Saturday, May 7, 2016

Multicapsule Ships - Advancing

It is time for another round on Multicapsule Ships! Yay!

I gotta apologize for the huge delay on this topic. Last post about Multicapsule Ships has been in 2014! Oh dear... I have been busy with Real Life and could not find the time to further develop this concept. But now I have more time and energy so I will do some updates.

First of all, EVE online turned 13 yesterday! What a great time to celebrate! Happy Birthday EVE! And Happy Capsuleer Day!

I am advancing in my piloting skills and now I can fly battleships. It is some unique experience. They are gracefully slow, powerful boats, able to withstand huge amounts of damage, while being more than capable to also deal great punishment to their targets. Flying a battleship makes me feel tough and significant. In the meantime I realized that the current concept of Multicapsule Ships being able to house frigates and destroyers, will actually not appeal to many pilots out there. They will need to fly larger and more capable multicapsule crew ships.

No matter how many bonuses a Multicapsule Ship will provide to their frigates, bombers and destroyers, there will always be the need for more damage power and more resilience for the smaller ships. That doesn’t mean that the current concept is wrong, but a lot more variety should be added here, because there will be all kinds of fleets, Multicapsule Ship crews and opportunist pilots that will have all kinds of different ideas and ways to approach their goals in the dangerous environments that they will operate in.

So far, after some tweaking, there has been four different sizes/types of Multicapsule Ships in the concept:

Triad Type - With 2 Deck Points and up to 3 capsules in Shell

Fist Type - With 4 Deck Points and up to 5 capsules in Shell

Wing Type - With 6 Deck Points and up to 7 capsules in Shell

Fleet Type - With 9 Deck Points and up to 10 capsules in Shell

Adding the clarification that Deck Points determine the count of smaller ships that the host ship can carry inside. Each frigate occupies one Deck Point, each bomber frigate occupies two, and each destroyer occupies three Deck Points (including Tactical Destroyers).

It is also good to note that Multicapsule Ships will definitely be capital ships in terms of size to say the least. The smallest of them would have the size of a small carrier and the larger of them would have the size of a dreadnought and even larger.

Time to shake things up!

Before I dive in Multicapsule Ships size and crew ship storing capabilities, I want to add something new to the whole concept. It is about how these ships will travel across Uncharted Space, where no gates will be present.

Let’s think about it for a moment. For most of the time in New Eden travelling between stars has been done through Stargates. Even with all the cynosural fields that allow for instant travel across the galaxy, there still has to be someone that must use the gates in order to reach the desired system before lighting a cyno for the rest of the fleet. Stargates allow us to have our space routes, and we are limited by them, our ships still cannot fly further, beyond the boundaries of known space. But how will they travel in Uncharted Space where there will be no stargates?

In the EVE lore it is mentioned that the first people that started to colonize nearby solar systems, had to warp with months in order to reach the next star. That was before the first stargates were developed. Then they discovered a stargate, reverse engineered it and made their own stargates. Slowly they extended the network of stargates, until they connected the galaxy as we know it.

But when we, as capsuleers, finally have the technology of new space colonization, we will need a brand new method to travel to the Unknown, outside the borders of K-space.

Uncharted space, as I imagine it, will be the stars outside the borders of Null-Sec. These systems will have some very dangerous environments, as well as NPCs and things to discover. Things must be balanced well before these places can be populated.

And this is where Multicapsule Ships come into play. Their concept design is focused on Unknown Space exploration, where their pilots will be on their own, having no access to gates or station services, unless they build their own out there, having to gather their resources using their multipurpose ships and having to survive in ultimately challenging environments. They will have their own instance of the map, mapping the new systems they discover. These maps will be exchangeable! They will have to use new technologies to scan the nearby stars in order to find a suitable solar system they can jump to. But how will they jump there? How will they reach the new system?

EDIT: As I am revisiting the concept now I saw that I have previously proposed some kind of small probes that would warp to the newly discovered system, warping for days or weeks, and then they would light a cyno for the MS to come. That concept is not good enough, so a better one is in place as you see below. 

They need something I will call Solar Jump Drive.

It is a concept that is not necessarily new, but has to have its design sorted out for EVE. I am working on this, things are still in an early phase, but I have some stuff already at hand.

The Solar Jump Drive will have the ability to use the light spectral class, neutrino waves and gravity of a newly discovered star in order to reach a spot near that star so that the ship can travel to it (the jump in distance to the star is to be determined). The light spectral class, neutrino waves and gravity of a star will affect the Solar Jump Drive capabilities in a certain way, not defined yet. Jump fatigue will play a role here as well… or maybe not… we'll see.

Solar Jump Drives will use special fuel. That fuel will be gathered by deploying small Solar Harvesters near the star, that will slowly collect solar energy and process it into Solar Jump Fuel. This is an initial concept for the fuel resource harvesting and production and it may change in time. I am thinking of some other resources that will be required, maybe harvested from asteroids or moons using some new technology.

There will be other limitations. Active stargates will affect the use of a Solar Jump Drive. If there is an active gate in the system where the drive is activated, it will not affect it, but if there is an active gate in its destination system, it will inhibit the drive ability to jump there. The stargates will project a field around them spanning several hundred (or more) AU in diameter, that will make it harder for a Solar Jump Drive to use the star as a beacon to jump to. More active stargates in the destination system will mean that the ship must use more fuel to get to that star. The closer it is to the star, the easier it will be for it to jump, even if there are active stargates there, but the Solar Jump Drive’s fuel use will limit the traveling of the ship, before it gathers the resources for more fuel. This will make traveling across K-space ineffective for ships with Solar Jump Drives, meaning that they should only be used in Uncharted Space. In K-Space they will have to use gates instead, which will be totally fine, since they don’t require any fuel (much cheaper). So all preferred travelling ways will have their advantages if used correctly, including cynos.

At first I planned to have only Multicapsule Ships capable to use the Solar Jump Drive, but then I realized that all other ships will need it too, in order to have any chance to survive and travel between the stars of unknown space. So I guess all the ships will have it. Multicapsule Ships Shells will have it too. Capsules will not have it however.

The Solar Jump Drive will have its own fuel bay, similar to ships with regular Jump Drive.

The Solar Jump drive will not be as effective as a Cynosural Jump Drive in terms of fuel consumption, so lighting cynos in Uncharted Space will be totally legit.

In addition to all these limitations, to spice things up, solar jumps will leave tracks. Whenever a ship uses a Solar Jump Drive, it will leave a mark in the system it has been used in and upon arrival, it will leave another mark in the destination system - a static field that will be visible on D-Scan and (combat) Probe Scan (it will be easy to scan down), for a limited time, allowing people to know someone has jumped and warp to them if they can.

There will also be a special module, available to Multicapsule Ships only, called Solar Jump Portal Generator. It will basically allow for opening a portal to a star so that a fleet can jump to it without having to use a lot of precious fuel. As the fleet jumps through the portal, it will consume a little Solar Jump Fuel from the ship that has opened the portal, but it will be a really effective way to transport larger fleets (not as large as the cyno fleets) that are not necessarily part of the Multicapsule Ship crew. Of course the portal will leave solar jump marks (tracks) in space, just like the Solar Jump Drive. And due to their larger static field, the tracks will remain in space for more time.

As everything else here, these things are work in progress, so they may change. It is a good concept that I will do my best to develop to a point where it can be used to provide interesting gameplay in our interstellar realm.

Now back to Multicapsule Ships sizes and ship storing capabilities.

There must be even larger Multicapsule Ships. They should be able to carry cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships! Their sheer size would reach the size of a titan or maybe they will go even further, becoming the first Motherships being handled to Capsuleers!

However… no matter how large they will become, their inner space decks will be only able to store a very limited amount of ships, meaning that their crew will need to select their fleet roles very carefully, resulting in fairly limited fleets that would not be as effective as someone would like, in dangerous situations. I am exploring some other options that can help solve this problem. Here we go.

Ships Attaching to Multicapsule Ships hulls!

Like this!

Actually this is a funny and nice idea to add more ships to the Multicapsule Ship crews.

Basically when a Multicapsule Ship crew needs more pilots and they have run out of inner deck space, they should be able to use special Attachment Hardpoints on the host ship (multicapsule ship) hull surface, that will enable crew ships to attach themselves to the host ship and travel together. When attached the ships pilots should be able to use fitting services and access the host ship cargohold or even modules, if, of course, the captain has granted them access beforehand. Additionally an attached ship should be able to transfer their capsule into the Shell if there is some free room in there. The Shell itself should also have Attachment Hardpoints capable to attach additional capsules to its surface and aid them in their survival in desperate situations when the whole multicapsule fleet has been destroyed by some overwhelming force.

This concept allows for more Multicapsule Ship crew numbers and since the ships will be just attached to the surface of the host ship, that allows pilots to bring larger ships, compared to the existing host ship concept capability to store just frigates, bombers and destroyers. This is great news!

So let’s take the smallest Multicapsule ship, the Triad type: It currently has the ability to store two frigates, or one bomber in its 2 points inner deck and 3 capsules in its Shell. Additionally it will have, let’s say, two Attachment Hardpoints that will allow it to attach more ships to its surface.

As Multicapsule Ships vary in size, the Attachment Hardpoints they can use will also vary in size. The larger the host ships get, the more Attachment Hardpoints they will have. For the small host ship example let’s set up some Small Attachment Hardpoints.

A Small Attachment Hardpoint should be able to accommodate:

One Battlecruiser, or one Cruiser (including Strategic Cruisers), or

two Destroyers (including Tactical destroyers), or

three Frigates (including Bombers).

That means that a small Triad Multicapsule Ship would be able to attach up to two battlecruisers/cruisers, or four destroyers, or six frigates all at once! Adding the inner deck crew of two frigates and that makes a potent fleet of up to nine members (including the host ship pilot)! Yes!

This will also mean that the Triad type host ship Shell will be able to attach up to six capsules on its surface, so it can travel them to safety between stars.

Well, attaching ships to the host ship surface will have its pros and cons. While attached pilots will have the fitting service and access to the host ship cargohold and modules/weapon platforms, they will only have the protection of the host ship shields. Once the host ship shields are down, enemy pilots will be able to target attached ships and attack them.

Technically when ships are attached to the host ship, they will not be visible on the overview (their icons will not be shown until they detach - to avoid icon cluttering) and will not be visible on D-Scan, cause they will blend with the host ship signature. This can be an advantage in some situations. Of course, the host ship itself will be visible on scan. When ships are attached, an observing pilot that is on grid with the Multicapsule ship, will be able to look at the host ship and click and have a lock on any attached ship (if it is in locking range).

When attached, the ship pilots will not be able to activate their modules. At first I had decided to let them activate mid and low slot modules while still attached, but this would lead to some unfair situations, so I changed my mind. In order to properly defend, the fleet must detach from the host ship shelter. Attaching should let them travel easier with their captain and refit/use host ship modules, but not much more. Attached ships will be able to travel with the Multicapsule Ship and they will not consume any Solar Jump Fuel.

Attaching ships is giving the much needed fresh air for Multicapsule Ships. I am very happy for this idea. Thus the multicapsule ship fleet variety increases tremendously and that means more people can join the fun in Uncharted Space!

Of course, as Multicapsule Ships are allowed to carry larger ships in their decks, that means that larger host ships will not just accommodate frigates and destroyers, they will have cruisers, battlecruisers and so on. I just have to think on how many deck points will the larger ships take. Well let’s say a cruiser will take up 4 points, and a battlecruiser will take 5. That would mean I have to change the current multicapsule ships deck sizes in order to make them store more larger ships inside. Will see how it goes.

I am thinking of something new in terms of the overall size sets for these ships. So far we got the Triad, Fist, Wing and Fleet types of Multicapsule Ships. Four different sizes. Each of these types will be able to attach a growing number of ships to their hull. But as the host ships grow larger, they will need to have some other size categories. I am thinking of having Small, Medium and Large multicapsule ship categories. The current Triad, Fist, Wing and Fleet types will fall in the Small Multicapsule Ships category.

The ships in the Medium category will definitely be able to store more and larger ships inside, as well be able to attach battleships and maybe larger ships to their hull. And maybe they will have carrier capabilities and use Fighters!

The Large Multicapsule Ships… well they will be much larger than Titans, oh dear… They will be the first Motherships given to us, capsuleers! And it will be totally legit since we will want to explore new systems, map them, colonize them, defend them and so on. Of course they will have doomsdays, why even ask?

I will sort these things in some future post.

One more thing: The Multicapsule Ship Shield Tank versus Armor Tank in terms of ancillary reps charges - how to produce them without stations?

As said before, Multicapsule Ships will have onboard Micro Factories. They will have to use blueprints in order to manufacture their own ammo, modules, deployables and crew ships. In terms of tank capabilities it will seem easier to use shield tank, cause the resources needed for Cap Booster Charges can be found in asteroids, while the Nanite Repair Paste is produced on planets. It is also needed for module repair, so how will Multicapsule Ship pilots acquire these precious commodities? Having colonies on planets will be a very slow process. So I am thinking of an alternative to Nanite Repair paste - something that will have commodities that are extracted from asteroids. Let’s call it Beta Repair Paste. It will be used in ancillary armor reps and will be used to repair modules as well. It will be less effective than nanite paste, and it will be a lot bulkier than the nanite paste.

Multicapsule Ships will be able to use some Expanded Ancillary Armor repairers, able to store the larger charges of the Beta Repair Paste. That would mean they can actually store more Nanite Paste if they have it and be much more resilient in dangerous situations before they have to reload their ancillary armor reps. Well if they don’t want to make planetary colonies in unknown space, they will have to return to K-Space and purchase some nanite paste. I am happy with these ideas!

Of course, with the new structures that are currently coming to EVE, there will be more options for us to gather these resources. Exciting times!

I keep saying that, but it is worth mentioning again: In order to have Multicapsule Ships we will need to have the challenging environments in space first. Something like this thing I wrote here and much more. We will need to have the space ecosystem that will inhabit these new ships. Lots of stuff needs to be created and it will be a good thing. The time is right to channel these new ideas.

This concludes this Multicapsule Ships session. There will be more of course, the project is developing further. I hope you like these ideas.

Thank you for reading! See you next time!

EDIT: The project evolved further. Check it here.

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