[i]In Which The Author Attempts to Create a Setting Much Like EVE Online Using Eclipse Phase[/i] [u]Part 1[/u] (note: This is also cross-posted to my tumblr) I like EVE Online. I also like Eclipse Phase. The main problem with EVE Online is that playing can almost amount to a full time job (players have reported spending 40 hours or more a week on it, just earning in-game money or running their operations before having fun blowing stuff up). Part of what attracted me to EVE was the setting, and the in-game technology. So, I got to thinking: How could I simulate EVE or an EVE-like game using Eclipse Phase? In order to do that, we have to look at what makes EVE, well, EVE; and how to apply that Eclipse Phase. We start with tossing out what we don't need: Several of the setting details. We don't need the four empires of EVE space. We also don't need the history of the setting. We don't need the people. We just need the foundation that defines gameplay in EVE: the technology. The ships, the gates, the Capsuleers, and the various other little bits and pieces. [b]The Capsuleers are easy:[/b] They are in a spaceworthy pod that allows them to control the ship with their mind (not counting any crew that are needed for maintenance, ammo loading, and the support crew needed for those crew). When a capsuleer dies (by their ship and pod being destroyed), their mind is uploaded at the moment of death, transmitted via the FTL communications network, and effectively resleeved into a new body at the last station they updated their clone in. This is amazingly easy to simulate in Eclipse Phase. They even have an implant that does much the same thing: The Emergency Farcaster. All it requires is the FTL communications network. [b]FTL Communications:[/b] In EVE, this is explained using quantum entanglement, similar to the QE comms used in EP. In EP, the QE comm uses quantum entangled “bits”, called qubits. Each one is a pair, sufficient to transmit one “byte” (It's probably larger than one byte) of information, and can only be used once. If two QE comms don't have entangled qubits, then they can't communicate. In EVE, it's slightly different. QE comms there still rely on the entangled “bits”, but each one is an atom, and they never get used up. However, each pair of comms is “locked”, they can only communicate with each other. As well, due to the mechanisms needed to read and manipulate each atom's quantum state, QE comms are not handheld, and are along the lines of ship equipment and station installations. They also aren't used for private secure communications. Each pair of comms is a node in the network, connected by ordinary computers that pass data from one node to the next, routing packets until it reaches its final destination. Very much like the internet. Simulating this is also rather easy using the rule-set of EP; and the virtual topography of network connections, with its implications, can be rather fascinating to explore. [b]Inter- and Intra- Stellar Travel:[/b] Travel in EVE is easy. Jump gates, made from artificial wormholes, connect systems together and provide instanteneous travel between them (not counting intra-stellar travel time). In fact, that network of gates is what defines the interstellar geography more than how close individual stars are. It doesn't matter that an enemy-held star is so many light years away, what matters more is how many gates (and therefore how many systems) they have to pass through (The exception is the Cyno field, but even that requires slipping a Cyno Generator equipped ship into the target system). Gates, while tempting military targets, are well protected, under the purview of a large NGO that is neutral in every conflict, and destroying one might mean cutting off a link that makes the system valuable (like a trade route). Each gate, like the QE comms, is locked; it connects to only one other gate in a different system. EP has a parallel to the Jump Gates: The Pandora's Gates. Those, like the rest of the setting, differ from EVE. They are sized for groups of people, exist on planetary (or asteroid, or station, or where ever the GM decided to put them) surfaces. They also could be dialed to multiple destinations, and the network existed before transhumanity discovered it. Intra-stellar travel, travel inside of a system, in EVE requires two things: a reactionless drive, and the warp drive. An interesting thing to note is that the interaction of the two drives put a limit on a ship's top velocity outside of warp. In effect, the warp drive, even when off, acts as a medium of resistance to the ship. A ship's velocity is measured in meters per second (m/s), and ships often reach a top velocity of less than 500 m/s. The warp drive envelops a ship in a bubble that makes it super-frictionless, leaves no disturbance in what ever it passes through (did anyone else think “sundiving”?), and drives it at a speed of 1 to 6 AU per second. This poses an interesting issue, as 6 AU/s comes out to an effective speed of almost 2,994.029c (2,994.029 times the speed of light). Let's put that in perspective: Alpha Centauri is 4.4 light years away. At 2,994.029c, transit time would be 00:12:52:56.785 (0 days, 12 hours, 52 minutes, and 56.785 seconds). Almost 13 hours. For some of the transit times that sci-fi fans have been reading, that's lighting quick. Why not use warp drive? Because gates are easier. And transit time between stars is boring. This also raises a few issues that I'll talk about later. In EP, physical travel can be hard to do. Ships don't have reactionless drives, they don't have warp drives, and things are slow. Most travel is done by egocasting, where the mind is uploaded, transmitted to the destination, and then downloaded into a new body. Trade, due to nanofabricators, is rather limited in scope, restricted to transporting raw materials, items that cannot be fabricated, goods where it is cheaper to manufacture them in one place and transport them from there, and the like. All in all, the travel technology is rather easy to simulate, as EP is a rather versatile system. Contradictorily, it is also hard to simulate, as EP also has no real system for dealing with ships and physical travel, treating it as a plot device (and thus subject to the whims of the GM) instead. [b]Ships:[/b] Simulating EVE ships in EP is, as stated above, difficult. We have to create numbers to design, describe, and simulate the ships. Ships in EVE are wonderfully diverse, with a variety of sizes, roles, styles, and the like. However, they came in standard designs, with limited ability to be modified. In this case, I feel that it is best that we turn to another RPG system to gain advice and inspiration for our ship-building system: Traveller. Now there is a ship creation method that can be used for this. But first, we need to examine the role and history of ships in this new setting before we can get realistic numbers. We'll look at that later. [b]Skills:[/b] This may sound odd, but EVE's skill system deserves a mention, especially as it pertains to shiphandling. EVE's skills came in 5 levels, and plenty of skills chained together from basic to advanced versions. Ships and equipment often required multiple skills at certain levels to operate as well. Most of EVE's skills already exist in EP, and plenty of others that don't can be simply added as new skills. However, the ship skills, the ones that determined which classes of ships a character could fly, might be best treated as special merits. A single Pilot skill works best for our purposes, with a special merit such as “Ship: Frigate”, or “Ship: Industrial” influencing which ships a character could fly, and how well. Those, like everything else requiring hard numbers and decisions, will be dealt with in the next section. There is one other thing that needs to be mentioned: Human populations. In EVE, the EVE cluster was colonized by humans, before they all sank into a period of barbarianism, a few thousand years passed, and then they expanded back into space. In Traveller, prehistoric humanity was grabbed by an ancient alien species and seeded across thousands of planets. Here, we're going to do a bit of both. In this universe, an alien species did kidnap some of the prehistoric human population for study, and did seed them across several different planets. In fact, this was done multiple times. As well, there has been a period of massive colonization, complete with infugees and forks of people being given slots on the colony ships. Now, before we make our decisions about these, we also have to look at how the developmental timeline of the technology in EVE. The Capsuleers, while the iconic “thing” about EVE, are, in universe, rather recent. This means that ships were designed for ordinary human crew, and then later retrofitted for Capsuleer operation. The Jump Gates came before the Warp Drive, reverse-engineered from ancient artifacts. This influenced how people thought, making them view the warp drive as something for in-system travel, and see jump gates as the requirement for interstellar travel (that's actually an in-universe justification. The real reason is that CCP, the developers of EVE Online, didn't want to force people to spend hours just traveling to systems, because that is boring and people don't play boring games). We also need to take a look at the hard numbers that define everything in game terms. Those however, come later. For now, here is my idea of the timeline for EP, dealing with the development of these technologies, and some of the reasons behind them, in addition to various other events. Having them show up in a different order than what I put here can cause them to be slightly different (if Warp drive shows up before Jump Gates, then Warp Drive becomes the standard, with Jump Gates merely linking far-flung areas). [b]15AF -[/b] FTL Comms are developed, expanding from the previous QE comms. Becoming known as QuFluid comms, early installations are large, and several exosolar colonies obtain them. The beginnings of the FTL network are seen here. Current data transmission rates prevent transhumans from egocasting to these colonies. [b]24AF to 100AF -[/b] The Pandora's Gates begin to fail over a period of 50 years. While doing so, they give scientists valuable insight into how they work. At the end of the deterioration, they fall apart, but at least transhumanity now kind of knows how to construct paired wormholes. The few early attempts to construct them apart from each other fail, and the resulting jump gates are placed around the system to facilitate travel. The investors had to recoup their very expensive losses somehow. [b]101AF -[/b] Beginning of the Capsuleers. With simulspace technology and AI support, it becomes possible to pilot a ship using only a single person. Large ships still require crew members, but the technology is applied to reduce crew requirements to the minimum. The Jovian Republic proves to be strangely adept at this field, and sets the trend for using physical pilots (transhumans with access jacks). [b]110AF -[/b] Population boom begins. This was started by a few movies, where the main character was a mother. The resulting metacelebrity put her weight behind population growth, and the public responded. [b]114AF -[/b] The PC construct an interstellar AM ship using the wormhole technology. It receives fuel as necessary via an onboard wormhole, which it will then place in the Alpha Centuari system. Partway through the journey, it explodes when the wormhole destabilizes and ruptures the AM containment vessel. On the other hand, the wreckage, including the QuFluid comm, briefly goes FTL and ends up 500 lightyears past Alpha Centauri. Intense speculation arises, especially about the idea of using wormholes as slingshots to quickly expand. [b]125AF -[/b] The slingshot method is proven to work, but doubles the cost in wormholes. It successfully delivers a jump gate to Carnivale. Scientists begin to work on the problem of controlling the length of the slingshot. [b]134AF -[/b] Earth breaks apart. Nobody is sure why, but the PC moves to completely sterilize the wreckage. The majority of Firewall supports this decision. Earth is reduced to a field of rubble, with Luna being flung into Mars orbit. [b]147AF -[/b] Scientists manage to control the length of the slingshot to within .25ly. 15 exploration ships are designed, each one supporting the facilities necessary to construct the wormholes needed. The plan is simple: launch them, and have them continue outwards forever, building a chain of jump gates, complete with the ability to coordinate their paths and form cross-linkages. Former gatecrashers are recruited to crew and train survey crews. [b]156AF -[/b] Explorer ships are launched ahead of schedule. They work perfectly, and begin their work of jump gate construction and survey work. Firewall sneaks entire teams of Sentinels onto them. [b]159AF -[/b] Reactionless drive is discovered, reversed engineered from more alien artifacts. It scales rather well, and becomes the standard for every ship and shuttle. Major colony efforts are undertaken, with exowombs and other medical technologies allowing artificially high population growth, and infugees and alpha forks being used to help give an adult population. In fact, many colony missions both raise and save money this way: forks and infugees only require databanks and don't have morphs that need to be transported. Many experts make money selling forks of themselves to colony missions. [b]161AF –[/b] Other side of Factor controlled space is discovered. As it turns out, transhumanity has now obtained a higher level of technology than them. And they're pissed about that. [b]165AF -[/b] Firewall is publicly outed by the PC. While they intended to gain a PR coup, the public backlash against the PC for Not Defending The Public Like Firewall Did nearly crashes their system. Surprisingly enough, both Titan and the Jovian Republic come out in support of Firewall, with the Republic declaring them to be Heroes of Humanity. Firewall continues the same work as before, but now with badges, funding, and legal powers. Sentinals become standard on survey and xeno-archeology missions, and continue to chase exsurgents and traces of the TITANs. Fortunately, no mention of the Prometheans leaks. [b]169AF –[/b] Bracewell probes are discovered, and transhumanity freaks out. On the other hand, they now know to tread carefully in a galaxy controlled by the ETI. Plans are made to colonize the Andromeda Galaxy, but nobody acts on them. Firewall creates teams specifically to find and destroy the probes. [b]170AF –[/b] Conference of Yaoi. Taking place on the Yaoi habitat, representatives of every power make the decision that transhumanity will deliberately avoid reaching singularity. Singularity seekers are pissed, but most people realize that since there is an unknowable alien intelligence taking steps to wipe out every civilization that develops Seed AI (and therefore might reach singularity), this is probably a good idea. [b]175AF -[/b] First contact with a very human like alien species. First reaction is incredulity, then shock once testing reveals them to be a variant of humanity. Transhumanity freaks out even more, but not as much as the exohuman culture was. Let's be fair, they were barely expanding into space at the time. [b]186AF –[/b] Gravity control discovered. First application is in habs and ships, providing artificial gravity. [b]193AF –[/b] Computer technology plateaus as the physical limit to miniaturization and efficiency is reached. [b]199AF –[/b] Contact with remnants of Iktomi. They lost contact with their technology and culture, devolving to a medieval level of technology and somehow staying there. This, combined with ancient records found and translated, reveals that the Iktomi also suffered an equivalent of The Fall, but as an interstellar society. Several of them finally realize why the common name for them amongst themselves translates as “The Remnants”. [b]200AF -[/b] The Iktomi Remnants cheerfully join with transhumanity to expand into space, driven by a burning desire to discover their lost history. Fascinatingly enough, the Iktomi are rather emotionally and psychologically similar to transhumanity. Scientists of both races are very puzzled by that. [b]213AF –[/b] Warp Drive discovered. It provides a maximum speed of 6AU per hour, which realistically limits it to intra-stellar travel. [b]214AF to 399AF –[/b] Not much happens, other than major expansion, some new governments being created, the Sol system being declared a neutral zone, some wars, and two new alien species being discovered, along with 5 more branches of exohumans also being discovered. [b]400AF –[/b] Present Day. [b]Up Next:[/b] The numbers themselves.
—Somebody is using bad science! Snark, facts, snark. Your body is corrupted: Cool, do more science to it. Your mind is warped: That's nice, want a cookie? What do we say to the God of Death? Not today!