Ships can be built, repaired and upgraded by ship builders, gamers with a unique and rare profession. These ship builders build ships on commission, but also sell ships, new and second hand, or disassemble ships for materials.
There are more than 50 ship designs of different cultures, all with specific characteristics and purposes, ranging from war ships to cargo ships, whalers, fishing ships, etc. All these designs are based on real historic ship designs. Each design will have 18 categories, such as masts & spars, hull planking, outdoor deck planking, ropes, sails, keel, pumps, galley, rudder, etc. In these categories choices of materials, like wood type, can be made. This means there are almost a hundred choices, all leading to different ship properties.
Ship properties are speed, hull strength, maneuverability, firepower, fire rate, upwind angle and full load displacement. These properties are largely influenced by the ship design and the design category choices, but additionally also by the armaments, crew skill and the condition of the ship, as a ship needs maintenance.
A ship’s properties are not reported in measurable numbers but in the words of its officers, such as that the condition of the White Oak Hull is Fair and the hull fouling is Severe. What the underlying values of the ship are remains unknown, and can only be found out by actual measurements of its performance. This makes the art of determining a ship’s qualities a matter of experience and knowledge.
Each port has a Shipyard. Gamers can buy a Shipyard as a family business. A Shipyard can be upgraded to a Dockyard and a Drydock, increasing their capacity, size of ships produced and types of repairs performed. Other gamers, gamer companies, or a nation’s navy, can order ships to be built. The ship builder can then create a project, selecting the design and design characteristics depending on the wishes of the client, and quote a price. If all building materials are sourced the project can start. The time of a project depends on the tonnage of the ship and the quality of the shipbuilder staff, and can take days. Depending on their capacity, a Shipyard can run several projects at the same time. If a gamer can’t wait for a new ship or can’t afford one, there is always the second hand market.
The more experience and knowledge a shipbuilder has, the better they can create ships with the properties and qualities that are wished. This requires knowledge of the effects of the design and of each material type that is used. Some are better for durability, others for speed or maneuverability, others for cargo space, etc. A shipbuilder can only build ships of a design they own the design plans for. Acquiring ship design plans from all over the world will take travelling and investment.
Ships need constant maintenance and repairs, an easy income for a shipbuilder, but to offer all repair types and sizes they need to upgrade to a Drydock, which requires further investment. A port with the best facilities for repairs and ship production will attract the most visitors and maintain their navy best, so the government has an interest to get their shipbuilders upgraded, which might lead to favorable business loans.