Occupancy Sovereignty Outline

One more quick one tonight, just to make sure I get it done.

With my latest post over on TMC, I really ought to get all the details I’ve been throwing around my head and occasionally at other people down on paper. A good way to start, though, would be to just sketch out the very basic skeleton. So, without further adieu:

  • Do whatever to the capture mechanics themselves. While the specifics absolutely matter, from a generic perspective it seems obvious that usage & occupancy will interact with them in some way as to make a highly occupied system more resistant to capture. On one end of the spectrum you’ve got the system touted by Endie and others, where usage literally¬†is the sovereignty, and on the other end you’ve got it merely playing a role. I prefer it merely playing a role. Since this is just a skeleton post though, pretend that the Dominion mechanics stay in place largely as-is, with a few tweaks. The important tweak is a massive nerf to the EHP of the structures involved, we’ll revisit why (even though it’s probably obvious) later.
  • Revamp existing anomalies, other pve content and mining. This isn’t actually strictly necessary, but is a really good idea. My feeling is that any system in nullsec should have a basic standard of livability when at level 5 roughly similar to what you get out of a level 5 system with -1.0 sec now. Not TOTALLY even – better truesec already has a mining edge by virtue of their grav sites spawning the +5% and +10% ores and ice sites spawning more and better ice. Extending that concept to ratting, then, if you imagine that chain-farming sanctums and havens is worth 100m isk/hr, then lower end sites like Ports and such ought to come in around 80-90m/hr. At the base level (what I consider to be the current level 5) anywhere in nullsec ought to be undeniably worth living in, without making everything quite so homogenous as to remove reason to lust after better space. This is sort of what Greyscale tried to do back in 2012, but he badly missed the mark. More on that in the next point. One minor aside – Endie’s proposal uses missions, which I don’t like. However, they do alleviate UI based complications (eg finding one open anomaly amongst twenty in a busy system), and they oblige the users of space to move about that space instead of sitting tight in one system chaining sites. Both concepts are definitely worth incorporating, even if a purely mission based system isn’t.
  • Extend the military and industry indices out a number of levels. For the sake of argument just imagine they now go up to 25, and at successively higher levels you unlock new and interesting things. More solo content, more group content (especially more group content.) Incursion magnets? How about a Comet attractor…finally a way to implement “ring mining?” Use your imagination. Critical here is that the quality of what you can unlock is affected by the truesec of the system far moreso than in the base five levels, to the point where certain things are flat out unavailable in lower quality systems. Significant disparities at that point are more acceptable, since there’s a reasonable “base standard of living” everywhere. “We definitely make more than if we stayed in highsec so we’re okay here…but man, the Comet Array our neighbors are able to install is awesome, and one day we’ll take it from them!”
  • Leveling the indices up increases the usage needed to maintain any given system as well as the usage to raise the level further based on (at the very minimum) the total number of levels within your sov. Each extra system you want to raise is that much more difficult to maintain as a result. The equation to figure the usage for any given system at any given level would have some kind of exponential form.
  • Only usage by the sovholder counts towards the indices; unaffiliated usage does nothing at best, actually harms your levels at worst. This is critical as a check against the idea of splitting an alliance up and having each sub-alliance (“Goonswarm One”, “Goonswarm Two”, etc) take a portion of a much larger area of space. While it doesn’t prevent it outright, well… I happen to remember the drama and other problems Goons had way back in the day, before Sovereignty (the skill) existed and we had to form Goonfleet and Goonwaffe, and that was just living in Syndicate with nothing really at stake. If an alliance tried to segregate its members lest they damage their notional alliancemates’ space, well… the results wouldn’t be pretty. I do think there’s room here for treaties to allow shared usage without it being gamebreaking, but the why & how are details so we’ll leave them for now.
  • Moving on to the Strategic index, which also brings us back to capture mechanics. Link the strategic index into the other two indices, and extend it out to level 25 as well. It’ll progress up the levels naturally overtime just as it does now, but the¬†expressed level would be capped by some combo of the other two levels. As moving up the strategic index would unlock all the upgrades it offers now as well as new stuff, including system defensive bonuses and the like – getting some of that lost EHP back – the effect is that an unused system would be very easy to take.
  • It would be preferable to have most or all of the new structures and upgrades accessible via the improved indices implemented as stand-alone structures that can be attacked/disabled/hacked/etc, breaking the infrastructure within the system out into discrete targets. Difficulty to take them down would be anything but flat – high value upgrades would generally be harder to take down than low value ones, and if there are multiple means of affecting them (there should be!) then the damage caused by each mechanism should be in line with the time & difficulty of doing it. This would be a tricky balance to hit – the idea is you want people to be active in defending their space, lest roamers be allowed to muck about with their infrastructure, but you don’t want a primarily USTZ alliance to have to spend the first hour of their primetime cleaning up the mess made by their EUTZ neighbors while they were all at work and vice versa.
  • And finally – do away with sov costs entirely. Yeah, you heard me right. No I’m not going to justify it now – it’s novel and a complete departure from almost every other suggestion I’ve seen, so I want to throw it out there undefended and see what kind of conversation it sparks.

That just about covers the basics. Yes, I consider several multi-sentence points to be “the basics”, is there a problem with that?

There is one other major aspect that has to be treated as well. If one of the goals of an occupancy system is to make leaving your space a considered choice, usage is one half of that coin. Power projection is the other, primarily projection involving cynos (if an occupancy system succeeds in prompting coalitions to break up & generally shrinks the amount of space any single alliance holds, jump bridges are even less of a factor than they already aren’t.) There are three basic avenues, any or all of which could do the trick. The most obvious is restricting mobility, anything from cooldowns to shorter ranges to the nuclear option of forcing them to take gates and re-imagining jump drives as a tactical (rather than strategic) movement ability – an MJD writ large, if you will. There’s also the option of redefining their role, which primarily involves looking at carriers and supercarriers; Dreads are already reasonably well balanced within the meta due to their niche and high vulnerability, and even Titans are arguably in an okay place. Finally, redefining the capture mechanics could significantly limit the usefulness of capital power projection, seeing as their most important role (aside from deterrence) is rapid grinding of EHP bricks.

 

Goddamn, over 1300 words for a skeleton. An outline. A summary. Frightning, ain’t it? But with this out there, it ought to encourage me to put in the effort to flesh it out.

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Population Density in EVE

No weekly CSM update this week – sorry guys! Busy putting out fires in meatspace, and besides, I really can’t think of how to spruce up “It was a quiet week because everyone is still heads down on Crius” for the third or fourth week running, the inspiration just isn’t there. Hopefully this week goes a bit better and I can swing that next week.

Anyway.

Different topic, a bit off the cuff. When you think about how many people you see in space in EVE, what comes to mind? In particular, what comes to mind out in nullsec? Probably not much. How many times have you heard it said (or said yourself) “I went roaming and all I saw in twenty jumps were three ratters that safed up instantly” or something along those lines? Hyperbole, perhaps, though on the other hand…

Pilots in space, as of 12:45 a bit earlier today. Granted, bad example – I’ll have to grab something during prime time later this evening when I get home, maybe on the weekends as well. And yet how much of a difference might it make, really? That’s a lot of white dots out in lowsec and nullsec – hell, a lot of white dots in Empire too. Needless to say, I and the rest of the Goonswarm directorate are probably some of the very few people in the game to hear complaints that space is too crowded, rather than the opposite.

What’s my point here? It’s this: someday, after CCP finishes the epic quest that is “rewrite basically the whole game” (that is, after all, essentially what the roadmap given at Fanfest is), CCP Seagull’s colonization vision comes to life, those player built stargates are finally going to happen, and they’ll lead to some kind of new space. At least, that’s what the idea of “colonization” would suggest now, isn’t it? It’s not a theme that makes much sense if they just lead to the same places you can get to now. So, take that population, cut it in half, throw it out beyond the player built gates. Then imagine how much less active space seems, new and old alike.

No, I don’t believe “make new space and leave the old unfixed to drive everyone to the new” is the plan, as some vocal assjackets have expressed in the past. CCP wants their game to be vibrant and interesting, no matter where you live. I’m just concerned that it might be self defeating. Food for thought this fine Monday morning.

A Dogmatic Future

This last Fanfest was the first one I’ve ever been to, and one thought that occurred to me was man, I wish roundtables were recorded, because occasionally some neat shit comes out in them.

I only actually made it to a couple of round tables, but one of them was the second ship balancing round table. It fits the bill, though. There was definitely some neat shit, and it’s neat shit that only about fifty players (if that) heard, that I’ve not really seen commented on anywhere else.

First thing’s first – Dogma. If you’re not aware, Dogma is the system in the game that handles your ship, its attributes, and how your skills modify those attributes. You’d think this is a simple and straightforward task. Take number, multiply number, viola! But as it turns out, it’s something more like this:

Yes, to my slight shame, I used to play WoW.

CCP Veritas gave a more in-depth explanation during his presentation at Fanfest, which was recorded and is available here. The part about Dogma is at 37:40, but really, take the time to watch the whole thing.

If you’ve watched the presentation, you might be wondering how, exactly, Dogma relates to ship balancing. In hindsight, it’s actually really obvious. Veritas even obliquely references it in the presentation, talking about how they want to “make the system more flexible for Game Design” and how “adding to their attributes table is something they’d like to do.” But I wasn’t at the Gridlock presentation, so it wasn’t until that ship balancing session that it all clicked together.

First thing’s first. When asked “What is your vision for Titans?” CCP Fozzie answered “To find a vision for Titans.” We’ll come back to that one.

From another player, “If you could snap your fingers and fix Command Ships and gang bonuses, what would your ideal solution be?” A likely direction, at least, apparently a module that generates a point-blank AOE effect, applying a temporary buff to any ship in gang. The boost would persist if you moved out of range, but you’d have to get back in to refresh it.

Unfortunately, it seems, such a thing isn’t really technically feasible. At least, not right now. Echoing what Veritas had said, Fozzie went on to note that it might be possible after Team Gridlock finishes the Dogma rewrite.

If you think about it, that’s not that surprising. Gang bonuses are nothing but a stat change after all, exactly what Dogma handles. Given how CCP Veritas cited session changes (during which all your stats have to be recalculated) as one huge factor in server load, it might not be entirely accurate to say that it’s technically infeasible. A more plausible scenario features CCP Fozzie proposing this mechanic, only to be told by Veritas (after he’d finished hyperventilating) that he would murder him in his sleep if he tried to implement it now.

If gang bonuses are just a beneficial stat change, then effects like webs are obviously negative ones. This is how Supercarrier and Titan balancing comes into play. If the Dogma re-write opens up more and new ways to apply stats, we’ve got a whole new realm to work within for those. What if instead of guns and a Doomsday, a Titan fielded giant targeted AOE webs instead?

Just an example, probably a bad one, and one very much born of thinking inside the box to boot. It’s easy to imagine the upsides for the purposes of supercapital balancing, though. Perhaps the largest is such an ability could easily be made to be stacking penalized. That would address what’s always been the largest difficulty in balancing them (“How do we do this without making 50 of them together too good? What about 100? 200?”) That in turn does something about the ever widening power gap between established and existing alliances and the currently mythical “newcomer little guy”. Such bonuses would also likely mandate the use of a support fleet of some kind, which is probably a desirable outcome as well.

Basically, if you’ve been wondering what’s been taking CCP so long to rebalance gang bonuses and Supercapitals, this might just be the answer.

There’s one last upside here as well. One complaint cropping up more and more lately (though still not too often, to be fair) is that as we add more and more ships to the game, they’re just crammed into the same niches, where they either obsolete their competition or are instantly useless. A bit melodramatic and generally incorrect, but there certainly is a kernel of truth there. Just think of the Mordus ships – the Garmur instantly compared to the Crow, the Orthrus to, well, any of your favorite skirmish ships, the Barghest to the Machariel. Given a limited number of roles to work with, it’s not all that surprising. But if – when? – the Dogma rewrite lets the game designers go off in completely new directions, create entirely new roles or radically redefine old ones? Well then – sky’s the limit.