So, in the last two blogs I have argued that the sovereignty system should reward those who fight for their space, and should not offer any vast advantage to forming huge blocs. And, not surprisingly, I have had plenty of feedback suggesting that while those are good ideas, they are also unachievable within any realistic game mechanics. “Congratulations, Endie, “ the thrust of this pessimistic argument goes. “You clearly have a reliable supplier of top quality hallucinogenic euphorics. Hook me up with that some of that sweet, sweet connection.”
So I shall start putting my money where my mouth is and detailing specific areas that can be altered to implement such a vision. To recap the goals, which I covered in The Most Unpopular Statement in Today’s Eve.
– Space should be easy for even a small group of pilots to hold if they turn up to defend it
– However, dedicated attackers who manage to fight the defenders to the point that they stop turning up keep their space should be able to take it from them
– Nullsec should be able to support a greater density of pilots in a given system or constellation with easy means of money making
– Holding greater amounts of space should become exponentially harder, and ultimately unrewarding due to effort or cost
If any of these seem like unjustified leaps of logic, I encourage you to look at the article linked above, or at Let a Thousand Jagged Flowers Bloom for my vision as to why this would make for a wonderful Eve.
So, in the next few articles, I’m going to address one version of how I believe CCP could realistically implement these goals, based on many years of experiencing the psychology of large groups of Eve players, both the ones I helped manage, and the hostiles I tried to second-guess. The key elements will be:
– An occupancy sovereignty system, where sovereignty is maintained by a combination of the activities needed to live in space: PvE, PvP, industrial production and maintained infrastructure. Not all of these are equal, of course, but I’ll address the weighting in its own article.
– A shift from anomalies to missions as the bread-and-butter means of making money for line members. I’ll address that today, as it is a vital shift on which the rest depend.
– A shift from the current sovereignty-taking flowchart – win all four timers or get nothing – to one which shares the incremental, to-and-fro element of Factional Warfare or the old POS system with many smaller timers (note that it would be different from each!)
– Sovereignty timer events occurring in deadspace, allowing mass limits (like wormholes) and ship limits (like factional warfare) to remove many advantages of n+1 warfare
– A substantial nerf to remote-repping, a system which encourages vast alpha fleets
Missions: Mo Money, Less Problems
As I’ve mentioned at no-doubt tedious length, I think that alliances should be able to live in much smaller, more densely-populated sovereignty footprints. If you do that, it opens up reams of space for new entrants to nullsec to occupy. Imagine if Goonswarm were able to live in four constellations? Between PBLRD and CONDI sov that would free up around three hundred systems across our half of the galaxy. Three hundred systems available for new entrants to nullsec!
So how do you make systems capable of supporting far more players at once? Belt ratting is out: the largest system supports three very frustrated and bored players.
Anomalies are also not supportable in large-local-count systems: imagine that CCP spawned forty Forsaken Hubs instead of four in a system, and thirty-eight people used them. Can you picture the frustration and pain of hunting for the two free ones amidst thirty-eight occupied ones each time you finish an anom? Add to this the hideous, brain-assaulting tedium of repeatedly running the same anomaly: they compete with belt ratting for the title of “worst MMO PvE experience since Everquest 1 spawn-camping”.
Exploration would suffer the same problem as anomalies: endlessly probing down sites to find them in the course of being run would be a fixture of high-percentage occupation.
What you need is a source of PvE income which scales perfectly with player numbers, which gives content on demand and which offers at least a modicum of variety and even challenge. That source is agent missioning.
You log in, you want to make some money, you request a mission, and you immediately have a piece of content scaled to your abilities and taste for risk, from levels one to five. You can achieve a better income for nullsec (and for better truesec within nullsec) simply by using the existing scaling of rewards by truesec that the mission system supports.
Most importantly, there is now no need to support swathes of space into which your line members expand to make money. Half a dozen stations would support the needs of the largest alliance. Why waste time on the tedium of fuelling and defending infrastructure across five hundred systems, as we do at present? Those logistics guys can concentrate on the offensive, war-making side that gets them glory and gratitude from their alliance-mates.
Let the alliance and corporation that own the station each set their own tax on agent rewards and you have a model for supporting Providence’s NRDS model, as well as a player-activity-related means of supporting alliances.
There are advantages for PvPers and for cautious PvEers in this approach. Missions often require you to go through gates. Those gates can be camped. If the local alliance don’t turn up to clear you off then you will get to kill a steady trickle of pimped-out mission ships. If they do form a fleet to fight you off then congratulations on achieving the mythical home defence fleets! The PvPers on both sides will be delighted!
Long local lists means dead mission runners, and more sheep support more wolves. At the same time, the mission-runner in a site can check for probes on scan and safe up when he sees them, as in wormholes. And, as in wormholes, some will not bother, and will die, dropping the usual mission-running array of blue and purple mods.
Agent missions in player-owned stations mean dense populations, which means that everyone is nearby when you, a budding FC, broadcast for a fleet, for home defence or for a roam. Instead of “ugh that’s two regions away” you say “I’m two jumps out: I’ll be right there.”
If everyone is packed into a tiny footprint of a constellation or two, there is no need for jump bridges. Those are all about traversing your vast empire. Screw jump bridges. That said, logistics should be made easier, not harder. You don’t want to have to blue up every alliance holding a midpoint between you and empire, so make jump freighters capable of fitting a covert cloak and of using a blops bridge. Jump freighters don’t die right now when used right, so no great loss there.
Finally, and controversially, if you want people to live in a smaller space you need to nerf afk cloaking. You cannot have one guy, who logged in at downtime and won’t be back until 24 hours later, to be able to shut down a whole system. Someone cloaked and watching his screen while hunting hostiles or delivering RoyOfCA-style propaganda should be fine, but not the person who is as afk as any botter. A system like a slow-running pos mod (one kinda exists!) or triangulated results from three probers should be able to find a cloaker, while he should get an instant visual warning that he has been located, giving him time to warp off. If he is watching his screen (no audible warning for the guy watching TV!) That equalises the effort between mission-runner and cloaker.
Speaking as a leader of a huge alliance I can tell you we would jump at the chance to go our own way from allies – even if we are friendly with many of them – and shrink both our alliance and our space holdings dramatically, given sources of income that would support it. Then you would get to come out and hold some of that space to yourself! Of course, we’ll be seeing you for a fight, since you’re only ten jumps away…