Sunday, November 15, 2009

Commandeering (part 1)

At the core of Exegesis sovereignty mechanics sits FoF Tuning, a non-destructive PvP system that enables players to seize control of enemy assets, as opposed to ka-blooing them.

FoF Tuning applications aren't limited to sovereignty contests, however: much like a TacMap would, they come in to fill ancient holes in the feature set of EVE, and today's "I could do that last century" segment is about:

At heart, Commandeering is self-explanatory: it gives players the ability you hijack third-party ships and space assets for the benefit of their faction, corporation or self.

The basic gameplay is straightforward, too: find a suitable target, apply FoF Tuner modules to it for a while, and the coveted thingy is yours. That's if nobody tries to stop you, of course.

From a game mechanics standpoint, here's how it works:
FoF Tuners are high-slot utility modules. They emit FoF Tuning signal to the specific frequency of a Faction, Corporation or Pilot. When aimed at an applicable target, this signal is either added to the target current tuning charge (if the emitter and target frequencies match) or subtracted from it (if they differ).
Which of three possible frequencies a FoF Tuner is emitting can be selected automatically (default) or manually (with Scripts). [More on FoF Tuners]
Most things found in space that belong to players (and some NPC stuff) are susceptible to Commandeering/FoF Tuning. That includes ships, anchorables and deployables, various can types, POS towers and modules, outposts, stargates… pretty much anything save corpses can potentially be snatched away or repossessed through Commandeering.

Tuning states:

The status of any space asset is decided over two key attributes: Ownership and Control.

The process of Commandeering amounts to modifying a space asset's Tuning charge and frequency in such a way as to shift it it to a new Controller (and possibly Owner).

Ownership can be Owned or Abandoned.
  • If Owned, an Owner is defined. The Owner can be a Faction, Corporation or Pilot (usually the Controller).
Control can be Controlled, Neutralized, Challenged.
  • If Controlled, a Controller is defined. The Controller is the a Faction, Corporation or Pilot (in many cases the same as the Owner) that last brought the target to its Nominal Tuning Charge.

  • If Neutralized, a Contender may be defined. The Contender is a Faction, Corporation or Pilot in favor of which the target is currently holding a positive FoF Tuning charge, after the object has been brought to 0.0 Ts, and while it hasn't yet been tuned back up to its NTC.

  • If Challenged, a Challenger is defined. The Challenger is the Faction, Corporation or Pilot in favor of which the target is currently holding a positive (yet insufficient to gain Control) FoF Tuning charge, after the object has been tuned back up to its NTC from a Neutralized state by the  Contender.
• Commandeering a target requires to feed it enough FoF Tuning signal to first bring its Tuning charge down to 0.00 Ts, at which point its Control flips to Neutralized ; then push some more signal to pump it to a positive charge in your favor, which switches its Control to Challenged, and makes you the Challenger. With another healthy helping of your FoF frequency signal, the tuning charge in your favor can be brought up to the target's Nominal Tuning Charge (NTC) threshold, which will gain you Controller status over the target — in many cases this will also grant Ownership to the Controller.
  • Reducing the Tuning Charge of a target by feeding it a different FoF Frequency (than its current Challenger/Controller's) is known as Neutralizing.

  • Increasing the Tuning Charge of a target by feeding it the same FoF Frequency as its current Contender/Challenger/Controller is known as Tuning Up.

  • Successfully tuning a target up to its NTC and gaining Control over it is known as Commandeering.
The typical states a target goes through in the course of Commandeering are as follows:
  1. Owned/Controlled: Tuning charge remains positive for the Controller ever since it reached NTC.
  2. Owned/Neutralized: Attackers have brought the object Tuning charge down to 0.00 Ts.
  3. Owned/Challenged: the Contender FoF frequency has successfully charged the object up to its NTC, switching its state to Challenged (and resetting its tuning charge to 25% NTC), and is now tuning it positively again, but still below NTC.
  4. Owned/Controlled: the target Tuning charge has hit NTC from a Challenged state, granting Control  to the Challenger, thus making it the (new ?) Owner.
This sequence is the most commonplace and applies to ships and the majority of non-sovereignty-bound objects under usual circumstances.
Some special targets may become Abandoned immediately around phase 3, when they become Challenged (ex: Dungeons Control Centers, POS), while others will see their Ownership remain unaffected by a change of Controller in phase 4 (ex: 'rescued' ships, or Dungeon Mass Drivers).
[It is worth noting that reaching phase 2 or moving to phase 3-4 against Sovereignty Structures may present significantly different challenges, but since this article focuses primarily on Commandeering ships, we'll get back to that later.]

Tuning Charge:

All space assets susceptible of being Commandeered can hold a positive Tuning charge of a single FoF frequency at any one time. A few important factors in the level of this charge are worth knowing.

  • Nominal Tuning Charge (NTC): This is the required level an item must be charged up to, in order to Commandeer it.
    Its base value is set by the item TypeID, and can be increased  by Sovereignty modifiers, Tuning Amplifiers Rigs (for ships only), Tuning Amplifiers Arrays (POS and Outposts) to compute the ETC.

  • Effective Tuning Capacity (ETC): the maximum charge the item can currently hold, based on NTC plus modifiers such as FoF Tuning skill level (on ships), sovereignty benefits, etc.
    ETC is almost always higher than NTC, and increases the asset's defensive buffer against Neutralization attempts (but not Commandeering proper, which is based on NTC).

  • Passive Tuning Recharge (PTR): The ability for a space asset to regenerate lost Tuning charge over time,  up to its ETC. Many space assets can enjoy this benefit, although it may be dependent on sovereignty modifiers/prerequisites to work properly.
    Ships have a built-in PTR that's always on as long as there's a pilot aboard, and which can be boosted by the FoF Tuning skill and by sovereignty  modifiers.
    Outposts, POS, Stargates, deployable defenses, DMD and DCC also have a PTR (subject to sovereignty conditions/modifiers).
    Cans, secure cans, anchorable bubbles, construction platforms don't benefit from PTR.

    • Of note: ships left floating in space Abandoned (even inside a friendly forcefield) will suffer a 'negative PTR' of sorts, as their Tuning charge will slowly start to decay toward Neutralized.

Who can Commandeer what, and in whose name ?

Any pilot with the skills and FoF Modules fitted can attempt Commandeering, but some targets such as POS and sovereignty-bound structures can only be Commandeered in the name of a Player Corporation or Faction, and as such are off-limits for players in NPC 'noob' corps.

Player-controlled ships and drones are always fair targets for everyone (although Commandeering a Capital ship with a single cruiser may prove impractical), and select NPC ships can also fall prey to FoF tuners (mostly in the context of epic/special missions).

• Pilots in NPC corps can only use Tuners set to their personal frequency, and can't Commandeer for Corp or Faction. Likewise their ships are always Owned in personal name. [Doesn't apply to FW militias/corps, see below.]

• FW militias, both NPC corporations and enlisted player corps are not considered NPC and are treated like 'real' corporations for the purposes of Commandeering rules.

Commandeering Ships.

• Manned Ships:

Can technically be Neutralized, Tuned Up and Commandeered anywhere, but doing so can be an Aggression/Criminal Act, with potentially ka-bloo-ey consequences in lawful space.
  • Manned ships are immune to FoF Tuning while their structural integrity is not compromised. They become vulnerable while their structure is damaged to 95% or below, provided their shields and armor remain under 15%.

  • While its Control is in a Challenged state, a ship is largely disabled: the pilot retains control of steering and the ability to warp, dock, or jump/accelerate through a gate/portal, but can't activate modules or drive-jump under her ship's own power.
    Ejecting and activating self-destruction of the ship both remain possible at any time.

  • If the Challenger(s) manage(s) to gain Control over the ship and the ship's Owner changes as a result, the pilot is forcibly ejected, leaving the ship vulnerable to boarding by the new Owner(s).
• Unmanned ships: 

Unmanned ships floating in space (in or out of forcefields) retain their tuning charge and Controller for at least a while if left alone, but their Ownership status changes to Abandoned after three minutes without a Pilot aboard.
A Pilot member of a Faction can board any ship Owned or Controlled by her Corporation, Faction, or self, but not a ship Owned by another Corporation in same Faction (unless her Faction is the Controller).
• Boarding a ship that is Abandoned requires its Control to be either Neutral, or Challenged/Controlled in favor of the boarding Pilot personal/Corp/Faction FoF frequency.

• On boarding, an Abandoned ship's Owner attribute will automatically change to its new Pilot (if Control was Neutral before), or match the current Challenger/Controller.

• Abandonned ships can be Neutralized or Tuned up without the requirement to first bring them down into structure — if nobody's home, the boat is up for grabs and won't resist on its own.

• Unmanned-yet-still-Owned ships can only be boarded by the ship's Owner(s) or Controllers:
  • A ship Owned by a Faction can be boarded by any member of said Faction, or a member of the Controller entity.

  • A ship Owned by a Corporation can only be boarded by a member of said Corporation, or a member of the Controller entity.

  • A ship Owned privately by a pilot can only be boarded by its Owner, or by a member of the Controller entity.

The fine print:

Generally, Commandeering a foreign ship results in the Controller change triggering an Owner change to match, but Owner and Controller of a ship don't always have to be the same inside a Corporation or Faction, with amusing ramifications.
  • Commandeering a Corp-Owned ship within an alliance using the Faction's FoF Frequency will not change the Owner to Faction.
    Thus, a Neutralized/Challenged ship, while Owned by an allied Faction/Corporation can be 'rescued' by  members of a different Corporation in same Faction, provided they tune the ship to the Faction's FoF frequency. Control in this case will be gained by the Faction, but the Ownership will be retained by the same Owner (Corp or Faction), leaving the pilot in the cockpit (unless the ship was previously Owned in Pilot's name, who would then be ejected by the Ownership change).

  • A Neutralized/Challenged ship, while Owned in personal name by a Pilot can be 'carjacked' by  members of her Corporation or Faction, provided they tune the ship to the Corporation/Faction's FoF frequency. Control in this case will be gained by the Corporation/Faction, triggering an Ownership change (to Corp or Faction) that will forcibly eject the Pilot. [Note that the ejected pilot may still end up with proper rights to board the ship again… right after the session change delay.]

  • Commandeering a Faction or Corp-Owned ship using a (different) Corporation FoF frequency (even if belonging to the same Faction) will trigger an Ownership change (to Corp) that will forcibly eject the Pilot (if any).

Tuning ship settings:

• Pilots can manually change the Ownership and Control settings of their active ship, either in station (requires access to the Fitting service) or in space (near a Carrier/Ship Maintenance Bay).

• Corporation officers can edit the O/C settings of assembled ships directly from the Corporate Hangars (requires access to the Fitting Service, or a Maintenance Bay in range if on a POS). 

• Carrier/Motherships/Titans pilots can modify Owner/Controller settings on the ships stored in their Maintenance Bay if they so choose, which will otherwise remain as they were when they got loaded in.
  • Player-Corporation members have a choice of setting their ship Owner and/or Controller to either 'me' or 'Corporation'.

  • Alliance (and FW) pilots have a choice of setting their ship Owner and/or Controller to either 'me', 'Corporation', or 'Faction'.
Ownership/Control settings don't have to always match, within limits ('me' as Owner is not compatible with 'Faction' as Controller, for ex).

As a player corp pilot, setting your ship to 'Corp'/'Corp' is usually the way to go: it gives you maximum flexibility by allowing you to easily swap ships in space with corpmates, and to defend each other against Commandeering attempts while preserving a possible corp-subscribed insurance on your ship.

If you're member of an alliance 'Corp/Faction' grants you the same level of flexibility without voiding a possible corp insurance on your ship.

The only sensible reason to fly a ship with Controller/Owner set to 'me' is if you just took advantage of Kill Rights to 'repossess' a ship in space, or if you have to leave your empty ship floating in a POS and don't trust your alliance/corp mates to leave it alone (note that it could still be scooped or easily ejected from the POS after if becomes Abandoned).
  • Packaged ships have no Owner/Controller attributes set, being generic item types and all, while newly-assembled ships will default to Owner: 'PilotName' Controller: 'PilotName' (if assembled in personal hangar), or Owner: 'CorpName' Controller: 'CorpName' if assembled in a Corporate hangar (POS or station).

  • Ships you take from Corporate hangars (including Deliveries), or that are dropped in your personal hangar from/by corporation officers will come with default settings of 'Corp'/'Corp' unless they have been set otherwise by corp officers.

  • Assembled ships received through direct trade or corp/alliance contracts keep their O/C attributes until you board them, at which point you can manually change them.

  • If you're in a NPC corporation, your ship comes pre-set to Owner: you, Controller: you, and you can't change those yourself (except by ejecting, which will reset the Owner to Abandoned after 3 minutes).

Commandeering and Insurance.

Contrary to what happens when you contract or repackage your ship, losing it to Commandeering doesn't void your policy, but the beancounters tend to look cross at such claims, and as a rule of thumb you'll get only about 25% of the payout you'd be entitled to on a 'clean' loss.

Warning: changing the Owner on a ship will void any active Insurance contract previously taken by the former Owner of the ship — keep it in mind when receiving 'corp ships' that may already be insured.

Commandeering and Kill stats.

Simply put, being forcibly ejected from your ship in the process of a Commandeering qualifies as a ship loss. Even though the insurance people won't like it, when it comes to Kill Rights, Kill Stats, Kill Boards, Kill Whatever, it counts as such.
People participating in a successful Commandeering will get credit for any target whose Controller changes as a result of FoF tuning, which means the same ship will ding twice before it (doesn't) change hands in a FoF Tuning contest: once when it becomes Challenged, and once when Control is (re)taken.
This is intended so rescuers of a distressed ship can get credit for their bloodless achivement.

Commandeering, as seen by the Space Police:

Tuning up (or Neutralizing) a target using the exact same FoF frequency as its current Owner is not considered Aggression, but Assist, and falls under the same applicable rules a remote-boost would.
Neutralizing or Tuning up a target using a different Pilot/Corp/Faction FoF frequency from its current Controller's is always an aggression, but not a Criminal Act if the FoF Frequency used on the target is that of the Owner's Corporation or Faction (or if the Tuner(s) and target are at war, benefit from Kill Rights, etc).
Members of NPC corporations (except FW Militias against valid FW/war targets) will always be 'perps' when Commandeering a target: NPC corp membership doesn't allow one to Commandeer a 'corpmate' boat more than it makes legal to shoot them.

Beyond CONCORD, Commandeering can also get you in trouble with NPC Navies and FW Militias, if by chance you're attempting to hijack a stargate in NPC-controlled space


[In part 2 of this series, we'll have a look at other potential targets for Commandeering, besides ships]

No comments:

Post a Comment