On Fanfest, Dust514 & PI

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss EVE/Dust514 development.

I’ve been thinking for along time that in order for Dust514 to work with EVE’s Planetary Interaction, then it seems likely that CCP are going to need to make some changes to PI.

We know that Dust players will be hired by EVE players to go secure PI resources for them.  It has also been said that Dust players will be able to use PI resources for themselves in some way, which would increase competition for resources and possible push up prices on (hopefully) the currently less used stuff.  We don’t know specifics yet, but that all makes general sense.

But, when CCP have talked briefly about it, they tend to talk about ‘regions’ of planets.  The thing is, PI as we know it in EVE doesn’t have anything you could call a ‘region’ to conquer.  When you create a new colony, you place the command centre wherever you like then proceed to place structures anywhere you wish to on the planet.  Then over time you will probably move your extractors around even more as resources are depleted and re-spawn elsewhere on the surface.  There are no real restrictions on how a planets surface is utilised.

How then, does a Dust merc fit into the role of securing resources or ‘regions’.  Consider these two frames from this IGN video.  The first is this:

That looks vaguely like PI as we know it, assuming the middle hexagonal thing is say a command centre and the icons around it are resource extractors.  The red icons might then be other players command centres.  Of course its possible that all of these structures are Dust514 military installations, who knows. 😉  If we switched to a resource ‘heat map’ view we’d see coloured splodges all over the place showing where the goodies are.

This second image appears to be showing us a regional overlay of the planet:

And this makes me wonder.  Are these the ‘regions’ that we will be hiring Dust mercs to conquer for us, or is this simply another example of CCP doing a flashy cinematic thing that doesn’t relate to the actual game reality?  I think that fanfest next week will begin to finally answer that question.

So here’s a thought; what good is it paying Dust mercs to ‘conquer’ regions if there are no limits on who can build structure there and, to make it worse, the resources keep moving?  Why pay someone to take territory that might be useless again next week because you’ve mined it out until it re-spawns days later?

I suspect that CCP might be looking to change how we build structures on planets.  If anyone can build anywhere, at any time, then the concept of controlling resources becomes… pretty whimsical.  The only control that really exists is over the customs offices in low and null sec; and you do not need ground troops for that.  So will CCP be giving Dust players the ability to control ground, or simply to disable the structures of other players?

Edit – For any non-EVE players reading, a ‘customs office’ is an orbital structure within EVE that is used to move planetary commodities into orbit or down to the surface.  In ‘high security’ space these are not player owned, but in low/null sec (the more dangerous areas) they are built and run by players.  Its not clear yet how Dust players will interact with customs offices, or if their activities will be limited to a single world, rather than the multi-planet spanning production chains of EVE’s more complex PI.

Now if we think back about 2 years to the first iteration of PI, there were more limitations on where you could place structures; you could not place a structure on a spot that another player was using, meaning that if another player spread extractors around a resource hotspot, you would not be able to get your own extractors very close.  This was changed because there was no means of dislodging your competition.  That situation was made tougher because resources didn’t move around so much as they do now; if you placed your extractors on the best spot, you were probably going to be sat on the good stuff from then on.

As I said, that system didn’t work when there were no mechanics in place to allow players to fight for the resources and to dislodge rivals/inactive players blocking resources.  But once Dust goes live that will be changing…. could we see a return to more ‘fixed-position’ resources and exclusive control over regions of a planet?

Roll on Fanfest 2012. 🙂

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