Repo Man

Image courtesy K162Space

UPDATE: Based on comments here and further Twitter discussion, I modified some of my positions and posted the idea in the Features & Ideas Forum for discussion and consideration. Here is that post, your support would be appreciated!

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I had an interesting discussion on Twitter today about the removal of abandoned anchorable items (really what we’re talking about here is unfueled POS), and the level of nuance didn’t lend itself well to so few characters. So I wanted to take a few minutes to address it here.

Today, especially in wormhole space, moons are littered with dead, long-abandoned POS. The vast majority of these will never have their owners return for them and have sat idle for weeks or months. They are space junk, pure and simple. But to remove these is a multi-day, ammo-intensive process due to high HP and reinforcement timers. Worse, abandoned POS means that any new folks looking to move into a wormhole first have to clear a spot of old abandoned junk.

Low Sec CSM candidate Sugar Kyle (who will be getting an endorsement from me) was looking for input on how we might allow people to remove this space junk and potentially profit from it. CSM 8 member Ali Aras (who will also be getting an endorsement) chimed in as well.

When asked this question, many people (understandably) think in terms of dead POS in k-space. Where you have unlimited access to the POS and can come back and shoot it in a couple of days with no real difficulty – all your routes and surroundings remain the same. If push comes to shove you can go about your business, come back in a couple days and shoot the rest down. Once you’re done, you pack up your loot and head out.

This is not the case in wormhole space, where I would argue the bulk of the problem actually lies. In wormholes, you have to worry about having the right ship for the job, often more than one, but you have holes that disappear either from lack of time or excess mass. This means that within 24 hours or less, your logistics change, often radically. You will lose connection to both your home system and any k-space locations that make it worthwhile for you to attempt to grab the abandoned structure. In addition, the wormhole corps that would bother to do a shoot and wait and shoot again are large enough and well-funded enough that it’s just not worth the bother – and that’s with today’s mechanics that require only ammo and a timer. It is for this reason that I believe it is critical that CCP make it very easy to remove this space junk, creating a whole new class of salvager – maybe even a new ship.

To that end, what I would personally prefer is a very, very easy system. If you have Anchoring V and the POS is Anchored but Offline, you can take it. Done.

That said, I can understand if people would like to see a bit more gameplay value here, and are also concerned about people not having a chance to defend. So let’s go through the proposals I’ve seen for gameplay additions – again remember that the crucial feature is that it be made fair, but easy and cheap – or no one will actually do the removals.

  • Hacking. Yes. Of all the ideas proposed, this makes the most sense. It adds a gameplay element without dictating the ship, or a piece of equipment, or a timer, or worst a combination of all three. Give the POS a hacking difficulty that scales with size and faction (large faction towers very tough, small basic towers very easy). You could also have the self-destruct happen dependent on size (1 fail explodes smalls, 4 for large faction, etc.). I could get behind this idea. Then you could also make actual removal post-hack driven by skill level at Anchoring (tuned again to size and value of tower).
  • Timers. Timers (along with HP) are the problem now. If we want people to eliminate these things, at least in wormholes, the timer needs to go away or at minimum not be attack-based. Here’s what I mean by that.
    • Bad: Timer starts when hack fails. No. Here again we’re at “come back in a couple of days”. Only dedicated siegers will ever do this in wormholes, and it will remain a strong discouragement even in highsec. This is effectively how things work now. Nothing changes and you might as well have not bothered to even try.
    • Potentially Good: Timer starts when fuel runs out. Maybe. This means that the owner gets a notice to come and save their stuff, but a wolfpack flying by gets a notice that tells them there’s no point in bothering with it today (come back when the timer runs out). It provides the defensive benefit of a timer without wasting the attackers’ time. You could make this as much as 48 hours, and effectively what it does is put the tower into Reinforced when it runs out of fuel.
  • Deployable-Driven. No. Yes, I know CCP is on a deployable kick. I have gone on at some length about my opinion on some of the good and bad ideas therein. The bottom line is this: it adds one more layer of complexity that adds no value to the scenario. It’s just one more stupid thing to remember and have stocked – in wormholes this is a big deal, because generally you are not out and about in a ship able to scoop a POS, nor fit for hacking. You’re generally in a pure combat or pure scouting ship. And in the beginning you’d have to have many of them, unless you made it scoopable. If you want to add a capability, new item, and expense, make it a ship instead. Here’s what I propose:
    • ORE Reposessor: Yes. A new ORE hull with bonuses to hacking and cargo hold size, with enough size for a Large tower and several key mods. Tank would be better than a T1 Industrial but worse than a Deep Space Transport – in fact this could also be done instead with a repurposed set of Deep Space Transports. Would be great for moving POS and modules in or out of a location. UPDATE: Coffee Rocks suggested repurposing the (useless) Primae to do this. I think that’s a great idea.
  • Penalties Against Salvaging Party. No. Someone in the conversation suggested that the original anchoring corp get killrights against the hacker. This makes no sense to me – remember that if the above are done, this is no different than salvaging a white wreck. At worst, you make it like stealing from a can and make the person flashy for 15 minutes. You are not attacking someone, you are doing New Eden a favor and cleaning up their mess.

So yes, please – we need to make towers removable. Yes we should add some gameplay value. But most importantly, we need to treat it like what it is – the salvaging of space junk, not an attack.

UPDATE: Two of the other folks involved have now made posts of their own that are worth your time to read:

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15 Responses to Repo Man

  1. Foo says:

    If you are going to remove 1B worth of equipment, I have zero issues with a timer.

    Timer starts on a successful hack, after POS fuel runs out? Sure. Hack is difficult, generally requiring (close to?) max skill/bonuses. Sure. Hack attempts take time? Yes.

    Yes, I have organised POS bashes to clear out dead towers, in wormhole space; 3 large and a few mediums. I know how much effort is involved. As big an issue for me is incapacitated guns, that we either destroy or repair before scooping. They also take a *long* time.

    It took them hours to set up that large POS. Take that billion isk, many hours investment on a 20 minute whim? No thanks.

  2. Foo says:

    Ok. So …

    The status quo: there is a player mechanism for looting the best modules (with loot fairy drops) and grinding out the remainder of the structure.

    The current mechanism puts fleets in space, and at risk. These fleets tend to be glass cannon battleships. Where there is a need, this is done. Where there is no need, no fleets are committed.

    This should be replaced with an option to allow a single pilot in a cheap ship, for a quick in and out. I am not sure how this benefits the game.

    Now, an option that allows for a timer? That makes sense.

    We have participated in our share of dead POS bashes, simply to clear up our wormholes. We even had someone in our wormhole take down their POS and get ganked in the process.

    I am in favour of more isk for the ‘repo guy’. I am *not* in favour of it being easy.

    • Rhavas says:

      I have allowed for a timer. It’s not my personal favorite but I get it. But the timer has to start when the POS runs out of fuel, not when it’s hacked. This is a balanced approach that gives the defender the net advantage. But at T+48h from running out of fuel, it’s salvage.

  3. Foo says:

    What issue are you trying to solve?
    New ship, sure. You can have that with or without a timer.
    Make space? I have never seen a wormhole without free moons. Highsec, sure, but a couple of afk laser cruisers are enough.
    Don’t want the historical residents to come back from their break? Maybe. If it is compelling, you will use ammo.

    Needs to be cleaned up? Why?
    Needs to be cheap? Why?
    Not be a multi day process? Why?
    Logistical issues? So what?

    These are issues that are technically easy to solve. Remove the shield from an un-fueled POS is the easiest (and would be easy to justify lore wise). Or even allow salvagers to do damage to the POS structure.

    What I don’t see a compelling answer is why an abandoned POS in space is a problem, so important that it requires no effort from players.

    Essentially, I don’t think it’s broke, so why fix it?

  4. Rammstein says:

    “Today, especially in wormhole space, moons are littered with dead, long-abandoned POS. The vast majority of these will never have their owners return for them and have sat idle for weeks or months.”

    Honestly, they’ve sat idle for months or years, not just weeks. So, we have a problem on a very long timescale, and your fix’s timescale is ” You could make this as much as 48 hours,”

    Why so quick? Why not a week, or a month? If your answer is “what about the reward for the wolfpack discovering the dead tower?”, then the answer is: the wolfpack already gets to blow up and loot all the modules except the guns/defense. Other than that, the timescale of your solution doesn’t match the timescale of the problem, which is causing needless opposition to the idea, while not making the fix any better at addressing the problem: unless you have hidden criteria/motivations.

    • Rhavas says:

      Here’s the problem with that: NO ONE DOES IT. So the litter remains indefinitely. The “reward”at that time scale isn’t worth it, which is why these things linger on forever. Maybe in other kinds of space people leave loot and modules but the vast majority of what I’ve seen in space is just the tower. Everything else has been hauled out by the owner.

      • Rammstein says:

        ” The “reward”at that time scale isn’t worth it, which is why these things linger on forever. ”

        I’m confused, perhaps we’re not having a meeting of minds here. Let’s say we go with the weeklong timer, starting when the tower becomes unfueled. 1 week after the tower becomes unfueled, then anyone (with anchoring 5) can go unanchor the tower in a matter of minutes. 99% of the unfueled towers out there, after this change, would be able to be taken in minutes. Problem gone.

        • Rhavas says:

          Yep, that’s pretty much what I say in the newly-posted F&I thread – I think we’re on the same page if you go read that. See link at top of this page to go there.

        • Rammstein says:

          Yes, I don’t see how anyone reasonable could be against your revised proposal.

      • Rammstein says:

        Also:

        “Maybe in other kinds of space people leave loot and modules but the vast majority of what I’ve seen in space is just the tower.Everything else has been hauled out by the owner.”

        Just the tower = owner went afk for months, left his tower unfueled, he had no guns, because the kind of owner that just goes afk and abandons a tower is the kind of newb owner who doesn’t fit defenses. The first person that sees an unfueled tower blows up all the SMA/CHA/etc, which leaves an empty stick.

        If the owner hauls out all the less expensive crap, why would he leave the most expensive module, the tower? I mean, I”m sure it happens, but I doubt it accounts for the majority of lone sticks out there.

  5. Space Noob says:

    My take on the matter. I waffle about other stuff at the start but I get there eventually and with an interesting observation of what I found at the “abandoned” POS in the end

    http://diaries-of-a-space-noob.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/653-nails-in-coffin-of-space.html

    • Rhavas says:

      Good post. It also answers some of my detractors (in high sec this isn’t about oops it’s about a free claim) but add some problems (clarity for the worse on how bad CCP is not going to want to touch this).

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