I want to re-emphasize that the POS system design is just starting now, and will not be in the winter expansion. There is still a lot of work to be done on the design, and nothing at all is set in stone. I also wanted to mention that CCP has some technical reasons to not want to have forcefields in the new system, but those reasons were declared to be under the NDA, so I cannot go into them. The removal of the forcefield is a decision that they made, and is not something that I would choose to do myself, but I am not an employee of CCP and I don't have to do the work to keep them. Lastly, I should point out that not all the discussion on these mechanics happened during the official summit, there was a fair amount talked about in the evening after the formal meetings, and this stuff is not in the minutes.
In the threads, the biggest problem people have with the system that was discussed is that a docking module would bring k-space style "docking games" to wormhole space. I understand this concern, but I do not think it will be nearly as big of a problem as some people seem to think. There are a couple of reasons for this:
1) We already have "forcefield games", and people just don't complain about that all that much. The difference would probably be fairly minor between the two mechanisms.
2) The vast majority of fights in w-space are not outside a POS, they are at wormholes or in sites. The new POS system will still have POS defenses, and that means the new system probably wouldn't change where people fight.
Scouting and Intel
The second biggest worry in the threads is the concern that the removal of forcefields would remove the information about who is at a POS, how active they are, and what ships they are in. I agree with this concern, and asked CCP about a solution to this in the minutes:
3) Force fields (or lack thereof). CCP wants to have docking modules, but they don't want them to be cheap, and they may want to limit the number of ships that can be docked. CCP has been exploring adding mooring modules that would protect a ship that was able to physically get near the module with a small force field around just the ship. This system might replace ship maintenance arrays.
Two step pointed out that this system might be nice for docking as well, so that people can get some indication of how many people are active in a starbase, especially in w-space where there is no local chat.I will continue to urge CCP to make a system for players to be able to see who is active in a docked POS. Ideally this would include the ship they are currently in, as well as the number of players that are docked.
Another common concern expressed in the threads is that without forcefields, there would be no easy way to tell if a POS is online or offline. I would like to see CCP address this, but as Vassal Zeren pointed out (https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1743748#post1743748), I would expect any new POS system to have a mechanism for people to hack or steal offline POSes. If that was the case, making it a little more work to detect an offline POS might be reasonable, as the reward for finding one would be good.
Full Moon Coverage
Some people were also worried that because POSes would be allowed to be anchored anywhere, having full moon coverage would no longer be a way to deny an enemy a beachhead when invading. I actually see this as a good thing. Invading one of the larger w-space entities like my corporation (AHARM) or some of the other big alliances is already really hard, and I don't think making it slightly easier will be a change for the worse. People will still have to move multiple waves of capital ships in, they will still have to fight where the defender probably has an edge in capitals, and they will still have the disadvantage of facing POS guns/EWar.
The main reason I would prefer to see CCP make docking part of the new POS mechanics is because CCP has proven that they have a lot of trouble getting even one inventory system right. The reason you can't assemble T3s or have your own personal storage space right now is because getting that to work requires CCP to write two sets of code, one for docked ships and one for POSes. I just don't have a lot of faith that CCP won't continue to make people that live in POSes second class citizens. If we have the same interface as everyone else, then whatever bugs we have to deal with will be the same bugs that people in empire have to deal with, which means they (probably) won't languish unfixed for years like the T3 refitting bug.
Another good thing about allowing docking at POSes is that we then get a fuller set of features. I made a list of the features off the top of my head in a post on the official forums (https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1763605#post1763605) and I will highlight a few of the more important ones:
- Contracts. This isn't all that important right now because we don't have personal storage, but allowing people within a corp or alliance to drop items off for other people is a really useful thing. This might include things like courier contracts, which would enable people to haul stuff into and out of a hole for others.
- Full fitting and inventory services. This includes assembling and refitting T3s but also fitting a ship from a saved fitting, repackaging ships and items and a lot more.
- Refining. People don't like the current POS refining system (at least that is what they tell me, I don't actually mine myself). This would be a path to having a real refining capability without limits on throughput and yield.
- Real access rights and container access. This includes fixing dumb bugs like not being able to open cans in corp hangars as well as using password protected cans and the current corp hangar access system to provide more granular access to corp assets.
- Clone switching. This is not jump cloning into and out of w-space, but lots of people would like to have the ability to switch between different implant sets. I'd love to see this available to all pilots, and if that happens, it would probably be in the station interface, not by adding some sort of new POS module.
- Privacy. This isn't a big deal for some corps, but right now a lot of people can see exactly what people have in their POS, depending on how it is set up. In k-space, pilots have the option to use alts or a station without a corp office to hide what they have from people within their corp, and I don't see why w-space people shouldn't have that option. Obviously directors will have to be able to see into people's private storage, if only to be able to empty a POS to take it down, but there is no reason that anyone else should be able to see what people have.
People are rightfully very nervous about the upcoming new POS system. I am also nervous, but the right reaction isn't to claim the sky is falling and that CCP (or me, or the other CSM) are out to "ruin" w-space. CCP agrees with me that w-space is generally working pretty well, but the trust problem is actually a really big problem for people who would like to get into w-space.
This comic (http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20120625) is actually far more appropriate for w-space corps, and this is a *bad* thing. A lot of w-space people spend a lot of time talking about how great w-space is, but many, many people can't join in on the fun because of the difficult recruitment process.
"But Two step, all you have to do is fix X, Y and Z in the current POS system! Don't change anything else!" This is another common refrain from the eve-o thread. People who say this are being unrealistic. The current POS system is creaky and old, and making changes to it is not something CCP is interested in doing. The cost for them is very high, and the likelihood of a change breaking something else that we all hold near and dear is higher still. As CCP has explained several times, this is simply not an option. A big part of being on the CSM is that you need to understand exactly which battles you need to fight, and this isn't one of them.
Not the end, just the start of the beginning
As I said before, nothing at all is set in stone, and this is very early in the process. CCP has just started to think about how to design a replacement for the POS system, and feedback from the players and the CSM is very important. I do think it is really important for all of us to think really carefully about the feedback we give and to make sure we don't just react negatively to any change at all, especially when I think it will be for the better. This is also just the start of the discussion between all of the CSM and the players about what you want to see in a POS system. I'd encourage everyone to continue to talk to us, either on the forum threads I linked, via eve-mail, twitter or in our upcoming town hall meeting (date and time to be announced very soon!)