ship of the line:

  • Goes at speed 1.3.
  • Can equip 1 strongbox, 1 healing orb and 1 buff orb.
  • Resistant to ship damage.
  • Weak to damage from land sources.(warhulks, cannons and towers)
  • Does heavy damage to ships.
  • Does low damage to buildings/land vehicles.
  • Heavy anti ship, needed to take a Manowar/ frigate down fast.
  • Can resist and sink several Sloops if manned properly.
  • Good escort ship for merchant convoys.

Frigate:

  • Goes at speed 1.3.
  • Goes at speed 1.0 in siege mode.
  • Cannons do half damage when not in siege mode.
  • Captain decides to go in siege modes from the helm.
  • Switch to siege mode takes 30sec.
  • Can equip 1 strongbox, 1 healing orb and 1 buff orb.
  • Resistant to damage from land sources.(warhulks, cannons and towers)
  • Weak against ships.
  • Massive damage against buildings/vehicles/infantry.
  • Low damage against ships.
  • Attacks have longer range before “depopping”. (scouts on the ground could direct shots when lobbing over geography).
  • Cannons can be spawned on this ship.
  • Ultimate siege ship. Whatever is on land gets annihilated.

Man o’ war:

  • Goes at speed 1.1.
  • No strength and no weakness except massive amount of hp.
  • Needs to be well protected, ship of the lines hurt.
  • Cannons can spawn on this ship.
  • Can equip a pricey one shot bindstone for 250 people.
  • Can equip 6 modules (all except fishing).
  • Occupation: flagship.

We hope these changes will create more of a fleet mentality where clan and alliances will think about which ships to field depending on the situation and goals of the day.

Anyway, let’s go back to land and talk about what kind of changes we are doing for mounts and traveling on roads.

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