It's been a long time since I've blogged, and a lot of things have been happening with CCP and Eve Online, and lots of new features are visible over the horizon, including a long overdue rewrite of the Sovereignty System, and with it, destructible stations along with a large, open question:
What should happen to player assets in ruined stations?
The ideal design should minimize gimmicks, create opportunities for meaningful emergent gameplay, and create as little hassle for any players returning to Eve Online as possible. To that end, I propose that destructible stations take the form of no-services free-ports; a ruined hulk that anyone can dock with, but contains no station services, no market, and no offices.
For players returning to Eve Online after an extended away period, the freeport model holds significant appeal, without implementing a free ride to highsec for player assets. It would be worthwhile to give players an incentive to go out and recover anything that was previously locked up and inaccessible; I suspect that there's no shortage of former players who are staying away from the game because of what they lost access to. It seems likely that a massive, scorched-earth purge would begin when this mechanic was introduced. Tying in an invitation to return, along with a noted incentive to recover what's rightfully theirs, could be an excellent marketing point for the game.
Even without services, a station serves one other function that is not provided by any other thing in Eve: a secure staging and rallying point for friends, allies, and acquaintances to form up and undock from. This is something that should remain available beyond NPC facilities, and is a valuable part of the strategic landscape. By leaving the ability to dock, it'll be possible for players to eke out a new type of living in the wastelands of ruined stations.
A ruined station is an opportunity to rebuild. Giving players the power to rebuild a ruined station gives an objective to the transients who make use of the facility.
I've never been the most imaginative player of Eve Online. I imagine that the more creative sorts could think of all sorts of innovative and exciting ways to take advantage of these proposed mechanics. Free-form game mechanics have always been a great way to tell unique and exciting stories. Who wouldn't love to see a few more?