Recently I came across a Star Citizen fan asked: Will organizations be able to hold territory in Star Citizen? Or more specifically, similar to the experience in EVE Online, will large orgs be able to dominate areas of the ‘verse, effectively shrinking the playable area for small, independent operators?
This question captured my imagination. I think it’s because it immediately evokes visions of massive space battles with capital ships blasting away at each other broadsides, while small fighters circle in graceful, zero-g jousting matches and torpedo corvettes drop in their deadly payload to a dazzling array of explosions.
However, while witnessing something like this will be cool for reasons obvious to anyone attracted to the space sim genre (pew! pew!) -I have no interest in being part of or building an organization big enough and with all the infrastructure necessary to operate on such a scale. To the contrary, I am much more interested in living a life like Han Solo out there. Coming and going as I please, taking missions when I want. (When I’m not gathering the news!)
So what’s the answer to the question? To be honest, it’s still difficult to say. Some are quick to point out that Star Citizen is not Eve, that there is no area on the map which can be compared to ‘Nullsec’ because there will be NPC factions and alien races outside of UEE controlled space. Plus there’s the important, open question of how instancing will eventually be handled in the open universe. We definitely know there will be instancing. However, how many players can be in one instance at a time is still not clear, but estimates are growing.
Based on the information CIG has released so far, we also know the game will have a 90% NPC population. Such a balance does seem to indicate that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to take and hold any territory for any amount of time. However, we’ve also heard from Chris Roberts it will be possible to possess objects such as space stations. In episode 39 of Ten for the Chairman he said:
Definitely organizations will be able to have some sort of real estate, have a headquarters, we already talked about having some sort of persistent areas in space, like an asteroid base/derelict station that a group of players can take over and make their headquarters and defend it from other players. And of course, down on planets, there’d be some more safe areas you could buy a “guild hall” that you could have for your organization. Down the track, we want to have real estate for players and organizations to buy and own, like factories etc which would extend to and be good for organizations.
MY ANALYSIS: IT WILL BE POSSIBLE BUT NOT PRACTICAL TO HOLD TERRITORY IN STAR CITIZEN
Let’s assume for a second that all our instancing wishes come true player limits are not a practical concern. It’s important to remember that there are already orgs with over 10,000 members so even if they could rally a tenth of their base to a single cause, it will not be impossible for a single org to occupy and patrol the region around a planet, or perhaps multiple planets in a system outside the control of one of the bigger NPC factions. On the flip side, if we see the kind of instancing player limits we have all grown to expect, then a large org can simply log in together and hold some patch of space for a while.
However, then the problems begin. If you can’t create the infrastructure necessary to support a fleet over the long term, holding some patch of otherwise barren space is unlikely to be a compelling, long-term goal. It’s certainly interesting through the lens of winning a fleet battle, but I don’t think it will be easy to keep a thousand org members excited about a long term occupation mission. Possible, not practical.