26 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 2)

I should know better than to have promised part 2 of this during the week. Life rarely leaves me the time to focus on a long post like this. Plus, when I do have spare time during the week I prefer to actually play EVE. Crazy, huh?

If you've not read part one click the link and read it now.


The Arrival

With a loud bang our intrepid corp of explorers arrives in the distant system. As the Rorqual was using the sun as a destination lock the ship naturally lands in relative close proximity to it. There are no planets, no asteroid belts, and definitely no gates or stations available from the right click menu nor on the overview. The only thing on the overview is the sun and the system doesn't even have a registered name. The first order of business, therefore, is for the other pilots who travelled with the Rorqual to take their clones, jump into scanning ships and start scanning the system. The scanning pilots start hunting down the celestials, warping to them and making assorted tactical bookmarks like any good scouts should. This way they find where the planets, moon, and any other items of interest in the system are.

The Rorqual is vulnerable at the jump-in point and needs to be moved. Our Rorqual pilot, eager to secure the situation gets himself to one of the new tactical bookmarks as soon as possible. This is where the Rorqual reveals its next new trick. Once in position at a bookmark the pilot selects the 'Anchor' option for the Rorqual then moves his pod into another one of the ships stored in the Rorqual. After some period of time the Rorqual goes online and a forcefield is erected to protect the exploration group. Why carry a POS when one of the ships serve the function perfectly well? Our explorers are now working against the clock. They need to do whatever they came here to do and be ready to head home before their safe haven runs out of fuel for the forcefield.


In addition to scanning down planets and moons there also needs to be some worthwhile reason for our explorers to come to this distant system. I've already established there are no freebies on this trip. This means there are no anomalies for people to simply warp to. Everything has to be worked for. This means all ISK will be hidden behind signatures and the dangers within. Given these locations are brand new areas of space I wouldn't expect known NPC classes to exist in any significant numbers. The ship sizes which can be transported needs to be taken into consideration when designing these sites.

Exploration sites requiring little or no combat would add to the empty feeling of space - "someone had been here but has long since gone". Other sites would be well defended by tough NPCs. Some leads could be taken here from the recently unveiled Burner missions. Any NPC living this deep in space is likely to be very self-sufficient and readily able to defend itself. Finally, the complete absence of anything to do should always be an option. Exploration should not guarantee riches or, indeed, anything at all. I'd be quite happy to see people going home entirely empty handed from time to time.

Our explorers now have as long as their Rorqual-POS has forcefield fuel to make the most of the wealth they have unlocked. Why do they need a forcefield? I was just getting to that.


This wouldn't be EVE without there being a large possibility for explosions. A lack of local and no obvious pinch-points such as gates, stations or wormholes may make combat seem unlikely. Of course the initial arrival of the Rorqual leaves it fairly vulnerable. Anyone who happens to be combat scanning around the predictable arrival point of the sun will be able to warp in and grab point, hence the need for the explorers to take both exploration and combat ships on their journey. Once the Rorqual is anchored it isn't immune to attack either. Natural resists give it an appropriate number of hit points to defend from attack. This is particularly important given the lack of other automated defences. Should the Rorqual-POS be taken into armor the necessary reinforced timer starts counting down. No point messing around with hauling strontium on the journey for this, let's just use the same mechanism as POCOs and have the anchoring pilot set the time range for reinforced mode exit. If the odds are overwhelming maybe a rescue mission could be staged to save the Rorqual with a backup team (and another Rorqual). Doubling down is always an option.

Other sources of conflict are pretty identical to wormholes with the added difficulty of how the potential aggressors get themselves staged. EVE being EVE I find it incredibly likely that there would be the formation of corps whose sole mission in life was to build up a library of potential locations to jump to hunting for explorers to explode. Of course, this would just drive explorers onto deeper and deeper destinations. Without proper planning people have a real chance of getting stranded and/or need rescued.


I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not. I often feel there isn't enough mystery in New Eden, between the well mapped areas of k-space, the well documented routines of all NPCs and the triggers which affect their reinforcements. The infinite EVE universe could go a long way to addressing this. Simply going there should not guarantee instant wealth and sites should be slow to respawn. It should be hard to get there and challenging to exist there. Procedurally generated signatures would hopefully yield the randomness I desire and prevent people from being able to go into auto-pilot mode when running the sites. I also like the idea that people could scan themselves deeper and deeper. Of course, there would always be the challenge of getting home to Jita to turn riches of items into riches of ISK. Finally, there is no isolating yourself as people can arrive at any time. There is no wimping out on the commitment cost though so any potential gankers better be confident they can deal with the mysteries before committing their own Rorqual to the jump.

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