Cannon Changes, Part 1

In a previous devlog, we explained a bit about some fundamental changes we planned to make to the game’s cannon mechanics to address some issues we felt needed to be addressed and to prepare for some changes we had planned for the game’s economy. To summarize for players unfamiliar with the previous devlog the issues specifically boiled down to two large combat oriented problems and one major economy problem we felt really needed to be addressed.

For combat, we felt accuracy in general at long range was far too high contributing to tactical game play issues and larger cannon were being given unnecessary accuracy bonuses. The two issues created problems in that it made spiking at long range by larger cannon too unbalancing and it was rendering smaller cannon far less effective than desired.

For the economy the issue was the unbalancing factor of ship construction created by the cannon model. The generalization of a “medium” cannon forced odd and often arbitrary adjustments to ship construction costs simply to balance the fact that one ship getting 9lb cannon was paying exactly the same price for guns as a ship using 12lb cannon. The generalization also stood in the way of any development of more unique guns because the entire range of cannon has already been reduced to fitting into 5 simple buckets (tiny, small, medium, large and huge). We needed more to work with if our future economy plans were going to be able to be implemented.

The whole of these issues was significant enough to us as a development team that we felt very strongly they all needed to be addressed. So many economy development possibilities would open if we fixed the over generalization of cannon production. Reducing accuracy at long range would reduce spike power at long range without removing the larger cannon’s natural damage advantages. Any changes we made that gave smaller cannon a bigger role in combat would be beneficial to the game.

Build 2.14 represents the implementation of the new cannon mechanics we feel will give us the ability to address the issues that we felt needed addressing with cannon in game and for our future development plans. Its primary feature is the implementation of new accuracy curve from which basic to hit values at range are calculated based on cannon type (explained in more detail below under “Accuracy Changes”). Included with this change are a few other changes being made to cannon in general listed below.

  • All cannon (except swivel guns) will have a maximum range of 750 yards. While this is not historically accurate (all cannon featured in game have historic maximum ranges exceeding 1500 yards) we feel this range is right for game purposes when factors like map sizes and sight lines/distance are considered. Moving maximum cannon ranges to 750 yards also makes the tag angle from the Open Sea of greater importance as the starting distance of most battles is roughly at 750 yards. You now have less time to reorient a ship from a bad angle before coming under fire.
  • Most cannon have had their reload times reduced by a few seconds. This change is simply to pick up the pace of the game that predominantly affects newer players. Simply put, when you have few skills to use and few guns to fire it doesn’t help the game from an interest standpoint to spend too much time waiting for guns to reload. We want to speed that aspect of combat up a bit and consequently scaled all the reload times of all cannon downward accordingly to maintain our general cannon reload structure.
  • Many cannon have had their base damage increased. This was a byproduct of broadening the overall damage range represented by all cannon as a whole to accommodate a greater number of cannon. The scaling of the existing cannon into the expanded structure moved some base damage points. No cannon had its base damage reduced. Our decision here was to allow combat to become a bit more deadly in early testing and make adjustments if necessary from test data and feedback.
  • Prize cannon are no longer range penalized and operate on their own base cannon accuracy curve. Previously prize cannon had been penalized in range due to their performance on the original cannon accuracy curve. Now that they have their own unique curve they are allowed to perform as the top performing cannon in class that their expense and lack of insurance value merit.

Accuracy Changes

A significant change implemented with the new cannon model is the base accuracy curve changing from a model with a relatively steady drop off in accuracy as range increases to one that holds accuracy longer then drops off faster followed by a gradual decrease off to a longer range. The goal of this model change is to have cannon perform relatively the same at close range in regards to accuracy, show their greatest differences in the mid-ranges and then again perform relatively the same at long ranges.

A central concept of the new cannon model is that cannon of the same type have similar general performance characteristics in terms of accuracy. For our game purposes we’ve defined those types as Standard, Short, Long, Prize and Swivel to represent the types of cannon in game and the types we plan to introduce in the future.

The Standard cannon type represents cannon that for their specific poundage would have been most common. Standard cannon are the cannon that are already in game and represent the cannon players can construct being implemented in build 2.14. All Standard cannon operate off the same basic standard accuracy curve.

Swivel guns operate off their own accuracy curve being more akin to small arms fire in accuracy characteristics. Prize cannon are also classified as their own type as they are intended to represent the best cannon of the time. The two other cannon types (Short and Long) are not being implemented in build 2.14 as some of the associated content necessary for their introduction is not quite ready for implementation.

The two primary cannon type curves that will have an impact on ship combat in build 2.14 are the Standard and Prize cannon curves. As examples of the basic to hit percentages of a 9lb cannon using the standard and prize cannon curves in the new cannon model are shown below. Along with new model data shown under Test Server the original model curve currently being used on the Live servers is displayed beside for comparison purposes.

In general our targets were similar performance at close range for all cannon types, noticeable deviation between cannon type curves especially in the mid-ranges and dramatically reduced accuracy at long ranges applied equally to all. It’s worth noting the deviation space in the mid-ranges is the space where the two unimplemented curves (for short and long cannon) come into play. These curves are currently on the target plan to be implemented in the 2.15 build.

Swivel Curve

The swivel model on the Live servers does not operate on a curve. Live server swivel guns have a 100% to hit percentage as soon as they are in range (100 yards). In the new cannon model swivel gun range has been extended to 125 yards and the swivel guns operate on an accuracy curve similar to the cannon curves. Below is an example of the base to hit percentages under optimal conditions at various ranges using the new swivel gun curve.

Test Server Swivel Curve

Range            Accuracy

125y                    12%

110y                    18%

100y                    25%

90y                      35%

80y                      50%

70y                      67%

60y                      86%

50y                      99%

40y                      100%

We feel the above changes to the cannon mechanics address the big issues we’ve been concerned about and feel they are at this time ready for players to begin testing. The change is significant in that it is fundamental in ship combat so the changes will be maintained on the Test Server longer than our usual test cycles there to allow greater time for possible adjustments. There will also be some associated test events organized to gather test data. More information about this event will be posted as soon as it is available. Until then we encourage all players to try the new cannon mechanics on our Test Server. We welcome feedback regarding the implementation and appreciate any bugs anyone might notice being reported to