This is just a crazy idea that I had on the way from the train station back home. Reading the CSM minutes, pondering the future of new environments in EVE, thinking about POSes the whole day and then seeing this post in my google reader suddenly lead to a blinding flash of inspiration.
Comets! Mystical wanderers of the heavens. Harbingers of death. Seeders of life. And motherlodes of arcane minerals. How I would like to ride one of those into the outer reaches of the solar system…!
Immediately I had to think about one of my longtime favourite scifi books: The Heart of the Comet.
In this classic by David Brin and Gregory Benford a colony is erected on the Comet Halley with the explicit purpose of exploiting its resources. The book nicely details the layout of the colony, which is largely dug from the ice and takes an interesting turn as living organisms are discovered. If you haven’t read it, you might want to!
In EVE comets could make extremely interesting environments to play with. They are large enough to support a colony. Thinking about the current discussion on modular POSes, why not implement some of the functions – like industry – that people wish to have improved on comet colonies? The comet could also serve as the main resource for building the colony modules in situ. Mining would obviously be one of the things that could get a new touch there. Who knows what materials can be found in such a celestial?
Comets could be a unique and distinct environment. Because they would move. The picture on the right shows some examples of the often quite strange, eccentric orbits that are typical for comets. Close to the central star, at the “perihelion”, the comet moves with a high velocity along its orbit. Here outgasing and melting ice also produce the typical comet tail. The farther way a comet is from the sun, the slower it moves until it reaches its “apohelion”, the point farthest away from the sun and returns to fall back into the star’s gravity well.
This could make for interesting gameplay. Unlike other locations in EVE, comets would actually change position roughly according to the outlined laws, for gameplay sake maybe a little bit accelerated. A typical comet might spend a few days in the inner solar system while the travel into the outer reaches far beyond the outer planets may take a couple of weeks. Comets could only be found through scanning. When the comet is in the inner solar system this is not even very difficult. There could even be a graphical representation of the tail and one might consider making the comet warpable for a day in perihelion. As the comet moves out of the solar system it becomes increasingly more difficult to find it with ordinary means. This in general is a quiet, but possibly busy, phase for any colonist.
But beware, at some point the comet will get back into the inner solar system! As the tail develops the region around the comet core gets more and more unstable. While colony equipment is designed to handle this, warp drives might be in trouble if one attempts to jump too close to the comet. The dense gas cloud surrounding the nucleus during this time also might hide ships. Or other things. At the same time it might be possible and not unheard of for reckless entrepreneurs to harvest the steady stream of gas and ice that makes a comets tail even without the consent of eventual colonists….
Factories and laboratories of all kinds could be erected on or inside a comet. But they might also be very interesting points to erect military assets from secret fleet bases to intelligence gathering equipment.
In an extensive universe there would of course be different types of comets. Each with its peculiar orbit and resources to be found within. Different sizes, too.
Crazy ideas…. Fly smart! Chira.