Friday, October 24, 2008

Effective Security Status.

Outposts aside (which are more feature than landscape), the environmental impact of player sovereignty so far has been limited to bragging rights on the map and fuel costs reduction on POSes (which is kind of a circular joke considering most 0.0 POSes are deployed only to claim sovereignty in first place).

Possibly the most radical change to territorial warfare and sovereignty dynamics since outposts, Effective Security Status introduces a new dimension to space holding in EVE, with sovereignty and infrastructure development directly affecting the quality of local PvE environment.

Landscaping for dummies:

In short, the more planets gets claimed, the more systems are flying player faction colors, the more outposts deployed, and the more the area is considered 'civilized', the less NPC rats and juicy roids and ice blocks are to be found.

Effective Sec Status is computed from DT to DT, based on a snapshot of relevant modifiers at downtime to inform the next DT-to-DT Effective Sec Status in a solar system.

For any given nullsec system:
  • Each claimed planet adds 0.03 points (regardless of faction).
  • Each tuned outpost adds 0.05 points (regardless of faction).
  • In a sovereign constellation, for each neighboring system (even out of constellation) belonging to same defender: +0.05 points.
  • In a sovereign region, for each neighboring sovereign constellation belonging to same defender: +0.05 points.
That may not look like much at first glance, but assuming an average nullsec system with a TrueSec of -0.5, your typical constellation capital will tally a boost to its Effective Sec Status of about +0.43...
+0.1 from 2 outposts (yep, you can build more than one outpost per system in Sov 2.0, if you can make it there)
+0.18 from 6 claimed planets
+0.15 from 3 connecting 'friendly neighborhood' systems
...bringing it to a much less yummy -0.07 for the purposes of NPC spawn/loot tables, roids and ice spawn, and moon mining quality, which, as airliners pilots are fond to say about mid-air collisions, is enough to ruin our day.

On second thought, that may look a bit harsh, and maybe enough to discourage people from settling nullsec, but for the fact increasing Effective Sec Status largely echoes higher levels of sovereignty and infrastructure development, which bring increased effective security for the defenders, thanks to sovereignty benefits.

Ruining the ecosystem:

Effective Sec Status affects the environment, not the individual players or alliances, which means a territory is equally rich or poor for all, regardless of their allegiances.

The PvE resources directly affected by Effective Sec Status are:
  • NPC spawns: rats are just as big and nasty, but their loot tables and bounties get worse.
  • Roids: the belt is here alright, only with smaller and poorer roids on average (quality drop, possibly slower regrowth)
  • Ice: see roids.
  • Moon Mining: without going into too much detail (since changes to moon materials distribution is another feature of Sov 2.0), local moons get less profitable as Effective Sec Status raises.
  • Exploration: probability of a cosmic anomaly spawning in system go down, and of any spawn to be a juicy one, too.
Effective Sec Status however doesn't change the True Sec of a system: even if the Effective Sec Status crosses the bar into positive digits, it won't turn the system into empire for the purposes of claiming sovereignty or other game mechanics such as building restrictions, dictor bubbles, bomb deployment, etc.

Balancing playstyles:

Typically, industry-oriented alliances (Builders) are the most eager to settle the wastelands of 0.0 with infrastructure, yet the less likely to have large numbers of PvP'ers to defend their space, or hunt rats and lick roids during slow hours.
Conversely, Hunters-Gatherers alliances put relatively less effort in infrastructure development, because their needs are limited (mainly a couple outposts here and there to refit, repair and refine), and because combat alliances are more interested in capturing stuff than building it.

These conflicting dynamics have historically hurt the planned "Exodus", as those players who are the most likely to create the conditions of 0.0 expansion — Builders — also have been the most likely to get shafted hard and early on by their Hunter-Gatherers counterparts.

Giving players a chance to somewhat tune their environment to their playstyle of choice, by offering them the option to trade off PvE farming for increased security contributes to addresse this issue, increases the survivability of small-to-medium sized alliances, fosters diversity of alliances styles on the map, and makes typically more profitable and fun to run a random hunting/ratting party through a combat-oriented alliance's territory than a industry-heavy one.

Co-dependancy across playstyles (the awful seekrit):

Hunters-Gatherers need industrialists to build their boomsticks, Builders need Infrastructure (which they develop only if they have a remote chance to hold on to it at least for a bit), but they also need resources and materials, which they get from… Hunter-Gatherers.

By having playstyle shape the territory, Effective Sec Status not only adds flavor but increases player awareness about this codependancy, which can result in stronger cooperation, and also more frequent limited-scale wars aimed at disrupting that dynamic among one's enemies.

Stirring the pot:

Combined with the increased defensive benefits of sovereignty, dynamic Effective Security Status prevents stagnation in territorial warfare by creating friction on border zones (as they become the favored hunting grounds for PvP and PvE alike).

The interstitial space, both on the map and in playstyles will become the playfield of everyday PvP action: border zones between sovereignties will suffer less PvE penalties from Effective Sec Status while offering less defensive benefits to the sovereignty holder (if any), and thus attract ratters and miners from various factions, and in their wake pirates and combat pilots who all prey on each other.

Besides friday night specials and roaming gangs, territorial warfare will also find a stronger motivator in the control of border zones, and alliances will be much more likely to engage in frequent wars, short or long lasting, but of limited scope (as opposed to the once-in-a-blue-moon all-out invasions we have now).

As some alliances will choose to preserve hunting/mining grounds by carefully leaving out gaps in the fabric of their sovereignty, they will create as many enticing opportunities for their enemies to hop in and ruin the day, be it only by claiming sovereignty for the primary purpose of denying yummy rats/roids/moons to the local alliance… and since they already moved a fleet all the way there, why not enjoy it ?

Squash the leeches:

Nudging the average 0.0 system towards either end of the rich<->barren continuum will make things interesting for the farmers and leeches of 0.0: finding a quiet, out of the way system with rewarding rats or roids will become much harder when everybody who can shoot a gun is heading for a reduced pool of 'good' systems with low Effective Sec Status.
This should benefit 0.0 alliances by weeding out some of the leeches from their ranks, and make life harder for farmers and RMT'ers in general.

Design caveats:

Although Effective Sec Status doesn't require much tweaking to be functional already (buff the default 0.0 loot table rewards a bit to make up for the expected reduction in numbers of 'good' systems), it really only makes sense with a revamped sovereignty ruleset that grants stronger benefits to sovereign entities who develop their space's infrastructure.

…which is another entry, to come Soon™.

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