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jwilly

Naval/air gameplay and instancing...

23 posts in this topic

Quote

 

In the "Submarines in 1943" thread, Tater said:

I'm not a fan of instances, particularly in a "combined arms" sim.

 

Not to single you out, because a lot of folks here have expressed the above view in past discussions...but consider that the ground game is built on the concept of combat instances.

That's because combat is why people play games like WWIIOL. 

The stuff in between the fighting--the travelling from one location to another, the sitting in a defensive position watching around you for hours and days, with usually nothing happening ever--isn't any game-fun. It doesn't contribute anything to the game's marketability. Almost no one plays a WWII game because they want to sit in a foxhole and watch a field for two hours, and have nothing happen. So, CRS mostly excludes that. If the ground game had been better concepted, they would have entirely excluded that.

So why should a naval game include the traveling from one location to another, and the defenders watching the horizon for hours and days with nothing happening?

Or maybe the naval game will have AI to intelligently move naval assets around the map, with players spawning into crew positions when combat is imminent...but what's the point? The commercially saleable gameplay is the combat. The fight, if it's realistic, won't last long enough for more players to travel across the map to join in. Why not just do what the ground game does, and provide a players'-intentions-determined context for each side's units to define the start of a fight, and let them go at it?

Then apply the outcome of that fight, and other fights in the same time period, to the rest of the game. All the British coal convoys are sunk in the past few days? The Germans get victory points, and maybe the British get smaller spawn lists for the next few days. 

Not spending all those development resources to build strategic naval AI to move stuff around on the map...that would generate no additional CRS revenue...would allow those resources to be used for something else that does generate revenue.

And, a further economic consideration: 

AI operated naval strategic activity...all of the game world's maritime movement, operated continuously on the map...if at all realistic, would result in very little combat activity. It's a big game map, and real naval activity is very low spatial-density. Real naval activity also is very low chronological-density...99.999% no action, interspersed with .001% combat terror. But, naval subscribers would pay their money for that combat, not to be bored. The game needs to offer as much naval combat as its customers are willing to pay for, and a minimum amount of boredom. Those customers won't be paying to fire up the game when they get home from work, and do nothing for two hours because their convoy isn't found by the enemy. 

In an instanced naval game, OTOH, CRS's system would start up an instance when players want to fight. More players than will fit into one instance? No problem, start another one. Or ten more, if there are that many customers. That's a commercial focus. CRS needs that.

Some of the players want to be air attackers? No problem, start an instance during daytime with good enough weather that air attack works, and match players that want to pilot bombers against players that want to do air defense. Ditto for MTB attackers: the instance is at night or in low-visibility weather. Or, do an instance for submarine attackers. 

Sometimes the attackers would be surprised that the instance they drew has them bumping into a hunter-killer patrol instead of the convoy they were looking for. Oops.

Sometimes the convoy is lightly escorted relative to the attacker force. Sometimes it's the other way around. 

The point is, the naval game should be all about delivering combat-gameplay when customers want it, with a minimum of scarce development resources expended on the no-action context for that naval gameplay.

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No instances imo.

Build AI controlled items.  Allow players to jump in when AI reports possible contacts.

If I sail my own ship, allow me to plot courses, then leave ship and do something else.

If my ship AI detects something, I jump back to my ship.

 

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@jwilly, I fundamentally agree at some level. It requires AI, however. Good AI. AI that would be fun to fight against (just as stalking a convoy in SH can be fun (particularly modded)).

The ships move where they move, and players can pop in at will (on the off chance they can spot the enemy, perhaps the max AI detection range is slightly lower than the max player detection range), or pop in when the enemy is spotted. They MUST be on the map, all the time, however. If I want to fly maritime patrol, I should be able to. If I know a convoy was engaged heading E, I should be able to spawn an MTB and head west looking for it.

If instancing was truly the model for ww2ol, it would be more turn based in feel, with us serially playing out attacks, and defenses (the latter set out ahead of time in a given town) so that the max number of players is in each AO/DO (scaled to relative pop, IMO). Right now, we often have the situation where the lower pop side is putting out fires. Trying to actually do an attack (say at awesome supply odds in their favor), then the chat says that some town is in huge trouble. Not enough people to do both at the same time, so the defense fails, and the attack fails, whereas serially, both might have had a chance.

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Do we also need "good AI" to operate ground units when we don't occupy them, so that they move intelligently between battles?

That situation is exactly parallel. We spawn ground units in the immediate vicinity of a battle. They fight, then if they survive they despawn, available to be respawned for another battle later.

If ground units didn't despawn after battles, and instead AI took them over and moved them along a player-planned or AI-determined route, then it would make parallel sense to do the same with naval units. But, that's not how the ground game works. 

The proposal is that the naval game should function much like the ground game, in which one side decides it wants to attack, and thereby a battle is started up...partly because the resources to develop "good AI" that results in realistic game behavior don't currently exist and there's no logical prospect that they will exist in the foreseeable future, and partly because a persistent-ships naval game has never been done commercially on such a scale...all other game developers having concluded that there aren't enough potential customers to make it economically viable, because it wouldn't deliver much fighting when players want to play.

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*** Do we also need "good AI" to operate ground units when we don't occupy them

No.  They are not similar.

Ground battles are 100s if not 1000s of troops, all in relatively close range (10km).

Navy battles are what, most 6 for flotilla?  Ok, 18, 3 flotillas.  And distances are 100s of KMs.

 

Edited by delems

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(Brainstorming)

What could be do-able is to create a network of « platforms » in the North Sea, which would act like ground towns with local EWS and requiring AOs to be area-captured (with ground/para troops ? Or area-capture with FMBs?)


If Ships could only spawn from (any) rear-platforms (not frontline ones), you would create such instances without too much camping risks. 

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Possibly, say you get a couple ships in a square with no enemy for say 3 minutes; then the square becomes owned by your side.

Ships can only spawn in squares that are not adjacent to enemy square or at a port of course.

I spawn at Helle, move W 1 square, no enemy there; that square becomes axis.

I sail W another square, again, no enemy, so square becomes axis controlled.

Now, I can spawn at the square just E of me; I don't have to spawn all the way back at Helle (unless i like of course).

If I do this all the way to England, I can spawn a square or two from England, until allies move navy out and take some squares back toward the E.

Maybe something like that?

 

Or just build some sort of AI controlled coal ships, I think that was mentioned in some other thread, that 1 side can try and raid.

 

Edited by delems

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2 hours ago, ZEBBEEE said:

(Brainstorming)

What could be do-able is to create a network of « platforms » in the North Sea, which would act like ground towns with local EWS and requiring AOs to be area-captured (with ground/para troops ? Or area-capture with FMBs?)

If Ships could only spawn from (any) rear-platforms (not frontline ones), you would create such instances without too much camping risks. 

Quote

Ships can only spawn in squares that are not adjacent to enemy square or at a port of course.

Not realistic. Navies don't "capture and hold" water areas. They intercept and try to defeat enemy sea-control combat forces; if they succeed at that, they interdict enemy sea routes to a forward base to prevent resource movement; if they succeed at that, they try to capture that enemy naval base by delivering ground forces; and if they succeed at that, the process starts over with another enemy base.

In our game, there aren't very many naval bases to be fought over. The British/German focus was directly on step 2, trying to interdict enemy sea routes to close off coastal convoy traffic that was critical to each side's industrial economy.

"Control points" would be irrelevant to that. What matters is that each side has a frequent flow of convoys along a completely known coastal route, behind the respective coastal minefields, backed up by closely spaced coastal defensive airfields. If you want to attack the other side, one of those convoys is your target. 

Moving ships to capture sea areas isn't what will make CRS money. Customers would respond positively to a naval game in which they would spawn in a minute or less from fighting.

Building a game in which gameplay consists of hours of no-contact sea-square capturing, or searching for the enemy, or no-contact convoy movement would be an anti-revenue move on CRS's part.

Edited by jwilly
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*** Building a game in which gameplay consists of hours of no-contact sea-square capturing, or searching for the enemy

Let's say axis deployed a bunch of DDs and captured most the squares to england.

Now axis DDs can spawn close and shell factories, enemy DDs would most likely come out to to capture some of the squares to the E.

Think of 4 ocean squares, e1 e2 a2 a1, allies can spawn at e1, axis can spawn at a1; if either wants to push their ocean control, they have to move into other area.

axis from a1 has to push into e2 and try and hold it, allies have to push from e1 to a2 and try and hold it.

Wala - huge navy fights in e2 and a2 as they cross each other to their destinations; that is what I'm thinking.

 

lol, also, lots of players captured empty towns during soft cap days and enjoyed it, who says some Kapitans wouldn't enjoy capturing a bunch of ocean for their sides control?

 

Edited by delems

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21 hours ago, jwilly said:

Do we also need "good AI" to operate ground units when we don't occupy them, so that they move intelligently between battles?

That situation is exactly parallel. We spawn ground units in the immediate vicinity of a battle. They fight, then if they survive they despawn, available to be respawned for another battle later.

It's not parallel, or even similar, IMHO.

1. Sea units are far, far more rare than ground units. The front was covered with humans.

2. The goal is battle, and in the case of units at sea, they are virtually always moving, unlike ground units, which move, claim ground, then hold ground until they move again. Naval units, aside from those at anchor should be unknown, precisely because they are moving. Hunting them with aircraft is a reasonable job for aircraft (and beats air quake over land battles where they can carpet bomb their own guys and only kill the enemy). I'd say that convoys move some routes (with variability, zig zags, etc), and that if your HC assigns naval units to patrol, then those units move around the patrol areas as well. When the 2 get within some range, naval battles appear.

3. I'd actually argue that the game would be far better if we did have "good AI" for ground units. The ideal ww2ol (IMHO) would dump the entire AB/FB/depot paradigm, and most of the units in game would be in the field at all times. Even just a few people mixed in with computer controlled units makes a huge difference (Il-2 missions in coop were like this, "AI" units you'd attack, but it turns out that 1 of the "AI" was actually a person... you stop playing like it's shoebox AI, and treat all cons like players, because they might be.

 

21 hours ago, jwilly said:

If ground units didn't despawn after battles, and instead AI took them over and moved them along a player-planned or AI-determined route, then it would make parallel sense to do the same with naval units. But, that's not how the ground game works. 

That would be better in some ways, but again, troops mostly move in a tactical way, else they stay put. We're mostly talking about what for the ground game would be moving a BDE forward, for example. I'd actually be fine with all the units in the spawn list having to either march on foot (at whatever walking speed is), or be in convoys of trucks, armor moving, other trucks with fuel and ammo, etc, when a BDE is moved from A to B. That convoy would be interdictable by the enemy. It would need some AI to deal with what happens when attacked (troops disembark trucks and seek cover, SPAA might engage, etc). Ground attack might require that the inf shoot back if attacked by inf, or tanks might have to engage. Else we get slowly moving targets that are fish in a barrel.

21 hours ago, jwilly said:

The proposal is that the naval game should function much like the ground game, in which one side decides it wants to attack, and thereby a battle is started up...partly because the resources to develop "good AI" that results in realistic game behavior don't currently exist and there's no logical prospect that they will exist in the foreseeable future, and partly because a persistent-ships naval game has never been done commercially on such a scale...all other game developers having concluded that there aren't enough potential customers to make it economically viable, because it wouldn't deliver much fighting when players want to play.

So every single naval battle is exactly the same? You set a naval AO on "convoy" and the convoy has a few escorts, and the attackers have whatever they set the attack with? All the ships get sunk, the end?

IMHO, the point of the "map" in ww2ol is (or should be) entirely to create novel engagements. That's why I hate the current Garrisons, and I hate the current mechanics (set up "attack," move guys into town, defenses are reactive, and there is no "attack" since there was never really a defense. "Attack" means defending the CPs you just took because the 100s of "defenders" were 100% asleep while you had guys walking around blowing up the AI. As such, I'd prefer the defenses to actually pre-exist the attackers arriving with trucks---because it would be more interesting.

 

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9 minutes ago, delems said:

Let's say axis deployed a bunch of DDs and captured most the squares to england.

LOL. A bunch of DDs. This is where red/blue bugs me. A bunch would be "an insignificant number" compared to the RN. The US gave the RN 4 times as many DDs we didn't want any more than the KM had at all. That was on top of a few hundred they already had. The MTB concept @jwilly proposed makes more sense. Once you talk real naval units, it's like having the 88. Allies don't get one. Well, the KM wasn't a real navy, boats I can suspend disbelief on, even DDs are too big to be common for the Germans. They were maybe a 4th rate navy in ww2. US was first rate, IJN was second rate, RN was second or third rate (enough ships to be second rate, not enough CVs, though), France/Italy were 3rd rate.

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Digging into my brainstorming notes, here is how I had it designed:

Adding a network of "sea platforms" acting like towns, part of the resupply grid, with EWS and must be captured with AOs. Distant +-10km from each other. Spawning boats and infantries, but becomes inactive when being AO-ed. Some have an aircraft carrier attached to it that can spawn some aircraft

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22 hours ago, tater said:

So every single naval battle is exactly the same? You set a naval AO on "convoy" and the convoy has a few escorts, and the attackers have whatever they set the attack with? All the ships get sunk, the end? IMHO, the point of the "map" in ww2ol is (or should be) entirely to create novel engagements.

Assume for purposes of discussion that the British coastal coal convoys and the German coastal/Skagerrak iron ore convoys are modeled via instancing, for fights only. That doesn't stop the existing naval game from proceeding, or any other naval game mechanics from being developed, but there'd be no interaction between them except insofar as outcomes of convoy escort/raider fights would affect victory points and each side's supply.

Say you're a German-side player and you want to raid a British convoy. You go to the convoys interface and click on that choice. I'm a British-side player, and I want to escort a convoy. I go to the interface and click that choice. Each of us waits for however long it takes for the instance to fill up.

The interface might show us how the fill process is going, so we know what to do with our time.

Each of us could organize friends or squaddies in advance, of course. That'd fill up the sides instantly. Maybe the interface could provide for limited-join fights for one squad against another. Or, reserve some spots for noobs. CRS would decide how it would be most commercially successful.

We'd all spawn into the instance simultaneously. If the attackers had selected bombers, it'd be some randomly selected time during daylight with weather somewhere between clear and barely good enough for air attack. The British convoy would be a mile or so off a countryside coast, headed south low in the water or north empty. The attackers would approach from the northeast, east or southeast.

If the attackers had selected torpedo boats, it'd be night, with weather somewhere between clear and barely good enough for surface attack...which might mean light rain or even snow, with fairly rough seas. They'd attack from any direction but straight from the west.

All those setup choices except what we want to play would be made randomly by the game-system.

The attackers would start with distant visibility of the convoy. The convoy would not see the attackers yet, though that might happen quickly. Visibility range would depend on time of day and the weather and sea conditions.

There'd be X freighters and Y escorts...for now, British Fairmile B motor gunboats with autocannon armament. Dependent on eventual modeling, some of the escorts might be sloops, corvettes, frigates or armed trawlers. If the instance was during daylight and a player had indicated an interest, there might be a Coastal Command fighter overhead, flying CAP.

There'd be Z attackers. From the air, they'd be torpedo- or bomb-armed He111s, or eventually Ju88s or other aircraft with enough range and suitable payload. On the surface, they'd be S boats with two torpedoes and light AA.

Bombers would have one player, or two if there would be air defense. Escorts would have one player for helm and one for each major weapon. MTBs would have one player for helm/torpedoes and one for each other major weapon. Freighters would be unarmed and would be AI operated with control programming from several choices in advance by the escort commanders.

Occasionally an attacker might spawn in, and...surprise...they've been intercepted by a defensive patrol comprising a heavy-fighter sweep during day or a group of destroyers at night. Not good if you're the "attacker". That'd be a random occurrence, not selected by the defensive player.

The goal for each side would be to take as few losses as possible, and inflict maximum losses on the enemy...especially the freighters, with their individually low value but strategically critical cargo. Action would continue until any surviving attackers were out of visual range of all defenders.

Quote

All the ships get sunk

That might happen occasionally, but my guess is that usually, pressing the attack to inflict maximum losses on the defender would also result in maximum losses for the attacker, and it took more resources to build a three-engined S-boat or four-engined bomber than to build a cheap coastal freighter.  Player success or failure in a given attack, for their stats, would be determined by relative points score. If you sink all the other side's cheap freighters, but you lose all your own expensive raiders, your side's losing ground and your stats should reflect that.

Edited by jwilly

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I believe the biggest damper to the Naval game in WWIIOL is the ridges that were built around all the waterways.  If Naval Vessels were able to provide direct fire they'll be more involved.  Chamfer down those banks and let the ships see to shoot at what's at the beach.  It's freaking idiotic that a Pak or ET can get down behind a berm and fire down on a destroyer and sink it but the destroyer can't hit the pack because it can't return fire because of the silly berms.  You can stand off and try to range things with your guns, but no one ever gives feedback on the effect of your fire...

Add to that the silliness of watching my rounds go through enemy ships with no effect 90% of the time while their first salvo disables every weapon on my ship..

Silly, Silly, Silly..

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A rise or berm is necessary at water's edge because the poorly-concepted terrain technology put the default ground level at 0 height, and the water level also at 0 height. Having no elevation change at the water's edge would look funky as heck. So, a berm is put there.

That said, the complaint comes across as just another request to be able to kill without being killed. Naturally a land unit is going to take advantage of whatever terrain protection they can. Nothing unrealistic about that. If your vessel is so close to shore that its gunfire is flat-trajectory to the target, and the unrealistic gunsights don't allow you to pinpoint-aim your shots to hit the mostly protected enemy gun...well, you're too close to shore to survive.

In any case, everything about the present quickie-kluge naval game is silly. Model functionality, choice of vessels modeled, unrealistic armament, no terrain, no weather, no night, twenty foot tall eighteen foot beam vessels on rivers with twelve foot bridge clearances and twelve foot wide dam locks, bad game integration and absence of purpose. The whole thing.

 

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I'm all for navy improvements, like the coal routes that was mentioned.

I like my idea of capturing squares and can spawn in them.

I like zees idea, but w/o infantry - the DDs can capture/control a sea area.

I'm not for instancing however - everyone is always on one big map at all times imo.

 

The problem with in game 'berms' or 'ridges', is in real life, ATGs could setup just behind ridges and still shoot down.

In our game we can't, we have to go over the ridge and setup on the enemy side - allowing an easy kill for them.

At least that is how I see it, I've tried to use 88 on ridges, can't really;  have to go to other side of ridge to fire, where you are an easy target.

 

Edited by delems

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I suggested naval instancing (do search on naval salvation on the harbour forum), and got my butt handed to me.  I'd say most people aren't on board, even though I would be.

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My preferred game would be naval, though an idea ww2 naval game would in fact be between two decent navies, so not in the ETO (sorry, the KM was maybe 4th rate). Would need to be PTO, and ideally 1942/43). Even for smaller combatants a better location would have been the Slot. But that's a digression.

What I like least about instanced naval combat is the inability to play cat and mouse, something that is fundamental to naval combat having a realistic feel. (note the bold) Instancing, plus the weak capabilities of ww2ol---no  weather (clouds/fog/squalls), no sea states, no curvature/horizon, mini-world with full speed aircraft, etc, means that combat in an instance will be slaughter. Units can only disengage if faster or sunk, there's no ducking into a squall, or "luck" to create weather as terrain.

 

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3 hours ago, tater said:

My preferred game would be naval, though an idea ww2 naval game would in fact be between two decent navies, so not in the ETO (sorry, the KM was maybe 4th rate). Would need to be PTO, and ideally 1942/43). Even for smaller combatants a better location would have been the Slot. But that's a digression.

What I like least about instanced naval combat is the inability to play cat and mouse, something that is fundamental to naval combat having a realistic feel. (note the bold) Instancing, plus the weak capabilities of ww2ol---no  weather (clouds/fog/squalls), no sea states, no curvature/horizon, mini-world with full speed aircraft, etc, means that combat in an instance will be slaughter. Units can only disengage if faster or sunk, there's no ducking into a squall, or "luck" to create weather as terrain.

 

The hide in a squall move or other such material has no bearing on instancing or not instancing, the game itself has 'all rain everywhere' or not, so 'regional weather' is what you are looking for, and that doesn't exist.

Should be a bit higher on the ol dev chalkboard cause the pilots hate 'rain everywhere' instead of what should be happening, one area socked in and another open.

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2 hours ago, tater said:

...the inability to play cat and mouse, something that is fundamental to naval combat having a realistic feel. (note the bold) Instancing, plus the weak capabilities of ww2ol---no  weather (clouds/fog/squalls), no sea states, no curvature/horizon, mini-world with full speed aircraft, etc, means that combat in an instance will be slaughter. Units can only disengage if faster or sunk, there's no ducking into a squall, or "luck" to create weather as terrain.

It was quickly realized in WWII that ships were easily sunk by aircraft, so operations anywhere near an airfield had to take place at night or in limited-visibility weather. The existing naval game absurdly takes place during daytime and clear weather...just one of its goofy design choices.

CRS doesn't have the coding resources to tackle visually realistic weather. Using mostly existing capabilities, though, they could achieve a visually pretty realistic night for boat-to-boat short range engagements that could withstand player gamma- and brightness-jacking and the like. But, it'd have to be done in an instance, because it wouldn't allow air players to attack the surface at night, which is a key commercial aspect of the campaign game.

It wouldn't have starshells, flare pistols and searchlights, but it'd be a starting point. (Actually, there are some potential no-new-technology workarounds for flash/flickering illumination that could be tried, if CRS were interested in a naval game.)

I think realistic feel could be achieved in a current-capability boats-and-freighters-vs-surface-raiders quick-combat game. The existing game of course is easily capable of realistic feel in a boats-and-freighters-vs-daytime-air-raiders quick-combat game.

 

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On 2/18/2020 at 1:18 PM, jwilly said:

That said, the complaint comes across as just another request to be able to kill without being killed. Naturally a land unit is going to take advantage of whatever terrain protection they can. Nothing unrealistic about that. If your vessel is so close to shore that its gunfire is flat-trajectory to the target, and the unrealistic gunsights don't allow you to pinpoint-aim your shots to hit the mostly protected enemy gun...well, you're too close to shore to survive.

This may be the stupidest thing I think I've ever read?  A request to "Kill without being killed?"  How is that a "request to kill without being killed"  if currently one unit can get cover and the other can't.  In the scenario I describe both units are VISIBLE TO EACH OTHER, and therefore BOTH ARE ABLE TO BE KILLED!  Maybe you can rephrase your statement using logic or without an attempt to demean or insult someone?

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On 2/18/2020 at 11:18 AM, jwilly said:

That said, the complaint comes across as just another request to be able to kill without being killed. Naturally a land unit is going to take advantage of whatever terrain protection they can. Nothing unrealistic about that. If your vessel is so close to shore that its gunfire is flat-trajectory to the target, and the unrealistic gunsights don't allow you to pinpoint-aim your shots to hit the mostly protected enemy gun...well, you're too close to shore to survive.

The problem (at least on the allied side) is that it's not kill without being killed, it's the ability to shoot at shipping for fun, with zero meaningful effect, vs getting instantly killed by the ship. I dunno what the min gun is to damage a DD in game, but the USAAF and USN sank DD/DE/Kaibokan with nothing more than 0.50 cal (faster with skip bombs, to be sure, but 12-14 M2s with API tear anything up, and more importantly set fires).

Any naval improvement needs decent damage models, progressive fires (and damage control at some level), compartmentalized hulls, a flooding model, etc. Damage control appropriate to those. Literally nothing is in place for an even halfway decent naval game, IMO.

Also, and this is critical, IMNSHO, the ability to JOIN IN "FLIGHT."

The entire multicrew paradigm of ww2ol is broken. Inf are stuck with a single unit, and a DD player gets to play as hundreds, except he can't even really play as 2 well. We need the ability to join any crew weapon in progress for the naval game to be a thing.

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13 minutes ago, tater said:

I dunno what the min gun is to damage a DD in game

German DDs had no armor, with mild steel hulls, superstructures and gun housings to protect against splinters only.

A solid-AP-shot round of 37mm or larger might penetrate the hull into a boiler or engine room near the water line amidships/aft and break something critical...wiring, ductwork or machinery. No guarantees, but there wasn't much space in WWII destroyer engine and boiler rooms that wasn't filled with essential equipment.

Small caliber HE OTOH would be a nuisance, potentially destroying light topside equipment and maybe harming AA crew at battle stations but not much of a threat to seaworthiness. HE shells wouldn't be a major risk until maybe 75mm/88mm caliber.

No sensible captain, though, would ever operate his ship within range of a shore mounted gun that showed an interest in hitting him and an ability to do so. The shore bombardment destroyers at D-Day waited until the battleships and cruisers had softened things up and ended the return fire before moving in close.

I'd think that a 75mm or 88mm AT or tank gun, with its precise direct-fire sighting and its high velocity and flat trajectory, would be a real threat to any unarmored ship within 1 or 2 thousand meters of the gun.

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