Water, water everywhere…

Whilst hard information about what Planetary Interaction might contain is difficult to find at the moment there is a common theme to a number of posts commenting on the recent dev blogs that have given us some information and what is currently available on SISI:

Where are the people?

Tyrannis – Tyranny: the suppression of worlds – populated worlds.  We can’t very well tyrannize water deposits or nitrogen gas, despite Chribba’s best efforts to strike fear into every veldspar roid in new Eden.

But why should people, or rather the lack of them, strike such a cord with players? After all aren’t a planets population just yet another resource to be harvested or squandered at a flick of a capsuleer’s finger ?  Not quite.

There are a few reasons why a planets population, or the work force of a mining facility are of interest to us.  Firstly there is the strong influence of immersion.  As capsuleers we are painted as the immortal demi-gods of the universe, but a universe also populated by mere mortals whom are subject to our capricious whims.  Without these mortals, however minimal in their presence, we lose a sense of scale.

A Titan is impressive sure, but it’s so much more impressive when we place it in the context of, and in comparison with, a human being.  Equally a great many players are drawn into Eve and are fascinated not just by the fancy spaceship but by the universe of people.  To demonstrate that point look at the plethora of blogs, chronicles and now novels that focus on the human aspect of Eve – the ordinary person.  An ‘epic space opera’ cannot be epic until we compare the vastness of that space with the seemingly insignificant individual.

Secondly when it comes to PI currently we are expecting to be harvesting goods, manufacturing goods and trading them for ISK.  In comparison to say existing industry where we are harvesting goods, manufacturing goods…oh wait.

A populace however subtly suggests something else entirely. Suddenly we have ownership of something quite different to just another pile of minerals fashioned into a ship. We have the enticing prospect of nurturing, developing and protecting a very different “resource”.   I think this is why many players have commented about the inclusion (or lack) of developing and managing political / governmental societies on their worlds.  Intrinsically we have a sense of being able to ‘grow’ a populace, or ‘burn’ someone else’s when we think of PI with people.

Thirdly PI with a population adds an element (albeit with immersion again) of moral judgement. How we chose to manage a population would be a moral choice (do you enslave them, or let them run a democracy that could reject your orders?) which in turn reflects back on our avatar and our playing style.

Finally these elements interlink with the interaction we have with other players.  Consider for a moment two examples:

Firstly a PI system with no population element.  A pirate attacks and destroys an element of your infrastructure, maybe blowing up a PCC in transit. Ah well another non descript module bites the dust. There are thousands more on the market so you turn around to collect another.

Secondly a PI system with a population element.  A pirate attacks and destroys an element of your infrastructure, maybe blowing up a group of medical personnel bound for your planet.  Without them your population will suffer from disease at your installation.  Productivity will drop, forcing you to potentially enslave them to maintain manufacturing rates.  This will make you unpopular, perhaps some of the population will revolt, or defect to another player with a more forgiving governmental system.

Which scenario is more interesting? Which scenario is more likely to have you seek revenge against the pirate? Which is more likely to result in an emergent experience or ‘the butterfly’ effect?

Perhaps issues like this are not so important to you, and a new type of ‘moon mining’ is sufficient to spark your interest? For me however, whilst PI will be of passing interest, I still think I will struggle to truly interact with a extractor plant or storage facility until I can envisage just a little better who toils within these PINS on my behalf.

C.

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