Note: As an editorial piece, this article reflects the opinions of the author and not TMC as a whole.
Throughout history man has used his imagination to devise new weapons, improve existing weapons and copy those of the enemy. This process of invention, improvement and emulation was (and is) going on at different stages in every faction, so that at any one time one faction had a more or less better weapon than another faction. The faction that had the iron sword in the time of bronze swords, or the steel sword in the time of iron swords had an advantage, for a time. None of this exists in Eve, and what I am proposing here is to incorporate this important aspect of human conflict into Eve, where it naturally belongs.
When Western knights fought with Eastern armies during the first crusade, the quality of their weapons, armor and training meant they could easily prevail against far superior numbers. This unbalance allowed them to capture Jerusalem with a small force and hold it for 100 years.
By the time of the Battle of Crécy, England had developed and perfected the use of the longbow to an extent unsuspected by the French. This unbalance resulted in the annihilation of all the French nobility who fought that day, though they were armed and armored in the same tried and tested way that had won Jerusalem.
In WWII the Germans introduced Blitzkrieg to the world with devastating effect. German tank technology had been developed to a level unimagined by their enemies. On the Eastern front this unbalance meant the Germans were quite happy to engage Russian armor at odds of 5 to one or more and win easily.
But in 1941 the Germans encountered the newly-developed Russian T-34 tank. The T-34’s heavy sloping armor made it hard to kill and its 76mm high-velocity gun was superior to anything the Germans possessed. The Germans only stabilized this unbalance by copying and improving upon the T-34 with their introduction of the Panther tank.
In Eve, the dynamic of weapon unbalance between factions does not exist. Every faction has access to the same weapons. The only unbalance that can occur is in the way each faction assembles its ships and how it flies them in combination with other ships. And any such ‘doctrine’ that a faction invents can almost immediately be copied by another faction.
Not only that, but if a doctrine is invented that works well and is used too much an unnatural phenomenon occurs. Something known as a ‘patch’ appears and the specifications of the weapons systems which make the doctrine successful are changed to make the doctrine less successful. And the specifications of the less successful and less-used weapons systems are changed to make them better and more likely to be used. For some reason many players get upset about this.
In WWII Online, the Germans and the Russians both use Panzer IVs and T-34s and they both have fairly similar statistics.
Now I am aware that bringing player-driven weapon development is a major undertaking in a game that has never had it and is now established in that way. I am also aware that some control over player choice is necessary to avoid the case where a faction ‘wins Eve’ and the game becomes unplayable. So, how could weapon development be transferred from devs to players, in a way that enhances player enjoyment and ensures long-term playability?
What if factions meant something? Aside from Faction Warfare, the faction you join as a player has no impact on your game choices. What if it did? What if you could not buy Amarr ships or weapons systems as a Minmatar player? What if you could only buy them on the black market? Sure you could get your buddy or your alt to buy them. What if giving Amarr equipment to a Minmatar player was illegal and and carried a chance of arrest and impounding of your assets and fines?
What if your corporation and your alliance had to align itself with a faction for this reason?
What if you got a skill bonus for using equipment belonging to your faction, equipment that your culture is familiar with and has been using for centuries? What if you got a skill penalty for using equipment not belonging to your faction?
You joined the wrong faction? What if you could join another faction for a price in isk or deeds and gain the equipment benefits of that faction?
CCP did try a symbolic form of player-driven weapon development in the way it introduced the T3 destroyers. If you remember, there was a research race to decide in what order the T3 destroyers would be released with Amarr coming out the winner. What if all new ships were subject to a research race by the factions and alliances? What if the effectiveness of those ships was also decided by the amount of research done on them? What if new ships only came out if a faction or alliance did research on them?
Weapons have basic statistics and ships have hull bonuses which amplify the statistics of the weapons used. This allows CCP to do the tweaking it sees as necessary. What if hull bonuses were reset to a new level corresponding to the amount of research of the respective factions and alliances during a specific time period ? Of course, CCP would still have to play a wild card here or there to ensure a certain amount of balance. But they do that anyway.
Research – what does that mean and how would it work? Historically, improvement to weapons systems come with their use and with the gaining of technology. What if research was linked not only to research facilities and research isk but to the actual amount of use of the weapons involved? A better ship is designed by using the existing ship a lot and seeing where it performs well and where it performs less well. Put those ship use statistics to work and let the players drive which ships and weapons systems get improved and which lag behind. Want a better missile boat? Use the existing one a lot, even if it is sub par, and your faction/alliance can eventually develop a better one.
And finally, what if there was a cataclysmic event? What if the Drifters came and destroyed New Eden? Great swathes of technology are lost. The residents of New Eden have to rebuild from scratch with basic technology. They now have the chance to gain a real technological edge for their faction on this new blank slate of space.
Who knows, perhaps CCP already has this in mind…
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Ion Blacknight.