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Monday, November 5, 2012

How's the Weather?

One term I learned early in my wormhole life is "weather." When one wormholer asks another, "How's the weather?" she refers to spatial anomalies that affect ship systems in some wormholes. They range from the exotic Magnetar to the more mundane but no less influential Red Giant. For instance, a Black Hole has the following effects on ship systems:
This is, IMO, one of the coolest things CCP developers have written into EVE Online. Living in a country blessed by frequent Aurora Borealis may have influenced their decision to include weather in wormholes. That is sheer speculation on my part, but I know I'd be inspired.

These aurora are the result of atmospheric turbulence on the sun. A few days ago our own smallish and relatively well behaved star blew off three Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) in the just a few hours. Here is a timelapse GIF from (excellent site!) of the event:
The least of these CME cause intense aurora within the Earth's magnetic field as the charged particles from them interact with our planet's atmosphere. The worst CME can burn out satellites and even cause power outages on the surface of the planet. In the 1850's, the largest CME ever noted was so large it caused telegraph operators to suffer serious electrical burns and miners in Colorado got up and went to work in the middle of the night because the aurora were so bright they thought the sun had come up.

And that got me thinking. Why couldn't the devs program something like this into EVE Online? They already have the code for module effects from wormhole weather. They already have a random generator system in place for incursions. In my admittedly non-expert view of things, could they not also put in place a system of solar effects that are random (mostly but more on that in a moment) and last only a few days?

One of the things I've always wished didn't happen in EVE is "perfect fit" syndrome. In real life, there is rarely a "best" fit. Every situation is dynamic. There are no assurances that the car model that saved your life in the head on collision last time will do so again. Having an environment in EVE that could render a Drake worse than a Brutix for a time would be very interesting. Taking your DPS monster and yanking it's claws would keep you on your toes. FCs would have to take system effects into account and if you're roaming the fit you leave with might not be best should you jump into an affected system.

Wouldn't it be exciting if you log into your home system one day and, due to a CME, your shields are lit up like a Christmas Tree or your sensors hampered. Or the reverse could happen and your sensor strength increase. Missile guidance might fail. Tracking computers could blitz out. Nanites might get more of what they need to repair your armor.

The effects the CME has on a ship could be taken directly from the existing weather tables or CCP could develop new ones. Either way, it really would make combat more interesting not knowing exactly how your fit would work under such conditions.

And as I said earlier, this temporary weather would be mostly random. I could see intense mining operations raising the chances of a CME. As mining fleets remove asteroids and the gravity they assert, tidal effects on the star could trigger a CME. I'd also like to see the chances of a CME go up in reaction to the intense energy exchanges of large fleet battles. Heavy cyno use might also trigger them more frequently  All of these things could affect the pure randomness of the CME.

Lastly, seeing them happen in in real time as an operation was ongoing would be awesome, but that would be a very difficult piece of programming - I think. Still, if CCP could pull it off, it sure would make fleet fights an interesting proposition should the Maelstrom blob suddenly see their DPS cut in half or the Drakes shield capacitors start to drain at an accelerated rate [queue maniacal laughter.]

So, if CCP were to introduce temporary weather in "normal" solar systems, what sort of effects would you like to see? Is this something that would make EVE more real? Would it make EVE more interesting and fun? How would it affect your game?

Fly Careful


  1. It sounds like a good idea in principal. Although, you would have to be careful with the implementation. One of the things that many people find attractive about eve is the ability to plan things out. When you start adding in RNG stuff to the game, especially if it has the power to effect things dramatically, people will begin to feel like they're playing ECM online.

    1. Now if you wanted to set up a system of 'weather' that would move through out the galaxy (not sure how to explain that one) and would be in someway predictable with a slight random factor built in. That would be super awesome.

    2. Yes... this, this and THIS!!! STORMS!!
      Have storms of varying intensity and effects sweep through systems randomly... wayy cool.

      Plus, how about a Solar Weapon! (this could only be fit to a Capitol) that can be targeted on the sun of a system and produce CMEs or solar disturbances causing temporary but not 'dependable' weather effects. A given solar weapon would have a 75 or 80% chance of giving you the ‘desired effects’, with a 25% chance of working against you... plus the weapon cannot be fired on grid with the sun as the immediate effects would wipe out the Capitol and any ships with it… so you would have to fire the weapon from your cyno in point and then wait out the travel time of the weapon to the sun, and the time it would take for the effects to propagate out from the sun before you knew what the outcome of the weapon was… (hehehehehe…)

      So you plan your fleet and tactics, cyno into your target system, begin your attack, fire the Solar Weapon and cross your fingers the effects work out as intended… =]

  2. I want to see not random systems, but random.. um.. constellations. First a star goes boom, and massively strong effects in that system. Then a day or to later the system goes back to normal, but it starts a "Wave" that moves outward, so it draws a circle at downtime of how far the wave could have gotten in LY, and any system in that circle gets a lower degraded version, and then another after that one.

    I like this system instead of completely random because you can lower the chance of an initial spawn event, and the knock on effect of the wave will make up the extra systems needed to make it interesting, and leave it traceable. So unless you are very unlucky and are at ground zero, you know it's coming days ahead of time, and since you know how many LY out you are, you know with what magnitude it'll hit you based on a degradation scale which can be figured out over time. It does add a little bit of flavor to engagements and it's within limits of not totally messing over 0.0, lowsec, or highsec. Which aren't wormhole. It breaks physics, but who cares, CCP can make something up.

    As for effects. Lots of effects I'd like to see that move outside of combat. Like markets. Interference with blah blah blah, you can only see local markets within say.. 3 jumps that also happen to fall in your current region, and no one outside can see in.

    Combat effects, though I'd like to see them, I'm hesitant. You run into problems very quickly where it breaks gameplay. Not hinders or changes, but outright breaks. For instance, drop a weather pattern on top of a HQ incursion system that effects tank and the bombers waves will insta pop ship after ship, making it impossible to complete. Not saying it's insurmountable, but it's a tricky bit of game design in k-space. Should probably leave guns and shields right off the list of possibility, speed too. Leaving varying types of ewar.

    But even there leaves some interesting options. Gates that mis-connect. Goes to correct system, but if that system has more than one gate, it randomly pics one. Which would be all sorts of fun on fleet ops since the fleet would have to be re-gathered after every jump, leaving options for a well setup guerrilla group to pick off stragglers who mis-connect badly. Heck, you could count jump bridge nodes as a gate to make it really interesting. Or cynos counted as gates. All the sudden 1/4th of your fleet landed on a built up POS with the enemy fleet on top of you, while the rest is who knows where; or you jump into a gate instead of the cyno. That while annoying would leave some really interesting options, in a fleet fight if someone notices an enemy cyno go up, they could have 10-15 cloaked frigates elsewhere that all light off cynos to pull some of the re-enforcements away. Or specifically pull the fight to the point they want.

    Anyway long winded.. but, good ways of implementing it in k-space shouldn't be about affecting ships directly. But instead affecting modes of play. Specifically ways that could be taken advantage of through game mechanics. I want weird stuff like the gate idea. Or delayed comms into or out of an effected system, there are all sorts of ways that could be exploited by both attackers and defenders. The possibilities are endless if you look at disrupting the meta-game instead of the game itself.

  3. Any system could get solar flares and solar storms. These could have several affects based partially in reality. It could be so bad that you have to dock or get to a POS as your shield get drained. Or so bad your shields just go kaput and do not work at all. You may or may not get warning for these events, maybe have a weather module on your ship or in a POS. Real space is boring, dead and cold about 99% of the time - but the 1% remaining is lethal and offers very little notice. In Bova's books they have a space flight advisory that warns of solar flares and all ships have bunkers the crew has to hide out in until it passes. Our ships do have crews and they are the forgotten people that inhabit our little simulated universe.


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