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Archangel85

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Hello, and welcome back for another look at what is probably my favourite feature of Man the Guns: the Ship Designer. It has cost us a lot to make - sweat, tears, sanity (several members of the team now understand the “Poi” meme).

The stated goal of Man the Guns is to make the naval gameplay more involved and adding more depth to it by adding more roles that need to be covered and giving the player new tools to fill these roles. We also wanted to make sure that we had a system that could represent a wide variety of ship types with a minimum of clutter. Finally, we wanted the system to be as moddable as possible.

As many of you have concluded from Daniel’s little accident on stream last week, we have overhauled ship types to be ship hulls instead. The ship hulls themselves are basically empty containers with no combat stats. For simplicity’s sake they do contain stats like cruising range and HP (although they don’t have to!), but the rest of the stats come from modules.

(It should be noted that a lot of the numbers and the GUI you are about to see are not completely final so please keep your pitchforks pointing downwards and your torches unlit)

britain_cruiser.jpg

Every hull type has a limited number of slots in which you can fit these modules, and also restricts what type of module you can fit. So a Destroyer - now called a Light Ship Hull - can’t mount heavy guns or airplane launchers but can mount depth charges, whereas a Battleship - now called a Heavy Ship Hull - can mount airplane launchers and heavy guns but not depth charges. These slots come in two flavors - fixed and custom slots. Fixed slots are things that are either mandatory - like the engines - or shouldn’t compete with other things. All ships except submarines have a fixed AA slot, for example. You don’t have to fill that slot if you want your ship to be completely helpless against air attacks, but you can also only ever mount AA guns in that slot. Custom slots are much more flexible and allow you to tailor a ship to a specific role. Higher levels of ship hulls generally have more custom slots available.

ENG base hull destroyer.jpg

Say you play Britain and have somehow ended up in a war against Germany. Submarines are raiding your convoys and you are desperate for new escorts. Under the old system, you built a bunch of destroyers at a fixed cost, maybe spent some naval XP to upgrade their ASW capabilities and that was that. Under the new system, you take an early (read: cheap) light hull and strip out everything you don’t need. That ship is going to operate in the middle of the Atlantic, far away from enemy air, and the opponent has no carriers, so it needs little, if any, AA. The enemy surface fleet hasn’t shown itself in years, so you can skimp on the gun battery and the torpedo armament to cut down cost. You also go with the most basic set of engines to keep the ship as cheap as possible - it doesn’t have to be fast to catch a submarine. Instead, you load the ship down with depth charges and sonar modules to track down enemy submarines. The goal is to make a cheap convoy escort that can be mass-produced.

Britain destroyer Escort.jpg

However, Japan has been making aggressive noises recently and you expect to fight in the Pacific against enemy carrier battlegroups. So you start with a more more modern destroyer hull and add as much AA as it can carry to send it to help out Australia.

Britain Fleet Destroyer.jpg

Unfortunately, you miscalculated and the Japanese are running swarms of cheap, disposable destroyers with lots of torpedoes and not much else, using their carriers in a defensive role to provide air cover. So you design a light cruiser with plenty of guns to annihilate the destroyers before they can do too much damage. It won’t be cheap, but it’ll give you the edge - once it is in service. Somewhere along the line you’ll also want to build up a carrier battlegroup or two of your own, and that means you’ll have to also look at cruisers and battleships for escorts as well as the carriers themselves…thankfully you have a number of old battleships and cruisers lying around that could be given a second lease on life by refitting them (details to come in a future dev diary!)

A lot of these considerations come down to cost. We played around a bit with the idea of having ship hulls provide an amount of tonnage and modules cost some tonnage, but in the end we found that it was easier to understand if the number of variables restraining a design was fairly small. While the system will allow you to build super ships with naval attack values that dwarf the values you can reach in 1.5.4, they will not be cheap and they will have some other areas in which they are weak.

britain_hermes.jpg

The system also allows you to build a number of ship classes that have been requested a lot, without having to add new subtypes. A light carrier is just a carrier with fewer hangar modules (and thus considerably cheaper), an anti-aircraft cruiser is just a regular cruiser that mounts dual-purpose main guns (which perform somewhat poorly against surface targets compared to other armament options). A seaplane carrier is a cruiser that dedicates most of its custom slots to airplane launchers, giving it great surface detection at the cost of being bad at pretty much everything else.

Germany_panzerschiff.jpg

For some ship types we made special hull types that give special capabilities. The Panzerschiff hull is available for Germany and is essentially a cruiser that mounts a single battleship-grade heavy battery module. Sweden and other nordic countries get a special Coastal Defense Ship hull, which is slower than a regular cruiser but can also mount a battleship gun. The German pre-dreadnoughts have also been given their own hull type, but here it is more a case of missing capabilities…Most of these are set at game start, but some are available as special rewards for completing certain focuses.

germany_cruiser_submarine.jpg

As you may have guessed, modules are unlocked by researching technologies. Most of these are in the new and revised naval tech tree which isn’t ready to be shown off just yet, but some are spread around other tech trees. Radar research gives you access, unsurprisingly, to radar modules, and researching anti-air in the artillery tree unlocks better AA guns to mount on your ships. Fire control computers are a side branch of regular mechanical computing machines.

Here is brief list of modules for each ship type, note that some of this will not fully make sense until you see the details of the naval combat rework that is coming in a future dev diary (™):

Light Hulls:

- Light Battery: Provides some naval attack against other light ships, higher models also have dual-purpose capabilities to add AA

- Anti-Air: Provides some air attack

- Depth Charges: Provide sub attack

- Torpedoes: Provide some torpedo attack

- Mine Rails: Provide some mining capability

- Minesweeping Gear: Provides some capability to sweep mines

- Radar: Adds some surface detection. Later models also provide bonuses to naval and air attack

- Sonar: adds some submarine detection

- Fire Control System: adds a bonus to naval attack and anti-air

Cruisers:

  • Light Battery

  • Light Medium Battery: adds some more naval attack and armor piercing, better against light ships

  • Medium Battery: adds some naval attack and armor piercing against other heavy ships. Less effective against light ships.

  • Anti Air

  • Depth Charges

  • Torpedoes

  • Mine Rails

  • Secondary Battery: gives some attack against light ships, particularly useful for heavy cruisers and battleships. Later models have dual-purpose capability to also add AA value

  • Airplane Launcher: adds some surface and submarine detection

  • Armor: adds some armor to reduce incoming damage at the cost of speed

  • Radar

  • Sonar

  • Fire Control System

Heavy Hulls:

  • Heavy Battery: Adds a large amount of naval attack and armor piercing at the cost of speed. Basically useless against light ships.

  • Secondary Battery

  • Anti-Air

  • Armor

  • Airplane Launcher

  • Radar

  • Fire Control

Carriers:

  • Deck Space: Provides more space for planes

  • Deck Armor: provides some armor and HP at the cost of speed. Competes with Deck Space for slots

  • Anti-Air

  • Secondary battery

Submarines:

  • Torpedoes

  • Mines

  • Radar

  • Schnorkel: Reduces visibility of submarine

As you can see, your light hulls will carry a lot of weight to provide defense against submarines, but can also be turned into quite potent AA units or nasty torpedo boats. Cruisers are meant to be very flexible and fulfil a variety of roles, from being essentially super-heavy destroyers with plenty of torpedoes and guns to being the poor-man’s capital ship or being large, fast minelayers. Battleships and Battlecruisers are separated by different armor schemes and not much else, but with heavy armor being both labor and resource intensive, perhaps some corners could be cut…

britain Carrier.jpg

Carriers are now more flexible in terms of size, ranging from tiny carriers for a handful of planes all the way to 100+ plane supercarriers. That should make the entry into the carrier game somewhat achievable even for smaller nations. Submarines are still largely the same, but with some upgrades they can be very hard to find indeed and special submarines can lay as many mines as a dedicated minelaying cruiser for less cost and lower risk of detection.

While the ship designer window itself is going to be part of the DLC, the old naval tree you already know will simply unlock pre-scripted ship designs, and instead of the ship designer window you get the regular variant upgrade screen you are already familiar with.

Britain super battleship.jpg

Assuming that the Ship designer works out as we hope it does, we might expand the system to cover tanks and airplanes as well. Some of the backend was made with tanks and airplanes in mind, but we are mainly concerned with overloading the player with design choices during potentially hectic situations in the war (you are trying to micro the encirclement of 6th Army but you also need to design a new tank destroyer…). Ships have a long lead time so we expect you to have to design them less often.

That is all for the week. Next week we will talk a bit about what you can do with your old ships...and why you probably won’t be able to build min-max battleships on the first day of the game.


Rejected Titles:

Playing with LEGO-Ships

Who designs the designer?

Basically made just to allow Sweden to have its historically accurate fleet

This is a Panzerschiff. It schiffs Panzers.

Aviation Battleships are bad and you should feel bad.

This radar nonsense will never work

What’s wrong with my bloody ships today?

The spirits of Emperor Wilhelm II and Sir John Fisher were consulted for this feature

We ship Iowa/Musashi

RIP the torpedo battleship meta 12/6/2018-7/11/2018

The best ship design is Friendship

Count of people who ask about doing this for tanks and airplanes without reading the dev diary so far: 1
 
Last edited:

Crowarior

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This is so epic. Alexa play despacito II!
 

Scout1

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Hrm, so looking over the ship designer it looks like it will cost naval exp to add/change modules, like division templates. All good by me.

But what if a country has literally 0 naval exp and is making their first ships? Do they have to produce hulls without any modules and throw them into battle to die until they have some exp? (Or otherwise detour a few hundred political power to pick up a +naval exp minister?)

Basically, do hulls come with default sets of modules that would be *serviceable*?
 

TheEisenPhedora

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The second this system was hinted at I was most excited about the future prospects of the same thing happening to tanks. So we don't have the current game's silliness of the Matilda and the Panzer II being identical.
 

Kacper1234PL

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Poi! You just won my heart and a wallet :3

Many thanks for seaplane tenders!
 

P3D

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Why diesel engines are the background graphics for general propulsion? The dominant propulsion for major surface combatants was steam turbine. The only exception were the Panzerschiff class, the H-class designs, and slow (20 knots) destroyer escorts (which are not present in the game).
 

James Hale

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@Archangel85

Okay, this is good, but... why can't we add guns to submarines? Several countries did this, e.g. France and Japan. How will the Surcouf be represented? Hopefully there will be a way to represent cruiser subs vs. attack subs, for example.

Pre-dreadnoughts shouldn't just have weaker hulls, but shitty engines and smaller guns as well. The old German pre-dreds would have struggled against modern heavy cruisers from other fleets, and only had 11" guns compared to the 13" on the Courbet/Bretagne and the 15" on the Revenge/Queen Elizabeth.

Also, the point of the 'pocket battleships' was not just their armament, but their huge operational range - they were used in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, which is currently impossible. Looking at your screenshots, I'm not sure that issue has been resolved.

Nice to see the Hermes is back! Light carriers are now a thing, then. :)
 

krco

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So if I read it right, this system wont be moddable to be used for other types of equipment ? or ?
 

BurdenedWarrior

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Wow, one small step for hoi, one giant leap for gamer kind.
 

mwyeoh

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This all sounds AWESOME!
I really do hope you implement it with Tanks and Aircraft at some point too!
 

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Is the AI capable of dealing with this system?
Will it, for example, send specialised ASW ships to the middle of the Atlantic if necessary or will it be hard coded (as the UK) to do so anyway, whatever the circumstances?
 

FedericoLachino

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MARE NOSTRUM INTENSIFIES

 
Last edited:

FedericoLachino

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Is the AI capable of dealing with this system?
Will it, for example, send specialised ASW ships to the middle of the Atlantic if necessary or will it be hard coded (as the UK) to do so anyway, whatever the circumstances?
I think it will probably have pregenerated designs, i would be suprised to learn that it can adapt to what you throw at it.
 

henzington

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Very cool I really hope this idea is implemented to tank or airplane design in future dlc
 

Archangel85

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Okay, this is good, but... why can't we add guns to submarines? Several countries did this, e.g. France and Japan. How will the Surcouf be represented? Hopefully there will be a way to represent cruiser subs vs. attack subs, for example.
1) it breaks the combat system in several dozen ways
2) it was stupid historically and never used in combat
3) it was stupid
4) it was stupid
 

ThaHoward

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A small and prolly stupid question, how are ship class names decided now? Before it was simply unlocked by techs. But let us say we design a new battleship for Germany, what will detirmine if the new class is named Bismarck, Hindenburg or Scharnhorst? Hull type or the various upgrades? Battleships are perhaps a poor example, but I hope that if I produce a battlecruiser or light BB type for Japan it won't become Yamato class.