December 3, 2014

PnP: Author's notes: Wishing on a Distant Star

My entry for this year's Pod and Planet is set in that future time at the end of CCP Seagull's roadmap.  That time and place no longer feels like a dreamy myth.  Indeed writing this story faced a new challenge: Eve is changing so fast right now, and particularly in areas of lore that could impact this story.  Between when I started the story and now there has been so much announced and hinted at that sometimes I feared I would just have to scrap it because the concepts it was built on would no longer be my speculative projection of CCP's future plans but instead found to be in direct conflict with some newly-released tidbit.  So setting that aside (and hoping there isn't a new Dev Blog I haven't seen yet), let's talk about the wish-upon-a-distant-star I make here.

Throw Gates

These huge gates allow travel from one cluster to another.  While not "throwing" in a literal sense, the idea here is that there is a manual process not unlike a jump bridge where a capsuleer (i.e. player) action is needed.  Launching the fleet requires locking down the target much like probing down a signature, but instead of looking at a display of the star system you're looking at a display of a larger span such as a region.  The idea here is that using this massively expensive gate is an event, something that people will want to be logged in to be a part of, even if just to watch.

The farther future implication would be that once you can built two throw-gates synchronized to each other than you can get the more conventional, automatic gate without a manually-created cyno beacon.  Continuing to need fuel would mean that the distant systems are still a special preserve that are not trivial to roam back and forth to.

The scattering upon landing is also harkening to the wormhole changes, but also I liked the idea to get the feel of a lack of control over such a long distance, matching the "throw" metaphor.  Similarly the concept of "throw damage" is there for that lack of control.  This also means that throwing into an enemy-player controlled space would carry an additional risk.

The lack of conventional CONCORD gates to use for communication of the capsuleer brain upon death is obviously another vital aspect to the story.  This additional risk is part of the new space, much like the risk of flying a T3, though it would be overcome as soon as you have a cloning bay in the new system - assuming you don't lose it.


The prospect of new space, and in general the way the lore is developing, seemed to call out for a new opponent.  Of the ancient races, the Talocan seemed the most interesting.  Recent events and discovers as we line up to Rhea put this aspect at serious risk of being made retroactively incorrect, but it seemed a reasonable risk to take.

The Talocan ships are intended to imply the next generation of PVE that the advanced sleeper and burner missions presage today.  Capsuleer-level power, better AI, and opponent ships that work together.  The willingness to warp away from a losing fight is another aspect that seems hinted at, which would force PVE players to mount points just like PVPers would, thus continuing to close the gap between the two.  Players should see these as a challenge, much like the Sleepers sound like they were right after WH space opened up (which is before my time).  The Talocan being interested in podding players is just some extra danger-spice, which we do see today with CCP's more recent exploration sites.

Ideally I'd want the Talocan to be a mystery, thus the reference to the players FRAPSing the fight so they can analyze it later.  This implies they aren't already obvious in the database, which I grant is perhaps a step to far since it would imply a huge change in Eve - though one perhaps CCP will need sooner or later.

The Talocan are also described here as having a cloaked base and the willingness to attack player structures.  My dream here would be something along the lines that more Talocan are spawned at this base on a countdown timer.  If the players don't find and destroy the base (or allow many to escape back to it) then the forces will continue to grow.  If they destroy the base then not only do they have the riches there, but it will become feasible to mine and such without facing attack.  Normal ratting-level of enemy ships could remain indefinitely, just as current known space has apparently no end of pirates to be hunted down by capsuleers.

Ships and Stations

Station Zero is a modular POS, as I hope was clear, which is another thing we know is on the roadmap and the dream of many a veteran player long before my time.  I don't get into this too much in the final scenes, particularly since its defenses are compromised before the attackers even show up.

I couldn't help but throw in a line implying rebalancing of Recons, and I figure that the T3 line would be rebalanced by then as well.  I intentionally keep the number of ships in the capsuleer fleet vague since I didn't want someone to come back with some calculus on how many Rail-gus it would take to do X amount of damage in 10 seconds.  Tomas's Vulture in the middle of the fleet is a hopeful wish that the on-grid links problem will have been handled as well, allowing command ships to become truly the place to command a fleet from.

Customized ship-skins are another item I'm hoping we'll see by the time this story could happen in Eve.  Special units such as a Black-Ops team would gain all the more cache by having their ships be distinct.

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