Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Crystal Ball - The End is Nigh For POS

Last week I talked about how the new Refinery structures from Upwell Consortium are probably the last major dockable structure coming intended to replace Outposts and Player Owned Stations (aka POSes). However, that statement was not 100% accurate. Yes, Outposts are effectively obsolete with the growing functionality of Citadels and Engineering Complexes, but while Refineries cover a large portion of the outstanding functionality currently provided by POSes, there are still three very important functions that are not covered:

- Cynosural Generator Arrays (aka cyno beacons)

- Cynosural System Jammers

- Jump Bridges

Each of these is a starbase modules that gets anchored and onlined at the POS and provides important functionality to pilots of the owning corporation/alliance.

Cyno beacons act as permanent cynosural fields like what is generated on ships that allow ships with jump drives to transit to that system. These are hugely more useful than using another pilot because they are always on, don't require other pilots, and are anchored near a starbase for some automated defense (but don't count on it to save you in the face of a determined opponent).

Cyno jammers are modules installed near a starbase that prevents any normal cyno fields from being generated (covert cynos can still be lit) in the system.

And jump bridges are modules installed near a starbase that allow instant passage from one system to another system in range with a paired jump bridge module. The module requires liquid ozone fuel in it to allow passage (the amount determined by the mass of the ship using it) but this module is support important for null sec alliances who want to shape their space and gain a huge mobility advantage for them and their allies over enemy fleet in the same space.

An important part of the operation of these three modules are that all of them have to be active outside the starbase's force field, meaning a hostile force can attempt to disable the modules to deprive their functionality to the owners, indeed some serious battles in null sec erupt and/or turn around these modules being forced offline or preventing that from happening.

So when POSes go away, how will CCP implement something to replace these items?

For the two cyno related items there are several possibilities each with their own issues. The simplest approach would be to make two new structure modules that require fuel, much like the manufacturing modules or clone bay module, but can only be installed in Citadels (i.e. not Eng Plexes or Refineries). Installing and activating the cyno beacon/jammer would enable the citadel for the appropriate role. However, the downside is that the durability and invulnerability of the citadel now applies to the module, safely ensconced in the bowels of the structure. This would remove the option of an attacking force disabling the jammer/beacon without destroying the entire structure. So that's no good.

A second option would be to keep the POS modules similar to how they are now, but change the code to only allow them to be anchored in the vicinity of a citadel. Their fuel cost for being online would go into the fuel cost of the structure, they would still be attackable since they are not inside the structure, and the citadel's weapons could be used to provide some protection for them... but since the structure weapons are not automated it would be only if there was someone at the controls, meaning it would be much easier for attacking forces with even a few small ships to disable the modules.

Finally, CCP could make new small structures independent of citadels, larger and more permanent than mobile depot and portable cyno jammers but much smaller than citadels. They would not have docking but would have a fuel bay, a few automated weapon systems, maybe even vulnerability windows but much larger than Raitaru Eng plexes (like 12 hours a day). They could have the same anchoring limitations as the other Upwell structures to prevent them from being used as extra firepower around stations or gates. This option would solve the too-invulnerable and too-vulnerable issues of the other two options but requires a lot more coding development work from CCP.

For the final POS module, the jump bridge array, I think a new structure with new rules is mandatory to make it work. Right now jump bridges are only allowed in sov null sec but I think that we can open the functionality up both in how and where its used. And tick off a roadmap checkbox for CCP's long term plans.

Allow players to build stargates.

(I realize I'm putting on my crazy dreamer development hat here, but go with it.)

There would be three sizes: medium, large, and extra large and each gate would have similar build costs to citadels. Each size has different levels of defensive capabilities, vulnerability windows, and fuel cost, again similar to citadels.

Docking? No, can't dock at them. They have fuel bay and perhaps some method of opening a fitting window.

In order to actually be a stargate and allow passage, they have to be paired with the same sized stargate owned by the same corporation in another system within range: the larger the stargate the longer the maximum range. Right now I'm think the max range of the extra large should be around 8 light years, large at 5 light years (current jump bridge max range), and medium at 2-3 light years.

They would show up on the overview (same functionality as other Upwell structures) but access to using them is defined by an access control list (ACL). They may have an ISK cost for using them defined by the owning corporation via the ACL.

They can be placed in any non-Wormhole space like other Upwell structures, but only one active online stargate allowed per system! HUGE gamechanger, I know, but they can be attacked and destroyed like any other Upwell structure so yes you can build a new public toll road to avoid Udema when travelling from Jita to Amarr but you can be wardecced and attacked for it.

God I would love to see this.


  1. Only one per system would mean you couldn't build your own "private pipe" so maybe a little too restrictive. And why would it apply to "our" gates, but not the empires'?

    One gate per system per destination might work. You couldn't replace the empire gate to somewhere (but why would you want to?) but could set up your own routes. And it'd lay the groundwork for a future expansion, when we *can* take down the empire gate (along with their stations etc) and replace it with our own.

  2. I have not seen enough information yet, but can the refineries handle booster manufacture? I thought this was another impediment to complete POS removal.