Sunday, 6 April 2014

Comet Mining: incursion for miners

Mining in Eve is kinda dull, and it's received very little attention from the developers.  This is is a suggestion to offer an "incursion" like alternative to miners.

I had this idea while looking at ice 0.2 AU from the sun and commenting that there should be a huge vapour trail.  I wondered - why aren't there comets in Eve?   And if there were, what we could do with them?

Concept: 
Comets are pretty rare, but in a world with thousands of star system, there should be a comet in the galaxy every few days.  Comets come from the outer reach of a solar system, and have complex compositions, made of the primordial materials that made the system.  Stuff that has since long been minded out in a system could appear in a comet.  Comet are hard to detect, until they come close to a star and start emitting a large vapour trail, then becoming visible to everyone in the system.   They sometimes do not survive their passage near the sun though, either gassing out completely, hitting the sun or... being completely mined out.

Gaming content:
- Comets are large and contain various valuable materials.  I'm not sure exactly *what* should be in there but it doesn't have to be a new resource.  I think a good idea would be a mixture of common and rare ores and ices, gases, and possibly some types of moon goo and PI resources.  A single comet should be worth a lot of money, and would be worth chasing by miners.  Being there first would give access to the choice materials, but choices would have to be made - the different kind of resources would require different mining modules.  Variability between comets would also be nice, rewarding adaptability in comet chasers.

- Comets are rare on a system basis, but common on a galactic basis.  They appear in a system, are very obvious when there, then disappears after a while.  The basic concept is similar to incursions - a periodic event that happens in different places, bringing players together to deal with it.  There will need to be some kind of in game mechanic so that miners who aren't in that system can find out where active comets have been spotted.

- Comets *move* .  I'm not sure if this is a good idea, but maybe it could be neat if Comets had velocities.  This would change mining gameplay significantly.  I'm not sure how fast they should be moving,  but depending on the velocity certain ships may not be able to keep up.  This would make the skiff and venture more valuable, and certain methods of cargo handling not as great (parking a freighter or orca in the belt type of deal, this wouldn't work).  I'll note that this is probably the most optional part of my proposal.

- PvP content.  The high value of this will attract lots of miners, which will then attract lots of gankers.  I think this situation will make miners fielding a few defensive ship make much more sense than it usually does now, increasing chance for PvP.  T1 haulers going back and forth to the comet to help with the materials, cans dropped behind would also become targets for pirates and thieves.  Of course, the presence or absence of Concord will have a big impact, but gankers have ways of dealing with concord pressures.

- Rats:  Comets may attract attention from bigger or different types of rats than what usually shows up in belts, providing further content and challenges to would-be comet miners.

Reason why CCP should do this:
- new PvE high-end content for miners that has the potential to bring more of them together, encouraging more social play
- shouldn't be too hard for CCP to do
- probable conflict source
- Could have some really cool looking art that would help sell the game.  The comet would be visible from the whole system.

Possible challenges:
- There are economic considerations. What materials should be in the comet, in what quantity and how variable comets are deserves careful thought.  The comet has to be valuable enough for it to be worth going after, and frequent enough that a "comet chaser" community evolves, but not SO valuable to throw everything out of whack.  Miners chasing comets aren't doing their normal mining operations, and that may impact the economy as well.  As mentioned earlier, passing the word around that system X will be crucial - unlike an incursion that affects an entire constellation, this only affects a single system.

- There may be technical challenges too.  For example, one giant rock having multiple ores and ice may not be possible with EVE's code (but this can be bypassed by having the comment be a closely packed assembly of rocks).   The comet with a velocity may also be difficult to achieve. New mining modules may have to be created, although that should be pretty easy to accomplish. 

- There may be "political" resistance from null-sec players.  They may not like the idea of their precious null-only materials appearing anywhere willy nilly, and they tend to be a lot more vocal than miners.

Lastly, I'll note that this type of comet isn't the short period, highly predictable comet.  A comet of this type has been mined out a long time ago.   However, we also have comets that we've never seen before show up every few years.  These are either comets that have orbital periods in the hundred, thousands of years, even more, OR comets that have been  knocked out of alignment in the Oort cloud and are now hurling towards the sun.  These comets are new, fresh, filled with valuables and unpredictable to boot.  Now, in our solar system we only get these comets every few year (say, once every 4 year just to make up a number).  But with 7500 star systems in EVE, that means 5 of these comets would show up *per day* somewhere in the galaxy!

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