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Friday, February 28, 2014

A Thought on Player Built Star-gates

Regardless of what some capsuleers think, my post last Wednesday titled Good or Bad was not an opinion piece. It was not a propaganda piece. All I asked was how people felt about the second map, because that is a very real possibility. It may actually come to pass - or it may not. Regardless give credit where credit is due, Goonswarm deserves some praise for it. Fortunately for me there are plenty enough other people willing to heap it on them. But still, you have to admire what they have built.

And even if the second map never comes to be for whatever reason, I am certain CCP is as astounded by Goonswarm's dominance as everyone else. Who would have thought they would so resoundingly defeat the hot-drop lords at the Battle of B-R5RB? When CCP designed null-sec all those years ago, I can almost guarantee you they believed no single group of capsuleers could ever go so far as Goonswarm has done. And like some of the commentators on my Wednesday post, I am sure CCP is concerned this may break the sandbox. To be a sandbox, freedom of action must remain unconstrained, and no one can say Goonswarm lacks restraint. Looking at it that way, I have to agree with other's when they say the long term prospects for our game are not well served by Goonswarm's ambition, even if it is benevolent and they pull up short to preserve a non-homogeneous null-sec. Victorian style (i.e. polite and agreed upon) conflict in null-sec is not the sandbox CCP envisioned when they created null-sec. It goes counter to the entire EVE Online proposition.

So what's a game developer to do? It's not fair to simply yank away what Goons have labored endlessly to obtain. It is their reward for so much sacrifice. There can be no heavy hand in this. Thus it is widely believed in the community CCP will have to lure them elsewhere to remove their choke hold on sovereignty warfare. So when CCP Seagull spoke of player built star-gates that cost much, much more than a single capsuleer could ever amass, requiring dozens if not hundreds or thousands of capsuleers to cooperate in their construction, people naturally assumed these new types of gates were for Goonswarm's benefit (and others large organizations of course... wink, wink.) These new gates would lead to greener pastures for that storied organization and the rest of us would simply move in on what they vacated voluntarily.

Bullocks. That would only start the whole wretched cycle over again. Goonswarm did not create a broken null-sec, they only actualized it. Star-gates to unknown space do not solve the real issue. Many reading this believe that these gates will lead to undiscovered country, new realms of the galaxy not visited by human kind for ten thousand years. They believe the entire experience will only be an exploration mechanic to put it in the game's terms. But what if we're mistaken about the purpose of player built star-gates, and exploration is not the true reason for their introduction? I am certain that exploration weighs into it, but not just for the sake of exploration and probably not even primarily.

Part of the reason I think this is it will be hard enough to write such a mechanic as player built star-gates into EVE Online. But there is one thing that would be even harder. That is to write the mechanic into the game and then restrict it to only going from known systems to unknown systems. We all know EVE Online does not work this way. That is as much sandbox breaking as null-sec being one large gentleman's club. It is also something that CCP has never done, and I don't mean that because of capabilities. It's not how they roll. When CCP introduced player owned star-bases (POS,) they only restricted them from ultra high security space - and that was more a nod to FLOP limitations than game play. How much worse would Jita be if a POS orbited every moon? And that can be said for many of the ultra high security systems. No POS construction and no PI in hub systems for load balancing reasons. But POS are allowed around any unoccupied moon anywhere else. That is how CCP rolls. That is the nature of the sandbox.

So we need to consider these new player built star-gates in this light. Sure, these gates will span the light years between fringe systems and unexplored space just fine. But isn't it just as likely they could span the distance between already occupied systems as well? Especially since CCP isn't in the habit of restricting new mechanics in wholly artificial ways?

Now consider this: one of the reasons Goonswarm and the CFC at large can hold such large blocks of null-sec is because there are less than a handful of corridors into null-sec. If you hold these corridors like the Spartans held Thermopylae, it matters not how large a fleet your opponent brings. If your opponent has to fly half way around the cluster to get to you, you effectively have interior lines, and every book of war from Sun Tzu's time to ours says that is a very, very good way to win. But what if null-sec was assailable from any reasonably close star system. What if these new gates could form new corridors for non-jump capable ships to avoid the natural bottlenecks of null-sec?

Many of you are right now thinking the gates would take to long to build. They would be attacked and destroyed before any such invasion could ever be launched. But that too is an assumption on all our parts. I have no doubt these new gates will take an extraordinary amount of resources, including time, to build. They will probably take more resources than a Titan, or equal at best. But who says they have to be built in place; from scratch? What if the reality will be they only have to be assembled in place? That's a whole lot different than built in place. Assembly means the components are built elsewhere and then moved into position when complete. Final assembly connotes a timeline of minutes or hours, not days or months. And it also solves the issue of how the far side star-gate gets built. It is built in known space and jumped into the final system. Then capsuleers can assemble the second star-gate of the pair. And those launching such an invasion only have to defend their beachhead until the gates are fully operational... and one half was already completed in space they own.

Now take that one step further. What if the assailant in this scenario starts to build three or four gates at once, all within jump distance of CFC space. Could even Goonswarm and the CFC find and destroy all of them in a matter of hours at most? You know, it's easy to plug a dike when there is only one hole in it. It is much harder when there are many. And many holes will null-sec have when this mechanic changes forever the way war happens in null-sec. It will be as many holes as there are currently jump routes into null-sec. And with the new warp implants, I can't help but think there may be new jump implants coming too. And that could drastically increase the number of possible jump routes.

That concept fixes the null-sec problem. It will no longer be a citadel easily defended. Resources of aggression will have to be spread out to shore up the walls making battles like B-R5BR less likely, or perhaps much more dangerous to contemplate. If the CFC fleet is there, who will be guarding all those potential beachheads? It would be a prime opportunity for other capsuleers who have sovereign ambitions to make their move. That alone should make CFC veteran alliances like FA less willing to CTA everything they've got to support a Goonswarm initiative. I can see how that might increase internal stresses on the coalition. Now, does Goonswarm leadership think this is a serious possibility? I wasn't certain until I read they want every member to train Titan. That pretty much convinced my they do think it is a serious possibility. What else to you think it will take to destroy a player built star-gate if not a Doomsday?

Fly Careful

7 comments:

  1. I'm not sure the issue with Nullsec has to do with getting access to it.
    Sov mechanics are about setting up resource exploitation infrastructures.
    That's how you set up shop, start collecting renters' money and/or otherwise get control of the means required to field humongous fleets of super caps.

    To generate revenues, a goon contestant must find means to contest their control of the resources long enough to be able to get some income out of it.
    Warping in the middle of their stronghold might be good for guerilla tactics but that won't solve the core problem.

    Personally, since Goons will probably the first to complete a Gate anyways, I hope the other side will contain a huge Titan-smashing, POS-eating, super-rare-loot dropping space monster.
    That might keep Goons busy enough to loosen their hold on the map. Thus giving opportunities to new rising stars.

    That's how you solve the problem: give something even more challenging to the Goons so they will leave nullsec to the rest of us.

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  2. @Drowling:

    Rest assured, goons will not be leaving current null sec for whatever new territory CCP opens up. goons will simply take over both.

    @Mabrick:
    The ONLY way these new jumpgates will level the playing field is if they are the opposite of massive, and they can easily be assembled by a small group or even an individual. And that most certainly won't be happening. So the cartels will be handed this new space, which they will be able to control completely from the outset, because there will be zero competition.

    I have zero faith in CCP getting this new territory right. In fact, I am one to believe that this new territory may not even come to pass, but these may end up being gates into existing wormholes, which will allow the cartels to immediately start controlling wh space as well.

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  3. The main problem with this piece is that titan bridges and jump drives currently exist and they helped to enable today's large coalitions. Marlona Sky reported being able to jump between the farthest parts of New Eden in seven minutes. Right now any group with a titan (which is presumably going to cost less than two linked stargates let alone multiple stargates) can hit the rear areas of a coalition if they want to.

    How is a star gate that is really expensive, static and reasonably easy to destroy (compared with a titan that can hide in a pos, cloak or jump away) going to offer a significant strategic advantage over titan bridges which are all but instantaneous? I mean I guess you could possibly drop stargates in cyno jammed system to get around a cyno jammer? That seems a bit unlikely though.

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  4. Because there are 400,000 other capsuleers who would have access to them. Because some alliances would love an opportunity to just screw with sov holders while not wanting to have sov themselves. Because it would be a new way to access hard to reach places. Take your pick. Look, this change will do absolutely nothing for those who already have Titans and Titan bridges. And that's the real point of it. To anyone reading this, let's start thinking outside the box shall we?

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  5. Then, what's the point of two gates which will consume more resources than a titan if it does not benefit those who already own titans? And what use is it to those who doesn't own titans because they cannot afford them?

    It's not even interesting from a guerilla point of view, as long as the gates are destroyable, since the gate-bridge would be collapsed in a matter of hours, with heavy camping to destroy whatever come out...

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  6. Yeah, right, 400.000 other unorganised eve people against 40.000 well organised idivisible CFC sure that will go good... . Remember the last big public event surronding the ghost sites?

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  7. Im in the jove are dead camp and thats where the gates will go. WH mark 2 except u can take sov in these WH. Personally I think they need to fix the current sov mechanics instead of making wh for mega corps. Don't agree with dis a lot buy I can now see the goons holding null and taking new space. Im assuming u won't be able to cyno ur supers into or out of this new space. Kinda would defeat the purpose. I'm also betting there is wh style local in these new systems.

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