The Power of GodsCosmo
Did you guys know that Poitot is the only named system in Syndicate?
I’m sure you do, as this eponymous tiny system has implanted itself as a meme in our collective EVE culture for more than a few years now. While the uniqueness of it is part of its success, I think it also speaks to a permanence of geography and space, to something that allowed it to be relevant as a joke and a punchline even years upon years later.
Let’s be frank, minus the addition of wormholes, which ostensibly can be considered an addition rather than a change in the layout of New Eden, the last significant change the universe has seen has been in the shape of Smuggler Gates ages ago in the time of heavy-handed design changes. Smuggler Gates are cluster-superhighways that cross the vast expanses of null space interlinking far-flung systems and came as a response to a ‘too large’ New Eden. Regions created zero interest for people due to raw distance, this before you could warp to 0 on a gate, and because of the ease with which some regions could be blockaded back then.
But even aside from those, a player starting now will face the exact same geography as a player that started six years ago.
Jita has always been nine jumps from Amarr, a boon to all traders and pirates. Fountain’s systems have been interconnected in the same way, its layout and positioning within the cluster allowing it to gain the stigma as a graveyard of alliances. HED-GP has forever been the pipeline connecting the wildlands of Catch with the richly-supplied empire space of Khanid, and anyone that ever wanted to go space-north most possibly passed through M-OEE8 and subsequently died there.
But even looking past the whole-cluster scale, and looking down to a smaller scope, the ripples of a static geography leaves marks on null players the cluster over. The scenario of a corporation within a sov-holding alliance taking hold of constellations within alliance null space is common. The initial ‘strangeness’ of the systems and their links falls away quickly to the acclimatization period, mentally mapping the routes and pipelines. Given enough time, those systems and their constellations start to feel like home, known places of which you have an innate grasp of their layout and which will have no secrets left for you.
In the same way that it felt to the members of alliances that held them before you, and to those that will hold them after you.
For most EVE players this roadmap, that has been touted at almost every Fanfest for the past two or three years, should look familiar. We know we’re going to get stargates, but under what form, what shape, and to reach where, we don’t yet know. While everyone is keen to see the future, to see where else may we stationspin and/or/maybe fight in thanks to these new player-created gates, I’m interested in looking back.
The sovereignty system is of little practical use apart from supercap production
“Sov is not worth holding” is an often heard remark on the public forums and on reddit, and for once, the vocal masses are right. The sovereignty system is of little practical use apart from supercap production and even that is because of a hardwired limitation, not because of any tactical advantage of owning sovereignty.
This is part of a larger scope, an article I’ll keep for another day, but to spoil the conclusion to it, non-monetary rewards and perks have to be given to sov-owners in order to make it appealing, or at least enticing.
With structures coming out supporting deep changes like control over Local and maybe even visibility of landmarks on the overview, I can see no better way to empower and embolden the player base than give capsuleers massive control over their surroundings while also giving reason to own ‘complete’ sov, instead of bits and pieces spread out.
letting players control the very geography of New Eden’s systems
So how about a little thing like letting players control the very geography of New Eden’s systems by hacking apart and reforging the stargate network?
Sounds cool? Yeah.
So how would this work in my non game-designer mind? What cool gameplay and consequences could we reave out of this?
The core granular element of EVE geography are systems, which are linked together in constellations. Group up constellations, and you have regions. Simple enough, but to be able to turn this into a modular system, we’ll have to create a set of rules.
Let’s say these are the three systems that form a constellation. There is one in-gate and one out-gate to the constellation and this is the default gate setup. Each gate a system has ‘by default’ gives the system an Entropy Value of 1 (EV, shown as stars in the illustrations because why the fuck not). B, having two gates, has 2, A, having three, has, you guessed it, 3.
When an entity, let’s call them the Moneyswarm Legion, has sovereignty over this whole constellation, it can do two things to shape the geography: reassign EV’s between existing stargates within the constellation, and, DUN DUN DUN, create new stargates. Finishing the build on a stargate leaves it in an inactive state until EV’s are assigned to it to connect it with another stargate though.
The only rule sets governing how far this can be stretched are few and simple. A system can never be fully disconnected from the gate network, a connection having to be guaranteed by using ‘base EV’ (points in the default pool count), and an active stargate cannot be destroyed for fear of an UNSPEAKABLE CATACLYSMIC EVENT™. EV reassignments take 48/72/whatever appropriate hours, per EV point changed and the effects take hold at the end of the period. Future changes are shown in the ‘show info’ of gates and maybe as local messages for people entering during the changing period.
Here, the Moneyswarm Legion decided to extend the route through this section of space. To do so, they built a stargate in C at a selected planet’s sphere of influence. Then they rerouted one EV from A, from the stargate connecting A to B, and assigned it to the newly-built C gate. The overall level of entropy in the constellation remained the same, but the route from the in-point, to the out-point, changed significantly by one extra jump. C is also no longer a backwater, it’s a major point of transit. We now also have an inactive gate in A which is destroyable, and if destroyed, would make the next sov-owner’s job of rerouting the gates back to the initial setup a hassle, because they would need to rebuild it.
So let’s look at practical uses with larger, in-game constellations that you probably flew through already in your EVE career.
Here’s Skaven, Fountain region.
This constellation has 13 EV points. Let’s try a configuration.
This is a deep-staging pipe setup, allowing fortifications and bubbling up highways, maybe securing ratting grounds against roaming gangs. How about we follow up on that and actually make a star-shape to allow for quick reaction from a staging system to nearby ratting systems?
This looks pretty cozy already. If we had an issue with hotdroppers we could have singled out a system, blockaded it and kept the out-of-range ones safer. In any case, we had to build stargates in 1-5 to connect them together, and we now have two inactive gates in O-P which we can use if we ever want to reconfigure our constellation differently in the future (or be used by our enemies with cunning new toys and techniques).
But what if we want to interconnect all the ratting systems to make sure our defense fleet doesn’t get duped?
We’re using 11 out of the 13 initial EV points. Connecting F-88 to C-F would need one EV each, let alone the other ones, throwing us over the max. But we’re fucking capsuleers, we’re not going to let something as trivial as spatial fantasy harmonics stop us right?
Say via Observatory rigs, or whatever newfangled mcguffin, we could upgrade a system to hold one or more extra EVs?
Let’s give it a spin:
17 EV’s, COUNT’EM.
We used the extra EV points (11 to 13) in F2- and ATQ. For F-88 and C-FE, we need two more EV points, so our Moneyswarm Legion upgrades Observatories with two EV rigs in each system to compensate, represented by the red stars above. They could have spread them over two Observatories in each system but eh, they’re lazy and the logistics guy is on vacation with the family. To note, we still have one ‘base’ EV holding each system connected with each other.
So we have a cool little nest egg now and we’re proud of it. But this is EVE…
The eastern empire of Brothers of xXDeathvirate comes’a knocking.
Given that Moneyswarm Legion has overloaded the grid, this leaves their systems vulnerable. The enemy strikes and destroys the Observatory in C-F. Besides losing any benefits that structure would have given, the EV bonuses also get lost. What does that mean for our network?
Two random gates, since we had two bonus EV rigs on the same, now nonexistent, Observatory, go offline. We’re left with the single gate running off the ‘base’ EV, leading to F-88. Suddenly the map changes, the familiar goes out the window and your backup ships are now three jumps away. And the invaders know that.
the enemy would pay dearly and have to fight carefully as they march on foreign ground
The very fabric of the cluster superhighways connecting the space-faring civilisations will have fallen under the battering and warmongering of capsuleers not long after, because that configuration was just one of many within the region. And those were not the only alterations. Links between constellations themselves had been reconfigured in this Fountain, further changing the landscape of the cluster, and the enemy would pay dearly and have to fight carefully as they march on foreign ground.
This is just a small concept which can be easily grasped without a 20-pages manual, and that can scale up wonderfully. So if you’re already thinking of how jump-capable ships can take advantage of this, how this would affect Entosising, how maybe titans can power up inactive gates forcing a connection in enemy territory or how this will change even the basic definition of ‘terrain’ in EVE, then this piece of dream-filled-text has served its purpose.
Still, there is more power to be taken from the universe than the meager scraps we’ve been nibbling at, so I’ll just leave you with this before heading out:
Think big capsuleers, think big.