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The last time null-security sovereignty mechanics changed, Pandemic Legion was wiped off the map (Fountain) by IT Alliance (former Band of Brothers corps). That was six years ago.  The recent overhaul of sov mechanics has been rather smooth, with a few exceptions: There was an ugly extended downtime, a jump-cloning bug that CCP turned around and called a feature, and some small bugs that were rapidly fixed. Other than that new sov has been stable, if controversial. Now CCP can move on to the next large-scale feature: structures.

Beneath the colorful flourishes from the author of the twin devblogs on Citadels, there is a ton of information within; principally how to destroy them and what happens to the items within upon destruction. Both devblogs can be found on this website (see below).

Quick Review of Structures

The first structure, Citadels, will be released this year with the others coming in 2016 and 2017.

  • Citadel (market and office hub) 
  • Administration (sov and home cultivation of npcs)
  • Research lab (inventing, preparing blueprints)
  • Drilling platform (mining)
  • Assembly array (building)
  • Observation array (information)
  • Gates (system mobility)
  • Advertisement center (space billboards)

These will eventually replace all player-owned starbases (POS towers) and outposts. NPC high-sec stations will remain as they currently are. Structures will be allowed everywhere with some constraints. They won’t appear in shattered wormholes, in Jita, and there are size restrictions in other areas. Now that standings restrictions have been lifted from most systems, you will see these structures in high-sec empire space where they can be protected by Concord. There will certainly be a lot of war-decs on the first corporations that put them up.

Citadels

The differences between a Citadel’s abilities and those of other structures is still vague, however Citadels will be the hardest to kill. Gates and Observatory Arrays will be the easiest. The Citadels will be the test case and the most important structure as it serves as the home and principal structure for an alliance.

Practically speaking, Citadels will be stationary supercapital ships: They are fit like ships, and provide a single player weapons to defend with: Smart bombs, drones (fighters and bombers), ewar, and even doomsday weapon systems. Perhaps CCP will make capital ships “mobile” versions of an XL structure to some degree. This would make storing them a non issue as they could make themselves invulnerable. But that is a different topic.

Only entosis links can hurt structures. Since there are range limitations for those links, it will be interesting to see how difficult it is to take down a manned structure.  Will any entosis linked ship be a sitting duck? There have been discussions on allowing attackers to disable the structure’s defenses, perhaps by capacitor warfare much like the capital warfare of today. The balance between attacker and defender is already highly debated of entosis links for sov warfare. Mostly the criticism is that it takes too long to entosis an object, or that the burden to log in and defend it too great.  That controversy will continue into the structures discussions.

There are no “small” Citadels because all small-sized structures are classified as “personal,” like a Mobile Depot. Starting at Medium, here is how they appear:

Medium

Medium

Large

Large

XL

XL

Once POS towers are removed in the future, Super capitals will need a new place to park (if they cannot park themselves).  Only XL Citadels are capable of holding titans and super carriers, and those can now be dropped in wormhole space.

All capitals will dock away from subcaps. This docking of capitals in another area may be a way to keep docking lanes clear of bumping and all the station games that can happen as a result. In Arton, for instance, the only gate exiting the system is directly behind the station, so a pilot has to turn 180 degrees to warp out. When they undock and start to turn, pirates undock a giant dreadnought too, pushing the unsuspecting victim out of re docking range instantly. He is then assailed by the pirate cohorts. This is why Arton is so deadly for industrialists. Note the daily casualties [Arton].

Destruction

Citadels are vulnerable a few hours per week, depending on the size and other factors. Larger ones are vulnerable more often. For players that step away from the game for more than a week, they will have to either ask friends to defend it, pack it up and put it away, or take their chances. CCP has wisely hidden vulnerability info from the API. The attacker will only know the current state and timer info of the target by flying to it. As a defensive practice, and one might want to periodically change his vulnerability hours as a deterrent, like changing a password on a computer.

If attacked by an entosis, the structure must be zapped on three occasions:

The first successful attack locks the structure and modules so the owner can’t take it down and run away. Unlike those titan pilots that strip their titan’s blingy modules before it blows up. All systems on the Citadel still work.

After the next attack, at a later date, the Citadel is further locked down and essentially shuts off. Only base operations of storage, ship fitting, and defenses work. Everything else is locked up and doesn’t work.

The final showdown, at a later date, is do or die.

There are no safe station transfers anymore. That funny business where a fake corporation was used to smuggle ownership between alliances is over. So is setting vulnerability times by measured strontium use. All reinforcements are automatic and free of costs.

If destroyed, little frozen corpses of the pilots within may appear around the wreckage. The wreck itself will drop some minerals and components that were used to build it. If items were being manufactured there may be additional loot, however, no blueprints will be recoverable. Some Citadel fittings will also drop as loot, but the very expensive rigs are destroyed, behaving like ships do now. You might want to add freighters to your fleet.

As for player’s clones, ships, and equipment, it all gets impounded.  It can be recovered at the nearest NPC station or, you will need to replace the structure and collect your items in the new structure.

For wormhole dwellers, there are no NPC stations around, so replace your Citadel or lose your access to those items indefinitely. Wormholes are still EVE hard mode. But your stuff takes time to get there so plan on a 5 to 20 day waiting period, depending on how far the Citadel was from the nearest NPC station. On the bright side, you will get all your stuff including ships and you can do it remotely. If you are away when your Citadel is destroyed, you will get notifications.

Analysis

The absolutely massive changes to structure mechanics will change the face of EVE, alluring more players to make strategic choices on where, when and what type of structures get dropped. You won’t see an unattended XL Citadel, since an 84 hours-per-week vulnerability window for something very expensive is an easy way to lose ISK. Unless of course Citadels are used as another form of PVP and the station is merely bait.

Builders will see new blueprints and a massive industrial effort will be needed to keep supply up to demand levels. Since these behemoths are perishable, the economy may kick into a higher gear for all the materials needed. This means shortages and higher prices for competing products if the same materials are used: minerals, salvage, PI materials. If a cargo rig for a Citadel is 10x’s larger than what is needed for a medium rig (used on most industrial), expect medium rig price hikes too. When the blueprints are released there will be a massive wave of market fluctuations due to prospecting, but like waves, prospecting can propel your fortunes or bury you.

Incentives to actually use and live in structures are a little clearer now, with an inhabitant’s items being suspended but secure. Most players can live with delays, but not loss of wealth. This is jump fatigue for your gear. In a wormhole, a five-day waiting period might be eternity. On the other hand, unlike towers, your stuff is not destroyed if you can recapture the hole. This makes for interesting choices. Will there be “ghost storage” in wormholes, waiting for a station to drop? EVE players are among the smartest, most competitive in gaming. There will no doubt be creative uses for Citadels and structures that make them worth living in.

The Roadmap

The very static world of EVE is disappearing. For a decade, “wouldn’t it be cool if” features favored veterans with long-term skills, wealth, and knowledge. The skill and ISK walls that were meant to limit Titans to one per alliance were easily surpassed by single players, because EVE scales too well. Some players have 20 or 30 accounts, most veterans have three or four. All those players have bought “feature-design debt” bonds from CCP and are looking to cash them in. They paid for that titan dream!

CCP has handled player-power inflation by nerfing that power with some success, but in 2013 they took a new direction: change the currency. If you look at the goals set forth by developers the major one’s have to do with reducing barriers of entry. Stripping out complexity also strips away built in “knowledge” wealth, and that is a tax on the veterans, hence the grumblings.

Soon most built in advantages will be less important than creative gameplay. CCP wants see players outplaying each other in big and small ways. The new sov mechanics, and now structures appear to be steps in that direction, delivering a wealth of choices and strategies.

Now we see NPC Artificial Intelligence is also entering the fray. Amarr and Drifters fighting against each other in eerie but intelligent ways. Human players were noticeably absent, some salvaging loot like space scavengers. This amazing development makes EVE bigger by making players smaller and this is only the beginning. When humans think they rule the world, nature resets them as a reminder. Maybe New Eden is on the verge of natural forces (Concord, Empires, Drifters) that will serve as weather or psychological terrain for players to use, creating even more choices.

Conclusion

EVE has long suffered the idiom “EVE, thrilling to read about, boring to play,” but reading about it never helped EVE become a big game. New players, excited by press, came into EVE, looked around and left. The game itself could never grow past a niche. The attempts to draw in new types of players with Incarna or DUST failed, so did solely focusing on spaceships. Valkyrie and Gunjack may get an audience but will fail to transfer players into EVE. CCP already knows this and has isolated the games from EVE proper. They only share the backdrop.

They way forward is to change the idiom and make EVE a thrilling game to play, and boring to read about. Structures, starting with Citadels, are another move in that direction.

 

 

For more information:

CITADELS, SIEGES AND YOU  | Comments

I FEEL SAFE IN CITADEL CITY  | Comments

CSM Citadel FAQ

 

Reddit versions of articles:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/3guupr/dev_blog_citadels_sieges_and_you_ccp_ytterbium/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/3gutyd/dev_blog_i_feel_safe_in_citadel_city_ccp_ytterbium/

 

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