Gettin’ ‘Round Town

Posted: February 15, 2013 in Dust Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors, and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

Yesterday evening I was able to listen to a bit of the Podside Podcast, a welcome respite from the commotion of the D.C. metro system.

During the discussion, the topic of how Dust mercenaries would actually travel around New Eden came up, and it’s really got me thinking on how CCP plans to implement this system. I am not a game designer myself, so I don’t have any notion that whatever I may suggest is a good idea at all, but as a player of the game I have come up with a few ideas I would like to see put into it.

Much has been said about the idea of the “War Barge,” that it would be a Dust corps base of operations, and where they staged from. Honestly, I can kind of see this being the equivalent of a null sec station. Stations are where pilots stage out of, and it’s an alliance (or large corp) asset that requires many people working together to actually create. I suppose the big difference here is that the war barges are supposed to be mobile.

The thing about that is, how on earth will it be implemented? These war barges are going to be hopping around our systems, in space. Who will be the pilot? How will it move? What about those on the war barge? If it’s attacked, they can do nothing but sit, watch, and then die in a bubble along with all the stuff they keep on the war barge (which, if it’s like a station, could be a significant amount of assets).

The war barge should also be piloted by Dust mercs, it just makes sense. The barges are their babies, like the stations are ours. But does the PS3 even have the capabilities to have a ship flying around in an Eve client? I really have no idea, but it sounds like such a monumental task, I just can’t foresee us having actual control of our Dust barges any time real soon. It may be a thing that can only be handled on the new PS4, and seeing as how I just bought a PS3 for Dust, I don’t know how long it will be before I really want to throw down on that new PS4 (plus, it’s not coming out until later this year at the earliest). I imagine something like the war barge may have to wait until Dust has fully moved to the PS4, meaning the PS3 users are going to have to account for less than 1% of all total Dust mercs.

Who knows how long that’s going to take.

So I’ve come up with some ideas for moving Dust mercs around, specifically for null sec operations, that won’t require a war barge, but still gives us a sense of place and distance that is currently lacking in the Dust build. This idea also hinges on the other idea I had that the districts we’re fighting over in low and null have to be persistent. Given the opportunity (through CRUs or other means), you should be able to spawn on any district, at any time no matter what the situation is (as long as the number of defenders haven’t capped, so, going by current games of 16 vs 16, if there are 16 corp members spawned on a district, you wouldn’t be able to spawn there). Maps can’t be like they are now, where they are only activated when a fight is going on. There’s just no way we’re going to be able to get a sense of place if that’s the only way to spawn on a map.

Assuming planetary districts are persistent areas we can interact with and build on whether there is a fight going on or not, I’ve got some ideas for foot troop movement that I hope aren’t too terribly difficult to implement.

I know a lot has been said about keeping both Eve and Dust as separate games,  playable on their own without having to rely very heavily on each other, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves about this. If we really want true consequences for our actions in interfering with each other between games, at least in null sec, I think the two games should have some strong connections. If two alliances go to war with each other, and one alliance chooses to use Dust Bunnies, and the other does not, the alliance who chose to use mercenaries should win every time (without some truly miraculous events, either stupid mistakes or ingenious tactics).

So, in order to have real troop movement, we need two things, both of which are already currently working already in both Eve and Dust. The first thing we need is a piece of equipment that will allow your mercs to spawn where you want them to. Right now, we call these pieces of equipment CRUs. There is also another piece of equipment that allows spawning and is mobile called the MCC, which currently is what our skirmish games revolve around.

The second thing we need is a delivery system, which is also already in the game. Eve pilots have been delivering hot molten death to their enemies all month!

The system I’m envisioning utilizes both of these things, and can provide two different kinds of invasions.

The first kind of invasion is more focused on smaller corps, who favor hit and run tactics. What you would do, is buy a bunch of CRUs and place them into the cargo hold of your favorite covert ops ship (any ship, really, but let’s think tactically here). Yesterday, I did some quick calculations (I was an English major, so they’re probably wrong) and came up with the idea that a CRU is, in reality, about 12 cubic meters. My blockade runner, The Centurion Pigeon 3, can fit 3,750 cubic meters of cargo when it’s fit for null sec travel. That means I could put 312 CRUs in it’s cargo hold.

That’s probably too much. So the volume of CRUs would have to be inflated to balance how many CRUs a cargo hold can carry.

So now I’ve got a cargo hold full of CRUs in the Centurion Pigeon, let’s say 15 of them are in there. Doing what a blockade runner does best, I’m able to infiltrate past enemy gate camps and deep into their territory. We’ve chosen a tactically advantageous system to invade, and The Centurion Pigeon 3 is hiding cloaked up in said system, which is deserted. And then begins the invasion.

If I have 15 CRUs, that’s at least 15 districts I can warp to and then drop the CRUs from orbit. I can place one in each district, or I can put 2 or 3 on a district to make sure my foot troops will be able to spawn and attack the district, with the idea of taking it over. Let’s say that, while there are no enemy spaceships in the system, the evil spais in TEST have relayed the intel back to enemy alliance command that Dreddit plans an foot invasion in a system, so they’ve got their own mercs (maybe hired?) already there and waiting. When the CRUs are dropped from orbit, they can see them hurtling down from the sky (like they do now), to give them an idea as to where the CRUs landed (remember, if you don’t control the CRU, it doesn’t show up on your map).

Now, another quick caveat. No more red zones. At least not in null districts. We’ve all zoomed out to see how big these maps actually are, and I imagine these maps are supposed to represent an entire district. If you get to the edge of the map, you should still have the option of going further, but what happens is you would load the next map that represents the planetary district adjacent to the one you were in. It’d be kind of like loading a new zone, for those of you who ever played Everquest (oh my God… that was so long ago…). If there is no district adjacent in that direction, then I’m fine with an invisible wall.

So the invasion is on, and we’ve decided on a particular planet in this system that needs conquering (or, perhaps this kind of invasion would not allow for the capturing of enemy buildings and resources, just their destruction, and in order to capture it, you’d need your MCC, which I’ll get to in a moment). Because the drops are random (hey, shooting from orbit is difficult, we’re lucky to hit the right district!), we want to drop 3 CRUs in each district, just in case the defenders are able to get to one or two of them and hack them, just as they currently work. However, as soon as the friendly CRUs are online, our army of already ready mercs sees the option to spawn there from their merc quarters (this would need some kind of interface), and can then join the battle instantly. Assuming I’m able to drop all 15 CRUs across, say, 5 districts, we’ve now got 80 Subdredditors causing havoc on the planet below. Sounds like fun.

But CRU’s are weak, and easily hacked to transfer ownership to the other team. That’s why this kind of invasion should be used more to disrupt the industry and day to day workings of your enemy alliance. Chances are, if the defenders are smart, their whole strategy revolves around getting to those CRUs and hacking them. If there are no more friendly CRUs in the district, that part of the invasion is over, and the defenders have won (for today…).

Now, how about a full blown Sov war? Instead of a stealthy covert ops deploying CRUs behind enemy lines, now we’ve got a whole fleet of 500 battleships, battle cruisers, and all sorts of other fun ships one finds in a giant fleet. We’re truly at war now, and war requires taking of the enemy systems and resources.

Enter, the MCC. I am not sure exactly how big the MCC is, in comparison to Eve ships (ugh, no sites put the axis info up?), but the delivery system would be similar to the CRUs, except it would requiring being fit to a specialized ship. I’m not sure which ships this would best be suited for (Blockade Runner? =D), but I’m sure it would require a bit of discussion.

I’m sure everyone remembers that really awesome cinematic trailer from last year’s fan fest, that also happens to be the intro movie that plays every time we start up the game. Remember when the Amarr ship was being shot at by a bunch of rifters, then it drops off this kind of… drop ship into the atmosphere where 6 heavies come flying out to activate their inertia dampeners and looks super badass?

I imagine the MCC delivery system to be really similar to that.

Now! The MCC is a whole different story from the war barge. The war barge needs to interact directly with Eve ships while it is in control by Dust folks. That’s a difficult thing.

MCCs, on the other hand, shouldn’t. Like CRUs, while in space they would be at the mercy of the pilot carrying them, but once deployed on planet, then it would be awesome if someone in a command dropsuit were able to control the movement of the MCC, where it drops cover fire (because it should have some weapons to help out its invasion force), and what command centers it docks with in order to take control of the district.

Because the MCC cannot be hacked, like a CRU, and is much more difficult to destroy, this is the piece of equipment you bring when you expect to be taking control of the planet.

So there you have it. This was what I was kicking around in my head for the last few days. And, if you just scrolled to the bottom because you didn’t feel like reading all the words I bled for you, you’re a horrible person.

But here’s the TL;DR.

TL;DR: MCCs and SRUs should be Eve assets that Eve pilots can place on planetary districts, and it is these items that Dust Bunnies spawn from in order to move from place to place in greater New Eden.

Until next time, happy hunting everyone!

- JRD

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