Thursday, April 26, 2018

Abyssal Deadspace:

CCP has not published a dev blog about how Abyssal space will work, but we know three basic mechanics I believe will heavily influence the acceptance rate of the content.
  1. Players must exit from Abyssal space at the same place they enter.
  2. While in Abyssal space, local does not function.
  3. Other players can probe down the exit.

From a science-fiction and lore standpoint, the mechanics make perfect sense. When opening a gate into another type of space, of course you need to use the same gate back. Also, if wormholes are detectable with probes, then so should this other type of space. So far, so good.

From a game mechanics standpoint, the situation resembles jumping from high sec to low sec with a blinged-out ship without bothering to scout the other side. If necessary, I can dual-box, letting my leadership/industrial character fly a Stratios through the content while my main sits outside cloaked up in a Falcon. But I think the purpose of Abyssal space is to provide new, dynamic PvE content to casual players. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone has two or more Omega accounts.

Comparing the exiting of Abyssal space to jumping into a gate camp gives some parameters to test on Singularity once the feature appears on the test server. Here are the factors I plan on investigating.

1. Where can a player use a filament to open a deadspace site? I heard from other attendees at Fanfest that some of the restrictions on where a player can use a filament are still up in the air. CCP stated that players can run the sites in any system, but I highly doubt CCP will not issue restrictions on where players can open an entrance to Abyssal space within a system. I assume sites cannot use filaments near citadels, NPC stations, and star gates. My question is whether will restrict filament use to within 4 AU of a planet. If so, then probing down exits to Abyssal deadspace pockets in a system becomes much easier.

2. Will the Abyssal sites show up as cosmic anomalies, cosmic signatures, or neither in the probe window? As the ease of hunting down Abyssal deadspace zones will influence where, when, and whether PvE players will run the sites, how the beacons appear in the probe scanner window is key. The description of the exit beacon announced at Fanfest highly suggests the sites will not show up as cosmic anomalies. Cosmic anomalies not only automatically identify that classification of site upon a player entering a system, but do not require the use of probes to scan down.

That leaves treating the Abyssal deadspace sites as either cosmic signatures or mission instances. I lean towards believing CCP will choose to see Abyssal space like a wormhole, if only for lore reasons. But I only lean that way, as mechanically Abyssal space will work like receiving a mission from an agent in space. Just as accepting a mission from an agent creates a mission instance, activating a filament will create an instance of Abyssal deadspace. From a development standpoint, if the Abyssal content is a testbed for future changes in EVE PvE, then I think treating the new type of space as a mission site makes more sense. Or in other words, I can see the justification for either way CCP chooses to proceed.

Of the two choices, I think treating the new deadspace sites like wormholes is the way CCP will proceed. Not only for lore reasons, but to satisfy demands to make the new content more dangerous. If CCP treats the Abyssal deadspace sites as a cosmic anomaly, all a hunter or small gang needs to do is fly into a system, record the signatures, and then the next time the hunter enters the system, check for new signatures. Odds are that the new signature will either be a wormhole or an exit from Abyssal space. With a likely target spotted, all the hunters need to do is scan down the new signature. Easy peasy. I can think of a couple of ways to set up Google Sheets or Excel to do the work of picking out the new signature.

3. What is the signature strength required to successfully probe an Abyssal deadspace beacon? I honestly can’t see CCP making the exits from Abyssal space difficult to probe down. That said, CCP also has an interest in seeing a few high-quality modules appear on the contract market (and on killmails) to spur greater user acceptance of the feature. I can see where the higher the tier of filament used to open an entrance, the harder the beacon is to probe for hunters. We already see that with data and relic sites, which are cosmic anomalies, so using the same mechanics makes sense.

4. How long does the beacon remain after a player exits the site? At this point I assume the cloak will hold the standard length of time. The invulnerability cloak is a technical mechanic put in to allow a player to load the grid before having to interact with hostile players. The question is, will anyone camping the exit receive a visual queue that the person running the Abyssal site has exited before the site runner decloaks? The biggest visual queue I can imagine is the exit despawning before the site runner decloaks.

5. Do players in an Abyssal deadspace pocket appear in the system’s local? We know that local will not work in Abyssal space. But will the player running the site still appear in local in k-space? If not, then the player exiting the site will appear in local before uncloaking, giving the hunters a visual cue. Not a definitive cue, but at least a warning to be alert. But if the player running the site does show up in local, then hunters can just ignore empty systems when roaming for content. Either way, local is an intelligence tool useful to the hunter.

6. How far away from the beacon does the player exit? Since players must emerge from Abyssal space where they entered, I wonder if that piece of information presented at Fanfest is literal. If so, then all a hunter must do to keep his prey from cloaking is sit within 1 km of the beacon with a swarm of drones orbiting his ship and the odds of escape without a fight decline by a not insignificant amount. Or will ships reappear in k-space some distance from the beacon? The greater the distance, the greater the chance of escape as the sphere hunters need to cover grows. I can see PvPers lobbying to keep the distance within scram range as low and high security space do not allow the deployment of bubbles. If the same rules governing star gates apply to Abyssal space exits, then the distance will be 10km from the edge of the exit. The question then becomes, how big is the exit?

Conclusion. Since returning from Fanfest, I heard some express surprise that those attending the Fanfest keynote were not ecstatic at the news of the new Triglavian Collective content in the Into the Abyss expansion coming to EVE Online on 29 May. My initial reaction sitting in the audience was extremely negative. Now I just look at the content as jumping into a prepared gate camp. I don’t like doing so in a blockade runner or covert ops frigate, much less a combat ship.

I consider myself pretty risk-averse, but people have told me that a penchant for low sec mining means I don’t qualify as a complete carebear. Still, I like to stack the odds in my favor. I think the big problem with my lack of excitement over the content is that I can’t tell if the odds are for or against escaping the area of the Abyssal space exit with my loot. Why get excited over content I potentially will never run?

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