Note: This is old material, sitting in my draft bin for a long period of time. The links are also to the old articles that got me thinking.
Why should ships log off when players log off? This has always interested me in Eve. My understanding of the current mechanic is that, aside from timers, if you log off while in space, you go into a “warp stasis”, where your ship is apparently in a pocket dimension that you mysteriously come back from when you log back in. From a technical standpoint, I can sort of understand this. There are already enough objects in space on the server. But perhaps if you log off while in space, your ship should stay where you left it?
This would fit with the ideas behind stations and POSes. Stations are where you go to get out of your ship, get other ships, trade, and so on. Stattions are also the only almost completely safe space in Eve. No one can blow up your ship while it’s docked. In space where stations do not exist, POSes fulfill this role with hangars and force fields. Would anyone leave a valuable ship sitting in a WH outside the POS shields?
From a PvP perspective, this would make all sorts of logging strategies effectively worthless, unless you felt safe leaving a ship at deep safes and assuming no one would come find you. It would eliminate the idea of invisible campers in WH space, assuming the residents actually took the time to use combat probes. It would also require gate campers to actually show their presence in space instead of hiding in the warp stasis bubble.
As for what happens to a logged out ship floating in space, there are options. I imagine the status of the ship would be to continue running whatever modules were active when you logged. So many ships would eventually cap out, then drift once recharged. The biggest problem I see is the problem of what happens to your velocity. It would cause problems to have ships just… fly forever. So maybe you program autopilot AI that says if a plaer is logged out for X minutes, the ship finds the nearest celestial and warps to it. You could even give people the option of what celestial, or station, and what distance to choose, and if docking is completed. You’d probably need a default of 1000km from the nearest planet if none of the player options are available to deal with station docking rights and WHs, but there could be a system.
All of this is to say that the whole log off in space mechanic in Eve seems to be a throwback to computing limitations. In many ways, the log of mechanics still provide some rather big bugbears. Gate camps and WH squatters come to mind. Would it hurt to have objects in space become a little more persistent?