I know there are a lot of things in EVE gameverse that fail the basic common sense test, and I can live at peace with lore and backstory inconsistencies in a game where the most interesting stories are those the players write through their actions, rather than by roleplaying on a script. Some design misses however are enough to damage the gameplay, in addition to their being ridiculous.
Problem(s):…arise when major game mechanics simply fail internal consistency tests, and Repair systems are among the worst offenders.
If cheap tech 1 modules can readily convert energy from ships' capacitors into engineered matter (to remotely or locally repair structural damage suffered by armor and hull), and can restore a ship integrity without any source of raw materials, not only are we far past the point where technology is indistinguishable from magic (which could be OK), but one must wonder why industry still needs to bother with any raw materials, when ship reactors provide a readily-available, seemingly infinite and everlasting supply of energy-and-thus-matter at low cost.
Plainly said: magick matter-generators are cause for serious cognitive dissonance in the face of the need to mine asteroids.
…already there: it's called nanite paste, a NPC repairing material source, and a very nice ISK sink that can be reused in a myriad of interesting ways.
No more free rides.
• Station Repair Services.
Under the current ruleset, you pay for those in Empire, but one of the perks of owning or being welcome in an outpost is you can repair a capital ship from 1% structure to 100% serviceable at absolutely zero cost shouldered by anyone. Magick !
Simply add a nanite paste hangar/tank to an outpost, and burn nanite from there or/and from the corporate/personal hangar of pilots to fuel repairs.
Outpost owners should obviously have the option to offer repairs for free if they so choose, but just as a drink 'on the house' is still coming out of a paid-for bottle, 'free' repairs should come out of the outpost's operators pocket.
Providing cheaper than NPC market nanite paste sources (in cash costs anyway) could be done through planetary trade in sovereign space, missions, PvE gathering of resources and home brew manufacturing… whatever fits.
• Remote/local reppers on ships.
Nanite paste again, either pure, or in player-manufactured compounds/charges.
Nanite paste (or nanite based compound/charges) would be used both for local and remote repairer modules of the structure or armor flavors.
To maintain the incentive for remote repairing roles, remote-repper modules should be slightly more efficient than local repairers but still much less efficient (from an ISK-per-HP perspective) than a Station repair services operating at cost.
• Logistics drones.
Change the way they work: instead of beaming free armor HP through the viscous ether of EVE intarweb space, have them eat away their own structural HP as a fuel source for remote repping. Drones could be preset to either burn through their Structure HP until they go pop (or the target is fully repaired, whichever comes first), or to return to their carrier ship once they reach a bottom level of structure HP (like 2%).
Structure damage on drones could be healed from inside the ship drone bay, at the expense of some nanite paste (or the usual nanite paste-based repair compound) normally used for local/remote reppers — or done on drones in space, using remote structure reppers (also using standard repair fuel).
The need to 'fuel' repairers serves three main purposes.
- It ousts nonsensical magick out of the game.
- It adds tactical depth to repairing: "Do I want to remote-rep teammates at every opportunity, or do I save my limited on-board stock of nanite paste for critical situations ?"
[Choosing to keep flying while damaged ties in nicely with Commandeering mechanics, and attrition wars over nanite paste also become a realistic option.]
- It asks of players to handle the balance between cost and convenience, which adds a level of challenge and decision-making to the mix (the assumption is maxxed skills and the best ship-fitted equipement will never beat the repairing efficiency of a station-bound repair service).
In a similar spirit, shield and energy transfers should be tweaked, such that remote boosting shield/cap is more efficient than using local shield boosters in many cases, yet not so much that you can create energy or shields out of nothing by spider-boosting.
The 'fuel' here comes in capacitor cost, which typically should require to use Cap Booster charges to keep a remote booster's capacitor in the black.
Shield/Energy transfer drones' boosting abilities could be limited by a low cap recharge rate compared to the needs of their boosting output, which would therefore be reduced to a trickle after they eat through their capacitor buffer, warranting a recharge trip to the drone carrier.
Scooping dried out drones would instantaneously drain the drone carrier for about 50% of the required capacitor needed to recharge drones, or alternatively the return of a drone to bay could temporarily boost its cap recharge rate by x2 to x5 of its normal.
Either solution trades capacitor charge for elapsed time, which is consistent with the way capacitors work in the game (ship grid reactors supply an infinite amount of energy, but at a limited rate).
Notes and caveat:
Balance should account for the necessity of ship-mounted repairer modules to remain attractive.
While this is currently a no-brainer (free matter-generation !), the question will arise when the 'free as beer' factor is ditched.
The fitting and capacitor costs of structure and armor repairers should be significantly reduced (especially on remote modules), as the price for fitting them would be paid in reduced utility (due to charge limitation), running costs (nanite paste isn't cheap), in addition to the expense of ship fitting slots.
Most ships may not need cargo bay adjustments to accommodate the extra load of repair fuel, provided the used compounds are compact enough: a ship should have sufficient spare room in cargo bay under normal circumstances to near-entirely rebuild 3 to 10 same-class ships with repair fuel if they so choose.
The limiting factor on total amount of repair fuel loaded ought to come instead from the potentially higher cost of loosing the ship, considering the added total value of repair fuel in cargo bay.