Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breakdown of a Dev Blog

One of the Eve endgames is null sec alliance warfare and at the heart of that is Sovreignty; literally putting your alliance name on the map. With the changes coming in Dominion the dev blogs are important for gathering a feel for what is coming.

The latest offering from CCP Greyscale is titled "Sovreignity: Emergence is Neat" and I'm going to pull out the facts from the fluff for you.

A system to do this can be fairly lightweight. It needs to handle systems changing hands, of course, but it can afford to be descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Currently we have a prescriptive sovereignty system: you fight over sovereignty explicitly, with the sovereignty mechanics determining who owns the system. A descriptive system says who's in charge, so it only needs to change hands after the dust has settled and one side has emerged triumphant. The actual fighting is deregulated - rather than mechanically telling you what to do (shoot sixty hardened starbases), you just need to do whatever it is you need to do so that at the end of the day the enemy goes away.

Of course, there's one class of thing that can't be left entirely free-form, and they're the things that helped bring about the current sovereignty system in the first place: stations. Outposts and conquerable stations are the river-crossings of EVE - each one lets you project power all around it, and as a result they're pivotal military objectives. Station ping-pong - waking up in the morning and finding that someone in a different timezone had taken your station, and the first thing you had to do was shoot it again to take control of it so you could re-dock - was very silly and we don't want that to come back.

There's no reason that the solution to this has to be the sovereignty system, but it does need to be timezone-proof. There's also no reason that it needs to take two weeks for an outpost to change hands - while comparatively shorter switches give the defender less time to mount a defense, they also make re-conquest easier. The combination of a lighter, descriptive sovereignty system and a separate mechanism for outpost conquest should (we think) lend itself much better to emergent outcomes.

I quoted a lot there but there is a lot to consume. Essentially what we have here is a capture the flag mechanic. I'm saying that without a lot of details but based on other information from people looking at the Sisi code base to see messages, I'm confident that is where this mechanic is headed. Think Faction Warfare complexes and bunkers writ large and based on special modules and stargates.

Where to start? Resource density in nullsec is too low to support a high player density, which limits the number of people that could theoretically live in nullsec. Moon mineral values mean that there's no need at an alliance level to worry about other resources anyway, which limits the number of people who are actually allowed to live in nullsec. A lack of population or vulnerable resources means smaller fleets have little strategic relevance. Alliances hold vast tracts of space that they have no actual use for, simply because they can, locking out other groups from using it.
Yeah, rare moon minerals is broken at the moment I'm afraid, and I've been saying density in null sec is far too low for a long time. I like the direction they are going here because it is very true: null sec is often vast swathes of empty systems. That sucks.
 These problems are all interlinked, and solving them with a few key changes should bring a lot of good results.

Firstly, let people upgrade their space, and in particular its resource density. By increasing the resource density, you increase the potential population density, and by letting players do it rather than simply seeding more resources, you open up more decisions and more emergence.

Secondly, reduce the amount of income that can be derived from mining moons. In conjuction with the first change, this means that the best way to raise funds for an alliance will once again be to fill your space with as many people as possible, upgrade your space as much as possible and watch the money roll in.
If I were a large alliance holding a lot of rare moons right now, I would begin to get nervous. The implied threat in that bolded part means that the gold farm that is moon minerals is going to be threatened if not removed. You might have to work hard to make your isk now and it might be harder to protect easily. The days of holding a region while fighting an extended war on the other side of New Eden could be coming to an end.
Thirdly, charge rent on systems. This allows us to scale the rent based on how well-developed a system is, which means it's less of a no-brainer to upgrade (meaningful decisions!), and also reinforces the idea that the more people are using a system, the more money it'll make you. In conjunction with a few well-placed additional penalties, it also combats alliance sprawl, leaving more space up for grabs and again letting more people experience nullsec.
Ah, exponential costs. The weapon the devs used against Privateers alliance war dec frenzy will be the same they use to combat region sprawling alliances.

Overall I really really like the way they are headed with this change. By getting more people into null sec it will create more dynamics and social interactions.

I'm very excited.


  1. I'm hoping as you are that this will make zero space more attractive to ppl and therefore much more populated.

  2. I think 0.0 space is already somewhat attractive. But the flip side is making higher populations in systems more attractive to the sov holders. Currently there is little reason to let people in.