Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Banter 30: Multicapsule Ships


This is one of the main Black Pearl Project ideas that quickly evolved and turned out into something big. Well I get so excited when I read it. Recent days I saw pictures and videos in the “EVE is Real” site that showed CCP concepts for Ship Crew and Customization. And I got to read some info in evelopedia submitted by the CSM. As far as I can see, my designs are completely different from theirs, but that doesn’t mean that they exclude each other.

This project proposes that the Crews should be presented by Players, not NPCs. Again – that doesn’t mean that my idea excludes what I saw in mentioned sites. See what I have done.

Multicapsule Ships that I will call Crew Ships or Host Ships (for short) are battleship sized vessels that have a Bay – it can house 5 to 9 crew capsules in a specially designed Shell. It can also house 4 to 8 frigates in docks in the Frigate Deck. The frigates can be boarded by the capsuleers in the Shell and then be deployed to assist the battleship. The captain capsule is also in the Shell in case he wants to relieve command to someone else and board a frigate.

The Crew battleship Bay consists of two parts: Frigate Deck and Capsule Shell. The Deck stores the frigates. The Shell contains all the capsules on the ship including captain capsule. From inside of it the crew can remotely access the host ship (crew ship) and frigates, their targeting systems and fittings. When crew members board a frigate their capsules actually leave the Shell. The Shell has one purpose – to preserve the vulnerable capsules in case the Crew Ship is destroyed. It has a thick armor, can fit small modules, has its own limited High, Mid and Low slots. It cannot mount weapons. It cannot be used for combat, but it can ensure the crew survival if fitted properly. It’s like a large capsule that carries all the crew capsules inside.

When the crew is in the main ship Shell, they can perform different tasks, dividing them to make their lives easier. When in Shell the crew has overviews separate from the frigates in order to set them up for monitoring different targets. They can also perform separate Directional Scans to cover more space. Then they can broadcast targets to the captain so he can warp to celestial objects in targets direction.

When inside the host ship, the rest of the crew sees it as if they were piloting it. They see its HUD, but the overview is individual for every member. They can individually access the scanner and the battleship shared cargohold, reset camera button, and tactical overview, but not the autopilot.

Inside the host ship, crew can refit their frigates. When inside the host ships, capsuleers can open and modify their frigate fittings, drone bays, cargoholds – just like they do it in stations (but without seeing the dock). Dropping an item in background will not result in jettison it in space. This can be done only with right click. Crew can select frigates by pressing the “My ships” button and choose their active ship. The captain can also switch between ships the same way.
Crew members can fly the host ship only if the captain has granted them access to it.

Storing capsules in the Shell allows the crew to board any desired frigate type in bay. Otherwise they would stay in their frigates and do not switch between them.

When crew members’ capsules stay in the Shell, they can choose which frigate will be active for them (not boarded yet). Then they can gain access to its targeting systems and launchers. This is required in case they decide to switch to another frigate, because boarding and leaving frigates takes time. There is also a right click option called “Deactivate” in order for them to give a frigate to another crew member. In that case the one that has deactivated a frigate just stays in his capsule and is not connected to a frigate – he can see his overview and he can lock limited targets (he uses the docked frigates shared targeting systems). And there is no Scotty to delay frigate activation (it is remote after all - only boarding and leaving takes time). J

When remotely activated, Frigates can use their missile launchers and probe launchers even when docked inside the host ship, because it has mini-hatches for missiles, probes and rockets in addition to the hatches for deploying the frigates. Frigates can also deploy their drones without the need to undock from the host ship and so assist the captain drones. The host ship gives bonuses to the frigates drone control range when they are inside or in close range around the host ship. There should be a limit of maximum frigate drones that can be active when the frigates are inside.

The crew members cannot see the battleship modules in case the captain has restricted access to them. The captain himself can give a desired member the controls of desired modules, weapons, battleship drones etc. If the crew frigates have launchers, crew members see their modules next to the HUD along with host ship modules in case the crew member is authorized to use them. Every module has a small icon showing whether it belongs to the crew member frigate or the host battleship. In case a crew member is controlling some of the host ship modules, the captain can decide how much more targets the member can lock. Only three crew member frigates can use their launchers at a time – one launcher per frigate. The captain determines which frigate will use launchers. When the frigates are inside, the maximum count of active launchers on the Crew Ship (Crew Ship + Frigates) cannot be more than the maximum allowed launchers for a battleship class vessel.

If a crew member is controlling some of the host ship modules, his own skills are applied to the modules. For example if a crew member is good in Mechanics, it will be wise for the captain to give him access to Armor/Hull Repair units of the host ship.

If a crew member is good with drones, it is a good idea for the captain to give him access to the host ship drones. When a crew member is controlling the battleship drones he will not be able to control his frigate drones.

If the captain gives a crew member the access to modules that overwhelm the maximum count of displayed modules in HUD, the crew member frigate modules can be hidden – assuming that the captain has given access to high slot modules. Extra modules are displayed above the other modules.

When frigates are docked in the host ship bay, they can exchange capacitor energy with it. This can be used to strengthen the Crew Battleship shields, modify its propulsion, increase its capacitor recharge rate, lower the different module energy consumption etc. And the vice versa – when the crew frigates dock back in the battleship bay, it can charge their capacitors to a define percent, or charge only selected frigates with the desired amount of energy. Only three frigates can connect their capacitors to the host ship at a time. Additionally, using the proper device, the captain has the option to remotely charge up to three frigates at a time when they fly in space close enough for energy transfer. These devices are called Multi Energy Transfers.

Not only capacitor exchange. If a frigate has a shield hardener fitted, it can be connected to the battleship (the frigate pilot has let the captain use the frigate module for the battleship) and so – modifying its shield. This applies to all other suitable modules (Mid or Low) frigates can use. Each frigate can connect only one of its modules at a time. Maximum three frigates can connect their modules at a time and the count of modules (Mid or Low) on the HUD of the battleship plus frigate modules cannot be more than eight. When a frigate has connected its module to the host ship, the module itself uses energy from the host ship, not from the frigate. This is done by special energy transmission systems built-in the battleship. They provide stability and prevent energy leaks. However – this stability is not present if the frigate module is overloaded by the captain. Some duplicating frigate module types will be penalized when activated for the host ship.

Another example for this – if a frigate has connected its afterburner to the battleship, it will boost the battleship engines a little. Again – some duplicating frigate modules, connected to the host ship, will be penalized. This may not be applied to afterburners and so, three frigates will be able to boost the host ship engines.  

In addition to these options the captain can use the Crew Ship modules to patch up a frigate inside the Bay. For example he can activate the Crew Ship Armor Repairer to a desired frigate and fix it. Due to technical limitations in this case the module will cycle much slower and will consume more energy than usual.

Having separate overviews allows the crew ship to lock more targets, since the frigates targeting systems and launchers can be remotely accessed from the capsule docks. When frigates are docked, or in a define distance around the host ship, they receive targeting range and scanning bonuses. If there are no frigates left in the bay, the crew in capsules cannot lock targets in their overviews. Only the captain can.

When performing separate directional scans, the crew sees thin green lights coming out of the host ship – they show each member camera direction if they have opened D-scan. If more than one members are scanning with probes, they can view their probes on the system map (others probes are faded) so they can synchronize their work. Then they can broadcast found items to the captain and to each other. There is one more idea here - Combined Scans – the option to scan in teams that increase scanning bonuses, according to pilots’ skills and make their life easier.

Frigates cannot use their weapons (except launchers) when inside the host ship. Stealth bombers cannot launch torpedoes and bombs when inside the host ship. Only missiles and rockets. In order for them to launch torpedoes and bombs, the captain must fit a special device in the host ship Low power slot(s) called Torpedo Launch Hatches and Bomb Launch Hatches – one for each frigate. And if they have bomb or torpedo launchers active, the other launchers will not be accessible – only one active launcher per frigate! And maximum three frigates launchers can be active at a time in case they do not exceed the maximum count of launchers allowed for a battleship. Rocket, missile, torpedo and bomb launchers of the frigates have greatly reduced rate of fire when inside the host ship. Only probe launchers do not suffer such penalties.

There is also an option for the frigate pilots to activate their fitted Mid or Low modules for themselves (not connected to the host ship) when docked in the Crew Ship. But it is not a really good idea. Focused gravity fields that the Crew Ship docks create to contain the frigates happen to disturb the frigates capacitors when they activate a module. Fluctuations and energy leaks occur all the time during the modules activation so they consume more energy than usual. When energy is leaking it may cause random troubles like targeting and navigation problems to the host ship, EM shocks, thermal damages to either the host ship hull or the frigates, dramatically increased signature radius of the host ship, propulsion troubles, host ship shield weakening, warp disturbing…

Usually the ship safety systems can compensate only a part of these dangers. There are also Low slot modules that provide more safety when fitted on the Crew Ship, but they are not omnipresent. The more frigates in Crew Ship docks the more energy consumed by their modules when activated for frigates (using their own capacitors), the more energy leaks and fluctuations and the higher the danger of random troubles.

Frigates exploding inside the host ship? Happens. And they damage the nearby frigates in docks and the hull of the host ship directly! So if your crew fly their frigates and then decide to fix them inside the Crew Ship with shield boosters or armor repairers, they better think again. Instead the captain can use the Crew Ship onboard modules to fix the frigates one by one.

If a frigate explode inside the host ship it sometimes damages the systems that support capsule moving in and out of frigates and shell. If such things happen, boarding or leaving frigates and access to the Shell will be impossible. The capsules that are still inside the Shell will also be unable to leave it and board a frigate. In this case capsules will be able to leave the Shell only when the Crew Ship is destroyed and the Shell itself is flying freely – capsule hatches on the Shell remain intact even if a frigate has exploded in Bay.

If the crew frigates are being destroyed when flying in space, the pilots can fly their capsules back to the safety of the host ship Shell.

Crew Ships (host ships) are battleship sized, but they are a bit larger than regular vessels of their kind.

When the crew pilots want to fly the frigates, they board them (takes some time) and then the hatches open (animation) to deploy them (also takes some seconds). So they need to get prepared if the captain is warping to a target. Hatches have the ability to wing frigates at full speed. They create a small energy blast that wings the frigates. Crew pilots can choose the right time to fly out of the host ship after they have boarded their frigates, by pressing the Launch button on the HUD. They also have the option to set up their own launch speed.

There are different Crew Battleships:
Small – they can store 4 frigates in Deck and 5 capsules in Shell.
Medium – they store up to 6 frigates and 7 capsules.
Large – they store up to 8 frigates and 9 capsules.

It is a good idea to leave one frigate for the captain, just in case the crew needs to abandon ship, but they don’t want to leave him behind. This means that they must reduce the crew count. It is a precaution that some may prefer. To do this a captain must open the Crew Ship Bay and put one of his frigates there. 

When a captain assembles his crew, the members must be listed in a Crew List. When boarding a ship, members of the Crew List are automatically put in a fleet. This option can be switched off if necessary. This is required because in some cases other pilots will ask for a safe transport if a Crew Ship has some free space for passenger frigates, and they may not agree to join the fleet, although the captains are interested to have more guns by their side and may reduce the price for transport if passengers agree to join fleet. Passengers are free to fly out at any time. 

When assembling a crew in the Crew List, there is the option to set up two or more Crew ships altogether with a chosen commander, officers that are captains of flagman Crew Ships and crew members corresponding to each Crew Ship. This makes people gather together more easily.

Special agents offer missions suited for Crew Ships only. They are very profitable, but the risk is also increased.

Crew ships are expensive. It may be often met practice for the entire crew support the purchase of a brand new Crew Battleship.

In addition to this there are also Crew Battlecruisers. They are a bit larger than regular ships of their kind. They can have a Bay that can store three capsules in its Shell and two Frigates. Some regular battlecruisers can also fit a Bay (low slot item) that allows them to have a capsule Shell and two frigates. Their models slightly change in order to be able to store the Bay. These are the smallest Crew Ships.

There are secret agencies that use their own Strategic Battlecruisers that are not sold on the market and usually their pilots do not have the permission to dock such ships in every station. So having frigates in Bay is useful for them. Usually agents work in teams of two or three. In case there is no crew left in the ship they leave their battlecruisers hidden in Space, remotely cloak them and fly their frigate to stations.

Of course using Crew Battlecruisers is always useful in any other way.

I just love this game… :)

The Multicapsule Ships technical restrictions can always be modified to suit each of their sizes.

I was also thinking on the option for the existing battleships to be able to become small crew ships if fitted with a Bay – a Low slot item allowing them to store some capsules in its Shell and some frigates in Deck. The rest of the new Crew Ships will have bays that don’t take slots – they are built-in by manufacturer.

Additionally I was thinking of Capital Crew Ships, which can store cruisers (or more frigates or destroyers) in their Bays. And maybe there could be Crew Carriers, which can store bigger ships and Crew Titans, which can store Crew Battleships. One last thing about this – I imagine that the largest ships like carriers and titans should be obligatory piloted by a crew. Such crew members should be responsible for various tasks like controlling the ships in Bay, target navigation, weapon maintenance and controls etc. But I am lacking of knowledge in this sphere, so I will stop here until I get more info.

EDIT:
This idea evolved. Check it here

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