Player-Invented Ships

This post has been heavily edited to incorporate a lot of the discussion back into the original post. Thanks for helping me refine the process!

What problem does this solve?

  1. Researching, as it is right now, exists almost exclusively as series of hoops to jump through to participate in increasing material and time efficiency for blueprints. Or just simply copying blueprints. There is no semblance of any real decision-making or “invention” in the profession.

  2. Researchers don’t have much options in the way of making ISK, other than purchasing BPOs wholesale, increasing their efficiency, and selling copies. Furthering this is the barrier with clunky contract system. Researching and selling BPOs/copies it’s not a very lucrative or very exciting. Again, the researching side of Eve is lacking in content.

  3. There is an issue with stagnation in Eve. Higher-tier ships require more complicated industry components, and most of these are geared towards SOV/citadel structures or capitals. Enticing people into different regions to accommodate new metas could help reduce this stagnation.

  4. Part of what makes Eve fun and engaging for many is theory crafting and experimenting with fleet doctrines, and figuring out interesting ways in getting the upper hand instead of just blobbing. Lately that has not been the case, as most FCs can tell at-a-glance whether they’re going to win or lose based off of enemy fleet composition. A side effect of ship specialization.

  5. Most “vanity” ships are cost prohibitive. People really enjoy customizing their ships, but there’s only a few limited ways to do that in Eve at present. Aside from simple fits, or blinging out, you’re flying a boring old cookie-cutter ship. Skins have helped with this a bit, and goes to show that there’s a demand for customization.

How might this be implemented?

A new line of “Faction” ship hull BPOs that are relatively generic and – at first glance – fairly boring. They have a unique look and feel. Let’s call them “Derivative” ships for fun, more on the name later. Think frigate, destroyer, cruiser, battlecruiser, battleship. Kind of like the Gnosis, the main benefit is that (at first glance) they’re pretty flexible to fit but they don’t really excel at anything.

There’s a pretty big twist on them, though: Character researchers can research “derivative engineering modifications” or DEMs for short. These are used to permanently “alter” their BPOs into a derivative work that has both special bonus and drawbacks. These can be contracted out for ISK.

A Derivative hull BPO has a specific number of “slots” that can accept a DEM, maybe 8-10 max. A DEM can be permanently and irreversibly added to a Derivative BPO to add specific benefits and drawbacks. Kind of like rigs, but more on a BPO level that weaves attributes into the very fabric of the hull itself – “locking in” the changes through the base BPO.

At first, the “integration” process of merging a DEM into a BPO slot is pretty short. Each additional DEM slot, however, has exponential or logarithmic time to incorporate. Anyone who works on complicated projects knows that this somewhat mirrors real life. So something like:

Merging 1st DEM slot on BPO: ~1 week of integration research
2nd DEM slot on BPO: ~2 weeks
3rd DEM slot on BPO: ~4 weeks
4th DEM slot on BPO: ~8 weeks… and so on.

This imposes some pretty serious restrictions, as a very modified hull would take literally months to materialize. Additionally, you cannot copy the BPO while a DEM is being integrated into it. So you have to make a choice – continue integrating DEMs into the BPO, or if that’s going to take really long time, make copy runs to put some of the ships into production? For this reason, some of the more rare and well-researched Derivative BPOs will likely be pretty expensive.

And if you happen to research a rare DEM with really killer drone control bonuses that you were hoping for? You can put it on the market and make bank, or you can build an entire ship line around it – and then market and sell your custom BPCs and/or hulls for even MORE bank.

Example DEMs, just brainstorming:

  • One additional high slot that is also a turret hardpoint. One mid slot is removed. Requires additional Neodymium for construction.
  • 25% bonus to missile damage. 50 drone bandwidth removed (cannot go below 0). Requires additional Promethium for construction.
  • 20/15/10/5 Thermal/EM/Kinetic shield bonuses less stacking penalties. 10% signature radius increase. Base 25% armor reduction. Requires additional Dysprosium for construction.
  • 20% mass reduction. 15% less armor. 5% less hull. Requires additional strontium clathrates for construction.
  • 20% extra armor. 15% extra mass. Requires additional Titanium and Platinum for construction.
  • 20% signature radius reduction. 15% less shields. Requires additional Thulium for construction.

Many of the bonuses can stack with diminishing returns. I’ll let the experts dream up what the DEMs will actually be.

You could even PLEX-purchase special skins to dress your Derivative BPOs with, to put a custom feel for your special line. And it can also include your corporation/alliance logo. You could also have the opportunity to rename your ship “variant” to whatever you want, and this is tied to the BPO.

Derivative hulls will, in time, evolve to fit specific types of doctrines for large alliance fleets – specific to that alliance. Ship/BPC thefts may occur for really niche ships. And certain organizations may make their own niche hull for a specific purpose (think about how the Monitor was custom-created to solve a specific niche: Fleet Commanders). Some may make garbage derivative hulls that are silly, counter-intuitive, and are mocked on zkillboard.


Balance. Some may believe that chaos will reign supreme. However, the time limitations to create a deeply-customized line of ships will lead to gentle implementation. Overly powerful individual bonuses can easily be nerfed by CCP if need be. And keep in mind that modified Derivative ships are not supposed to be the BEST at niche roles that have ships already specifically suited for that particular role; just potentially competitive. Compare this to T3 ships. They may not be the best at missioning, but they can be crafted to mission. They may not be the best at EWAR, but they can be crafted to EWAR.

Technical Limitations

While we can play armchair developer and claim how difficult this is for CCP, I don’t want to speak for them by making technical assumptions. However, there admittedly may be limitations to how the current backend database is currently structured. That, and custom-line ships may be difficult to search for and purchase on the market. While the contract system can be a crutch to this, it’s not ideal. Ideally, I could see an implementation of this also including a search for custom attributes – an added bonus is that type of search could pair well and play nice with mutaplasmid-modified modules.

Why not mutaplasmids being applied to hulls?

It’s a possible shallow implementation of the idea, though I’m personally not a fan of the randomness of mutaplasmid effects. The whole reason I suggested being able to modify a custom line of generic ships was to avoid the power creep and weird, potentially-overpowered side-effects that could occur applying random mutaplasmids to existing ships that already have baked-in bonuses for their particular role.

Thanks for reading!


found it


TL;DR: make a whole new set of ships and be able to apply mutaplasmid-like effects to the BPOs.

Aside from how insanely OP it would be to have this on BPOs rather than BPCs, this runs into the same issue as mutaplasmids with regards to being an area where having excessive amounts of working capital will let the ‘haves’ churn through BPOs to get a ‘perfect’ outcome, while the ‘have nots’ are unlikely to manage to get anywhere- furthering the wealth gap between players without actually introducing new gameplay content to the game.

OP? It depends on the effects, and keep in mind there are drawbacks to each effect. Think of it more like permanent T3 configuration. You’re modifying a ship line with bonuses for a particular role, not a one-size-fits-all behemoth – and you’re putting ISK in the hands of people researching. That literally helps the little guy. There is no “perfect outcome” just like there is no perfect fit or perfect ship.

Could take what Star Trek Online, and the T3C’s do, and allow you to customize certain parts of the ships.

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So research would actually be research.

I have often complained that EVE ships are too static and that if you learn about real world military vehicles that variants are a dime a dozen. This is one of the ways I wish EVE was more complex as opposed to the many ways I wish it was more simple.

There just needs to be a way to ensure that improvements are incremental. We can’t have it so that it suddenly seems like modern day jet fighters are dogfighting biplanes of WWI.

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Yes! I was thinking that you could create a line of ships that feels somewhat T3-like. The goal isn’t to make the ship line overpowered, but more role-specific.

And the little guys – the researchers – are researching the DEMs and getting ISK for it. Or they may decide to take their invention “to market” so-to-speak by printing copies and investing in further DEMs for their hulls. The inventors control the rights by virtue of the fact they purchased a relatively inexpensive BPO and spent time perfecting it. They can sell it or control it.

You could even customize the look and feel a little, to give it some flavor. Instead of Duvolle Labs coming out with a new ship, you could have a XYZ Corporation come out with a new ship marketed for a particular niche role, with a neat skin bearing the XYZ Corporation’s logo. And those who are in that niche group will likely purchase the ships outright instead of spending months trying to reproduce it.

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I honestly have trouble seeing enough of a value proposition here for the sheer amount of work this would entail to code.

It would be functionally much easier to simply expand the mutaplasmid system to work on assembled ship hulls. It wouldn’t give you perpetuating lines of ship manufacture, but again, that seems painfully OP, and would skew heavily toward massive industrial alliances - it would be almost impossible for new groups to compete in that space. Not that mutaplasmids are that much better, but at least the ship hulls can be reprocessed for partial recovery of the initial invested materials.

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Why would it be hard for the little guys to compete? Can you explain?

Imagine you are a little guy with no big alliance affiliations.

1 - You have a character with research skills
2 - You research DEMs.
3a - You sell DEMs to the big industrialists for ISK, who will spend time significant time baking them into their BPOs…
3b - Or, you keep researching DEMs until you have an interesting combination that you feel is unique for a specific role/doctrine, and you craft your own line
4a - You copy/sell BPCs with your own unique line for good ISK, if it’s worth a damn
4b - If you have a winner, you can take matters in your own hands and produce your own line for even more lucrative ISK, and the competition would take potentially months to catch up if you crafted something unique.

The big alliances will only have the capacity to produce certain lines of ships for certain roles, injecting DEMs would be very time intensive. And they’d probably only focus on their own doctrines and needs. Anybody can compete equally in this market.

The value proposition is that you can actually invent something in this game that produce new doctrines, create surprises, and can have an effect on how the latest meta is played. And you reward researchers for researching, instead of just having them be cogs in a big machine.

First of all, everyone is a cog in a big machine. That’s the nature of an MMO. CCP has explicitly stated that they do not want players to be easily able to fulfill all of their own needs. Recent development efforts have focused on pushing more group-effort content, from combat to resource acquisition, because their evaluations show that players participating in group content are more likely to remain in the game.

Nobody is just a cog; if their corp makes them feel that way, they are in the wrong corp.

Second, you refer to DEMs as having random effects - not random success rates, random effects. This means those with larger resource capabilities will inherently be able to grind more DEMs through - whether the DEMs are made in-house or bought on the market - than smaller groups - and creates a high chance of functional monopoly in the hands of said large groups. They can afford to invest capital in thousands of failures just to get one successful DEM roll - and likely also have hundreds or thousands of alts available to run all the industry jobs for it without it being a blip on the rest of their production efforts, unlike a small corp that has to make a serious decision about whether they can afford the down time in their pipeline to perform DEM research.

This is much like having a T2 BPO: the holder is able to command much greater market impact than someone working the invention chain from T1 BPCs. It has proven to be unhealthy for EVE, which is why CCP stopped releasing T2 BPOs.

Third: the technical aspects of implementation are vast. This idea doesn’t fit into the current BPO capabilities (as it relates to object IDs and database functions) - it would require a massive overhaul to add a relatively small potential area of play. Whereas the modifications made to let mutaplasmids work for modules can probably be translated to ships with relatively little work.

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The more I think about it, the less I like the idea of having a mutaplasmid-like randomness to it. In part to some of the criticism you bring up, which has some good points.

Instead, just charge a licensing fee to “patent” a specific combination of 6+ DEMs and nobody else is allowed to make your exact line due to IP rights for 6 months or something. Put a lot of DEM permutations in there, like 128 or so, and the possibilities will be virtually limitless.

We’re brainstorming here, right? Isn’t that how it works here?

I’m a software developer by trade, the short answer for new features is “it depends” – let CCP figure out if it’s easy to implement or not instead of armchair developing it for them.

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Brainstorming does not equate to ‘finding ways to make all ideas work’. Some ideas are functionally impractical and there are no reasonable implementation options for them. Sometimes they are just plain bad ideas (go against the nature of the game; are so completely OP that they break the game for other players; etc.); other ideas are interesting, and maybe even amazing, but go too far against what the game can reasonably deliver (due to code/system limitations, integration with other content, etc.) to be possible. Can they be interesting to talk through? Sure. Are players obligated to find ways to shoehorn them into EVE anyway? No.

Okay buddy, by no means am I suggesting that this gets “shoehorned” into the game. Where are you coming up with this stuff?

Edit: On second thought, I’m giving you oxygen. You obviously don’t like the idea, and that’s fine, but maybe there’s some merit here that can be explored. I just don’t feel like you’re debating in good faith anymore.

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I’ve proposed an alternative (mutaplasmids on ship hulls) and outlined my reasons for being concerned that the original proposal would be a problem. How is that not discussing in good faith?

We both made edits to our prior posts, so I suspect some content arrived while each of us was writing that was not seen and internalized during those replies.

Fair. Let’s take a step back. Apologies for getting heated.

And yes, I am an edit whore, lol.

Mutaplasmids on ships hulls could work similarly. Perhaps more simple to implement, but also feels like it falls short of the original vision of being able to create your own ship line. Maybe the value proposition of that isn’t very enticing to some, but it is to me. I love the idea of being able to research my own hull and figure out a way to market it for a particular niche.

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I personally hate mutaplasmids, so I am with you on avoiding randomness; as originally outlined, they seemed like a logical alternative that could reasonably be implemented in current game engine.

I make an effort to direct people toward realistic concepts in idea threads whenever possible so their creative juices can go toward stuff we can attain. Knowing how the item database works, for example, can help gauge how much work something might take to implement, and what the tradeoffs for chasing down that idea would be - usually in the form of losing other content implementation. So I tend to be heavy on the ‘here are reasons why this may be hard to get out there - how about looking at other options that are easier to make happen?’ in my responses.

I fundamentally like the idea of actual invention happening in EVE; however, I see a few challenges:

  1. Balancing - we already have huge rebalancing passes happening all the time as the game evolves. These customizable hull designs feel like something that would be especially difficult to balance as, unlike a ship with fixed characteristics, a base stat change would unevenly impact derivative ship designs. For example: It would really suck to be sitting on a custom BPO that your alliance spent two years developing to get an x% buff to a stat, only to have that stat get adjusted in such a fashion that your entire BPO is useless.
  2. Vulnerability to wealth gap - as I mentioned before, alliances with large resource pools could very easily launch into research and production without giving up other avenues of income development, whereas small fangs would have a hard time competing. I’m not sure we need more ‘end game’ content in the industry space; I think mid-game industry is where we could really stand to see more love.
  3. Integration with existing infrastructure - this comes back to the understanding of EVE’s game engine and back-end functions. Objects in EVE exist in two states: as core object classes with corresponding object IDs, and as individual object instances with local attributes. Assembling a ship moves it from a count of an object ID to an individual instance, allowing it to be fit with modules, have a name, carry insurance, and take damage. Repackaging the ship (which requires all damage to be repaired first) eliminates the instanced object and adds a count to the object ID tally for that asset under the character. Developing unique ships via research would either require an overhaul of this system, or logging all created variations and archiving them as unique object IDs that are fully documented in the back end so that the built ships can be repackaged and sold on the market (as compared to mutaplasmids - modules that have been mutated are not repackageable and can only be sold via contract). A complete overhaul is realistically unlikely; indexing all the potential permutations would be doable but highly time consuming, and at that point are players really ‘inventing’ anything or just going through a very intensive process to unlock variant X of ship class Y?

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

To respond to your points:

  1. I think balancing passes are difficult unknowns to prepare against. I think this is a challenge for most ships/items that require a significant time investment, as there is always: what if CCP nerfs this? And if someone were to come up with a derivative ship design that was OP, then the base stat or a specific DEM could become rebalanced. My hope is that they would adjust specific DEMs instead of base stats on a Derivative hull; that’s like trying to use a chainsaw when a scalpel is needed.

  2. I think custom ship-lines are more like niche-fitting flavors than some sort of race to “win” with DEM-enhanced BPOs. Even really big alliances retooling a ton of their industry to create four dozen ship lines will likely come up with all the variations that players want; I don’t think there’s a certain winning formula, just like how there’s not a winning ship fit. The way I see this playing out is more like the big alliances incorporate a Derivative ship or three into certain fleet doctrines, and many of the smaller corporations/alliances come up with Derivatives for things like travel fit, wormholes, exploration, missioning, etc. I don’t imagine anyone having a monopoly on the market, and people can experiment and innovate to potentially come up with new metas. That, and I don’t think that Derivatives are supposed to be the BEST at all niche roles that have ships already specifically suited for that particular role; perhaps just competitive. Again, comparing this to T3 ships. They may not be the best at missioning, but they can be crafted to mission. They may not be the best at EWAR, but they can be crafted to EWAR.

  3. Right now, even the mutaplasmid has some issues with working in the normal market. An initial implementation would probably have to rely on using contracts, which is obviously pretty cumbersome; it could probably be thought of like an “already assembled and rigged ship” from a backend standpoint. Now I’m not intimately familiar with how their database is structured, but if I were to implement it (and this is pure speculation), I would look into bitflags (and I’m not talking completely out of my ass, I am a software engineer). If we had 128 different DEM permutations, you could encode a binary string where a placement of the bit corresponds to a different DEM module. So for example, say we only had 8 different DEM permutations. The first bit (or “flag”) would correspond to module A, the second bitflag would correspond to module B, etc. So 00000000 would mean that no DEM modules were active. 01000000 would mean that only module B is active. And 01011000 would mean that module B, D, and E are active. And since there’s 8 bits in a byte, 128 permutations would mean you could encode all the permutations in a 16-byte bitmap. Unfortunately, individual bitflags are not indexable in most SQL databases… But the entire 16-byte string is, and could be used as the “licensing key” as a unique key constraint if you wanted to implement some sort of patent feature. I also think you could use this as a way to parse bulk data on the client side. Kinda rambling here. If we’re talking SQL, I’d just create a pivot table with the object ID mapping to the DEM that is active on the hull and then attach the bitflags to a repackaged hull; then rebuild those mappings when it’s reassembled back to the Object ID.

Assuming that’s how it works. But at the end of the day, CCP would have to decide whether or not the technical implementation is a limiting factor. I think it could be possible, but I also recognize that I’m just an armchair enthusiast here and I don’t know enough to say confidently either way.

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Not for most people here no. Most of these people would go to a birthing clinic with a knife in each hand. EVE has dealt out a lot of severe trauma and it comes out in the forums.

And clicking that like button might kill them.

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I have no experience with mutaplasmids. But since you are open to brainstorming:

If mutaplasmitds caused a certain effect, would it not make sense that THOSE mutaplasmids would always cause that effect? That probably goes against the lore, but lore can be changed.

So, if we have mutaplasmids that (perhaps for being stabilized or some other new lore) always produce a certain effect, then we could have research to find and isolate those mutaplasmids. And those multiplasmids could have their own blue prints.

And if multiplasmids are usable on ships too, does that not pretty much amount to an alternte way of how your idea of invented ships could work?

So once you have a certain multiplasmid, you can now start applying it to ship hulls to create your ship variants. And they would not be unique ships anymore, but variants of existing ships.

A cap on how many could be applied to each ship or module would be needed of course. I suspect its already one per module but Like I say, I have no experience with them.

Again, just brainstorming here. But I feel that there might be a way to use the multiplasmid system in several ways to bring your base idea to life.

Thanks for adding to the discussion!

I think your suggestions could work, it’s an alternative approach that seems to fit within the current system. My only concern about appling mutaplasmids to existing ships is that it can lead to some power creep. However, if a new ship line was created that was specifically designed to be modified with mutaplasmids, that could work pretty well. It’d basically be like rigs that are irreversible, or like setting up a T3 ship with subsystems that cannot be removed once set.

Heck, you could even apply them to BPOs or BPCs and get pretty close to the original idea. I guess I’m just not a fan of mutaplasmids in general, but I could be a minority.

If they decide to expand on the mutaplasmid system, I really hope they make it easier to search and buy/sell them! It’s kind of a pain in the ass right now.

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