Friday, August 14, 2009

Planetary Control Contest Entry

CrazyKinux is running yet another contest, the crazy fool!
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.
Well, sounds like a challenge I can get behind! So I present my submission to this contest.

EDIT: For those who hate reading a lot of stuff in white font on black background, the meat of this post can be found here in a Google Doc webpage.

Part 1 - Fiction - The Drop

Corporal Tarin Selnas hated this part.

One second you were flying smooth, you could feel the pull of the gravity getting stronger as you descend, everything was quiet except for the constant thrumming of the drop ship's engines. Then you hit the top of the atmosphere and it seemed like you were descending into hell itself. The turbulence was bad and the increase in noise was annoying, but the worst thing was the rising temperature from the friction of the ship's flight (more like drop) to the planet's surface. Sure, there were environmental control units designed to keep the marines in the ship from broiling alive, but they couldn't compensate completely and it always got oppressively hot. You were always glad to leave the drop ship when it landed even if it meant running head first into a crossfire. Maybe, Selnas though, it was designed that way.

He looked over the fellow marines of his squad, four men he knew would die for him and him for them. They too were sweating in the rising heat but their faces remained stoic and their hands were loose and relaxed on their weapons. They were all veterans of many drops, Corporal Selnas included. They were professionals and they would get the job done.

The drop ship suddenly applied its air brakes with a stomach turning lurch and it dropped the final 100 meters with retro-thrusters blasting a deafening roar. Selnas and his squad tensed as the ship's landing gear found purchase and the drop ship's massive doors opened up onto the planet. He led his men into the night that was shrouded in smoke from munitions fired on the landing site just before the drop ships arrived. It would give the marines some cover from incoming small arms fire at least, but it often added an element of danger to the marines if they were off their designated landing site by too much. Fortunately Selnas' terrain detector matched the outline of the area around him to reconnaisce intelligence and it guided him with flashing arrows to his rally point. Explosions and weapons fired surrounded him and the other squads that came from the fleet of drop ships, the screams of the wounded and dying drowned out in the fusilade.

It felt like he ran across the shourded ground forever with only his HUD as a guide and he kept waiting for the piercing pain of a round entering his body. Suddenly he came upon his sergeant crouched in a depression behind some rocks and trees giving orders to other corporals that had made it there before Selnas.

"Where the hell you been, Corporal? Sightseeing?" the sergeant asked in his devil-may-care way. He had been around forever and possibly have done more drops than all other soldiers in the outfit combined. Unflappable did not begin to describe him.

He grabbed Selnas' shoulder and pulled him down to a portable computer with a terrain map displayed. "There is a sentry nest over here on this ridge," he pointed with a stubby finger, "I want your squad to pay them a visit. Got it?"

"Hit nest on ridge 13 north, got it," Selnas confirmed. Without another word the Sergeant pushed him away and turned to the next squad leader. Selnas crouched and ran to his men that were waiting prone in cover and relayed the instructions. With grim nods, they moved out behind him.

The sentry nest was only three quarters of a kilometer away but they were slowed by constantly hugging every sliver of cover. Finally after 45 minutes of slogging they had the sentry nest in veiw. The enemy had dug into the ridge about a meter and used sandbags to build up the defenses. It looked new which explained to Selnas why it handn't been hit by the prelanding bombardment since it was so close to the landing zone. The defenders of the nest, probably two guys, maybe three, manned a 75mm dual autocannon spitting out uranium shells at the rate of 5 thousand rounds per minute. They cut swathes back and forth through the landing zone and while the experience marines of the landing force were good at keeping in cover, many newer soliders were getting hit.

Corporal Selnas wished he had a grenade launcher or a rail launcher; either one would have been sufficient to take out the hastily put together defensive position. But the mercenary outfit Selnas and the rest of the marines belonged to was hesitant to buy such expensive toys for dispensible troops, Selnas supposed, so they would have to do it the hard way. Again. The ridge had been clear cut of treesby the planet's defenders before the landing to allow clear lanes of fire, but the terrain was still rocky and Selnas ordered two of his squad to approach the nest, one from the east and one from the west. As they crawled, rolled, and shimied up the hill in the darkness, autocannon fire continued to pour out of the barrels just inches over their head.

Private Heres was on the west approach when he reached a bump in the ground. There was no way around it so he waited while the autocannon swept over his position and started to move back to the east. Selnas watched Heres scoot forward as fast as he could towards the next depression, but the autocannon gunner must have detected the movement or his heat signature despite the uniform's heat suppression weaves and the gun jerked back to spray Heres' position with rounds. The marine died instantly as his body was shredded and the gunner went back to sweeping the landing zone with bullets.

But the distraction was all that Private Gordnan on the east side of the nest needed. As Heres' died he jumped up and sprinted the last few meters to the base of the nest. He detached a hand grenade from his belt, primed it, and threw it in the opening. A second later a muffled boom and the gun was silenced.

* * * * *

Private Gordnan joined up with the rest of the squad as they stood over Heres body.

"Good work, Private," Selnas said. He turned to the other 2 men. "Let's go, we have a planet to conquer."

Part 2 - Mechanics - Planets In Eve

So how do we integrate real planets into Eve? Well I have some ideas.

1) Some planets should have populations. These planets should be named something original but that is not mandatory, but they should stand out so people can tell at a glance which planets are populated with a colony or full blown nation.

2) Planets with populations should generate resources that can be purchased by pilots and shipped to their hanger in the nearest station. The distance to the nearest station determines how long it takes the goods to get there. The resources could be minerals and moon materials but be at a base price much higher than usual market values. I realize this puts a possible price cap on items so maybe it could have a fluctuating price determined by demand much like trade goods.

3) In 0.0 planets with populations are the sources of the crews that operate and maintain the stargates and provide civilian crews for local stations and starbases. Hence, controlling the colony means control of the system. That is to say, I am proposing a replacement for the current sovereignty mechanics which are POS based. But how does one control a planet?

Enter a new ship class: Planetary Landers. They would have a new module called Landing Craft which represent armed troopers ready to go down and fight on the planet for control of it. Your PL ship would go to the planet, activate the Landing Craft, and a new window would give progress of the invasion based on how strong the opposition is and how many alliance PL ships are participating. Unclaimed planets would give a little bit of a fight, but claimed planets by other alliances could be upgraded with garrisons and defences meaning a solitary Planetary Lander ship would not be enough to take it over. You'd need a fleet and more time giving the owning alliance time to respond.

I picture Planetary Landers as ships similar in size and defenses to Industrials, with tech 2 versions having superior defenses and more utility slots. I would also have a timer on the Landing Craft module such that if the ship warps off or is destroyed before, say, 10 minutes has passed than the planetary assault for that ship's landing craft automatically fails (i.e. telementry from the ship in orbit is essential to coordinating the descent).

Furthermore, with ownership of 0.0 planets you can do more than defence upgrades (shields and defense turrets), you could make upgrades capable of producing more minerals/moon materials (mining crews), perhaps increase the population size (biodomes) for example. Hell, with established sovereignty in a system who's to say we can't move to creating more colonies to make the system harder to gain control of by enemies? Then with creating colonies we can look at destroying colonies ( can you say "planetary bombardment"?).

Also, there could be new anchorable items that can only be anchored in orbit of controlled planets, items like sentry guns and corporate hanger arrays like at a POS but with internal power sources and fuel supplied directly from the planet. The size of the colony determines available CPU and Powergrid. These items wouldn't be protected by a POS shield so would require decent hitpoints but could be useful for helping to protect the planet and organize fleets for defense of it.

Of course, warping to a planet might not put you in the right position to see or attack these orbital assets. Currently a point on a single grid near a planet or moon is designated as the "warp to" point of that object. I would change it so that the warp to zero of a planet or moon put you in orbit at the point closest to where you came from, so that a pilot warping to a planet at zero would be on the completely opposite side of a pilot warping to zero from other direction. That would give combat near planets a very real feel and force probes to come out to locate the exact location of the enemy fleet. It could also open up feints and sneak attacks against the defenders as they rush to meet one attack on one side of the planet while another fleet sneaks in to invade the other side.

* * * * *
Doing all this would accomplish several tasks. It would make sovereignty in 0.0 less reliant on POS spam and the mind numbing boredom that can entail (as well as being a completely unintuitive mechanic), it would make planets more than just a warp point and make combat more tactical away from gates, provide more resources for production at a higher price but with less direct effort making systems more valuable, and it would allow the expansion of the game into planetary combat.


  1. Anonymous3:00 pm

    I sense some similarities to my own proposition, but then I guess there is only so much that can be done in the end. The differences you offer from my own are pretty good, Best of luck, Comrade.

  2. Anonymous10:24 am

    I could not agree with your ending statement more...hitting the nail right on the head to be sure! My posts are scheduled fro Tuesday and wednesday respectively.



  3. Anonymous10:24 am

    I could not agree with your ending statement more...hitting the nail right on the head to be sure! My posts are scheduled fro Tuesday and wednesday respectively.