The Topic of the Month or Thema des Monats is a blogging-format that was popular a couple years ago within the German Eve-blogger scene. After some hiatus it recently experienced a revival. This April’s topic is about what genre one can imagine the Eve Online IP in. I’m a bit late to the party, but here is my take on it:
Obviously, CCP can imagine a shooter within the setting of New Eden: They are actually developing one right now in their Studio in London. I’m looking forward to that a lot. Let’s just hope it’s going to be good.
Because an FPS is (hopefully) becoming reality soon™, I was thinking about something different: What if you made Eve Online a real time strategy game? A classic RTS. Imagine an Age of Empires, a Supreme Commander, a Warcraft III, a SpellForce, or a Battle Realms. In space.
EVE: Empires at War
A match would take from 20 minutes up to 3-4 hours, depending on how many players participate, how skilled each one is, and the size of the map. You would take command of the different empires we are familiar with from Eve Online: Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, and Minmatar. Each would have their unique traits and special units. You could have different objectives: From destroying the enemy base to building the first Titan class vessel, or to just mine a certain amount of ore, or destroy all pirate strongholds, or control a certain area of space for some time, or escort/intercept a NPC-convoy. Or just a combination of all of them. You can get pretty creative here.
This, I believe is one of the most fun parts: A map could be just around an asteroid belt, a planet with multiple belts. It would involve a stargate you can camp. Or it could be a whole region to fight over. And if you hold a whole system, you get a certain boon for it.
The map could have harmful gas clouds, clouds that buff/debuff stats like in the abyss, relic and data sites to plunder, warp acceleration gates in to pirate (DED) sites were you can acquire stronger modules to upgrade your ships. Maybe you can also mine the gas clouds, use the materials you get and even remove them and open new pathways.
But in order to keep units manageable, you would need to still have some kind of plane playing field. To still add the 3D-aspect of the world to the game, you could do it like Star Wars: Empires at War. In this old Lucas Arts game from 2006 there is a simple hierarchy established: Bigger ships stay a certain plane, lighter ones stay above them and don’t collide into each other while small ships like X-Wings or TIE-Fighters move between the planes as their current target requires. Stations cover multiple planes and have modules that can be targeted individually to weaken their defensive or offensive capabilities.
The role of planets could be to acquire the goods to create tech 2 modules and ships. Although recreating Planetary Interaction in an RTS game seems a bit over the top… A planet would probably just be captured and held for a passive stream of a special resource.
Game Progression & Game Play
One match is fought over an individual star system. Every player starts out with his Forward Operating Base (FOB) and a few little Ventures he can use to mine the nearby asteroid belts and gas clouds.
With the resources gathered, he can start to build new ships. At first, a couple frigates to scout the map with. Then a few combat ships to take out pirate nests. These may even drop modules to install on ships and buff their stats or even add new abilities. I imagine a cloak that can hide a ship from opposing units for a certain amount of time, but just as in Eve Online, it would get slowed down and decloaked if a hostile unit gets too close.
Hiring mercenaries: Why not? The various pirate factions like Guristas, Angels, Serpentis and Blood Raiders could play an interesting role here. Maybe you could also hire a Sisters of Eve ship to scout for you or send it on expeditions to get your hands on new things.
Events like metaluminal storms could happen. They can grow stronger or weaker over time, affecting the efficiency of your ships or just be a static effect for a certain area on the map. Wormholes may spawn and collapse enabling you to invade your opponents backyard with a mass-limited skirmish force and ruin his mining operations. NPC-Pirates could attack your miners or maybe even a full-on Triglavian Invasion happens that, if you fight back successfully, drops the items required to research and build Triglavian ships.
Rock-Paper-Scissor, special unique abilities, items. Nothing is impossible, lot’s of room to be creative. A wing of Interceptors could for example hinder the movements of a bigger ship. Battleships could have an ability to overheat their guns, but lose some hit points in the progress. A Carrier could deploy fighters that could be very effective against Cruiser to Battleship sized targets but would be very vulnerable without an escort that could take out a bunch of Assault Frigates. Pretty much any form of E-War is a strong contender for special abilities.
Abilities and equipment could also be reserved for special hero-type units. Like in Warcraft or SpellForce, which you can equip and level over time to gain very strong units. Let’s call them Capsuleers. And when they die, they lose their fitted items, but you can call them back in after timer. Sounds not like something new? True, but a good copy in the right context might be better than a badly made novelty.
In the previously mentioned Star Wars: Empires at War, deploying and unit can be very satisfying: You basically call them to “warp in” from hyperspace. And it can be a lot of fun to set up, luring your opponent into an unfavorable position and then call in the big guns. In the Eve-context you have a bit more options with the existence Cynosural Field Generators. As discussed earlier on the map, this could allow for advanced tactics over solar systems while warping would be reserved for in-system movements. Certainly something that would need to be figured out.
With different abilities and synergies between the various ship classes, you could build yourself the perfect fleet. I would be also hoping for some sort of grouping of different units: Assign a group of units to a certain hotkey, click it’s icon or hit the key to select the whole group at once. This can reduce macro-managing units quite a bit.
Some areas of the map might be impossible to navigate for bigger ships, like dense asteroid belts, but if you really wanted to, you could still send your fleet trough and risk them being damaged. Alternatively take the safe but longer route around it. Maybe one could also research tech to reduce or completely remove the negative effects of environmental effects. Building Ansiblex Jumpgates to connect to remove system or any other of the Upwell structures known from Eve Online? Why not!
The ideas an concepts of Eve Online seem to transition very well into a strategy setting. I could go on and on about this… If you want to start a new project, dear CCP: Give me a call! 😉
But this post is long enough already. Let’s hear your thoughts!
Would you play an RTS set in New Eden?