For years, CCP had pushed back on overhauling the Player-owned starbase (POS) system since it was seen as big fuzzball of unstable and unsupported code. The pressure from the community to fix it was great but apparently not great enough, until now, we got a few cosmetic and lifestyle enhancements but the fundamental functionality remained in place. I think, I was the only resident who genuinely liked the blue-bubble POS with all its pain-in-the-rear mechanics. There is something magical about the ethereal soap bubble, so fragile and yet so protective.
But despite CCP’s inertia and my nostalgia, the Devs have finally taken this topic on and in typical Nordic fashion launching head-first into the development of a brand new system. I do believe that CCP Seagull impressed on her team that POSes are not simply items in the game like guns or missiles but allow tactical and strategic moves as well as an emotional attachment to the space they control. In that, they are not just the means to invade, conquer or expand, they are the reason.
And with this, CCP Ytterbium released two Dev Blogs, one in March, one this week that outline how the new POS system will look like. As usual with CCP, much is left to tweaking and balancing but the blogosphere is cautiously optimistic
I am personally very excited about this all. Not just the design (which is amazing) but the whole vision of the project. CCP now “gets it”, they understand what it means to be out there in space, carving out your niche, fighting off invaders, claiming your corner in the universe.
And while the Dev Blogs are quite informative on the design philosophy and even some of the technical detail, they are pretty focused on Empire Space, not much is said about their role Wormhole space. Its understandable, while we may be “The Proud”, we are clearly “The Few” and we had a lot of
good mixed changes the last few expansions. I am happy to take the backseat for a bit and watch the Nullsec overhaul. But POSes are extremely important to us of course, we are the only region in New Eden who has to live out of POSes – we have no stations or outposts. For us, its either daytripping or POS life.
So, while I am very relaxed about the direction that CCP is going, here are some suggestions to take into consideration about the new structures when it comes to Wormhole Space:
Scaling. CCP models different size POSes based on their planned facility and occupancy, medium, large and extra large. We assume that extra large Citadels are limited to Nullsec since they need alliance-wide efforts to build, maintain and destroy them. They may also allow Supercarriers to dock – something that we have no need for in Wormhole space. Medium and Large Citadels should be anchorable in Wormhole space however. I do not see the reason to put further limits on the structure installed in e.g. C1 versus a C6. C1 corporations put as much – if not more – effort into maintaining their hole and are already hampered by lower income and more daytrippers (like ourselves) than the massive C5 and C6 fortresses that are serving hundreds of pilots. But I do advocate that some of their defensive stats change based on the wormhole class and effect they are anchored in – see below
Defensibility (is that a word?). I am not quite sure how CCP plans to allow POS Defense. From one of the comments, it looked like that one guy can assume control over all defenses during a siege, maybe augmented by an improved AI. This would clearly help smaller groups who may not have a fully staffed defense team online but it opens the risk of Awoxing (one Spai simply occupying all the guns) and also limits participation. I have never shot a POS gun in Anger but I could see true defensive fights as very exciting and more players should be able to participate. Maybe this is something one can control with the modules – worth looking into.
Environmental Impact -1 . Territorial control units (or their successors), mobile scan inhibitors and ESS structures already change the system they are anchored in, so there is a precedence (lore and coding) for doing so. I would think that anchoring a Large Citadel could affect the spawn rate of anomalies or signatures in a hole, i.e. in order to really exploit a system, one has to put some money and effort down. Their mods could also affect mining rates, or change the effect that the Wormhole has. I don’t advocate any of those without more analysis but I just list that this would be a) possible and b) allow players to control their environment by active occupancy – a stated goal of CCP.
Environmental Impact – 2. This could also run reverse. The Wormhole Class could impact the structure hitpoints, the number of guns that can be mounted or the ability to anchor them off-moon. This would allow a C6 crew to anchor a Citadel that can withstand a full force of capitals (for a while, at least) while tuning this down to the sub-cap fights in a C1-C4. Additionally, the Wormhole Environmental Effect could translate into the effect of the Citadel itself. For example, a Pulsar C6 would have a much stronger shield but a much weaker armor – if that mechanic still matters with Entosis modules, I don’t know. But many other factors could be considered – bottom line, this would allow defensive and offensive scaling of structures without having to build multiple versions.
Drones. Oh my god, CCP Ytterbium said that these structures could use drones in defense. This would so awesome, I could squeal. Even better would be some crazy, one time super weapon that summons all (!) remaining NPC sleeper drones to the POS and recruits them into a temporary cloud of death. Imaging a smug C6 crew camping in a Citadel and all of a sudden hundreds of sleeper battleships descend on them. Of course, nobody guarantee that they stay loyal – this would be a measure of scorched earth.
Intel. I am not sure CCP understands just how much intel we get from a POS that we silently watch. We get the corp name (and subsequently killstats, time zones, active members, languages…), we see floating ships in the bubble from which we get names of pilots, attitudes (the Bio is the greatest intel tool.) and ship names. From the anchored modules we understand how well defended this place is but even more importantly, what is going on. A number of reaction arrays? Gas miners. Lots of CHAs, no SMA? Indy corp, few ships available. Hardeners exists but are anchored, not online? Likely indy corp with needs to run their manufacturing. Bottom line, after 4 years, I now look at a POS and from the placement of the guns and modules I can tell what kind of opponent they are. While I am happy to change, I would urge that Citadels retain some of that ability.
Off-moon anchoring. Currently all POS es are anchored near a moon. This makes cloaky intel pretty easy, they do not have to be scanned down like Mobile Structures for example. However, other than Moon Mining, there really is no reason to limit them to a specific place. I would prefer if they stayed close to a celestial but I could understand if they moved off them to force intel dudes like myself to expose themselves. I would love if I could anchor them near a Planet – I’d take a Lava Planet just for the backdrop – they are gorgeous.
Movement. Who said they are stationary? I can see a new ship class, a tugboat that tows these massive defensive forts around. Make it slow, make it painfully slow. But the thought of an invading navy slowly towing a train of fully loaded battlestars into hostile territory makes my hair stand up. That would be so awesome. Gamebreaking, but awesome.
Hacking. WH space has too many “dead sticks” wasting space. Lets fix that. A Citadel that runs out of fuel can be hacked (Entosis, whatever) and scooped. Let the cleaners into our space.
Well, time will tell. I don’t know about y’all but I am super excited about these changes. CCP gets it right, this time.