I would like to be able to dedicate ships to go between certain ports.
Last thing is that I suggest that the load layout should be similar to the warehouse. Preferably with the ability to prefer/not allow certain wares. This would make it possible to have dedicated wheat ships or just dedicated ships at all.
I read your post yesterday evening and wanted to thought about these points before answering. The general idea sounds interesting, but from my point of view those ideas are only interesting in the later part of the game (more than two ports, a lot of ships and thus a very big economy). But that's exactly the point of the game where there is no time left for micromanagement (and that's exactly what it is).
This is especially a matter of design. The way the ships are integrated in the economy is similar to the way roads + carrier work. With a "dedicated ships" feature Widelands would calculate the shortest path a ware can take from A to B as before, but would need to special case for every ware to check, whether there is at least one ship that could carry it. But in later game state your idea of what is important to transport might change over seconds - just take into account that you suddenly encounter a nearby enemy... A similar problem is with ports that get destroyed by an attack of an enemy - normally you will try to defend your empire and not spend time in giving ships a new "dedication". So the cases when you have to change the "dedication" of ships would roughly be the moments when you don't have any time for micromanagement.
However I see the point, that it would be useful to influence the transportation somehow. How about the following two features:
- General setting of ware priority (so you can say transport shields and axes faster than trunks) - but per economy or even completely global
- A menu that gives you the ability to define the importance of a shiping route - so if all ship are working nonestop and there is a route between two absolutely save ports that exchange wares only from time to time, you could set that route to be less important than others and the ships will first try to transport wares for the other routes before taking a task for the other route. But globally not per ship.
however I am not even sure whether those two features would make things better in long games - and as I said, that's the point where these features would be interesting from my point of view.
I would also like to see a statistics window for ships to see how full they are on average.
Sounds like a good idea. This could be bundled together in a seafaring menu, that as well includes a list of ships with task, start and destination for each
The ability to dismantle or burn ships would also be good incase you built too many ships.
Also, returning ships to closet port to unload would also be good. I've had boats freeze up full with wares.
Please take a look at my comment in the newspost -> http://wl.widelands.org/news/2012/04/3/build-17-release-candidate-available/ - in case it is a new bug, please open a bug report.