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Post feature RSS Dev blog #8. Damage control rework

Playability issues of damage control system and its UI and ways to resolve them.

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Intensive testing of the game has led to a clear understanding – damage control system does not work in terms of gameplay.

Grouping of compartments.

The main issue is the blurring of a player’s attention because of too many entities the player has to deal with. Flooding is spreading quickly across many compartments. And deciding which of them are more important is tedious and boring if the number of compartments is large, and their importance for the survival of the ship is almost the same.

To fix this, the decision was made to group the compartments. This means that the player can’t directly interact with them anymore. He takes control of compartments groups instead. These groups can be assigned the same damage control tasks as before. But the AI internally assigns subtasks for individual compartments in order to keep buoyancy of the ship and protect modules from water and fire.

It is important that the damage model works exactly the same as before – each compartment is a separate entity. Compartments group is just a ‘facade’ for the convenience of the player.

A typical capital ship contains the following groups of compartments:

  • Boiler rooms group
  • Engine rooms group
  • Right side coal bunkers group and left side coal bunkers group
  • A group of casemates on the right side and a group of casemates on the left side (if there are casemates on the ship). Some ships have only one group of casemates.
  • A group of central compartments above the armored deck.
  • A group of bow compartments above the armored deck and a similar group of compartments under the armored deck. The same applies for the stern of the ship.
  • Each barbette and magazines compartments underneath is a separate group.

unity editor compartments groups

As a result, the number of groups is not very large, and each of them is clearly associated with a group of similar modules, so the player is not overwhelmed when assigning damage control tasks to them.

Filtering the damage control view.

As the ship takes damage, more and more damage effects become visible in the 3D view of damage control in addition to initially visible modules. And the player begins to experience difficulties in selecting exactly what he wants.

Damage control entities

That is why the filtering panel has been added to filter both items in 3D view and items in the ‘Problems’ list:


Compartments groups

Ship resources panel.

The core idea of damage control in the game is to distribute limited resources of the ship across damage control tasks. And it would be much better if the player could see how many resources he has.

That is why the resources panel has been added to the very top of the damage control sub-turn UI, just like in most strategy games.

Resources panel

It shows the unused amount of the following resources:

  • Produced by boilers and mainly used by engines. But on many ships, a small amount can be used by stationary steam pumps.
  • Generated by electric generators and used in most fire control systems, in compartments for lighting and in electric water pumps.
  • Water pumping performance.
  • Fire-fighting pumps performance.

Also, each resource indicator has a tooltip with some additional info.

What next?

Even though the UI/UX of damage control is much better now it is far from being perfect.

The obvious problem is overlapping compartments groups where the user wants to select a farther compartments group but can only select a closer compartments group because they are both flooded and therefore active in 3D view. To select the desired compartments group the player have to move the camera (sometimes to an underwater position) or go to the corresponding problem in the ‘Problems’ list.

One solution would be to highlight both groups of compartments and showing the small selection dialog box when player clicks on them.

Another obvious improvement could be buttons to turn off/turn on weapons groups that the player doesn't need this turn to free up their crew for damage control tasks. Currently, this can be done individually for each artillery or torpedo turret by reducing priority of its maintenance task to zero. But it is tedious to do if the artillery group has, say, 18 turrets.

Despite the above, the damage control and the entire game are more or less playable at this stage and can be shown to players as a pre-alpha.

That’s all for today.

Good luck.

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