Powerplay, Avatars, and Guardian Shields

I see there's an explosion of threads relating to the proposal to restrict Powerplay to Open mode only: so many that it's impossible to choose which to comment on! So rather than trying to spam multiple threads with suggestions, I'll post mine here.

First, a disclaimer: I'm still a relatively new player, and haven't yet tried Powerplay. Eventually I'd like to get some of the modules that are only available through Powerplay, and then maybe I'll get into it a bit more. I also tend to play in Solo mode, I'm an explorer/trader, combat isn't really my thing (still Harmless, in fact). Again, something I might indulge in later.

I can see that both sides have valid arguments. It must be frustrating if you're trying to oppose "invisible" ships, but I also think that some legitimate concerns have been raised by those who can't play reliably in Open for technical reasons (I might be one of them, as I live in a rural area and my Internet connection is somehat flaky).

But simply restricting PP to Open isn't going to solve the "invivible opponents" problem overnight, for several reasons:

1. Instancing. If you're not in the same instance as your opponent, you can't intercept. Especially if you've already encountered an opponent who has now blocked you, you won't be instanced with that player again.

2. Timezones. If your opponent storms your blockade at 4:30am, you're probably not going to be around to stop him. Same applies if he does it during working hours on a Monday.

But even if your human opponents aren't around... NPC's are. So that suggests a solution. An algorithm that counts the number of players pledged to a power (and which systems they've been hanging around in), and then generates an appropriate NPC encounter frequency to reflect that. So if I go in and try to "invade" a system that has seen heavy patrolling by Aisling Duval supporters, I will encounter an appropriate number of AD-loyal NPC's, even if I'm in Solo at 4:30am. Some of those NPC's could even have identical ship layouts to the PC's that have been frequenting the area: they are effectively NPC "avatars" of the PP players. The algorithm could even adjust the NPC frequency to ensure that it goes down when genuine PC's are about (in Open), and back up when there is nobody else about (or in Solo).

The same approach could be used for the blockade-runners themselves. If I try to smuggle in a large cargo in my T9, I may or may not succeed: and another ghostly NPC in an identical T9 (my avatar) also may or may not succeed. Even if I don't encounter other players on my own run, I will encounter NPC's, and my avatar will encounter other players. Perhaps we will both make it, perhaps one of us will, perhaps neither.

But as for the point that some have raised, regarding unequal access to the special PP-only modules: well, most of them are not especially vital, but one of them is not like the others. Most special modules are only available in one size, but there is an entire set of prismatic shields available in all sizes. And while there are many different types of weapon, there are only three types of shield (standard, bi-weave, prismatic). Prismatic shields are especially important for certain ship builds, because they perform as shields of a larger size category, making them useful if you have something else in mind for the largest internal slots: they are the best choice for "undersized" shields if you still want decent protection.

It has been suggested that prismatics might be based on Guardian tech (unlocked early by an Aisling Duval supporter, presumably). So why not run with that? If you don't want to get into Powerplay as an AD-supporter, perhaps you could unlock them via the Guardian sites yourself?

Or if not prismatics, why not "Guardian shields" that are a bit different, but fill the same function of being good when undersized? It should be possible to come up with shields that use a different optimal-mass formula, giving fixed protection for all ships up to a certain size (and somewhat consistent with the way in which the Guardian FSB booster gave a fixed addition to jumprange based on its size - perhaps that's the way Guardian tech generally works?).
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