Oh, he's serious? OK, let's look at what's changing then. No, wait. First, let's look at the disclaimers because there's a lot of them. Fozzie says again and again that some of the changes might not make it into Odyssey. In fact, he jokes that...
...we cannot rule out roadblocks arising including... the starbase code gaining self-awareness, seizing the building's climate control system and roasting us all alive...Hee! More seriously, he spends by far the longest paragraph in the dev-blog explaining why all of these changes might not be implemented in time for Odyssey. "We at CCP have made mistakes with expectations management surrounding this feature," he says again with his characteristic gift for understatement. I'm starting to get a sense of the dev-blogs they tap Fozzie to write. ;-)
Anyway, the big news is that POSes -- particularly wormhole POSes -- are getting a super-massive new loot pinata module. Er, I mean, it's called a "Private starbase hangar", and it looks like what you would expect it to look like: a CHA that will have separate private hangars for each corp member (size TBD) where you can store your personal stuff under your personal security. Corp directors will be able to see what you have stored but won't be able to touch it. Starbase managers will be able to destroy everyone's stuff by un-anchoring the mod, but won't be able to touch it either.
But when it's destroyed, it drops a portion of everything stored there. Watch for this to become a new conflict driver in w-space. It should be pretty awesome. And reading between the lines, CCP is apparently re-purposing some of the POCO code to make this module work so it's based on something proven.
Unfortunately, there's no personal Ship Maintenance Array in the immediate future, so this only solves half the problem, but half the problem solved is certainly better than none! In addition, players are gaining the ability to repackage undamaged mods in CHAs and the new personal hangars, which will make management easier and get around the overflow problems of living in a POS. Finally, CCP is making Strategic Cruiser subsystems something that can be stored in an SMA and once that's done, that will allow refitting of tech3s within an SMA. This is generally less of a concern even in w-space since many tech3s are so specialized in terms of rigs that fitting new subsystems is reasonably rare. Still, I'm glad CCP is getting around to it.
Finally, corps are getting the opportunity to anchor the enormous CSMAs in NPC null, low-sec, and wormhole systems. Again aimed primarily at w-space residents, these will allow w-space corps to store a lot more ships -- including carriers and dreads -- in a single structure without having to faff about with anchoring many of the smaller SMAs. This should put an end to random dreads and carriers floating free inside w-space POSes and the hysterical shenanigans that can sometimes be caused on these ships by changing the POS password...
All that said, while these changes are already making w-space residents happy, they're:
- one chapter of the book, not the whole book; and,
- aren't going to be things that other POS owners are going to care about for the most part.
First is the ability to access all structures within a POS shield from anywhere within a POS shield. This one is huge. Can't tell you how many times I've had to anchor and re-anchor structures, or move ships then move them again, in order to take advantage of this or that POS structure. Capital and super-capital ships will be the biggest beneficiaries of this change, gaining the ability to refit or move items in and out of hangars without a lot of ponderous shifting about. But everyone benefits, really.
Even today, my high-sec research towers have their mobile labs arrayed in a tightly knit little pentagram formation so I can warp into the center of the formation and access all of them. While this is nice-looking, it's a major PITA both in terms of the intial set-up and in terms of bookmark warp-ins not being that precise. Back when I would fuel towers or unload CHAs after a big op, having to carefully navigate a freighter or an Orca around a POS was annoying in the extreme. Today, there are a number of semi-standardized POS "configurations" that players use that make warping near or servicing these structures easier. We can all stop doing that, which means that POSes will probably start looking a little less neat but will allow us to spend our time playing this game instead of moving little green cubes around. ;-) So major kudos on that change from me.
Speaking of little green cubes, the second big change is "starbase setup UI improvements." Now this one is a bit more vague because Fozzie points to a UI improvement for probing that we haven't seen yet as his example for how this will work. But he does promise quick placement for all those little green cubes that those of us that mess with POSes have come to loathe, and frankly, just about anything would be an improvement over the current system. So I am watchful and hopeful about this one.
EDIT (2/Apr/2013): And then I wasn't. See the comment below from Two step, below. This one isn't nearly as big of a deal.
All in all, this is a good first set of changes. The potential downside is that the work being done on some of these features will no doubt be lost at some future point (hopefully soon) when the current POS code goes into the bin and is replaced from the ground up. Still, some of this stuff, notably the personal hangars, CSMAs everywhere, and the UI improvements, will hopefully be able to be retained.
The thing to watch for now is to see how many of those disclaimers come to pass. After all, there are only nine weeks left to the release of Odyssey.