Sunday, September 21, 2014

Smugglers and Null

One of things I hate about sov null is that from my point of view, it's a waste land.  It's true that nobody is in local in most of the systems.  But that's not that different from many parts of lowsec and even some highsec.  Unlike those other areas, though, I cannot dock at any of the outposts/stations.  Since I cannot dock anywhere, I cannot partake of many sorts of gameplay that stations facilitate.  I cannot use the markets.  Nor can I use contracts, stash things, etc.

I can't be a smuggler, sneaking into stations when nobody is around to sell my wares.

(Actually, it is unclear to me whether or not I can actually dock at any given player-owned thing.  I assume I can't, but I don't know.  I have no way that I know of to find out other than trying.  This seems hazardous.)

I propose to loosen the perfect control currently exerted by the nullsec empires over their stations.  Lore-wise, each station is being run by a local governor.  If that governor thinks he can get away with it, he may let neutrals docks even though they are otherwise disallowed.  

Each station should have a right-click menu item "Talk to Governor".  This would be available when on grid with the station.  Or perhaps anywhere in the system.  Selecting it raises a chat screen somewhat like an agent.  I.e., a picture of the governor, a readout of your personal standings with him or her, as well as the owning corp and alliance.  Also, there should be a clear indication of whether you can dock.  For example, "you are welcome to dock at LPQZ-15".

There should be three docking-permission states.
  • "You are welcome to dock at..." This message means you can dock because your corp and/or alliance is permitted.
  • "Right now, you can dock at..."  Displayed when you can dock, but might not be able to later. 
  • "You cannot dock at..." -- Displayed when you cannot dock.

A governor will allow otherwise disallowed pilots to dock in some circumstances.  Just as for empire factions, player corporations and alliances should have standings computed for them.  When you kill a person from a corp/alliance, you lose standings with it.

Like agents, the governors should have missions.  All kinds of missions should be offered.  Completing a mission would increase standings with that governor.  Also you gain standings with his current faction, and lose standings with all other corps/alliances which have that faction set to enemy.  No LP would be awarded (player corps don't have LP).  Unlike other agents, a governor's missions should be a random mix of all missions, levels 1 through 5.  Furthermore, unlike other agents a governor's missions are very finite.  Each governor will have either zero or one mission current at one time.  If he has a mission, it will be offered to everyone who has the standings to request it.  (The mission system would have to be tweaked to allow this.)  The first capsuleer to complete the mission can turn it in for standings.  Other capsuleers who accepted that mission fail, although this should not count against their standings since it is not a private mission.

Governors should have a cooldown between missions of some random amount of time between two and six hours.  This puts a sharp limit on farming the missions for standings, while spreading out who can get them into all timezones.

Standings are used to determine whether pilots can dock who are not explicitly allowed to dock.  (Of course the corp/alliance owning the station can always determine who is on their white list.)  Generally, the following factors increase the chance that a capsuleer can dock at a station:
  • standings with governor
  • standings with corp owner of station
  • standings with alliance owner of station
  • few or no non-idle pilots in that system who are in the alliance owning the station
  • few or no non-idle pilots in that system who are in the corp owning the station

A specific formula might be as follows.  You can dock if:
 1 < standings(gov) + .5*standings(corp) + .1*standings(alliance) - #pilots(corp) - .5*#pilots(alliance)

So, in an empty system, you'd just need standings of around 1.0 with a governor, unless you'd been actively shooting his corp/alliance, in which case you'd need more.  Of course, even getting to 1.0 would require running missions in null.

Once you have standings, you could smuggle in goods for sale at the local outpost.  Store stuff there.  Get your ships out from an enemy held station, even.


  1. Player stations should have player missions. In null this seems to be 'trade with me'. The problem with stations is that then becomes a secure spot for neutrals, who are treated much the way neutraks are in j-space.

    Instead I like the idea of pos module based market. It would allow corp members to issue buy / sell orders but then allow others to fill them.

    Access to pos shield would also need to be set by standing similar to your proposal.

    Any successful trade could give a small standing increase potentialy leading to station access? Renter corps own pos but not stations ... so still some conceptual difficulties

  2. For me, the worst thing about not being able to dock in those stations is not being able to repair overheated mods. And for other kind of damage nanite paste works, but it's too expensive, and you dont have it available always.