24 August 2012

Fishing with the Sleepers

I think the discussion about reworking POSs is all good and well, but what about in wormhole space? In the sparsely populated areas I call home CCP have a great opportunity to do something truly different. While it is accepted that we can take a POS structure through some wormholes and assemble it to call home, how about further differentiation these unknown regions of space further buy creating a second choice?

This idea of mine has cropped up a few times in various random discussion on comms but this is the first time I've tried to actually write it down. I was prompted to scribble this down having seen the very basic gameplay demo for Incarna toons exploring Sleeper structures. Forgive me if I wander in my thoughts.

In wormhole space we should be able to capture, occupy and live in some Sleeper structures.

This is my home, there are many like it but this one is mine.
How does that strike you as a genious idea?

Fleshing this out now. How would this work initially? Well, CCP would define a subset of Sleeper structures that would be inhabitable by Capsuleers. Maybe some new artwork to create additional structures would be in order to create something suitable. But I would be quite happy with owning something like this structure.

Obviously we wouldn't want this to be an easily attainable structure to acquire so there should be a new, hard to scan down signature type 'Sleeper Domicile' could be a good name. The spawn rate of such signature should be kept really low. The idea being that players shouldn't be able to move into a wormhole expecting such structures to appear within any particule time frame. The slow spawn randomness would also make it harder for a corp to hire someone in advance to do the hard combat. The very nature of this site would push it to be the hardest type to run requiring a large investment in player combat to clear the site before they could think about taking control. Actually, by control, what if this meant something similar to the incursion or faction warfare mechanic? Sleeper control is reduced by running numerous sites and only once sleeper control is removed does the 'Domicile' become vulnerable.

Clearing the 'Domicile' site isn't the end of this though. In order to gain access we need three areas to be hacked within a limited time frame. This time frame should be too small to allow a single player to hack all three alone but large enough to take into account the random chance of hacking success. Once control has been passed to the player they own it but cannot use it. There is still a risk of despawn.

To make the ownership permanent there would be a final step similar to assembling a customs office where a set number of PI products need deposited in the structure to make it inhabitable for Capsuleers. I have no idea what a suitable level of item volume should be here. It needs to be something feasible to achieve given the mass limits and potential poor routes to haul stuff into a wormhole system. Maybe tuning the requirements to what can be made through PI in each wormhole would work. A wormhole with the ability to make all top tier PI outputs would have a requirement spread across all their possible outputs; a wormhole with only one or two top tier products would require a higher number of each of the two outputs plus some lower tier items. Probably an upgrade process could be in order here so 'stabilising' a structure to not despawn is readily achievable but  actually being able to dock all your ships requires time and coordinated effort.

There also needs to be some form of fuel requirement. There is a temptation to say this should fully consist of things found in wormhole space, but that would take away from some of the current challange of living in wormholes. I'm also not sure what facilities should be available in the structure - should it just hanger space and "Captain's Quarters"? Should it be shared storage as in POSs or more like the privacy afforded in empire-based stations? What about manufacturing, research, invention facilities? I think this should really be kept in traditional POSs with the exception of T3 reverse engineering and construction. This would be the perfect time to allow us wormholers to actually follow the T3 production process from start to end in completeness in the wormhole. The missing piece being able to assemble the subsystems in W-space. What about forcing this to only be possible in W-space?! Well, the reverse engineering and subsystem/hull manufacture anyway. It's a bit much to expect a capsuleer to buy the parts in Jita then haul them to W-space before flying their new ship.

Of course, these structures should definitely be destroyable by hostile players. They should be tougher than large POSs but I'm not sure what the defences would consist of. If there are people docked in a structure when it explodes they should find themselves back in Empire space in a new clone. If they had any possessions in the structure they get destroyed. Simple. While this is harsh, it gives a real goal to fight for if you are invaded. Reinforced timers give you a chance to be organised and also for invaders to get bored and leave.

So, what do you think?


  1. First of all, brilliant idea. To establish a permanent outpost, a crew needs to find an conquer a NPC structure. Whilst I see this as perfect for WH, I can also see this as nice low sec / high sec addition to create habitats for capsuleers. You address a few issues - fuel for example that are easy to fix. One could use the same fuel blocks as today. Maybe one needs to ship in a structure, like an Amarr Catalytic Converter that burns Amarr fuel blocs and powers the station. Much of the POS mechanic can be transferred that way 1:1 - ship arrays, hangar arrays and so on - their design would change of course but they can stay player-made and therefore this change may not impact the market too much.

    Other changes - NPC structures should "all" be conquerable - maybe for a short time, maybe a limit / system (like the Sov / Incursion mechanic) and come in various sizes. This means a high sec pilot can camp out solo in a small Angel outpost that degrades over time or a large one that he needs to fuel. This gives exploration a much needed boost. I think this would be awesome, a bit like in the movie Prometheus - walking around in an alien structure. Love it.

  2. I like the idea of deep space structures being capturable. With the addition of my own ideas:

    The capture process takes place in steps:
    1. Secure the outer area - shoot the sleeper or whatever guarding ships
    2. Make it vulnerable - pretty much just kill its shield or similar activity or use of specialized mods (the old hacker/salvager or even totally new ones)
    3. Secure a beachhead - new possibility of Dust-Eve link - contract surface mercenaries to clear out any remaining defences/infestation (automatic turrets, security personnel, test specimens getting loose, etc. (kind of PvE raid fight in Dust514 - several to dozens of players needed to clear)
    4. Supply the mercenaries and inhabitants - similar as fuel in a POS (food, power, equipment, etc - PI or anything other (maybe new use for the "trade goods" section?)) - From this point the structure belongs to the corp whose mercenary contract was completed.

    While the supplies last, several options open up, limited to 1 running action at any given time:
    I. Explore and secure new areas - similar to point 3., surface mercenaries
    II. Scavenge secured areas - send in technician teams to salvage anything useful - each area might be scavenged only a few times, takes several hours or even days to finish, with salvage/hacking items as rewards
    III. Repair/occupy secured area - make the area habitable/usable - "station service" opens up like repair station, research/manufacture arrays, medical center, etc. - not necessarily succesful, an unsuccesful action ruins the area making it unaccessible ever again

    Each structure has a predefined type which gives the following:
    - size - number of areas and the time needed to secure/scavenge/repair them
    - previous usage - the probability of each different area
    - security status - amount of outer and inner defences
    - supply cost - a modifier compared to a default amount
    - life cycle - time it stays before outer defences cleared, the time it stays between outer defences cleared and beachhead secured, the time after beachhead secured till it destabilizes to the point it's no longer habitable/usable - the periods could be 2-3 days, 1-2 days, 2-8 weeks depending on size
    - whatever else needed

    To initiate any action regarding the structure, you need certain skills (old or new) and corporation roles.

    If I think about anything else, I'll post it afterwards. :-)