Art By Redline XIII
In the first part of this series we introduced the concept of using marines to board hostile stations to help eliminate the grind of station bashing. In this part we will explore where these marines come from, how they are generated by player alliances, and look at a new mechanic to “control” space.
Alliances and coalitions will have to generate large armies in order to both defend their structures, but also as an offensive weapon, ready for action at any time. In EVE Online, we barely notice the lives of non-capsuleers as our ships clash in the darkness of space, but they are there and on some planets they exist in huge numbers. I am, of course, talking about “M Class” planets, to use the Star Trek vernacular, labelled as “Temperate Planets” in game. These worlds possess the inherent ability to support life and civilization.
The recently announced Industry overhaul seems to place planetary interaction at the very heart of EVE Online, and we will generate our marines by using an adaptation of this mechanic. As an alternate to a Temperate Command Centre, players can additionally place a Recruiting Centre on a temperate planet controlled by their alliance. Over time these structures create a pool of marines as they are recruited from the local population. Players extract these marines using specifically designed transport ships and then move them to nearby stations.
At this stage we have a basic marine. They can perform all the tasks required of them, but wouldn’t it break the N+1 meta if we could augment these soldiers and create new models to enhance their abilities? Merging industry with modules, additional planetary interaction produce can be added to slots on the marines fitting window. As per the image below from Dust 514, a marine can be upgraded in a number of different ways, turning them from a basic soldier to a genetically enhanced killing machine (For The Emperor!) By adding specific PI resources, your marine can be improved to perform different roles, even to T2 and T3 levels. Once the player has the required resources, they can place them into production and start creating their own space army en masse.
Before you extract these super soldiers from the planets, there must be a mechanic that makes alliances access to marines. At present, system control is dictated by the Territorial Control Unit (TCU) and the Infrastructure Hub (IHub.), but if WWB has taught us anything, it’s that the TCU doesn’t matter. The addition of marines would require the TCU and IHub. to be merged together and a new measure implemented. This mechanic would be known as “Control,” and would monitor how loyal the population of systems are to a controlling alliance.
So how would this work in practice? A local populace will be controlled using a variety of methods. Linked with Activity Defense Multipliers (ADMs), Control would increase with player activity. It is linked to the ADM mechanic but rises and falls more slowly, to reflect the changing allegiances of the people. If an alliance is using the system frequently, then it is assumed that traffic and trade is passed through that system which improves the lives of the population. As Control increases, the alliance gains access to recruitment centers and thus can extract marines to fight for them. When a system is flipped, it takes the new overlords time to indoctrinate the population.
The Capital System
We have in this new mechanic a difference between IHubs-ADMs and the Control mechanic. The maximum control level would be based entirely on the distance of a planet from the alliance’s capital system. This concept would be designed to ensure that an alliance strategically places their capital to maximize control of the surrounding systems. A system like 1DQ-1A is within a superb constellation for defense, but it sits at the corner of Delve, thus preventing a wider spread of Control. Constellations adjacent to a capital system would, of course, be highly willing to support the cause of their owning alliance, but as we drift away from the centre, populations become less compliant.
This also prevents alliances from moving their capital system to get an instant ADM buff, a tool used wisely by the PAPI coalition in the current war. It would also match the incoming industry changes that look to place a heavy emphasis on centralized infrastructure to support the creation of super capital fleets.
The Outer Systems
What happens on the edges of an alliances control? Planets and systems would be harder to manage; whereas the central systems produce marines and planetary production, the outer systems, with low control, give smaller yields. Bands of NPCs can often rebel and target isolated capsuleers. These systems would be the equivalent of border provinces, acting as a semi-occupied buffer between alliances, until another alliance moves in to control that space.
The size of space that would be controlled by an alliance is open to discussion. Should an alliance of 500 people be able to control a whole constellation? What is the limit of a coalition of 30,000 players? These are questions that would require deep thought. But with the continual rise of “renter” space, something needs to be done to ensure large coalitions cannot project force into the far reaches of space and show the same control as they do in their home system. Renters are generally small corporations or alliances that, with the appropriate mechanics, would be able to claim space by themselves. Given the opportunity, these groups could rise to be the next superpowers in EVE, or they could collapse into the dust as many have before them.
It appears that CCP is looking to make substantial changes to EVE Online over the next year. The global pandemic has seen a huge rise in players that CCP wishes to retain, but the developers also want to shape the game for its third decade. Large sweeping changes are often met with cynicism and reluctance, but change is always required to keep games fresh and relevant. Marines, boarding actions, and control mechanics may or may not be the answer, but we should always push to make EVE Online an exciting and demanding game.