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Tiberius Lazar - Lead Designer

Game Design: Crew on U-Boats, part 2 (part 1)
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Before number crunching, I wanted to flesh out a bit more the basic crewmember. I needed a parameter to define how good they are at what they do. I decided to call this parameter "efficiency". However, this efficiency should result from some basic stats.

What are the basic stats I want for each guy in my crew?

First, I wanted morale. Morale should definitely be the key stat for each one of the classes. One of the most iconic images about submarines is the tension of the crew when under a depth charge attack. The sonar pings, the tense faces looking upwards, you get the idea…

I decided for a percentage approach: great morale is close to 100%, low morale is close to 0%. Between classes, I decided that the sailors will be the class with the lowest starting morale and the officers will be the class with the highest starting morale.
The sailors will have a chance to promotion, so this should be a problem only with fresh crewmembers. I think it is a good way to simulate the recruits in the initial phase of the career.

Next, I needed a stat that should be useful combined with the morale. That would be fatigue. Naturally, the crew should get tired sometime.

I used the same percentage approach, only reversed: high fatigue is close to 100%, low fatigue is close to 0%.
Again, between classes I decided that the sailors would have the best initial fatigue value. The reason for this is that sailors were used to tasks that were physical taxing like torpedo maintenance and loading, diesels and electric motors maintenance and repair, damage control, etc.
The officers on the other hand should have the worst initial fatigue values. I considered that the stress of command is takes a greater toll.

The two stats should to work well in combination. Out of this, I got my “efficiency” parameter. This would be the result of combining the morale and fatigue by a certain formula. Obviously, the task of the player should be to maintain a high morale and to keep fatigue under control.

The sums up to every success or failure of the player in the mission will have a direct impact on his crew (morale boost for sinking ships, morale erosion for taking damage). Just the result I was looking for! ?

The next question was how do I make use of these guys on the U-Boat. They should obviously be assigned to the normal tasks during the operation of a submarine: torpedo loading, engines, deck gun, flak guns, radio, sonar, etc.

Nevertheless, how does the player easily organize them per tasks? This is when I came up with the idea of separating the U-Boat in compartments dedicated to a specific task (pretty much like in reality). For example, if I want to shoot or load torpedoes, I need crew in the torpedo room.

I defined specific efficiency values for each compartment. Now if I want something to work, I should have enough men assigned to that task to generate the required efficiency value.
Think of this situation: the U-Boat has taken some damage. Do I have any options? Yes, I can organize a good damage control team and send it to the damaged compartment for repair. Cool, isn’t it?

The classes worked out pretty well in the end. The petty officers will be my specialist in one task. Do I need some action in the diesel room? I’ll just send in some engineer petty officers and the engine will start running.

For the officers I wanted a major role. They will be my wild cards. They should be useful in a multitude of situations and the player should come to care about them.

First, the player will need his officers in the command room. They will be his interface with the boat. I can control everything in the boat by ordering my officers what to do.
What if I don’ have officers there? Then it’s time for manual control, good old simulation style.

Second, the officers will have multiple specialties. That would make them useful wherever I may need. Think of them as a strategic reserve.
Troubles with the flooding? No problem, my third officer is a specialist in damage control. I’ll just put him in charge of the repair team and let him save the day!
Do I feel like I want a shootout with some armed merchants? My recently promoted officer is a sharp gunner! Let him command the 88 crew.

Conclusion

My choices regarding the crew aimed at one thing: add another dimension of gameplay to Silent Hunter. I am sure that having a crew along during the career, seeing it grow, gain experience and improve will create that “esprit de corps” of an elite crew that most U-Boat veteran crews achieved.


Previous update:
Game Design: Crew on U-Boats, part 1
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