Starbase happy fun time

By CCP Greyscale
| Comments

While we're waiting to do a proper rewrite of the starbase system, we thought we'd tackle some of the bigger pain points for the upcoming Winter Expansion.

Using Jump Bridges

Currently on TQ you can use a jump bridge if a) the tower is configured to not shoot at you and b) you have the forcefield password entered.

a) is a pretty straightforward way of configuring access, and we're pretty happy with it.

b) is awkward to use and requires people to keep track of a bajillion passwords and/or hand out their tower passwords to the entire universe.

We don't like b), so we've removed it, and you'll no longer need the starbase's password to use its jump bridge. Everything else will continue to work as it currently does.

Setup/Takedown Timers

The current timers for anchoring, onlining, offlining and unanchoring structures are suboptimal from a player-experience perspective, so we optimized them.

Here are some fun changes:

  • Jump Bridges now take 30 seconds to anchor (but are otherwise unchanged)
  • Cynosural Generators now take 10 seconds to anchor and unanchor (but are otherwise unchanged)
  • Cyno Jammers are unchanged
  • CSAAs and CSMAs now take 30 seconds to anchor, 3 seconds to online/offline and 10 minutes to unanchor
  • Turrets, launchers, EW batteries and hardeners now take 5 seconds to anchor/unanchor and 120 seconds to online/offline
  •  Every other structure not already mentioned in this list now takes 5 seconds to anchor/unanchor and 3 seconds to online/offline

Fuel Blocks

Fuel Block icons

We're concerned that asking people to regularly fuel more than two or three starbases is probably in violation of the Geneva Convention, so we decided to make it a little easier before we're indicted for war crimes.

Starbases will stop needing multiple fuel types, and instead will simply use fuel blocks, each of which contains 100% of the Recommended Hourly Allowance for a small control tower. (NOTE: none of this affects charters, which will still need to be added as normal!)

The four racial fuel blocks will be built in batches of four in all stations, plus starbase ammo assembly arrays (blueprints coming to a Thukker Mix station near you; build time approximately ten minutes). Each batch of four will need the following components:

  • 8x Coolant
  • 4x Enriched Uranium
  • 400x relevant racial Isotope
  • 4x Mechanical Parts
  • 20x Oxygen
  • 1x Robotics
  • 150x Heavy Water
  • 150x Liquid Ozone

Towers will use 1 block/hour for small, 2 blocks/hour for medium and 4 blocks/hour for large. The CPU and Power load will no longer have any impact on your fuel needs - all towers now need the same amount of fuel, regardless of configuration.

Blocks will be 50m3 each. To make fuel bay sizes line up more nicely, we've boosted the bays on normal towers to 35/70/140k, so you get a nice round 700 cycles in each, which works out at a hair over 29 days. (Does not affect strontium bays!)

The one downside of this big-blocks approach is that it's impossible to give faction towers a fuel consumption bonus any more (you can't consume 2/3 of a block). We talked to some large-scale starbase operators about this, and they told us that the main bonus of faction towers for them is actually that they last longer between fuel cycles. To try and compensate for the increased running costs, we've taken the above bay size increases and added +25% bay size on top of that for the "tier 1" faction towers, and +50% bay size for the "tier 2" ones. We're hoping people will find that a satisfactory tradeoff, but we're listening for further feedback on this change.

Fuel Block Implementation

The way we're going to roll this out is that the blocks, their blueprints and the changes to tower capacities will be introduced in the main patch. The changes to fuel consumption on the towers will be rolled out a couple of weeks later. The starbase system doesn't allow for multiple simultaneous fuel types, so we have to switch from one to the other during downtime.

The way we're strongly advising players to approach this handover is to fill your fuel bays with "half and half" - enough of the old fuel to last you to the changeover downtime and then some (I'd suggest 2-3 days extra just in case something horrible happens), and enough of the new fuel blocks to run the tower until you can fill it with 100% blocks. The server should then come back up after the update, see the new fuel and start consuming that like nothing had happened.

Some Fuel Block Whys

  • We got rid of power and CPU affecting fuel consumption because it made the process needlessly complex, it meant that you had to calculate things separately for each tower (which sucks), and we didn't think the cost difference was sufficiently significant to keep it on
  • We kept racial types because we didn't want to mess around with isotopes
  • We reduced effective robotics consumption on medium and small towers because it was judged to be better than increasing the consumption on large towers
  • We rounded some of the fuel types just to make fuel-construction math easier
  • We stuck with small numbers of blocks and no fuel use bonus on faction towers because dealing with small numbers of blocks makes starbases in general easier to use
  • We didn't do this ages ago because I couldn't see a good way to handle the handover until someone pointed out the (obvious) half-and-half solution, at which point I punched myself in the head for not seeing that earlier

Hope this makes your lives a little easier,
-Greyscale

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