Plight of a small gang
Recently, because of my comments on the forums and Mord Fiddle’s blog, I was asked to post feedback for an idea about objectives for small gangs in the EVE Online Features & Ideas Discussion forum. So I did. And then I thought to myself: “What better way to get back into writing on my blog than the lazy cut and paste way?” And now I’m cross-posting a modified version of the forum message here on my blog.
I am a relatively minor member of a non-sovereignty holding alliance. We pride ourselves on being very good at shooting things in space and not caring about much else. Our general way of life in EVE is to fly small gangs with very competent pilots and engage other gangs. We will often up-engage against larger or heavier fleets. We do this because we believe in our pilots. We won’t turn down a gank — it still results in a killmail — but as a general rule we go out looking for a real fight because that’s what makes us better. I can count the number of times I have participated in a Rote Kapelle gate camp on one finger.
A fleet usually starts with the FC putting his head into the map to look for a bright spot that might mean a gang in space. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve seen other organizations work this way and so I don’t think it is unique to us.
So it’s with this bias that I think about objectives for small gangs in space. What can be done to cause more clashes between competent gangs in space?
Well, what elements do we need to form a fight?
In my opinion, we need two non-allied gangs with temporal and spacial locality (they have to be in the same place at the same time) and both with a desire to fight.
There are gangs in space all the time, so finding two non-allied gangs in New Eden is not the problem. But bringing two of them together in the same space, at the same time and both with the desire to fight seems very difficult.
How can we make this easier?
Mechanics are probably relatively simple.
- Put a gang in space with an objective that can best be achieved by combat-fit ships; it’s critical that the objective cannot be better accomplished with ships designed to fight traditional NPC encounters. Let’s call this fleet the objective fleet.
- Broadcast the location and some approximation of the gang size on the map or through some other outlet.
- Delay the reward until completion of the objective.
- Provide a way for another fleet to deny the reward to the objective fleet or claim the reward for themselves. Let’s call this fleet the spoiler fleet.
But we’re not there yet. If the goal is for a fight [and not just another isk faucet] we need a reason for the objective fleet to stick around if contested — if they leave they haven’t lost anything except time. We could require the objective fleet to invest isk or some other valuable resource upfront. Or we could force them to stay on the field by cutting their warp drives off with a gigantic bubble they can’t escape until the objective is completed. I prefer an upfront investment.
We also have to figure out how to keep insanely large fleets spoiler fleets from going on a wild rumpus through New Eden taking every objective fleet‘s goodies. It seems reasonable to allow only a spoiler fleet of comparable weight to enter the objective and then shut the door — some sort of points system based on hull class could get us to this solution.
The mechanics all seem simple enough, but I’m finding it very tough to hang a story around them. I like being immersed in the story; that’s tough when there is none.
It’s worth mentioning that this would probably be a great set of mechanics for NPC null-sec or low-sec, but become less useful the deeper you go into capsuleer-sovereign space because of the security afforded by being so far off the beaten path.
If you can make this happen then more fleets are travelling through space. Either a fight occurs on the way or a fight occurs at the destination. More fights resulting in more exploding ships is an all-around good thing for New Eden. Aren’t exploding ships what it’s all about?
Editor’s Note 1: Until 2 weeks ago I had been out of the game for about a year. I like what’s happened while I was gone. Except that there isn’t much fighting in sovereign null-sec anymore.
Editor’s Note 2: If you did not click on the link for Mord’s blog above, you should. He’s one of the best writers out there writing about EVE Online. But really, if you somehow got here and didn’t already know about Mord I’d be extremely surprised.
Editor’s Note 3: I know this is not a fully fleshed idea; it’s just a frame. I promise I’ll come back to it.