Over the last few weeks, we've been adding a new feature. Players can now directly influence individual parts of the their ship whilst playing the game. Think of it as the Captain giving his undivided attention to a certain part of the Ship, increasing its overall effectiveness. This gives the player the ability to tweak and adapt their ship’s performance during combat.
When under direct control, the effect on each piece is different. For some pieces, the change is a passive boost. For example, if the player were to take control of a crew piece, the entire ship is given a slight overall boost. Taking control of a piece of armour, such as a hull piece, will increase the armour’s ability to absorb damage, whilst decreasing armour loss. Other pieces result in an active boost. In the case of turrets, this gives the player full control over the aiming and firing of the weapon. Of course, there is a trade off, because no Captain can aim a weapon and steer the ship at the same time. Not every piece off the ship has the ability to be directly controlled by the player, only pieces that offer a worthwhile boost were considered.
Players will often create many of their ship pieces using the symmetry feature - but who’d want to have direct control over individual pieces that really should be linked? In the context of direct control, symmetrically placed pieces are grouped together, and any given boost is divided evenly over the entire group, so no advantage can be gained.
Taking control of piece is as simple as selecting a piece from a list in the in-game HUD. As some ships will have duplicated parts, the selected part is clearly highlighted. So as to not clutter up the screen with too many HUD elements, the direct control list only becomes visible when the player is zoomed close in on their ship.
Initial testing of the direct control system against an A.I. opponent has shown that the A.I. may also need to be able to take direct control over ship pieces, otherwise the player may end up with a distinct (and unfair) advantage over their A.I. counterpart. To make it fair on human players, the A.I. would need to be restricted by how often it can change which piece it has control of. But A.I. is really a discussion for another blog post...