November 25, 2015

BB69: Citadels are made of Space Magic, and other stories

We had a double-barreled Blog Banter, which I'm a bit late to answering.  Normally I refrain from looking at other people's BBs before posting my own, but since I'm late that gives me a chance to pull some pieces together.

Drackarn asks:
CCP sometimes get stuck between a veldspar 'roid and a hard place when they try to blend realism with sensible game mechanics in our sci-fi simulator. Sometimes they create a scientific answer such as 4th dimensional drag to explain our 'submarines in space'. Other times, not so much. When a null-sec Citadel is destroyed players 'stuffz' is to be magicked to another station. Why should a citadel be different to a titan? Should CCP ensure that 'space magic' always has a plausible explanation or do we need just to say "Well, its only a game!" and engage the willing suspension of disbelief? How should it work when a citadel goes boom, how do we balance risk with reward, and how should any "space-magic" be explained?

Now looking at the responses you can see that this really tied up two different topics: "space magic" and the example and closing line about Citadels.  Most of the real energy in the posting jumped onto the idea of asset safety in Citadels, even if making a short stop along the first topic on the way.

I agree with the opinions I see spread around out there.  Gameplay trumps lore considerations, but lore adds a lot of depth that keeps the game vital.  I do particularly like Neville Smit's idea of ejectible space containers as a lore explanation, though it does make you wonder why you can't catch all those by bubbling up a station.  Perhaps the space containers are made with interceptor-class nullification technology.

What if ... when a citadel was about to go down you gathered all your friends around.  As the citadel explodes then you have a loot spray like the much-maligned hacking mechanics (now abandoned), but with your countdown being until they warp away.  You wouldn't need a mysterious loot fairy - either you and your friends can catch the containers or they whisk away to safety.  If you are well coordinated and have full control of the grid that the station is on then you get to pick up more of the candy from your pinata.  If you're the daring ninja type you can hang out near the station as it burns, angling in under cloak ready to grab something and warp away to see what you got.

Seriously though, we hit the root of the issue with a quote captured in Rhavas's blog banter:
"However, this introduces another problem: we want our structures to be used, but one of the deterrents against that goal is the fact they compete against existing NPC stations and player outposts." - from the dev blog "I Feel Safe in Citadel City"

This is the kind of problem you run into with incremental development.  If CCP was doing a huge "big bang" feature then they might have introduced Citadels right alongside the bombshell move that NPC stations would be destructible.  It would have been a giant step towards the stated goal of everything being player buildable and player destructible.  However, they aren't ready to make such a risky step, so the Citadels have to compare to the super-safe NPC stations that exist all through New Eden.

This is the opposite of future-proofing your plans, sadly.  The compromise means that once they make NPC stations destructible they'll face the tough choice of whether or not to revisit asset safety in Citadels.  That will then mean facing a player base that has sense gotten used to that idea and thus will be resistant to taking it away.  I don't blame CCP on this - neither of those two option were terribly appealing, particularly with all of Eve seeming to teeter back and forth in the eyes of the community over the past year or so.

A what if option here would be to have the loot fairy be of varying levels depending on the location that the Citadel is in.  The following table might be an example:

Deep Null (-1 to -0.7)40%40%20%
Mid Null (-0.6 to -0.4)30%30%40%
Shallow Null (-0.3 to -0.0)20%20%60%

Now again this still runs into the comparison problem with player and NPC stations.  So let's play around with that idea.  What if when an station was "flipped" some portion of the assets in that station were forfeited to the new controller of the stations?

Deep Null (-1 to -0.7)60%40%
Mid Null (-0.6 to -0.4)70%30%
Shallow Null (-0.3 to -0.0)80%20%

You notice I include lowsec there, as we could apply this to stations aligned to factional warfare.  When you lose control of the system, the rampaging hordes get control of your station.  Perhaps there some looting fairies there, in another sense of the word.

All these little experimental thoughts may well be something that CCP considered and set aside, but what this really means is that there is room to work with .  Nothing says the loot fairy has to always be 50/50 odds, nor that she doesn't have accomplices.

No comments:

Post a Comment