Tuesday, August 18, 2009

EVE Online - Home Worlds

This post is my entry into CK's planetary control blogging contest. Here are the rules.
The goal is to write an article on planetary control and how that would be implemented in EVE. Your article needs to cover what features, game mechanic, game design you would like to see implemented if (or when) planetary control/exploration/exploitation becomes available in EVE.

You're required to write a two-part article. The first part needs to be a fiction piece that tells a story based on the feature (or game mechanic, game design, etc...) that you would like to see implemented, while the second part would be the actual description of how that would work in game. Each part of your article needs to be a minimum of 300 words (600 word minimum for the whole article).

I'll be judging the entries and will pick the 5 best articles, amongst which I will randomly choose the winner. This lucky blogger will get to interview a CCP Dev during a podcast with yours truly! Details on the podcast will be provided to the winner prior to the show's recording.

Attack on The Home World

Admiral Choi stood gazing out of Eurus Station’s massive holo-window. He knew the window was nothing more than a holographic image and would have much preferred to gaze out of a real window. Alas, the lockdown could not be released until the planet side conflict was resolved. “Resolved was one way to put it,” he thought.

No more than 300 kilometers away, Choi could see the Goon’s fleet waiting silently in the stillness of space. A single titan stood out among the mass of ships, its golden surface glistening in the star light. The Avatar was such a beautiful ship. He shuddered to think about the sheer destructive force the magnificent vessel possessed. "Goons, those bloodthirsty bastards" Choi thought. They didn't even need the planet, it just happened to lay in the path of their damn masquerade. At least he was safe inside of Eurus.

Eurus, like many stations, had a heavy shield defending its perimeter which had to be weakened before any attackers could inflict physical damage. The Goon fleet had more than enough firepower to take down just about any station’s shield, but Eurus was the latest design in orbital stations. The shield was generated from the planet’s surface within a deep underground facility. Planetary defense systems guarded this facility from incoming orbital fire, literally disintegrating any projectiles on a collision course. The time it took projectiles fly from an orbiting firing position gave targeting computers enough time to lock on and neutralize incoming fire.

completely orginal artwork...

So in effect the Goon fleet couldn’t do anything directly to Eurus. They did, however, bring an invasion force large enough to destroy the planet side defenses along with his shield generator. As Choi switched his gaze down to the planet’s surface, he could see explosions in the upper atmosphere. Right now his frigate and cruiser squadrons were flying their guts out to repel the invading force. Unlike the larger fleet ships, cruisers and frigates could engage in atmospheric flight.

When ships got close enough to the planet’s surface the orbital defense structures didn’t have enough time to repel incoming fire. “At least our defenses can shoot at the bastards,” Choi thought as another bright blue explosion went off.

He thought about the colonies on the planet’s surface. Five years, millions of people, and hundreds of billions of isk had been put into making this world what it was today. They had given so much to this planet and it had given so much back to them. Their entire fleet was manufactured from resources they gathered from this planet. It had provided a secure shelter to them through two separate wars. “It’s not just a world, it’s my world” Choi thought. This was his home, his alliance’s home, the sustenance of the fleet.

Choi turned to his first officer. “Prepare my Deimos, I’m going down there”...

Planetary Control: How It Works and Why We Want It.

In order for planetary control to function, there would need to be many habitable planets throughout the galaxy outside of empire space. Each habitable planet would have the potential to be even more profitable than even the highest yielding moon mining operations. However, most corporations who inhabit a planet should only need to occupy one. Why? Because it will not make sense to divide resources among two different planets as the economy for a single planet would grow exponentially with the amount of resources a corporation puts into it.

Such corporations would hit technology milestones faster by focusing all their resources into one planet. For example, two planets that achieve a tier 3 production level would each generate 100 million isk per week for a total of 200 million isk per week. However, one planet that achieves a tier 6 production level would still generate 200 million isk per week but for a much lower investment.

Having corporations focus all their resources into one planet will further enforce the notion of having a home planet.

So How Do We Control Planets?

Each planet would be divided up into about 50 different colonizable territories (think Risk). Each of these territories would produce a subset of materials such as moon ores, veldspar, or even food and water. To colonize one of these territories a player must drop a colony pod into the specific region of the planet. Colony Pods would count as ships and must be carried in carriers, motherships, or Rorquals (Orcas will not have enough ship bay capacity). They would also be extremely expensive (say 7 billion isk?). Once landed, a colony pod would acquire control of its territory and begin producing resources.

Each colonized territory would require food and other basic trade commodities like medical supplies to survive. The territories that produce food and water (agricultural territories) will have the capacity to not only sustain themselves, but to produce excess resources at higher production levels that could either be traded or used to maintain other colonies. If a planet is managed correctly it will eventually become self sufficient.

Colony Production Levels.

Colonies will progress in production levels. This, however, will not be a time dependent level progression but rather a money dependant progression. Each colony could be upgraded by deploying an additional production facility to the colony. Production facilities would be player-made structures that retail between 200 million and 2 billion isk a piece.

Each production facility would cater to different types of territories. For example, a veldspar mining facility would be deployed to a veldspar rich territory while a hydroponics facility would be deployed to an agricultural territory. Each additional facility would multiply the base production rate of that territory by 100%. To facilitate a realistic growth rate, only one additional production facility could be deployed every 24 hours. The maximum quantity allowed to each territory would be determined by its geographic size.

This is financial incentive to continually upgrade one territory all the way rather than starting a second territory for another 7 billion isk Colony Pod.

Special Territories.

All territories have the option to be dedicated to non-production related endeavors. One of these special territories would be a Transportation Hub.

Transportation Hubs would allow all of the planet's territories to move their goods to the Hub and then transport them via space elevator to a geosynchronous orbiting space station. This station would function just like any other station, but would allow players to pick up all territorial resources gathered from the planet's surface.

However, the unique thing about this station is that its shield would be generated by the Transportation Hub territory on the planet's surface (imagine the death star in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). This, in effect, would create a station that could not be eliminated unless the Transportation Hub territory is destroyed. This would be a great staging place for planetary fleets and reinforcements.

Planetary Defense Territories will be another type of special territory. These territories would provide all adjacent territories with ballistic defense and ground defense drones. The ballistic defense feature would provide protected territories with defense from orbiting ship weaponry. The defense system would intercept all projectiles and missiles with its own laser systems and energy sinks. The ground defense feature would provide all adjacent territories with a 64 player defending army limit for Dust 514 players (explained in next section).

Planetary Invasion. (revised with the announcement of Dust 514)

Planetary Invasion would function much like a game of Risk. Territories can either be neutralized or captured. In order to capture a territory Eve players must rely on Dust 514 players to use their marine squads to go in and capture key strategic points. To open up a territory for Dust 514 players, an Eve ship must land an Invasion Pod into the desired territory. Once this happens Dust 514 players will be able to enter the battlefield. Each Invasion Pod launched into a territory will allow for an additional 8 players to join the ground fight on the side of the invading force.

Territories would have a set of strategic points each with an array of automated defense systems. These systems could include anything from walls, to sentry guns, and even automated drones. The more developed a territory greater the defensive system would be. This would make the job of 514 players playing the offensive role much more difficult. Not to mention the possibility of other Dust players on the defensive side.

Dust players could be contracted to capture territories. Most alliances should want to capture territories so that they can instantly reap the benefits of a prebuilt infrastructure. If there is 50 billion isk invested in a territory it makes much more sense to capture it than destroy it.

If a territory was not defended by a Planetary Defense Territory, ships within a 50km attack range would be able to bombard and destroy territorial colonies. This would not allow the attackers to capture the territories, but rather destroy billions of isk of infrastructure, greatly weakening the controlling corporation's resource generation. This also provides Eve players with a planetary attack option that does not rely on Dust 514 players.

If a territory was defended by a Planetary Defense Territory, frigate and cruiser class ships would be able to enter the planet's atmosphere and destroy or defend the defensive territories. These ships would also be able to engage each other in atmospheric combat without the risk of being shot by orbiting ships incapable of atmospheric flight. This is an alternative to being completely dependant on Dust 514 players.

Why Eve Needs Planetary Control.

As Eve continues to expand its horizons, Planetary Control is continuously brought up as an interesting potential feature. Not only is it a realistic idea in a universe controlled by resources and industry, but it would provide alliances with a much needed sense of home world systems. No longer would a large space station be the sole defining factor in a corporation's home. Instead, a living thriving planet would produces alliance-size profits in a single, manageable system.

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