Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Arathi Basin in Space

Eve Online unveiled some proposed changes to their sovereignty mechanics, the mechanisms by which corporations take and hold star systems in the game.

To my surprise, the proposed mechanisms remind me of nothing so much as WoW's Arathi Basin.

In the current version of Eve sov you have to bring fleets to damage the station enough to put it into a different state. In the proposed version, you need a ship with an "Entosis Link". Channeling that link on the station for X minutes puts the station into the different state.

The major change is that one Entosis Link is all you need. Adding extra Links does not speed up the process.

You can see that this is just like capturing flags in Arathi Basin. All you need is one attacker to successfully complete a channel and the state of that node changes. Multiple attackers don't improve the speed of capture, but provide redundancy.

Now, there are differences. In the Eve version, the channelling ship must be destroyed to stop the channel, not simply attacked. The defender also has the option to start her own Entosis Link channel, which essentially "pauses" the attacker's channel.

As well, merely changing the station state is the start of the capture process in Eve. Then a countdown starts to the next stage, in which multiple command units are spawned in nearby star systems. These command units are captured using the same Entosis Link mechanism. Whichever side captures the most command units wins that stage. If the attacker wins, another countdown starts, after which the stations goes into a "freeport" mode and can be captured by anyone via Entosis Link.

In any case, much of the tactical gameplay becomes very similar to Arathi Basin. Stations need to have a defender hanging around. This defender will probably be bored most of the time, but if she leaves, the station is vulnerable to a lone attacker sneaking in and getting a quick capture.

So essentially, the amount of space a corp can hold becomes equal to the amount of space that corp can patrol. Of course, this being Eve, I expect the "patrol" to be a character on a second account stationed nearby, while the player's main account does something interesting.

The other interesting element of this new plan is that it is a very gamist system. The Entosis Links are pretty "magical". And I don't see any logical reason that station command units should spawn in nearby systems. It's clearly not very simulationist at all.

But maybe that's necessary. In my understanding, the current Eve sovereignty system is reasonably simulationist, being built around large fleets and blockading the gates in a system. However it doesn't seem to make very many people happy.


  1. Actually, I find it less gamist than the old system. A station or an Infrastructure Hub aren't armed. They are like a civilian city or a factory. A single soldier can capture it, the task is to defeat or scare off enemy soldiers.

    In the previous system they were protected by a wall of boredom: you had to shoot them until they switched, even if no one bothered to defend.

    Even the command nodes are real-life like: if you want to capture a city, you shouldn't just take the main square, you should capture the main road entrances, bridges, nearby villages.

  2. Gelvon covered most of it, some important points (that are in fact even more dues ex machina than discusses) is that the services that are vulnerable to this are not vulnerable most of the time, with the current version putting it as a 4 hour window selected by the owner, that can be changed with a 96 hour lag time. So someone who has most of his alliance around in the US evening might set it for 2300 to 400 GMT.

    Also you do not have to destroy the ship to stop the capture, there are other mechanics, such as forcing the ship to break its targeting lock, or chasing it out of module range that will also stop it. That is you don't have to kill the flag carrier, you just need to make him drop the flag.

    This is (from my reading) seen as preferable to the current system because a defender can save the structure with relative ease if they are active in the system. this is because the amount of time it takes to initially "capture" a node and make it vulnerable, or to capture a node and make the item less vulnerable is based on a somewhat convoluted computation (hey this is eve, we dig that $*%#) to measure how much you use the system, with the defenders getting at most a 4x boost (by making the attackers take 40 min compared to 10 min to capture a node) through doing things like mining or ratting in the system and paying to upgrade it.

    So if the defenders really want whatever is at stake they can make attacking it very hard, and very time consuming. On the other side of things if the defenders don't defend its relatively painless to take. This is relative to the hours upon hours it can take to shoot through the shields, armor, etc of all these things when the residents fold and pull up stakes.

    The old system can be imagined like this: Some entity (we will work with countries because its easy, but with the note that this isn't politically acceptable most of time these day) Country A owns 30 islands somewhere. They have a military presence on all of them, and there is also a civilian presence on 10. they fight country B for said islands and A dissolves as a country, or fully pulls out of all the islands back to their homeland. Country B now wants the islands, but instead of just being able to land there and take them they have to completely destroy every military installation that exists, and nearly obliterate all the civilian centers (the civilians in this case are willing to welcome B, but have no control) just so that they can construct their own defenses, and make use of the islands.

    To put it a third way: post WW1 Germany wants the eastern portion of France, Paris has decided that they don't want that part of the country, and pull out Old system, Germany must still spend thousands of man hours destroying the Maginot Line, with military weapons, form the front, while the line does everything it can to resist. New system: Drive around it, pick open the door and say hello.

    The old system provided security though sheer bulk, punching a hole through 100ft thick reinforced concrete with a howitzer is incredibly boring, and can give you time to respond. this system provides security through sniping the crew, possibly less effective, but more engaging and "fun"