The New W-SpaceSanders Schmittlaub
What if the class of a wormhole system (and the sites that spawn there) were not static, as they are now? What if it became a dynamic system, where player interaction with the system itself would change how the system reacted to the presence of capsuleers?
Imagine that each wormhole system started out life as the equivalent of a C1. The Sleepers inside it were mostly dormant – there hadn’t been a serious threat in thousands of years. The Sleeper Node would recognize that extensive defenses were unnecessary and would offline much of the defensive grid to conserve power and limit maintenance, leaving a token force to keep the space clear in the meantime. Then a few capsuleers show up and begin breaking some shit (as we are known to do).
The Node would recognize the alarms going off as the signs of small raiding parties in the system. It would online some additional defenses – a few more cruisers and frigates per installation, maybe a(nother) battleship at important ones. It would see if the additional defenses were enough to contain the threat posed to the system. If it was, and the capsuleers depart, their ships and hearts broken by the ‘leet Sleepers (or leave to do something else), the Node may downgrade the defenses again after a while. If the increased defenses don’t work, perhaps it onlines additional defenses and prepares for aggressive defense. Each time the Node increases the defenses would raise the class of the system, all the way up to (maybe even beyond) current C6 levels.
create a plethora of new opportunities for capsuleers to exploit
This type of dynamic system would create a plethora of new opportunities for capsuleers to exploit, although it would require a complete redesign of certain aspects of how wormhole space operates. A system for tracking where wormholes should fall based on player activity is already in use in New Eden (nullsec system activity defense based on PvE metrics). All that would be needed to bring this into existence would be to add PvE metrics to wormhole systems (not viewable by players) and use the results to choose which sites to spawn.
The problem with static sites in a dynamic system would need to be dealt with at some point, but the ‘static PvE environment’ infests all corners of New Eden equally and CCP has said that they will be working on it Soon™. As a first iteration, it would be a massive step that could be changed later to dynamic sites in a dynamic system – I imagine Sleepers being smart enough to scale their responses to deal with many different levels of player activity in a way that is both challenging, fun, and engaging. Furthermore, I imagine that unlike K-Space rats, Sleepers should be able to intentionally kill player ships on occasion, rather than only killing players when said players make mistakes. After all, they are supposed to be high-level content, and the possibility of imminent death will go far to keep things interesting.
One of the obvious changes that would need to be made is to the static system. Currently, each wormhole has one or two static connections – they always have a wormhole leading to a certain class of space. Doing away with wormhole classes would make this system obsolete.
with 2,601 wormhole systems currently existing in New Eden, finding consistent PvP content could be a challenge
Two options come to mind with how to counter this – first, just remove the statics and replace them with that many outgoing wormholes at any one time. However, with 2,601 wormhole systems currently existing in New Eden, finding consistent PvP content could be a challenge, and not knowing what level of wormhole you will be connected to could pose a challenge. This system would also lend unfair advantage to systems with two statics (current C2 and C4 space), so the second static would either have to go from those or be added to the rest. For reasons given later in the article, I will say remove the second static from all systems to begin with.
The second option is far more involved. Currently, bringing up the information window on any wormhole will give three descriptions of the system on the other side of it (if its a wormhole system); unknown (C1-C3), dangerous unknown (C4-C5), and deadly unknown (C6). Changing these a little so that each covers two classes of wormhole (C1-C2, C3-C4, and C5-C6, respectively) would divide wormhole space into roughly three equal sections. Rather than have a static connect to a specific class, it could be changed to cover a category of wormhole instead. One issue with this plan is that if all systems start as C1 space and only increase with player activity, having a high-class static will end up connecting to an active wormhole nearly all the time.
While this could be seen as a way to make high level wormhole space even harder to live in, and I’m sure there are certain groups who would absolutely eat up the attention, it would make finding PvE content in other wormholes extremely difficult. The solution that I see for that comes from the wormhole constellations. As laid out in Project Compass, a fairly exhaustive and very impressive investigation into the location of wormhole systems by Mark726 and Faulx, it seems that wormhole systems are actually laid out in a stellar cluster centered 1,289 light years to the southeast of New Eden. Just as in New Eden, the constellations appearing in W-Space consist of clusters of adjacent systems. It would make sense that if a nearby system was attacked, the Nodes of nearby systems (same constellation) would begin to increase their defensive capacity in case they were next to be attacked. By increasing the defense levels of the entire constellation, each time a player-controlled system increased its defense level, five additional systems would also increase their defense level.
The Sleeper Node would act as a sort of W-Space IHUB. It would be a heavily defended structure (according to the system’s defense level) that “controls” the Sleepers in the wormhole. The Node would have a Power level that increases as the defense level of the system increases, and that power would be randomly distributed as it increases.
By mounting an attack on the Node, players can entosis (insert other relevant hacking module for those who abhor entosis mechanics) the Node, gaining temporary control of the power grid. They can then change the power levels of the different areas of the node:
- Wormhole mechanics – spawn rate (one static or two), where it connects to most often (K-Space, unknown/dangerous/deadly) hole size (limited by class much like now), and lifetime.
- Site mechanics – spawn rate, size of ships that spawn in sites.
- Site (capital) escalations – Would allow escalations to appear in all system classes, but when active would also allow capitals to pass through wormholes in the system and increase mass limits on all wormholes accordingly.
- Ore/gas mechanics – spawn rate, quantity, quality (class limited)
Each attack on the Node would only allow a certain amount of power to be transferred before the Node fights off the hack, so optimizing a wormhole to fit your group would require multiple attacks. Each attack would take time, get ships out into space, be worth doing for the money, and would render the Node invulnerable for a certain amount of time after a successful (or failed) attack.
By adding a Node to each system, any group that moves into a system can tailor their wormhole to suit their needs, whether that be aggressive PvP using multiple small static wormholes or extremely high-end PvE, and can change between the two without having to completely move out of their wormhole and into a new one. Furthermore, with the difficulty of sites increasing as player activity increases, each wormhole will adapt to fit the level of whatever group resides in it. It would also mean that dead areas of wormhole space (C6 space in particular, at the townhall on August 13 it was stated that there are currently only three groups remaining in C6 space capable of having a capital-level brawl) would stop being dead very quickly as empty systems and constellations decrease their defense level and more active constellations rise to take their place.
While I know that the ideas I have about what wormhole space could be is a bit of a pipe dream, wormhole space has the opportunity to become one of the most dynamic areas of space while maintaining its edge as the most difficult space to live in.