Anatomy of a Warship

Well met and greetings! Today I'm going to dive into how to design a ship. This is a central part of Rank: Warmaster's gameplay, as a fleet of ships is the player's primary tool for exploration and discovery, as well as projecting power in the treacherous game of corporate politics.


The design process begins with selecting a silhouette. This is a purely cosmetic choice because it's the components that determine your ship's stats. The size of the ship will dynamically increase as more components are added, so fighters will be small while capital ships will loom over a world like an extra moon. Next the player will select the components for their ship and place them on the design grid. This grid represents the internal layout of the ship and determines how damage propagates throughout the vessel when its armor and shields fail. Components explode when destroyed and damage other nearby components, so the arrangement of vulnerable or critical components is an important aspect of ship design.


Each class of components can have multiple options with various advantages and disadvantages; at the beginning of a game players will only have one choice for each but as they perform research, find salvageable technology via exploration, reverse-engineer the equipment taken from their defeated foes, or even trade with other corporations they'll quickly begin to unlock a wide variety of choices.


Every ship will need thrusters for propulsion, and players will want to select both a main engine designed for speed and afterburn capacity as well as inertial thrusters used for lateral maneuvers and turning. The most common type of power source will be a reactor core for supplying energy to the entire ship. The cockpit is where the pilot and crew are located and acts at the command center for the ship; if it's destroyed, the player loses control of the vessel. Armor and shields both provide defense for the ship against incoming attacks, while weapons are used to destroy the enemy. The reactor, thrusters, weapons and shields can each have a set of dedicated capacitors installed that will provide a small reservoir of power to ensure that these systems will maintain full performance when the vessel is running at maximum capacity. Further along in development, there will be numerous utility components that can expand your ship's capabilities, such as cargo holds and hangar bays.


Once all the components are arranged on the design grid, the player will need to assign a hardpoint on the ship's silhouette for each weapon they have installed. Hardpoints are the location on the ship from which weapons will fire and are independent from a weapon's location on the grid. The next step is to decide how much armor and shielding is needed. Both are fully scalable and can be assigned independently to the top, bottom, right side, left side, front, and rear of the ship, and/or evenly applied across all. The more armor and shielding, the more cost and weight (and power for shielding) are added to the ship's design, so it's up to the player to decide how much they prefer.


The ship's reactor, engines and thrusters are also fully scalable. Each can be manually incremented to whatever value is desired, but the ship design screen also comes with tools to help the player make those decisions. There is a slider for selecting the target speed for the ship which will automatically assign the correct engine and thruster strength needed to reach it, as well as a slider for selecting the ratio of main engines to inertial thrusters; more engines than thrusters means faster acceleration and afterburning at the cost of maneuverability and turning speed, and vice versa.


Another slider allows the player to select what percentage of the ship's maximum possible power demands they want their reactor to be able to sustain. Reactors are large, expensive and explode like a bomb when destroyed so having a reactor large enough to sustain 100% power load can be a risky choice but ensures that your ship will always function at full capacity regardless. Setting the reactor slider lower and installing capacitors to act as buffers for each subsystem makes a vessel cheaper and safer, but it may run low on power in the middle of an intense battle when all systems are working at full strength.


There's no limit to the number of weapons the player can install, nor the amount of armor, shields or other components that can be added, giving players as much freedom as possible to design their ships. The primary limiting factor is that everything added increases the ship's cost and thus the amount of time required to build it, so deciding what to include and when to save on cost is an important strategic decision when deciding on the composition of a fleet.

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