Change is Coming
It is no secret that CCP is and has been looking towards the future of sovereignty and power projection. There is of course a road map in place, but there is nothing stopping ideas and agendas on what changes should take place from being discussed now.
In a very broad stroke most everyone wants the same thing. Something that provides a compelling and exciting game experience. A sovereignty system that is both rewarding and has real meaning. To say the current situation in null is a disaster is an understatement. Things are dire. Some ideas on changes to game mechanics range from subtle to extreme. Even worse are those who only want changes that benefit them and those who think just like them. They will spin tales of what their enemy happens to be using is single-handedly destroying the game, but this is all just propaganda. Best to just ignore them.
Remember the goal here is what is healthy for the game as a whole, including all players. Not the select few.
As I said, the situation is complex. Because of this no simple change will fix it. Unfortunately when you let a system such as the one we have to determine sovereignty, how power projection plays in and terrible industry system – things become massively intertwined and knotted together. Granted the industry in EVE just saw a revamp and so far it seems to be doing well. But, that is just one aspect to the problem that needs attention.
The other two main hot topics we have been seeing more and more the last six months is power projection and sovereignty. Ideas have been sprouting up constantly and debates have been steadily going. Both are very closely tied to each other so it is a huge challenge to alter one without giving the other attention too.
One such example is the idea to add a 5 minute cool down timer to jump again for ships with jump drives. I can’t help but shake my head at this suggestion. What exactly is it hoping to accomplish? For one it means nothing for the initial jump in. So things like hot dropping will be completely unphased. Another is it will have zero effect on sovereignty or other strategic objection in regards to who shows up.
It is well known now that a carrier can travel across the entire game map in under 10 minutes. Fast enough for the shortest strategic objective of a Sovereignty Blockade Unit (SBU). Now factor in a 5 minute wait per jump with that idea. A SBU takes 3 hours to online. The carrier would have to be more than 36 jumps away from the SBU in order for a 5 minute cooldown timer to have an effect at all. The entire game is only 7-8 carrier jumps wide. No where even remotely close to what would be needed for such a change to do anything that would put a dent into the ease of power projection.
Now imagine a strategic objective like a tower that takes over a day to come out of reinforce mode or even conquering a system which takes days. Starting to get the picture?
So Decrease Timer, Right?
Well sure. That is an option too, but let’s think about that as well. If the game is only 7-8 carrier jumps wide, that means a timer would need to not exceed 30-40 minutes in order for the 5 minute cooldown jump timer to work. And that is assuming this carrier is on the very opposite side of this timer. Such a system would be a nightmare to work with. Maybe you were around for station ping pong? Imagine going to work or to sleep and waking up and everything was destroyed and swiped away from you while you were gone from the game for hours. Hell even gone for just an hour long lunch break.
Time zone wars are not fun at all and that is all this would be. So as you can see, power projection and sovereignty really are in a locked dance number. Even a groups assets in space like a Player Owned Structure (POS) falls under this. Lean too far one direction and they both collapse. Lean the other too much and the same disaster.
Finding the Starting Point
The one thing we all know is we can’t make timers too short or we fall victim to the timezone war madness. Things would be so bad it would just discourage players from risking anything because of how they would lose it all the moment they decide to have a job, spouse, children, sleep – take the dog for a walk. So we know here, at this very place, is where you can start to find where one set of guidelines will help define what any change to sovereignty and power projection change must consider.
Obviously anyone who invests in risking assets like a POS, maintaining a system and or station must have some reaction time to deal with an attacking force. Now I’m not talking about days upon days or anything like that. What I want you to realize what is the very minimum amount of time a group should have to say, react to an attack on their POS. An attack on their station, their system – anything like that.
We know it has to be long enough where people can actually maintain a real life. Banking on timers that assume the players just sit at home all day long with just EVE as the only thing they care about is asinine. So when you look at things like strontium timers on a POS; they are there to allow such things. Time for players to react to the attack while they were asleep, while they were at work or anything like that.
Once you have a reasonable amount of time they group has to react then you can use that as a basis for how to work on power projection.
Foundation for an Idea on Change
Now that we have the foundation for how long a group can react, we can take that number and look at power projection. The thing to keep in mind is any change to curb power projection has something I like to keep in mind and I believe you should too:
“If a group can travel across the game with the largest ships, dramatically affect the outcome of a strategic battle and be back with those ships before their assets and territory were in danger – it will not have a real effect on changing power projection for the better.”
Not an elegant guideline that rolls off the tongue, but I feel it is sound. If any change still allows the above to happen then what exactly will it change? Does the 5 minute cooldown on jumping slow down ships with a jump drive? Sure, but does nothing to change the situation. Perhaps there will be the rare occasion where it kept a batphone from getting to something in time, but the work around would most likely be to not risk anything until everything is within the one jump. Meh.
So back to our foundation. If it is 24 hours for say a strontium timer on a POS then we know that at minimum it should take 24 hours to cross the map and that would only mean a slight change for those two ends. If we decrease the timer you start to step on time zone shenanigans. So it means increasing the time to travel with the carrier. The longer it would take would mean the bigger of a difference on what it means to assist a friendly that far away.
This is where some players start to have a heart attack. When things that involve teleporting around no longer can be used indefinitely and start to become strategic choices on where they are staged and how they are moved. They see it as sand being taken out of the sandbox. This is highly exaggerated. After all, they were only traveling across the game to get to a fight right? Now they will get to a fight that is closer.
Keeping the Enemy at Arms Length
I have mention this several times before. Players like to keep the bad guys at arms length. Anything closer is friends. They still spend the same amount of time in getting the fight as they have for years and years. The only difference is now we have all these amplifiers at our disposal to travel. So now instead of fighting an enemy that was 15-20 minutes away that equated to say the next region over. Now you are fighting an enemy that is still 15-20 minutes away – but now they are half a dozen regions away. You are just spending that time titan bridging or taking a carrier or other fast travel method to do it. Everything along the way being blue.
With the combination of teleportation mechanics as well as being extremely efficient with logistics and planning a groups arm length spans the game map many, many times over. When anyone from anywhere in the game can be on your front lawn in a matter of just a few minutes. The player has no choice but to align with a big enough group, a coalition, to withstand an attack. This continues on and on until we are where we are today. One giant boring snorfest.
So the short explanation is any change that is intended to have a real impact on how sovereignty and power projection works MUST take into consideration the minimum amount of time for players to realistically respond. That is why a previous idea of mine severely limited the amount of teleportation/power projection as much as it did. It HAD to in order to have any kind of impact without strategic objectives turning into time zone wars and silly station ping pong everyday.
The real reality is that due to how complex and intertwined all of these things are; proclaiming a simple solution will be the best is completely false. It will take serious resources and effort to pull it off. Nothing personal against those who came up with the 5 minute cooldown jump timer. It just happened to be the most recent thing I heard about today. I don’t want anyone to stop putting them out there. I just wanted to hopefully provide a bit of structure when it comes to things like a change to alter power projection and sovereignty.