EVE Spitballing: Ideas From A Player Meet-Up

2017-05-31

I recently volunteered to take over the coordination of the Metro Vancouver area EVE Meetup. At some point during the night the conversation inevitably turns to either griping about game improvement, game features or the open discussion of changes we’d like to see become reality. It’s a great group of people who regularly make the meetups. This is where I met Tridgit, executor of Iron Armada, who convinced me to leave E-UNI and Meredudd, co-host of the Mindclash Live Podcast.

Vancouver is a hub of game design and production and a few of the CCP staff, past and present, make appearances at the meetup as well. I think that this is in no small part hope that visiting CCP staff will share our ideas internally if they’re good enough. It’s also a good place to brainstorm for feedback to provide the CSM.

Continuing in the recent vein of articles about game improvements, I thought I would share some of the things we discussed at last week’s and previous meetups.

Note: Wherever I capitalize ‘Citadel’ I am referring to the release, not the proper structures themselves.

The Map: Shrinking Space

EVE Space; there’s a lot of it. Is there too much? At the most recent meetup one of the biggest points of discussion and contention was the geography and space of New Eden.

One of my hopes for the Kyonoke outbreak was that it would do something dramatic which would force a change of the faction borders in New Eden. Perhaps the infection would spread so rapidly that even Amarr Prime, the Amarr homeworld, would need to be abandoned, leaving large swathes of high sec barren and thus greatly lowered in security status. Perhaps this would return us to the days of clearly segregated empires, one where Faction Warfare would potentially carry much bigger stakes.

Of greater interest, though, was the discussion around how much space there is in New Eden.

It’s a well-known fact – for those living in Null – that you can travel dozens or hundreds of jumps through Null and encounter fewer people than you do traversing one constellation in The Forge. Even in high sec there are a lot of systems which are viewed by locals and visitors alike as “flyover systems”; just hops on the way to a destination. Whole regions, like Solitude, can be pretty damned quiet on the best of days.

One of the ideas that was batted around and very well-liked, both from lore and game design perspectives, was the idea of shrinking space.

What if, due to the increasing age of stargates and the naturally unstable nature of artificial wormholes, gates eventually begin to end-of-life? Or perhaps the upkeep of the stargate network starts to be offloaded by the factions and CONCORD to the Upwell Consortium, and the corporations just decide to let the quiet pockets lapse? What would the game effect be?

One suggestion was permanently off-lining unused systems, pockets, and regions of space. This one wasn’t super well-received.

The other idea was to make it so that systems which are infrequently traversed, or largely inactive, would go ‘dormant’. The stargates connecting to that system would go offline, as the stargates to Jove space have. Unlike Jove space, however, you would still be able to access those systems by wormhole connection, and corporations wishing to use that space could ‘reactivate’ the gate by charging it up with fuel blocks.

Want to keep using the space? Sink some citadels, or own the SOV and keep the ADMs up. Or keep paying to fuel the gate. It’s an interesting idea either way.

The Dream: Player-Built Stargates

We all love a good mystery, and the biggest one in the game improvement vein is probably “when and/or how are we going to get Player Built Stargates?” (PBSGs). This is something I have personally poked CCP devs about as it is my favourite bone.

CCP Seagull still seems committed to the idea of eventually giving us these, but there’s a lot of support for the idea that they’ll either serve to:

  • Open New Eden to new regions of space (a counter-argument to the idea of shrinking space) – or –
  • Function as jump bridges but with much greater range, perhaps operating on different mechanic

I suspect the latter is closer to the truth and giving this control to players would give corporations and alliances a few new options.

It would allow the establishment of alternate routes of travel, perhaps bridging regions of space which previously shared no non-wormhole connections. In this mechanic, one would have to assume there would be an extremely finite range; PBSGs would be have to be smaller than, or comparable to, constellation gates in size. This could mean that a corporation could set up in a ‘dormant’ backwater system and only allow traffic through their PBSG; invading forces would have to “reactivate” the path through adjacent systems to reach them. (Talk about your virtual fiefdoms!)

It could also serve to replace another proposed and oft-considered structure, the wormhole anchor. Or wormhole stabiliser, or whatever else you want to call it. Rather than trying to (quasi)permanently anchor a wormhole’s static exits, a resident corporation in Anoikis could drop a PBSG and set it to pair with an existing node in K-space, ideally adjacent or near major trade routes or hubs. Alternatively, if these devices allowed connections between one another in claimable space owned by the corporation, it may be possible to setup a ‘smuggler’s highway’ through several wormhole systems.

Given the incredible cost which would undoubtedly be levied in the construction, operation, and defence of these structures it would make sense to have these placed near citadels which would offer the staging for defensive fleets. It also makes sense to have PBSGs near controlled citadels for convenience sake – no one wants a 200AU warp to get to their own gate.

Sov Changes: Citadels

While we’re on the topic of citadels these also came up during game improvement discussion, albeit with respect to Sov. – Rauski makes some good points regarding Citadels so far, but one of the things brought up during the meetup was the idea that they directly compete with Aegis Sov.

At an earlier meetup before Citadel dropped, I proposed that they would make space control de facto, regardless of Sov control, and that has largely played out. At the time, I imagined that once you drop a Keepstar, a perimeter of Fortizars, and a larger perimeter of Astahus (Astrahuses? Astrahusi?) around that base of operations you were effectively unevictable. Further, that you would own the space regardless of Sov and that someone would have to raise overwhelming numbers at sustained effort to ‘wreck your dreams’.

With efforts like the M-OEE8 Keepstar assault, we’ve seen that these behemoths are not invincible and citadels are just as effective (if not more so) offensively as they are defensively.

It’s become commonplace for Alliances of all sizes to park a citadel on the doorstep of space they want, de facto claim the space, and worry about cleaning up the Sov after the fact. In fact, with Citadel, Aegis Sov has in some ways become an afterthought because you don’t need to flip it to own it. Not that you entirely had to before hand, but it’s become even less pertinent than before; once you’re fortified in someone else’s space turning the Sov is more or less a matter of time.

So what would be a way to change this and bring Aegis Sov back into prominence?

What if you couldn’t drop a citadel in a space until you owned the space, and the iHub?

This would accomplish a couple of things right off the bat:

  1. It would make aggressive blitzkriegs using fortified citadels harder to pull off without numbers.
  2. It would require you to actually want the space to put in the effort to go dropping citadels there. Rather than just dropping citadels and timezone tanking for the space.

The response to this was positive, especially from those corporations who’ve had to do the 3:00am alarm clock because of timezone tank.

Sov Changes: Timezone Tank

Speaking of the dreaded timezone tank…

How it presently works is that if you want to change your vulnerability windows on structures it takes 72 hours. So if you know your neighbours are predominantly EU TZ, for instance, you just shift your vulnerability windows by ±8 hours. Now your neighbours have to get in fleet in a time when they would otherwise be working, learning, or asleep if they want to push your teeth in.

The immediate and resounding agreement was to adjust the change period for vulnerability windows to 168 hours(7 days) from 72 (3 days). That way, if you neighbours are ready, able, and come committed to take down your structures and push you out they should have the reasonable opportunity to do so.

Game improvement should be about improving chances for content or the quality of content available. Accomplishing a take-down should not be the sole dominion timezone-spanning  multi-thousand member alliances, because of a game mechanic.

Frigate Frenzy: Assault Frigates

Assault Frigates. The tough little nuts everyone loves to hate, or hate to love. They’re a polarizing class of ship, and in large part they’ve lost their utility with the advent of the Tier-3 Destroyer. As Tridgit has often put it, “Why would you choose to use an AF when a T3D is better in every conceivable way?”

With the exception of being able to get into a Small FW Plex, I’m not sure I have a satisfactory answer for him at present.

This is one of the ships we discussed, though, and it’s come up a few times recently. It’s my personal feeling that the top 3 suggestions for revitalizing AFs floored to date are the following:

  1. Give them a ‘blink’ drive. This would be a limited range (<50km) MJD which only AFs could fit. It would allow them to quickly ‘assault’, or get on top of critical targets in fleet fights and skirmish that would put them in a unique and potent position. It would certainly revitalize the heavy tackle role, but they’d still be squishy enough so as to not be overpowered.
  2. Give them immunity to the warp scrambler’s shut-down effect and take away their MWD bloom reduction. That would allow them to tackle and hold, but would still put them at risk of damage from rockets, missiles, and bombs.
  3. Brick tank the crap out of them. Double their tank, or give them insane rep bonuses.

It should be noted that these are intended as individual improvements, standalone, and not suggestions to be added together. Any two of these together on the same ship would be broken. That said, it’s my feeling that any one of these would bring the AF back from life support.

Propaganda Machine: Billboards and Statues

Shoutout to Rauski Koraka, again. He makes a good point about Billboards and Citadels in space but I don’t think he goes far enough.

I think one of the biggest, best, overlooked opportunities for Billboards as a player-controlled deployable would be the ability to drop them within X kilometers of a citadel (as a non-collidable object) and for the owner to be able to upload a source .webm which would play on them. This could be the alliance’s billboard sting, or it could be a class recording or propaganda.

Another one was the idea—and apparently CCP has had this thought and dismissed it—of putting a structure in game which would be pure vanity.

Imagine an anchorable holo-projector which cost a trillion ISK and all it did was project an enormous full-size character portrait of the alliance executor or corporation CEO. Offer custom inspirational character poses. There are people out there who would use them.

Replayability: Battle Recordings

This idea goes back to Kael Decadence’s idea of the training room. Another point in support of this project would be the ability to record/simulate past epic battles like M-OEE8, the HED-GP fight, and B-R5RB and allow players who are new(er) to the game or who were unable to attend to experience those gigantic events.

This would also allow for countless replayability and training simulations, adding another wrench to the teacher’s toolset for instructing new capsuleers in the fundamentals of logistics, tackle, interdiction, et cetera against AI-piloted, simulated targets.

Hold the Line: FC Ships and Deployables

I actually dropped the idea of anti-headshot FC ships with special deployables at this meetup six months before Fanfest, when we saw these beauties previewed by the art department. I’m not saying I was the originator of the idea, just that I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that perhaps CCP Pointy Bits – or someone – was maybe having the same thoughts I was.

My idea was that they would be incapable of fitting offensive modules, but that they would provide spatial bonuses within a defined area, allowing a fleet to ‘hold the line’ within a locked area of space. The focus being battlefield control. Effects would be:

  • the ability to prevent enemy fleets/members from warping to pings within the area of control
  • the nullification of certain boosts or AOE effects within the area (a single-use defence against doomsdays)
  • the control of deployable targeted-ewar towers (e.g. target painters) the FC could use to highlight strategic targets

I look forward to what our lords and masters at CCP come up with, and am even more excited at the prospect of being able to fly one.

Closing Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of the ideas proposed by the members of our meetup. I welcome your feedback in the comments. Please feel free to reach out to me in game or via evemail if you have any proposed improvements you’d like me to write about.

If you live in the lower mainland of British Columbia, or if you’re ever in the Metro Vancouver area, please feel free to come by and join our meetup. We meet the third Tuesday of every month, in New Westminster – details are available in the Facebook group.

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Comments

  • Lekly

    My favorite of all of these ideas is the shrinking of space via gates going ‘dormant’ or the Kyonoke virus quarantining them.

    May 31, 2017 at 2:09 PM
    • Caleb Ayrania Lekly

      Funny but I would claim that the exact opposite is what is needed. If a system is not used by players the “profits” in that system goes to the NPCs, that are working there unchallenged. When players “take over systems” is when the Gates should offline, and eventually force players to build new ones. I know we dont have gates yet, but this would be the way to soft introduce them, and tie them into the economy of the game.

      June 1, 2017 at 12:52 PM
      • While that sounds cool, I think it would result in even more systems stagnating.

        I have yet to be sold on the idea of player built stargates. They just seem like jumpbridges under another name.

        June 1, 2017 at 1:53 PM
        • Caleb Ayrania Lekly

          And a jump bridge that is hooked into a structure, makes a lot more sense, and is a lot more interesting. Especially when you add ACL and potential “jump fee”. Though I would say that payment should be build into a bills system, so if you “free jump” it affects “standings”. That way you would also effectively get an API of WHO jumps through a gate. In addition it would add a revenue stream for owners, and more economy pvp is good for the game.

          June 1, 2017 at 2:19 PM
          • That’s not a bad idea, taxation on gates as a toll system for player corporations who own the sovereignty of the system, or the PBSG. I like it.

            June 7, 2017 at 6:40 PM
  • Alaric Faelen

    Some really excellent ideas in there.

    I’d like to see things that bridge the gulf between PvP and PvE. I think if the two were similar enough more people would end up doing both. The ground between the two would be more even. Instead of it being a one sided affair like it currently is. This would also offset some of the crazy power creep in Eve because ships would be more generalized instead of chasing perfect farming.

    Drop all systems sec status by one ‘notch’ so what was .5 today would be .4 tomorrow. This would reflect the ‘Empires losing their grip on power’ like the trailer said and would completely reshape the map. Old hubs would die, new chokepoints would arise.

    I don’t think ‘straight upgrade to T1’ is a viable fleet role. AFs and HACs should be given a new niche role to fill. The T1 version of ships should be the basic DPS ship of the line variant. All T2 variants are combat gimped but act as force multipliers. Keeping the DPS ships softer would make slugging it out with the core of the fleet more useful than ‘headshotting’ the support.

    I totally agree with shrinking space. I cringe every time I see threads on Eve-O saying we need more systems. Invariably these are all high sec dwellers that really just want more high sec “safe” systems. Tell them ‘sure, we will add 1000 new null sec systems to explore and conquer’ and they will still squat in .6 empire space and complain they have no content.

    May 31, 2017 at 3:16 PM
  • Axhind

    Why would anyone want to bring fozziesov into more prominence? It’s the worst mechanic that CCP has ever come up with and that includes anchoring POS with mods. If anything it should be transferred into upwell structures and be erased from memory, preferably with fozzie and his bubble immune interceptors.

    May 31, 2017 at 4:07 PM
  • Jesus christ these are bad fucking ideas.

    June 1, 2017 at 5:30 AM
    • Complaining about a thing without proposing a solution is awfully similar to whining.

      June 7, 2017 at 6:36 PM
      • It’s not worth my time to explain why these ideas are bad or propose alternatives because I’m not a game designer at CCP and they’ll never be implemented anyway. I used to engage in extensive hurfposting about game design: it’s a total waste of time.

        June 7, 2017 at 6:43 PM
        • It’s funny, that sounds a lot like:

          G: “This is crap.”
          J: “Why?”
          G: “You should know why.”
          J: “I don’t, please elucidate.”
          G: “I don’t have to explain myself.”
          J: “Because reasons?”
          G: “Yeah!”

          July 14, 2017 at 6:03 PM
  • Caleb Ayrania

    Most likely some good ideas in there, but wall of text format, for armchair development is horrible, and does not spur good discussion. One topic and idea at the time would be much better in my opinion.

    Too much Space:

    The problem with too much space is that we dont have a dynamic balanced resource system. Instead of jumping straight to concluding there is too much space, the question should be why do we think that. If Delve can support itself with 2 constellations, the problem gets fairly obvious. The space is to rich and this means people just blob together and do not need to spread out.

    What CCP should consider is adding proper depletion and diminishing returns into the game, and maybe use the new AI to populate the systems players dont USE.

    The solution to the strain on travel, that some would say this would increase, is to introduce a very low powered Interbus system, for transporting goods that have very low isk/m3 value. Again I would suggest it was tied into the new AI, and that your “shipments” were actually moved, and loss NPC trucks would affect the cost. So you dont directly lose your shipment, but the next ones will get more expensive. Thus making sure players arent ganking npc trucks would be a method of keeping NPC transportation costs down, and “effective”

    June 1, 2017 at 12:49 PM
    • I like your recommendations about the Interbus AI. It would certainly make getting goods to market cheaper for industrialists and encourage them to spread out further. I also like your suggestion about depletion, to which I would add that when resources spike in an area there should be a commensurate spike with NPC mining activities, to deplete the resources faster. If you don’t want that happening, you have to kill the mining fleets.

      July 14, 2017 at 6:00 PM
  • dragonshardz

    I like the idea of AFs having a rapid-spooling, short-range MJD. However, I think FozzieSov needs to just go away in favor of a mechanic that actually reflects people living in a system or region. With the upcoming changeover of conquerables and outposts to Citadels, that removes 1 of 3 structures that remain from Dominion sov. The only important one left is the IHUB, since that is where all the system bonuses live. The TCU is just a flag.

    If Citadels give you de facto ownership of space, why not make them also mechanically do so? Remove the TCU and tie the system’s flag to the Upwell structures in it – not with a simple 51% like in POS Sov of yore, but a weighted calculation based on the number and size of structures in the system. XLs have a heavy weight, Ls moderate, M light. Maybe some sort of cap to the number of structures that get taken into account, so you can’t use 1000 Astrahus to take over a system that has a hostile Keepstar in it.

    Then, in the same patch, replace IHUBs with Upwell System Administration Centers (which outweigh other XL structures and strong defenses but no offenses, while their service slots are for the current IHUB upgrades only) and change Upwell damage caps to a logarithmic scale (seen here: https://redd.it/6di511 ). Just remove Entosis like mines were since sov lasers suck. Alternatively, if Entosis Links need to stick around, change them so they are used to influence, but not decide, the outcome of reinforcing an Upwell structure. Something like capturing the command nodes increasing or decreasing the structure’s resistances.

    I’d also like for a Small size of Upwell structure to be introduced, allowing small nomadic groups the ability to set up a home base without needing to drop a structure that takes a week to unanchor. Corp-level mobile depots, with some personal item and ship storage but no docking or cloning services.

    June 3, 2017 at 8:36 AM
    • Some good feedback here. Thanks for taking the time to voice it. I think that some of the suggestions put forth by the attendees of the meetup were designed not to provide additional fodder for corps to become even further isolationist, but to encourage content. However, no matter what changes you make, those who are intent to be left alone will work within the system to try to accomplish it. So having locked-in backwater spaces where no one else goes is already part of the game; just look at Solitude.

      June 7, 2017 at 6:38 PM
      • dragonshardz Jurius Doctor

        Locked-in backwater spaces aren’t really all the good for the game, though. They encourage risk-averse gameplay and the existence of one doesn’t really justify giving players the ability to make more.

        Also, I note that Solitude is a backwater where nobody goes because it isn’t valuable space, not because it’s got poor geography.

        June 8, 2017 at 4:16 AM
        • “Locked-in backwater spaces aren’t really all the good for the game, though.”

          Just what do you think Wormholes are?

          July 14, 2017 at 6:01 PM
          • dragonshardz Jurius Doctor

            Swiss cheese, mostly.

            August 4, 2017 at 8:06 AM