Friday, August 14, 2009

Planetary Conquistadors!

WARNING!!! OOC POST!!! OMG THE HORROR!! ( it's not entirely OOC. read on..)

So anybody who knows anybody in the Eve blogger's world seems to know the great and mighty Crazy Kinux. And for good reason, as he's done a lot for both the Eve bloggers as well as the Eve Community at large. This month though, he's presented a challenge to our little wonderful community that even involves a prize!

The goal is to write an article on planetary control and how that would be implemented in EVE. Your article needs to cover what features, game mechanic, game design you would like to see implemented if (or when) planetary control/exploration/exploitation becomes available in EVE.

You're required to write a two-part article. The first part needs to be a fiction piece that tells a story based on the feature (or game mechanic, game design, etc...) that you would like to see implemented, while the second part would be the actual description of how that would work in game. Each part of your article needs to be a minimum of 300 words (600 word minimum for the whole article).

I'll be judging the entries and will pick the 5 best articles, amongst which I will randomly choose the winner. This lucky blogger will get to interview a CCP Dev during a podcast with yours truly! Details on the podcast will be provided to the winner prior to the show's recording.

So I figured since I achieved a reputation of perhaps being considered a very critical (and maybe even to the point of sounding negative) person in my comments on the last entries for the C.K. writing contest, I figured it best that I actually involve myself in this one. However, I would like to think my approach is a little more passive and reserved. No wild, crazy, off-the-wall ideas here! I swear it! :)

Part 1 - The Fiction

The room was crawling with a roar of activity. Only moments ago, the system scan report had come in of a massive armada of ships entering system. They had not come by way of the local stargate so it was obvious this was no random roaming fleet. Every station and planet in system was in high alert as the focus of this enemy had yet been determined....but all knew the most likely target.

The system was SMH2-2, a system deep in the heart of 0.0 space and home to not only a moon full of valuable materials, but also a perfectly habitable planet. The balance between water and solid land was comparable to that of the mythical Earth, with an atmosphere consisting of a perfect blend of crisp, breathable air. This resulted in a prime choice planet for producing a vast array of resources needed for intergalactic commerce and thus garnered the attention of the numerous opportunistic alliances and corporations seeking to expand their territories…and their pockets. Since its discovery, the skies far above, outside of the planet's gravity well, had already become littered with the wreckage of thousands of ships, all having perished over the many months of conflict. And as was obvious today, the current sovereign alliance was about to have its control challenged once again.

Upon receiving her orders, Ailiana gave a stout salute to the commanding officer before running for her ship. It was a Talon class atmospheric combat ship, or ACS, humbly named Feral Glimmer. She wished she could be a part of the initial defense force far out in the depths of space, jacked into a real pod and a real ship beyond the planet's atmosphere, but the reports coming in told her it wouldn't be long anyways before she got her share of the action. The inbound fleet was far superior in numbers and firepower to be held back by the few pilots currently in space and would thus be left to those already here planet side. Here is where the real stand would take place. Here is where the enemy would not just be facing combative ships but also the planets defensive placements, built and cared for with a lot of isk and blood.

Just as she finished connecting the flight control jacks to the neural implant sockets on her head, she felt the vibration of the alpha strikes, the first impacts from the planetary bombardment the enemy dreadnoughts and battleships now unleashed far overhead against the terrain colony's shields. Soon she thought, as her physical senses dimmed and her mind became one with the ship, soon would come the enemy's own ACS's....and soon she would get her own chance to help prove that her and her corporation were going nowhere...


Executive Officer Arkold stood before the massive observation window of the mothership's command deck, a broad grin spread across his scarred face. So far, things had gone perfectly. After arriving in system via the titan jump bridge, they had made a very quick check of the fleet before initiating warp and landing as close as they dared to the target planet. The commander knew little of this particular planet that now swallowed his view... nor did he care. He had his orders and that was all he needed.

"Commander, you may begin the planetary assault procedures, executive order 194A-32HC."

"Aye sir. Commencing planetary bombardment." Turning, Arkold's commander activated his comm link. "Alpha and Bravo squads, initiate attack sequence."

Without a heartbeat passing, the sky between their fleet and the planet before them lit up in a brilliant array of lights as assault beams and blasters tore through the planets atmosphere, pummeling the stationary defenses far below. The pod pilots commanding these ships thirst for blood, thirst for the combat experience this presented them, but more importantly, thirst for the valuable isk this planet would provide their corp…and each of them as well...

The diligent commander, however, only hesitated for the briefest of moments to watch those initial volleys before flipping his comm switch over to a second channel. "Flight deck, prepare to launch all available ACS's."

"All ACS's prepped and ready commander."

"Roger that, ACS squads one, two, three, and four. Your designation is Viper. Launch on my command.!"

And like missiles from a launcher module, the ACS's shot forward from the mothership, careening towards the planet at breakneck speeds. Each one piloted by the very same demi-gods who controlled the battleships and dreadnoughts alongside the massive mothership.

"Well wishes to you all," Arkold thought as he watched his fellow pod pilots descend upon the planet. "and may the gods have mercy on us all....."

Part 2 - The Mechanics

One of the oldest complaints I’ve heard in Eve, pretty much dating back to when I really started to pay attention to 0.0 warfare and tactics, was the failure design of sovereignty. Okay, so perhaps failure isn’t the best word but the mechanic is one that is obviously quite frustrating to many of the Alliances. Space is a big place. One could theoretically construct a station anywhere in a system. (At least it seems the NPC pirates can in Empire…) So would this mean they now have sovereignty? Of course not and for that reason, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be that way either for the alliances in nullsec.

What I suggest is to take the mechanic of sovereignty control away from the POS’s in system. POS’s come and go. What is permanent is the planets themselves. To control a planet should be what defines the actual sovereignty. You want to own more space? Then be prepared to defend and protect what assets you have on more planets.

Once an Alliance controls all the habitable planets within a constellation, they are then granted the ability to construct outposts. Outposts of course require personal, and thus food sources to maintain as the NPC agents seem to so often suggest in Empire space. It is THIS reason why planets are truly necessary. Without control of enough planets to provide the resources necessary to maintain the outpost, it becomes under-staffed and thus able to be conquered. With this in mind though, I am not suggesting outposts require ‘fuel’ in the sense of transporting personal and food to the station like a POS requires. Instead, just having control of a planet is in itself providing the fuel for maintaining the outpost. I am also not suggesting POS’s become obsolete as they will still be needed for moon mining, capital construction and their other current uses.

Now to control/colonize a planet, it would require constructing colony stations on the planet’s surface. The larger the colony, the more capable it is of withstanding an attack such as with shield systems and weapons emplacements. For an attacking group, shield systems would need to be bombarded by the dreadnoughts as suggested in my previous story, at which point ACS’s, or Atmospheric Combat Ship, would then be able to fly in and assist the battleships in destroying the various weapon emplacements. ACS’s is what the players are of course responsible for piloting. Many suggest FPS (First Person Shooter) combat in the way of foot soldiers via dropships, but I disagree with that. We are pilots. Not foot soldiers. However, I do agree it would be great to use FPS when piloting the ACS’s for a reason I will explain later. I also suggest using some sort of timer to define how long it takes for the NPC foot soldiers to infiltrate and take control of the colony. This is activated by any ACS who comes within a set distance of perhaps the colony’s main command bunker and can only continue counting down while the ACS’s are present on the planet’s surface. If they are all killed, or forced to retreat, then the timer is stopped and eventually resets after a certain length of time. The length of this timer’s expiration could also be dependant on the size of the colony.

To maintain a colony, one would keep in mind that various planets provide various resources. However, to sustain the colony, there will be other resources that particular planet can’t produce on its own. This is what you will be required to provide as ‘fuel’ to keep the colony active. This would be utilizing roughly the same mechanic that POS’s use in fueling their systems. And that ‘fuel’ is already available on the market under the commodities tab in the form of food, personal and medical gear. So very little change would be required in that regard other than making the commodities more useful than they are at present. Basically, instead of NPC’s providing those commodities on the market, players would now be responsible. looking towards Empire and the PVE folks, planetary missions could be gained from NPC colony agents to defend an outlying village or something of that nature from pirates or other colony factions. Courier missions would be to bring some resource or…dolls…to another colony on either the same planet or a different planet. Point is, there could be a whole new set of missions to be had from ‘Colony Agents’ that would or could involve just ACS piloting or take you planet hopping from one to another.

For the Faction Warfare pilots, much of the same mechanics as 0.0 space would be used but instead of fighting for your Alliance’s sovereignty, you’re fighting contested systems/planets for the control by the race you’re fighting for. Again, the previously mentioned timers would be utilized for this task which as I understand (though I’ve never fought factional warfare) is something they’re fairly familiar with already.

Lastly, the switch between an ACS and a standard space craft would require either one, the presence of a station or outpost, or two (for the nullsec folk) the presence of a mothership, carrier, or the hanger module added to a POS. ACS’s would not be warp capable. Thus, to use them at a particular planet would involve carrying that ACS via a regular spaceship from one hanger to another. Without the presence of a POS, outpost, station, carrier or a mothership, a person can not just simply leave their spaceship and hop into the ACS. What I’m also suggesting in regards to the motherships or carriers is the ability to ‘fly’ aboard another player’s carrier. If the ship gets popped, then yes, ALL players aboard lose whatever they have on the ship, as well as get ejected into space in their pods to live or die on their own account. (Do you trust that carrier pilot’s skills? Mwhahaha!!) Either that, or increase the size of the carrier’s hanger bay for pilots to store their spaceships while piloting their ACS.

The ACS's themselves would come in various sizes. For a class 1 ACS, the smallest, you would need skill level 1. For class 2, skill level 2. And so on up to level 5 which would grant you access to fly a class 5 ACS. The actual size of the ACS's would be relative basically to the size of a drone. Class 1 ACS equivalent to a small combat drone up to Class 5 which would be equivalent to a fighter. (if not looking exactly like a fighter even) This is where newer players would TRULY be useful to have, even in nullsec as an ACS would be just as easy to get into as a frigate. Though perhaps make it a rank 3 skill. Also, like drones, the larger the ACS, the higher damage output it has but at the same time, the slower it moves.

Anyways, as for pirating…well, I’m sure pirates would be able to come up with a plethora of new ideas. :)

So yes, these ideas might actually be at first glance a bit wild and cause a major change to the current game mechanics in place…but then again, just the idea of leaving space and actually flying within the atmosphere of one of those thousands of planets we see regularly would be an enormous change to the game face.

So that's my story and I'm stickin to it! \o/


Selina said...

Don't you hate when your re-reading a post and realized you forgot something? Grr... Either way, figured I'd add it in a comment since I already in essence submitted this to CK for the contest and didn't think it to be fair to add now.

Part I left out on accident was how you flew an ACS. You are not in a pod like you are in the usual spaceships. You are instead jacked directly into the ship itself. This would mean flying from a first person perspective commonly referred to as FPS. If your ship is destroyed, there is no escape pod. You are dead and immediantly recloned back in the station where your clone is installed. Thus the danger of flying an ACS.

jamenta said...

Hi Selina,

Many interesting ideas here and I enjoyed the read. I don't know about you but I also had fun trying to come up with the ideas for Planetary Control.

It's interesting that both you and Manasee want to shift System Sovereignty away from moons and to the planets, and I agree, it makes good sense.

I also like your idea of making the current game commodities more essential to the game via being used for fuel and other planetary demands (who knows what for maybe different types of planet civilizations) ... you might even build up a whole new trade network of planetary commodities? No?

So that angle I didn't think of in my proposal but it's a good one.

It's interesting too some of your FPS ideas, because after the Dust 514 news ... seems almost a bit prescient! :D