Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's Time: Destructible Outposts

Gallente Administrative Outpost
One of the craziest things to come out of null sec recently was the CFC "dead zoning" the captured 0-W778 outpost to prevent Nulli Secunda and friends from ever having a chance to ex-filtrate their trapped assets. Crazy in that its only the mechanics of EVE that force this unusual move.

For those unaware, "dead zoning" a system is where you install an independent owning corporation of a station that has no blues on its friends list so no one outside of that corporation can dock there. And that corporation only has one member who is an alt of CFC leadership so not even spies in CFC or their allies can secretly liberate the assets.

The CFC chose to do this action because even though they have conquered the station in a fight from N3 coalition, they cannot do anything to the enemy's assets in that station. Those hangers, corporate and personal, are inviolate as they are in all stations and outposts across New Eden.

(DEFINITION: The term station and outpost are often used interchangeably when referring to outposts that are player-built in null sec space. In actual fact, stations are permanent structures  placed in game by the developers as in high sec and low sec and some regions of null sec where they can be NPC owned or "Conquerable Stations". Outposts are player built, smaller with fewer facilities than stations, and are all "conquerable".)

Since outposts and stations are indestructible, I've watched null sec over the years become infested with player built outposts. And since the services offered in each one are limited compared to a station, and each faction outpost has a different role (Amarr outposts for production, Minmatar for refining, Caldari for research, and Gallente for offices), AND there can only be one outpost per system, so the spread of outposts is partially in response to the needs of your average alliance. The other part is that players want to make their mark on their territory and the bang-for-the-buck of an outpost is second to none, a defensive position from which to fight and organize.

Has it gotten out of control?

One of the big downsides to the proliferation of outposts in null sec is that there is less and less room in which to add an outpost. Its conceivable that the satisfaction of a group of players building their own outpost some years in the future will be denied the next generation of players because all of null sec is filled up already! Sure, that scenario may be far fetched, but its not out of the realm of possibility.

So I think its time to seriously consider adding mechanics for the destruction of outposts.

I realize this is not a trivial thing to propose and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome in order to achieve this gameplay, but I think the payoff in the long run is worth it so stay with me to the end of the post before you flame me.

Burn Them To The Ground

First off, give the players lots of notice, months of notice, that outposts will become destroyable. After all, I'm sure there are years of traps assets in some remote stations and players deserve plenty of time to see if they can liberate, sell, or otherwise make use of them. I'm not a monster, after all.

Then on the day the new mechanic goes live, the mechanics for conquering an outpost go away. Instead, you can shoot an outpost until either (a) you negotiate with the owner for transfer of the structure, probably including some time to evac their stuff, or (b) its structure hitpoints reaches zero at which point it explodes. All logged pilots currently in that station are ejected in their current ship, all non piloted ships and assets are destroyed or dropped in the new outpost wreck which can be looted as normal wrecks go (I'm thinking the drop rate should be closer to 10-25% rather than 50% reflecting the massive scale destruction an outpost goes through). Logged off pilots would log in to find themselves e-warping from a random point 1 million km off to the location where the outpost used to be. And yes, destroying an outpost would generate a killmail.

Let the destruction of null sec commence!

Build Them Up Again

On the upside of all this destruction, new outposts can be built. I think its time for CCP to relax some restrictions and allow multiple outposts to be built per system in null sec. I also think some of their facilities should be increased but that a discussion I'm not prepared for today.

However, one thing I am prepared to put forth is that once we have destructible outposts on the menu, we should look at allowing them to be built in wormholes. Now, before you get the rope to lynch me, hear me out. Right now in wormholes, corporations and alliances are colonizing them and living out of Player Owned Starbases, aka POSes. There is a lot of compelling gameplay coming out of wormholes surrounding POSes and a lot of the quality of life difficulties about living in wormholes comes from the limitations of POSes and their code base complexity for getting changes (which is something else I will talk about another day). If we have destructible Outposts then we can consider allowing them to be built in wormhole space by enterprising corporations, which would act as focal points for the entities that live there AND provide another gameplay option as outposts can be transferred from one entity to another, unlike a POS tower. I think this can increase gameplay options in wormhole space while also increasing quality of life for these pilots.

I also considered allowing them to be built in low sec but with the slew of NPC available stations I didn't feel like there was compelling new gameplay to be opened up by that change, although the idea sounds cool to me for purely personal reasons.


I can think of some objections to this plan right off the bat, so let's see if they can be addressed.

Someone out of the game a long time comes back, and finds all their stuff stored in an outpost gone. This is the biggest pickle and one that's hard to get around. There are some easy options like "HTFU" which could be applied if the advertising campaign of this change reaches far enough, but this might be addressed more simply by moving all inactive accounts' stuff and clones to the nearest NPC station (remember, stations are still indestructible), and perhaps we let people submit petitions for the same resolution if they have problems logging in prior to the change.

Null sec entities will simply base out of low sec or null sec NPC stations. To be fair, this is any alliance's backup plan already, so the concern is if this change will make them do more of that. For shallow null sec I can see that happening but in deeper null sec pilots will need to base closer to where they are flying and living out of a POS is no fun.

After a brief conflagration of destruction, most of null sec will become empty wastelands. I think this is hyperbole speaking. I think alliances will build outposts and maintain them as needed, but they might be less cavalier about storing all the alliances assets in them.

CCP never intended for wormhole space to be settled with things like outposts. I retort that while CCP never intended a lot of things, they still happened! And wormhole space is settled, living in POSes, as miserable as it is. Let's give them something else meaningful to build and lose out there.

* * * * *

Alright, your turn.


  1. How about when the outpost is destroyed the owners of anything in the station suffer 50-75% loss and all remaining assets are relocated to the nearest high/low sec station system? I can't see the idea of a wreck actually working given the magnitude of the loot drops to be calculated ... in some cases you would be looking at thousands of ships, tens of thousands of modules, and literally millions upon millions of ammo (even at 25% recovery).

    As for wormholes you would essentially have to strip them down in size or limit them to class 6 holes. Otherwise you might import the materials into a class I/2/3/4 (if you were a total masochist) and then never be able to get enough ships into the WH to ever burn it down.

  2. I think that there should be some sort of timer, if you actually take an outpost down to zero.

    Before you go "not timers hrrrggbllrrg!" this is how I see it - once an outpost is down to zero HP, the station's owners get a message saying something about how the reactor is going critical, and the engineers can only maintain it for a couple hours (3-6? I don't know, but it would have to account for time zones). This gives the occupants some time to GTFO, or at least try.

    After that, outpost goes boom and everything, or very nearly everything (5% of contents, tops), is gone.

  3. Another coding problem.

    Guy has something for sale on the market, from a station that is not gone.

    1. No one buys it. Where does it when the sale expires?

    2. Someone buys it. Where does it go?

  4. +1 from me.

    More importantly however, I'd like to see player constructed "owned" outposts in Low Sec. I think it could work if they were much smaller than existing Stations, each class had its own "style", and they would only allow members of the building Corp/Alliance to dock. This would be a low sec only option and would make the station exclusive, while also destructable.

  5. I'd suggest that there be new insurance, amount of isk based on the m3 you insure. Insured m3 would be E-warped away into an anchored can of sorts which you are given a BM too(like with PI and the non launch pad method). Uninsured items drop 100% of the time.

  6. I like the super-wreck idea. I think it could fit well with the idea bounced around after B-R of having super-class wrecks stick around for longer and have a mechanic whereby they could be "mined" for Metal Scraps with Salvager modules over multiple cycles. Imagine if stations and capitals did something like this when destroyed:
    * Ships being carried are ejected (based on a survival %chance) - bonus: have them have random amounts of armor and hull damage.
    * Bay contents are thrown into a scattering of cargo containers (same survival chance as today)
    * The wreck object is created as normal, with salvagers pulling out the same amount of T1/T2 salvage as before, except for Metal Scraps. After the fancier salvage is gone each cycle of a salvage will keep pulling out Metal Scraps, which will also do damage to the wreck.
    * Wreck hit points to be increased, scaling in line with the original ship. I'm not clear how much hp a Titan wreck has now, but the point is that you can't just lob a bomb at a capital wreck to destroy it.

    1. Oh, I got distracted by the capital side, but the outposts would be like that but bigger. Imagine that part of the benefit of blowing up your enemy's outpost would be the large amount of minerals you could recover from it ... minerals you can then use to kick-start building your own stuff in that system.

      How long wrecks last might be more dependent on system limits. I'd like some idea like the wrecks taking a fixed amount of damage every downtime. Small wrecks would get cleared out on the first downtime, but the wreckage from a big cap/supercap fight might be around for a week drawing salvagers to fight each other over it.