Another aspect to think about is the ammunition, how it is stored, how it is moved to the gun, how it is fed, and how many crew members are needed to do all this.
yes, at the "Sid Meier's Prates! Gold" level of realism, you'd want to at least model the gun crews required and rate of fire, taking into account the ammo logistics mentioned in the previous post. perhaps as going as far as having two rates of fire, one for ammo on hand, or when there are sufficient additional hands to keep the guns fed, and one for when they must wait for ammo to be brought up from the magazine. that WOULD give you a reason to have extra hands, other than as boarding party strength. you have to remember that Sid was a wargamer and did a number of award winning historically accurate wargame titles. As a result, research and historical accuracy were a big part of his design methodology. while "Pirates!" may look like a Disney game, and has many "casual gamer" / arcade features to it, its still based on historically accurate research. do a Google search and you'll find some write-ups on the making of Pirates! makes for interesting reading. as i recall, Sid went for game-play vs realism, when the two conflicted.
BTW, are you going to do a full tilt WW2 "clone" of "Pirates!" ? complete with dancing ? <BG> (cue up "in the groove" - a classic big band swing era hit!).
a lots of things like boarding, dancing, and letters of marque may or may not make sense in the game world you're creating. obviously you must be doing some sort of alternate history or parallel world type thing for the back story.
as a fan of "Pirates!", and a dev that's planning on doing a pirates game myself - 1600's - no conflict of interest (do a search on camera for naval combat games here on gamedev), here's what i don't like about pirates gold:
1. you can get a whole fleet but only use one ship in combat, vs at most 2 opponents.
2. 3rd person ship vs ship combat makes aiming guns difficult. this was what my post on the topic was about.
3. the dueling is too arcade-ish.
4. combining / cross influencing dueling and crew size to determine outcome of boarding attempts makes for good game play, but is unrealistic.
5. time limited
6. while its a great game, its not really an open world simulation, like an open world version of age of sail or the like. its more of a simplistic ship vs ship combat engine, combined with a basic trade/economy engine, vehicle design, and mini games (dancing and dueling).
7. cartoonish / disney-esque graphics. nice for gameplay, but tends to make the unrealistic and acradeish aspects of the game even more blatant. simply reinforces the feeling its a game, not a sim. bad for immersion/suspension of disbelief - unless you want to be a Disney character <g>.
and here are some things that i do like about it:
1. the consistency of the graphics and story lines makes it feel like you're playing a Disney movie. while i'd personally rather be black beard than captain hook, the continuity is excellent.
2. the scope of the game. it covers all the major points a pirate simulation should, but as separate "games" instead of one continuous simulation.
3. its a brilliant combination of multiple game engines (ship vs ship, landing party, dueling, dancing, etc) to "simulate" a pirate world.
4. all in all a great game and the closest thing to a true pirate sim built yet. but still a far cry from a real pirate sim (seamless open world, rpg, fps combat, trade/economy engine, prisoners, ransom, NO DANCING! <g> etc, etc.).
BTW its installed on the hard drive of this PC i'm on right now. <g>.