Friday, September 27, 2013

Dust514 and the Future of Planetary Interacton

For fuck's sake...

I have a grand vision for how to turn Dust mercs into actual mercenaries that work for ISK. I even outlined it in a previous blog, with a bunch of other goodies aimed at including more EVE into Dust514 (the best selling point of the game in the overly-crowded FPS market.) Holy shit that blog was back in June... I (read: my Alliance authors) need to step it up!

Income


Currently district ownership produces clones, which are equivalent to ISK since they auto-sell off after you hit district cap. This is the primary purpose for owning districts. This needs to change. The clones need to be units that are either moved from district to district, to start battles, or sold to other corporations. If there is no demand, the value of clones drops off. As time goes on removing "clone packs" from Genolution would be beneficial to the economy as there would no longer be an NPC price fixed for the purchase/sale, but that's not what this blog is about.



Income should be based off of activity within a district, and, in the case of EVE activity, this is Planetary Interaction installations. District owners should be able to tax installations in their district, with different activities to tax at different rates:
  • Production (extractions, manufacturing) 
  • Transmission (material transfers between installations)
  • Import/Export (to/from space)
  • Lease (a tax on the command center ONLY that you pay daily to the District owner.)
  • Construction (the placement of facilities. This is less of a tax on income, but a flat fee per structure placement with a reasonable hard cap at 10 million ISK or so for a command center.)
Example break down of two districts with different tax rates. While the lease is cheaper in District 1 (owned by Corp A), it makes more sense to build and export in District 2 (owned by Corp B). This could spark tax wars between groups with different philosophies. 

In addition, installations that sprawl across multiple districts with supply lines (including extractor heads) will have to deal with additional tariffs that a neighboring district's owners can impose for materials crossing their boarders. This way, it will encourage EVE players to group their facilities into districts that are favorable, tax-wise, or can pay mercenary corporations to take districts on the behalf of their corporation and be done with a fascist tax-hungry douche bag that controls a prime district with 100% tax on extraction.

As with Customs Offices, you can set different tax brackets for different relations (Corporation, Alliance, Excellent/Good/Bad/Terrible standing).

Aggro Management

As previously outlined, the EVE players trying to make a living from these districts will immediately have the desire to keep their investments profitable. If a district owner (whether it be a rival EVE corp, or a bitter EVE-hating Dust corp) decides they don't want anyone but their corporation using their land, they could tax the entire district, across all spectra (tariff, production, total income) to 100%. Now, if they are on top of a particularly valuable resource, this is bound to piss people off.

Dust corporations should then be utilized to invade the district, either for themselves, or on behalf of any other corporation, EVE or Dust. This would happen exactly as the existing PC battles, but with the added flair that Dust mercs fighting on behalf of another corporation would be publicly visible and their victory automatically hands the district over to the contract initiator. (As a side, personal note, removing ringers in favor of this would be far more beneficial to the corporations in Dust since they'd know what they were up against going into the match from the get-go, instead of no one wanting to attack ANY district in fear of being curb stomped by any random top 10 corp that might show up in lobby.)

Now, if your corporation own a tasty piece of land, other players will try to set up shop within the district regardless of the tax, either because the materials extracted are necessary, or the players are dicks and want to drain your shit. This will mean an owner will have to decide on a balance between tolerating their presence (potentially screwing themselves by having reduced yield) or destroying/raiding the new facilities.

Eviction

This is what CCP had us all envision several fanfests ago. Using Dust mercenaries to remove PI infrastructure from the planets!

Assume you own a district and someone you don't like (maybe even a fellow corp mate? Who knows?) set up facilities that overlap yours and are hurting your bottom line. You want him gone. You go to his structures in the planet viewer, and initiate an attack contract against any of his facilities using clones your purchased from the open market. There will be a delay between the attack order and the actual battle, depending on the size of the installation.
  • Extractors, Production facilities - 1 hour
  • Cargo Hubs - 2 hours
  • Space Ports - 24 hours
  • Command Center (>24 hours during the owner's set reinforcement timer!)
Command centers will have an additional attribute that EVE players can set when installing them: a reinforcement window. This will behave identically to the one in Dust. Keep in mind, the above timers are only that short because the player has set up the facilities within a district YOUR CORP OWNS. See "Raiding" below for details on how matches work for facilities NOT within your district.

Battle will occur AT LEAST 24 hours from the initiated attack, during the Player's Reinforcement window. He can then put the match up on contracts to his corp, alliance, friends, or the public. He "pulls the trigger" on who to accept, similar to EVE's war-assist system.
Also, to avoid EVE players blue-balling the Dust players by removing structures that are currently under attack, the structures will enter a "locked" mode that makes them unable to be edited until after a defensive victory.

Raiding

What if you want to harass someone's PI, but don't own the district and don't have the manpower to take on the District owner? This is where the concept of Raiding comes in. 

The procedure works exactly as with the Eviction concept above, but now all matches start on the defender's reinforcement timer, and attacking a Command Center is not permitted. ONLY a district owner can completely evict and EVE player from the surface of a planet through this means.

An outside corp wants to either destroy the extraction facility or simply hijack its output for a day. Since Corp C (the aggressor) does not own the district, the match will take place during the Player's reinforcement timer he has set in his Command Center, at least 24 hours from when the attack is launched.

But what if you just want resources/money from facilities and don't want care about removing them? Well, I'll explain, in greater detail, how to accomplish this below.

Nuke it From Orbit or Rape and Pillage?

The matches for these types of removals (raiding AND destruction) must be different and complete destruction MUST tie into EVE Online.

Firstly, bring back multi-stage map idea, Skirmish 1.0 (as its become known)! This is an excellent time to utilize it. The defender should have infinite clones and its a race against time. There should also be a choice for the invader:
  • Destroy the facility
  • Steal assets
With Skirmish 1.0, the attackers have to complete two stages to win, in both Destroy and Steal, the first stage must be completed. This will open up the map to the main facility where the choice by the attackers must be made. 

Steal Assets:
If they wish to simply steal some of the resources (>24 hours worth to the Player-set reinforcement timer), they must have their MCC dock with the facility by keeping defensive Null cannons offline to prevent MCC destruction. In addition, they must ensure their clones are not depleted. If the attacker wins, the EVE player is locked from modifying their reinforcement timer until the NEXT reinforcement window (>24 hours from the battle, mind you), and the structure can not be removed or modified in any way. Also, the items created in this window (or currently stored there) will be liquidated for 75% their average market value, and the ISK awarded to the raiding corporation (or those that paid for the contract).

Destroying the Facility:
Destroying the facility should be simpler, but REQUIRE EVE interaction. After stage one is completed, and the facility becomes accessible to the attackers, a squad leader must plant a physical beacon inside of the facility. This beacon must be visible to everyone on the map and has a countdown of 2 minutes, and also stalls the approach of the MCC (it doesn't want to destroyed, after all). The beacon can be hacked (and thus removed) by the defenders and must then be replanted by the attackers. In orbit, an EVE player equipped with Tactical Hybrid/EMP/Laser L (Battleship-sized weapons) must be connected to the district for the entirety of the countdown and then must fire after it hits 0. The match is ended, the facility is obliterated by fire.

Conclusion

As I've stated a million times between the EVE and Dust514 forums (and this blog), the strength of Dust isn't its shooter gameplay, or its free-to-play model, and it is especially not that it is available on a single console... It is the EVE interaction that will make this game stand out. Trailers show massive battles happening over planets, with shots to and from the planet. I've been fortunate enough to have a couple skirmishes above a district in an attempt to thwart bombardment attempts against my Dust guys, but they were no where near the scale shown in trailers. If CCP wants to make EVE players care about Dust enough to fight above the planets and risk Supers getting blown to bits by orbital artillery, they need to start affect EVE players' bottom lines. Starting with PI installations is a good first step.

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