19 August 2009

Planetary Control Part II

The following is the technical specifications portion of Crazy Kinux's Planetary Control Contest (the deadline for which passed fifteen hours prior to my posting this).


Technical Specifications

Planetary control is an extension/improvement on sovereignty. While there is some room for low-sec interaction (see section V below), issues of planetary control would be restricted to 0.0 space and akin to Firefly’s outer rim systems where lawlessness reigns until someone comes in and takes control.

With considering bringing planetary control into the Eve universe there’s the very real issue of creating an entire other level of meta-game that could be introduced depending on what macro- or micro-level of control is to be introduced. This post, while long, is more of a macro-level introduction.

I. Planetary Ratings

There would have to be a system for rating planets similar to the ratings currently in WH space.

It’s understandable (or expected, even) that the star systems within the Eve universe would hold habitable planets, but as is within our own galaxy the occurrence of those planets would be exceptionally rare, and a planet with an equivalent atmosphere to Earth’s being the rarest. With planet-side conditions taken into account, some places would be cheaper to colonize or control than others. Colonization of some planets (ie gas giants) would be just plain impossible.

Conditions to be accounted for include but aren’t limited to:

a) Gravity, Atmosphere & Weather
  1. Affects the cost of infrastructure
  2. Affects the cost of getting someone to live there besides the military forces required.
  3. Could feasibly control the size of supported population
  4. Affects cost and effectiveness of combat
b) Resources: Affects the value of the planet/colony as well as the cost of recovery of said resources.
c) Existing population and their pre-existing infrastructure: Can work for you or against you.
d) Ecology: Think critters.

II. Finding the Right Place

Planets already colonized wouldn’t require “finding” per se, being uniquely named within the system. Unclaimed planets -- possibly with minimal indigenous populations with varying levels of pre-existing infrastructure – would need to be discovered via an extension of probing.

III) Ships

Any ship that can fit (or, in the case of the Minmatar, spot-weld) a probe launcher to the hull can find a suitable planet. For taking control something more substantial would be required. These could be drawn from existing ship types (Battleships, the Orca, Carriers, etc.) or a larger new breed of T3 ships. Two things dictate the size and type of the ship required:

a) Planet-side resources required: The number of troops and types of ordinance/equipment required. Atmospheric conditions come into play including indigenous population. All this requires storage (probably) greater than available in the current line of ships.
b) Orbital Support: Warfare Link mods and the ability to launch landing craft. Orbital assistance could also include space-to-surface bombardment for softening of reinforced areas.

Immediately option a above raises the problem. Logistically a battleship currently can’t hold – much less launch – fitted ships which would be required for landing troops and equipment. This furthers the argument for the Orca or entirely new ship types (and modules and skills).

III) Taking Control

Terrestrial operations would range in increasing difficulty. From easiest to hardest:

a) Uninhabited & unclaimed planets scaled by planet-side conditions.
b) Inhabited & unclaimed planets scaled by planet-side conditions.
c) Inhabited & claimed planets scaled by planet-side conditions.

For the purpose of taking control of a planet troops would be required. This feasibly could be a tie-in to the recently announced Dust 514, but not necessarily. Anyone who has run missions for PVE is familiar with Marines. These are soldiers from the four races presumably coming from station or Empire planet populations and they could be given something meaningful to do, like colonizing other planets. The unit types could be expanded with higher cost prestige units being brought to market as well as equipment and armaments.

Time required would vary on circumstances (see a-c above). Uninhabited planets could be taken relatively instantaneously, with mitigating factors extending the time required. Reinforced or controlled populations, especially those with friendly forces nearby, could be exceptionally difficult. Think of a POS warfare, giving the controlling entities an opportunity to respond via warnings and countdown timers. Furthermore building (or repairing) infrastructure would take time and resources. Utilizing orbital bombardment on hardened structures would cause not only extensive strategic and collateral damage, but might not sit too well with an indigenous population. There is also the constant threat of someone else coming along with a superior force to disrupt you, possibly annihilating your forces and resources in the process.

IV) Skills

The pod pilots skills could come into play here as well:

a) Bureaucratic Connections: You could be dealing with established local gov’ts, after all.
b) Criminal Connections: This is 0.0 space, after all and there’s bound to be some nefarious types about.
c) Military Connections: Aides in effectiveness of marines and prestige units.
d) Leadership.
e) Warfare Link Specialist: Ship-based control.
f) Charisma: It doesn’t do much else, does it?

V) After the Fight and Low-Sec

Once you have fought and gained control of a system you can then start reaping the benefits. Controlling a system’s population – depending on size – would improve (or establish?) sovereignty in the system, perhaps with better or easier control of stations. This wouldn’t bring an end to POS warfare as it’s a different style of game; more an expansion on the established system. With planetary control comes the recovery and sale of lucrative resources and locally created products and technology. Also would come secured trade routes to your planet. Interactions between planets within a system would be conducted via stations. The ships to date in Eve aren’t atmospheric-friendly so there would be no direct Pilot/planetary contact; business would be conducted in stations perhaps with the introduction (again) of planetary vehicles for retrieval of goods.

For those not in control of a system – including planets in low-sec already under faction control – operations can still be carried out, including trade with the indigenous population. Player and corporation standings could come into play when figuring who will buy or sell from you, as well as the price they’re wiling to pay to deal with you. Lucrative markets for products in 0.0 would erupt if the controlling entity didn’t see to the needs of its population. Running with a cargo hold full of spiced wine might just prove profitable yet…

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