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The case for ships


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Let me begin by reminding the reader that this post is entirely speculative, and I'm in no way underestimating the amount of work required to implement some elements I'll be discussing below.

As has been revealed, the game is very likely going to feature an immersive NPC village system that will attempt to create an organic market environment (probably based on some implementation of supply and demand). If done right, this has the potential of setting an entirely new genre; however, exploring this topic more in-depth would go beyond the scope of this thread. Ships would (not simply row boats) would add an entirely new layer of gameplay, and would make a lot of sense given the fact that Vintage Story doesn't allow you to carry much in your inventory. 

During a discussion with Tyron, it was revealed to me that an important inspiration of his is the Hanseatic League, and maritime commerce was at its core. Ships in VS would allow the player to trade in a more immersive manner, but it would also make the game feel more complete once oceans are added. Ship mechanics would also be major selling point, and would make exploration more fun. The benefits of adding ships would go well beyond trading and exploration; for instance, chunk-loading NPC merchants that go port to port could be raided by our community's miscreants, or treasure maps (similar to how MC has their mansion maps) would cause many to set sail. 

There are many ways to approach the addition of ships in the game, but in my opinion the following elements should be present no matter what:

  1. Sailing mechanics should allow the player to direct the vessel, but not be required to tend to its movement constantly. The player should be able to move around the ship and engage in other tasks (bookkeeping, cooking etc) while the vessel is underway.
  2. Ships should be valuable. There would have to be a cost that goes well beyond the direct market value of the materials used. 
  3. Whatever approach there may be to ships ingame, it would have to account for nonsensical shapes. (this wouldn't be a problem if ships used prebuilt models.)

These are obviously just my opinion, but I think they should be important features to keep in mind. I have briefly thought of some possible approaches and would like to hear opinions on them:

  • The first is the "build-your-own" approach used in some popular MC mods. This would require a bit more work in my opinion, because one must figure out how to respect element 3 laid out above. It would have to create a guideline to ship building that would avoid wacky shapes. For instance, sails would require a certain kind of shape and ratio, and an overall balance of weight distribution would be required for the ship to float etc.. This approach would also require some thought to respect element 2 laid out above.
  • The second approach would be a slight variation of the first one, whereas instead of using regular building materials, the player would have to use materials appropriately crafted (using the voxel crafting system for claywork and smithing). Since ship building required a lot of crafting and carpentry, it would make sense to take this approach. It would also create a bit of contrast between the ship and the environment, since the shape of ships would end up being more "refined" and detailed. This approach would also respect the 2nd element laid out above, since it would be a big time investment to craft the materials for the ship. Unfortunately, this would run into a similar problem as the first approach in terms of wacky shapes; a potential solution for this could be guidelines for specific types of ships, a balance of weight distribution, or a balance of weight distribution on specific sections of the vessel (sizes of deck, hull, keel, etc).
  • The final approach I came up with, is using prebuilt models. This may or may not take more effort than the approaches above, but it would be very limiting for the player and possibly feel out of place due to the nature of this game.

Again, I'd like to point out that I'm not underestimating the work required for this suggestion, so view this post as purely speculative.

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In terms of construction, pre-defined models would definitely be easier (I imagine), but another option might be to have pre-built keels, and allow the player to build on top of them within a certain envelope.  This would allow a degree of customization - which I think players would enjoy - but would keep things within limits.  You'd still end with a lot of goofball shapes but that's kind of the price you pay for customize-ability.  Different keels might have different limits in terms of blocks that they can support, to provide further limitations.

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Ship "frames" (a empty hull basically) would be a nice middle ground I think. You could build the interior and decks as you wish, but the basic hull shape would be "ship-like", and the exterior shape would be fixed for better collision, pathing, etc.

Redram's keels basically, but with a whole hull.

Then again, it may not actually be that much harder to make the whole thing freeform... Impossible to say at this point. Anyway, I don't see ships becoming a thing for a long time yet, so there is plenty of time to ponder every detail :)

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/22/2018 at 1:01 PM, redram said:

You'd still end with a lot of goofball shapes but that's kind of the price you pay for customize-ability.  Different keels might have different limits in terms of blocks that they can support, to provide further limitations.

I like that idea the most. Tyron talked before about in game schematics. At the time I did not see the point,in a 3d schematic to 'fill in', because I work in Creative mode 99% of the time. But they would be a great link in Survival mode, between custom building and prefabricated elements. 

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