As they currently stand, structures can be an immense pain to deal with. This is particularly apparent in medium structures, moreso than others. The ease of deploying structures and lack of any real ceilings on quantity make them into fairly large time-sinks. They not only can serve as a tactical threat and an HP wall, but serve as to create a rigid and frustrating system that attackers must slog through with the reward of a fight being mostly up to the defenders.
In addition, structures also have little to no progression in terms of how their timers work. The difference between destroying a Raitaru and a Keepstar essentially boil down to how many pilots and what kind of ships are necessary to do the job effectively. Even then, what difference there is relies entirely on fittings and damage cap.
While addressing the two points above, I’ll also suggest some changes to some other pain points that will help keep these structures in a reasonable progression path. The idea is to keep structures somewhat in line with their current design philosophies where possible.
Note 1: to clarify, I will use the terms “Timer” and “Event” to describe different aspects of timers. A Timer is the period when a structure is actually reinforced. An Event is when players are attacking/defending the structure; essentially the periods of vulnerability in relation to timers.
Note 2: Since wormholes timers are the only outlier, consider the arguments as dealing with K-space unless WHs are specifically mentioned.
So let’s get started…
A - Introduce progressive timers based on size
All structures share the same timer mechanics: 2 timers and 3 events. Regardless of structure size, you will always have to spend (at a minimum) 3x the time to remove shield/armor/hull and 2x waiting periods during RF where nothing of effect can be done to the structure itself. I’m disregarding low power at the moment for simplicity.
The maximum possible time to kill a structure is 14 days for HS, 11 days for NS/LS, and 9 days for WH. The minimum (given proper intel) is 7, 4, and 2 days respectively. Looking at the extreme examples; this means it could take 14 days to kill an Athanor, while also allowing for only 2 days to kill a Keepstar. All of this is the result of the same system.
This is what I consider to be a clear example of structures being designed around mechanics, rather than mechanics being designed for the structures. The current system is fairly rigid. It does not allow for much difference in pacing. From the pilots’ perspective, spending the same amount of time to clear an Astrahus and a Keepstar just makes the whole grind feel much more…grindy.
In my opinion, 14 days to kill any structure is just way too much. On the flip side, 4 days (excluding wormholes for different philosophies) is well down into the low-end of what I might consider reasonable for what is essentially the paragon of fixed fortifications. Aside from that, the huge difference in possible times certainly messes with any feeling of consistency in this system.
While my memory is foggy (and my google-fu lazy) I do recall a major design principle of structures being that different sized structures would be progressively better for defenders. The current timer system has no allowance for any form of progression. Any given medium structure gives the defender the same amount of time to prepare a defense as it does to any XL structure.
Ok, so most of the rationale is out of the way, here is the suggestion:
Structures will have progressively more timers.
Medium - 1 Timer Large - 2 Timers XL - 3 Timers
I’ll discuss the second-order changes that would follow this as well in a moment. Keep that in mind while reading the list below.
- This will produce an indirect advantage to choosing different sizes. It also partially mirrors how structures were treated before the Citadel release. POSes has 1 timer, Outposts had 2 timers (excluding Freeport cycle in fozziesov), with only XL structures having no direct comparison.
- The pace of play over a course of a few weeks can feel much more active and rewarding (not to be confused with the “fun” experiences during the “Events”).
- Smaller time-investments make smaller structures more appealing as a target. This adds a bit of downward pressure on the existing rate of structure proliferation as well.
- This also impacts certain tactics utilizing structures as foxholes during a siege. Unless you emplace an equally large structure, the defenders have more opportunities to destroy or interdict these ‘offensive’ structures. Though this could be argued as a negative in some circumstances.
- Smaller structures used for smaller efforts or campaigns (BLOPs, small-gang harassment, temporary logistics) become more vulnerable with shorter lifespans. This could also be argued as a positive depending on your view.
- This system conflicts with other penalties related to things like structure service offlining, structure fitting, and industry jobs.
2. Reduce precision of exit timer choice by defender.
This is a tricky one. Timers are a necessary evil in A single-shard universe like Eve. The inability to even try and defend a structure can have major impacts on a player’s willingness to invest themselves in a structure or the conflict around it.
I do believe the current system goes quite a bit too far. Being able to choose the exit day and time with no trade-offs leaves the initiative entirely in the hands of the defender. My biggest issue is with the day selection. Day selection is also the primary reason that total kill times can even get up to two weeks.
For this I have two suggestions that are contingent on another change I will suggest later.
The first suggestion is a reversal of the system previous to constant vulnerability. A specific number of hours will be allotted to choose an exit window on given days. In addition, every given block of time will add hours to the front and back of that time block depending on a given formula.
This time, instead of choosing vulnerability periods, the owner will choose exit windows.
To illustrate, we’ll give an owner 7 hours to select, and then add %100 to both sides to triple it evenly: (DAY - Allotted / Window)
THU - 1hr / 3hr FRI - 2hr / 6hr SAT - 3hr / 9hr SUN - 1hr / 3hr
As you can see, there is a conflicting relationship between trying to choose a specific day, and trying to keep a window too small. On the other hand, spreading your hours out as evenly as possible also means the minimum time to kill any given structure shrinks, as the final timer no longer has to wait for a specific day, it will simply choose the next available time.
- Increases strategic uncertainty for the defender.
- Given proper intel, attacker also has influence on when timers exit.
- Structure owner must consider tradeoffs if attempting to “timezone tank”.
- System is very complex and still has possible gaps for abuse.
- Does not mesh well with progressive timer counts.
- Reduces owner flexibility (obviously)
This idea could work with some tweaks, but it’s complexity may become difficult or unintuitive to deal with.
My second suggestion is much simpler and one I’m more inclined to pick as a favorite:
Structure owners will designate a preferred time of day, and all timers will come out +/- 2 hours from that time (4 hour window total).
When a structure is RF’d, it will come out during the second next available exit window. Defenders will have 24 hours notice to prepare, at a minimum.
All follow-up timers will then adhere to this rule. This means the max time to kill any given structure will be under 6 days (roughly 2 and 4 days for M/L structures).
- Extremely simple, low potential for unexpected gimmicks.
- Time to kill any given structure size is reduced and minimum time for larger structures is increased. Time invested is proportionate to structure size.
- Does not address “timezone tanking”.
- Highly rigid system.
All things considered, I believe that the current system is a major point of frustration for anyone who participates in structure combat. While structure weapons and damage caps are often grumbled about, it seems to me that having to deal with significantly more timers is an even bigger problem.
One positive thing about POSes that I think doesn’t get mentioned nearly as often as it should: POS warfare was faster paced and more fluid. We no longer have the constant back-and-forth struggle over the course of a week that POSes could offer. Unfortunately, once POSes are gone there will be nothing left in the gap.