First, lets look at what Outposts really are. They are just like real stations where you can dock and you have a huge hangar. The main difference between a station and Outposts lie in the types and the number of services available. Outposts are smaller versions of stations, so they will have fewer slots and the type of Outpost, and in this case Race, determines what services are available.
Currently, there will be 4 different types of Outposts. The Gallente Administrative Outpost, Amarr Factory Outpost, Caldari Research Outpost and the Minmatar Service Outpost. We're still playing around with the numbers such as should Research be limited to the Caldari or should the Administrative have the Research service, just far fewer slots?
There are of course restrictions on Outposts. For one, they are very expensive to build. The process is split down into buying the blueprint and is quite cheap as such, then building the construction platform (by far the most expensive part) and then placing the platform and hauling a couple of billions worth of minerals into it.
The placing of an Outpost requires a system where you are the sovereign. This means an Alliance has to have Starbases claiming the system and only one Outpost can be placed in a each system (for now of course). Just to point out the obvious, If you have problems with this being limited to Alliances, creating an Alliance is probably 20 times cheaper than buying an Outpost ;)
When an Outpost has been built, as long as you remain the sovereign, your Outpost will be immune to damage. This will also apply to the current conquerable stations from now on. The Outpost becomes vulnerable when either the system looses sovereignty or another alliance claims sovereignty. Then it will become ripe for plucking.
You are probably asking yourself, what about defences around the Outposts or in the systems at gates? That's the next logical step to go. Outposts are not destructible either, only conquerable. The work to make that feasible is just too time consuming and the gameplay ramifications very extensive. That doesn't mean it won't be possible in the future - nor that it will be ;)
Since sovereignty now matters that much for the owner - at least if he has an Outpost there - and sovereignty is still changed during downtime, we added a couple of countermeasures. A Starbase will only count as a claim in the system after 24 hours and the sovereign receives an evemail each time a new Starbase is onlined in his system. This means the defender has 24 hours to take out those Starbases that are trying to claim the system before they take effect. Nifty, innit? :)
Perhaps you can see where this is supposed to go. The Starbases now become the first targets, Outpost can be raised where Alliances live and their home can be properly defended. These core systems will be heavily defended and provide intermediate goals where you either destroy your opponents Starbases or deploy your own to conquer the system. Well, in theory at least, we'll see what happens when this enters TQ.
In unison with this, there are some other changes which will directly or indirectly affect this. Dreadnoughts come into play at the same time, a weapon dedicated to attack structures. Dreadnoughts also leads to some balancing of Starbase defences. Secondly, having multiple Starbases in the same system in which you are the sovereign will become more profitable since sovereignty now reduces your Starbase fuel consumption by 50%. Third, the PVP logoff timer has been increased to 30 minutes so you better have a Starbase, Station or Outpost close by if your fleet is in harms way.
I should also point out that having an Outpost in system with lots of Starbases will be real good since Freighters are Station-to-Station vehicles.
We also have two things hopefully coming in which should benefit these new scenarios. One is the extended roles for Starbase access, we're really hoping they will be ready before the patch. The other is that your Deliveries window would be accessible on the outside of conquerable stations and Outposts. This would enable Escrow and Market to fully function and flourish even though you can limit access to the station or Outpost.
To sum it up, we think this will bring direct benefits to Alliances, change the focus of unclaimed 0.0 space, lead to the creation of more Alliances, create more direct and focused strategic goals both to defend and attack between Alliances, create new goals within Alliances and last but by far not the least create goals for new corporations to aspire too.
Remember, when we enable players to build infrastructure which they make money on from other players, this won't only benefit the Alliances, this benefits the whole universe. Ultimately, you will be able to work for the new empires or work against them. Heck, you can build your own! It should be up to you, not us.
That being said, lets look at these changes bearing in mind the 30+ new 0.0 gates being added with the first steps of the New World Order in this content patch ... Yay?