There are obviously more NPCs in the game than just pirates and Concord – there are all the factions. The rest of what I suggest is essentially a way to do factional warfare. And because I speak from a programming background there are a few technically implementation details.
The first step is to have some sort of invisible “power rating” for every NPC faction in a system. This power rating represents the control that faction has over a system and would be completely dynamic. The rating would control how quickly ships (and sentry guns for instance) controlled by the faction spawn. As more ships appear in a system, they could move into other systems and (in the case of war) attack the ships in that system. Losing ships in a system lowers that faction’s power there. By default they’d all be equal (on their borders) thereby ensuring it’s player involvement that tips the balance. With enough support a faction could gain sovereignty of a system from another faction (or perhaps a player alliance? The mechanics of system sovereignty would have to be expanded). The Caldari stamping out the Gallente for instance 😛 Since the factions need to survive they’d have to be some scaling factor giving more support to factions that have lost a lot of space so they don’t disappear completely.
This also means turning Concord upside down. Have Concord work the same as the other factions. And themn, instead of having Concord presence be dependent on security status, have security status based on Concord presence. Therefore player pirates that want to move in somewhere can, but only after they wipe out Concord first. For systems well secured by a faction, it’s navy should probably also take on the role of the police along with Concord.
The factions would also have different “rules” for expansion. Concord would not aim to take territory for instance. The big four would aim to strongly control a few systems whereas pirates would aim to expand a small presence everywhere (this would control pirate spawning for instance).
With EVE as large as it is, some pretty impressive effects could be achieved simply by interacting thousands of small pieces of AI.
Other possibilities could include the ability to declare war on NPC corporations. This would probably mean a loss of standing to friendly corporations and the relevant navy declaring war on you of course.
So to summarise the benefits:
- Casual players can be more involved
- Even with everyone helping in a war, the alliances still have the “prestige” of being player run and it meaning something
- Alliances get to attack the factions
- A blurring between high sec, low sec and 0.0 instead of the fairly sudden differences
- And probably more
I’ll wait for comments about the disadvantages…