Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog Banter #59 - Terrain

This month's version comes from commenter Zappity who asks:

Probably been done before... What about local force projection (as opposed to the longer distance force projection that is often talked about)? I think of 'terrain' in EVE to be how systems are mapped together by gates. Strong tactics which exploit terrain have historically been extremely important in deciding battle outcomes. How does this apply in EVE in the presence of cynos?

Related to this, you have the option to explore the topic of wormhole systems with effects (Black Holes, Cataclymismic variablestar, etc) and if similar environmental effects on certain grids/deadspace or system wide should be explored for known space?

Ooh, that's me! I suppose I'd better write something. I'd forgotten all about this question and can't remember if I had a point in mind when I asked it.

So, local terrain in EVE. Well, it doesn't exist, does it? Except for FW plexes I suppose. (And maybe bubbles but I don't like them so I'm going to ignore them.) The warp mechanics and ship exclusions of FW plexes do create some interesting scenarios.

I remember one particular Astero who killed my poor Comet. We were in a poorly organised gang (of course) and he was in a medium plex. When he saw us coming he took the simple expedient of warping to the novice. Then he burned away from the beacon before we could catch him, stringing us out nicely because we couldn't warp to each other, and killed us methodically.

He knew how the terrain worked. He knew that the Sentinel and Stabber couldn't fit into the plex. He knew we would have to slowboat out. He knew he had an off grid booster to increase his reps. Bastard. But let's not get distracted.

It's usually a cyno and away you go. I honestly don't understand why teleportation was introduced as a game mechanic. It seems that the chief purpose is to avoid gates, the natural defensive choke points in the terrain.

But rather than go off on a rant about power projection, let me paint a picture of a few ways in which terrain could be introduced to the game.

Zappity, as usual, is trouble looking for a place to happen. I hop into Asakai, noting the Stabber on scan at a belt. I think I'll pass - my Vexor won't catch him. But then I notice that there are Hemorphite rocks in the belt! Don't they increase Gallente hull agility when on grid? Aha!

Having dispatched the feeble Stabber (of course - what could have gone wrong?) I hop into Prism. Last night this system had a Wolf Rayet effect. I notice it has faded now but it was great while it lasted! My Enyo tore apart a Thorax and Moa who were foolish enough to come into my plex. They're probably still wondering how it happened. Noobs. Never mind, there will be something interesting again soon. The effect generator that the local pirates installed won't sit idle for long.

I get a shock when I jump back into Asakai. Someone has dropped a mass bubble on the gate! I always find these fun but usually die to the lurking recon. Max speed is inversely proportional to distance from the bubble core, with enormously increased speed at the centre (which always makes me want to burn out of the thing) but virtually zero at the periphery. Think of a playful event horizon.

Of course, I could just warp straight out but that will take ages since my warp speed will be freighter-like if I depart from within the bubble. Maybe I should just go back to Prism and hope some bugger hasn't dropped a singularity on the out gate...

You get the point. Local terrain in EVE is mostly dull, or non-existent due to teleportation. I think this is a shame. There could be so many interesting local environmental effects that you could chain together to form true local terrains. Warp speed modification to split a fleet up over here, mess with a kite-scrubber's agility over there. Combine that with the OGB-reversal effect we happen to be experiencing today and things could really get interesting!

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