Campaign Trail – Factional Warfare

Thank you for your interest in my campaign to be part of CSM 6. It is my intention to work diligently, effectively, and tirelessly to bring the concerns of the player base to the CSM, to CCP, and back to the players.

The following is a user submitted request for my stand on a topic important to them. I have given thought to the topic and formulated my opinion, but it’s just that; my opinion. Nothing more. There is no guarantee the opinion expressed herein will ever see the light of day.

My platform isn’t one of issues, but rather one of integrity, tenacity, and the willingness to hold the CSM and CCP accountable to the players that support everything we do. I will not push my own agenda, unless it coincides with what the majority of the player base wants for a given topic.

Never start a fight you can win. #RocTheVote

QUESTION: Factional Warfare has over 20,000 active players, and is obviously broken. What are your thoughts on how to improve this game system?

When I first heard about the attack at Malkalen, and the subsequent massing of forces by the Amarr to assault the Minmatar Republic, there was no hesitation on my end; I would serve. And serve I did, bringing the offensive to the Amarr Empire time and again, earning the respect of my fleets as I rose through the ranks to Matar Colonel, the admiration of my people as the face of the war initiative, and the fear of my enemy as they trembled before me in system.

As a player, I eventually retired from Factional Warfare for one simple reason: what was the point?

Factional Warfare was an enticing and interesting idea when it was first introduced. Now it’s stale and pointless.

So what can be done to make this existing aspect of the game more engaging? Ironically, at Fanfest 2009, I had the opportunity to sit with a few of the CCP devs after a round table and pitch what I am about to discuss. It was received with great enthusiasm by the devs, and they were eager to go back to the office and run with it. Somewhere within the depths of CCP, I can only assume factional warfare became a non-priority, as obviously nothing has changed since its inception.

Dynamic Content

My first consideration was something I believe all MMOs fail it: the ability to generate content faster than players can consume it. It’s a problem that has existed for decades. Every new expansion of every MMO results in old players returning, new players signing up, an influx of capital to the production company, then a gradual decrease in subscriptions as players quickly finish the new content that took months/years to develop. It’s a vicious cycle.

What I proposed, and still adhere to, is the idea of a dynamic landscape. After talking with CCP devs and server architects, I know the technology can handle the demand of my idea with little overhead, and minimal effort.

Essentially there would be a dedicated server pool that tracks NPC objectives, in this case, factional warfare. When the idea proves solid, this could be expanded to other NPC factions. Let’s use the Amarr as an example in the table below:

* these are just sample ideas, not actual ideas to pitch

As you can see, there are multiple tiers for objectives. Each tier is dependent on the previous being completed. This results in a more challenging and difficult build up for both the NPCs, and for the players. Each tier has associated benefits, and penalties, depending on whether a player is for, or against, this particular faction. Also note that this strategy can also result in NPC vs NPC, which adds another fun dynamic to the equation.

At any tier, if a NPC faction is defeated, they do not cease to exist. They simply go back to the pool, pick a new objective, pick a new system within their sovereignty, and start again. It should be obvious that if you are an enemy of a faction, you want to defeat them at Tier 1. Of course, players that support that faction want to protect and work with them, enabling their faction to accomplish Tier 5, which has the most perks and benefits for players with good standing within that faction. Better LP rewards, higher level mission agents, better storyline missions, better FW perks, etc, etc.

There are caveats up for discussion within this dynamic content scenario. On the one hand, you’re denying players equal opportunity to content. Well, suck it. EVE does that now. I tried to do the level 1 Epic Missions during my time serving in the Tribal Liberation Force, and while the missions themselves were seemingly easy, trying to accomplish anything within enemy space was nigh impossible.

The other concern, in this example, would be that the 24th Imperial Crusade would blob their Amarr NPCs, almost guaranteeing Tier 5 success. To me, that is part of the challenge, and is a mechanic that also exists in many other areas of EVE, such as gate camping, blob capital fleet battles, etc, etc.

Intelligent Officer AI

Imagine, if you would, facing Lord Elwin. Lord Elwin is a Divine Commodore of the 24th Imperial Crusade. He’s also an NPC. He has survived many Minmatar attacks, and he has learned how they fight, and adjusted his attacks accordingly. He has grown more powerful. His bounty is worth more. He actually plays on the same ranking system we do, entitled to the same perks, rewards and benefits we are entitled to. He is a powerful adversary.

By allowing military Officer NPCs to remember previous engagements against players, we’re adding yet another element of complexity to Factional Warfare. You’re not always going to have the same fleet composition. You’re going to need to be smarter as a Fleet Commander.

Perks

As a Matar Colonel, it is my opinion that I should be a more decorated pilot than a green rookie to the TLF, and I’m not just talking about the rank medal. The table below shows some small incentives for players to remain involved in Factional Warfare:

* these are just sample ideas, not actual ideas to pitch

Again, these are not game changing bonuses, and they are only applied in Factional Warfare fleets, so the overall game still maintains balance (if you can call it that).

Rewards

Currently, there are no exclusive rewards for Factional Warfare. I can use my Loyalty Points to buy a Republic Fleet Firetail, but I can do that without being a part of Factional Warfare.

An added incentive to engage in the war should be the ability to cash in loyalty points for exclusive items. This could be Officer ship types, one time war fleet bonuses, unique implants, any number of things really. See the table below for some sample reward ideas:

* these are just sample ideas, not actual ideas to pitch

Essentially, that’s it. By introducing a dynamic landscape with NPCs that remember players, as well as incentive rewards to participate in the war, CCP would have created a more unique and interesting experiences for the pilots engaged. All the while, there is no unbalancing of those not involved in the war, thus no whining from others that Factional Warfare needs nerfing, though that will inevitably happen with any game system that changes.

17 responses to “Campaign Trail – Factional Warfare

  1. You’ve got my vote. Pretty solid suggestions there. I don’t partake in FW but this would make the entire FW arena more dynamic and bring more people to low-sec. This is a good thing.

  2. The dynamic content sounds like a real good idea and would create an Universe that feels more alive. Fleet bonuses for higher decorated commanders also sound reasonable, too. Your last point about FW exclusive items is already implemented I think. Tier 1 Fleet BS are FW LP store exclusive and additional to that some Stuff in FW LP store costs only a fraction of the LP it costs in normal LP stores.

  3. I read it twice and I am not sure I understand it. Sorry I’m frikken dense.

    Are the npcs going to be accomplishing these goals? “Also note that this strategy can also result in NPC vs NPC, which adds another fun dynamic to the equation.” Having the results depend on npcs fighting each other?

    I used to have chess programs play against each other. It was ok for a while but it got old fast. I mean here ccp will decide which side wins or loses by how they make the npcs. It wouldn’t be a player driven sandbox anymore. I guess it would depend on how much hung in the balance of these npc v npc battles.

    You say: “The other concern, in this example, would be that the 24th Imperial Crusade would blob their Amarr NPCs, almost guaranteeing Tier 5 success.” Would a players control the npcs or are you saying the computer ai would somehow blob their npcs? I’m not sure I understand this.

    Also the combat bonuses you get also apply to to shooting non- militia wartargets? So being in the militia would give you a pvp edge equivalent to some pretty nice implants? I’m not sure this is going to be very popular to the 90% of eve that does not participate in fw. Although I would benefit from this, I am forced to say it seems quite unfair. If it just applied to militia targets and were based on actual pvp kills well then I think that would be something to consider.

    You say: “Currently, there are no exclusive rewards for Factional Warfare. I can use my Loyalty Points to buy a Republic Fleet Firetail, but I can do that without being a part of Factional Warfare.”

    Actually they changed this in Apocrypha 1.5. You can buy a firetail other places but it will cost much more. Also there are exclusive faction war items. Imperial navy plates, Caldari power diagnostics. But I do agree they should expand this list or boost some of the items. You may not have heard of imperial navy plates because they cost 20-200xs as much as rolled tungsten but they are not quite as good. Higher fitting requirements and cost are not worth the 5 m/s speed increase.

    You say: “It should be obvious that if you are an enemy of a faction, you want to defeat them at Tier 1. Of course, players that support that faction want to protect and work with them, enabling their faction to accomplish Tier 5, which has the most perks and benefits for players with good standing within that faction. Better LP rewards, higher level mission agents, better storyline missions, better FW perks, etc, etc.”
    The problem with these “consequence ideas” is that everyone will just pile on the winning team. Why would I join gallente with less lp rewards, less higher level agents, poorer storyline missions, and worse fw perks etc etc when I can join caldari with better everything? There just aren’t that many role-players.
    Any thing like this needs a balance. And then if the counter balance outweighs the benefits then you have people wanting to lose. If the counterbalance perfectly balances out then why do it at all? It seems to be making allot of work for very little.

    Ideas such as you can’t dock in the other factions *militia stations* unless you occupy them offer some incentive without being to overbearing. But if you get to something that is meatier than that sort of thing I think you will have a real problem.

    The thing is its ok if the game doesn’t offer any other consequences other than winning. That is the nature of games. But the game needs to be challenging and fun. From my perspective the most challenging and fun part of eve is the pvp. So FW should involve that.

    I’m not going to say I disagree with your proposals because I do not entirely understand them. But you *seem* to be taking fw even further away from pvp and making it even more pve with more npc involvement. I am against this. EVE has plenty of mechanisms to pve. It sorely lacks a way to find decent pvp in a reasonable amount of time. IMO FW should fill that huge void.

    It seems we may have a few disagreements about what should be done, but hopefully my comment doesn’t sound overly negative. I am glad you are at least interested in fw and we definitely agree on some things.

    Here is my idea of how the occupancy plexxing can be fixed, I would appreciate your views on that:
    http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=1329906

    • Thank you for the excellent and detailed comment. I don’t think you dense; I probably just didn’t explain myself well in the heat of my excitement.

      So let me try again…

      I’m not saying results are NPC vs NPC. That is just a possible side effect of having “thinking” NPC factions. The heart of this is to actually attract more PVP to lowsec, particularly FW.

      I’ve been twice informed on FW only rewards now, which I was unaware of. This may have occurred after my leaving Factional Warfare, so I apologize for not being 100% up to date. This is what I rely on others, such as yourself, for; to keep me current on the information I would need to do my job better in CSM.

      There are already many involved in FW, pilots that have earned rank, so I don’t think the statement of playing for the winning team is entirely valid. My belief is there are many FW pilots that would use the high rank perks to further recruit others to be involved. I know that for a while the wars seemed lopsided. I don’t know if this is still the case. And you are right that people would definitely blob for their side.

      As for FW bonus perks? No, that would not apply to non-military targets, unless those dirty pirates shot you first.

      I’m not saying my solution is perfect, but I like to think it’s a solid idea that would open conversations, much as it has already between you and I.

      I did try to check your link, but it says that thread doesn’t exist. Boo.

    • And now the link is working. Damn interwebs!

      I read your ideas. I can’t say I disagree with them, save the one about removing scanning of plexes. Scanning in hostile territory was always very tense for me. You never knew when an enemy fleet was going to show up and you’d be in for a fight.

      You stated one of the very reasons why I left FW. I got tired of doing small gang roams, only to get blobbed by massive fleets while plexing.

      I want to reiterate that I think my ideas do have merit. Does that mean there is no room for other ideas? Hell no. Eve is a community; everyone has an opinion that should be considered.

      That’s one promise I can over deliver on. Should I make it to the CSM, I will always listen to ideas.

  4. Keep it simple. Drop all these ideas that involve perks and things people can argue over.

    Instead push something everyone can agree on.

    * Fix FW plex spawning mechanic.

  5. Good stuff, Roc. What are you thoughts about pirate factions and factional warfare? If the decision where up to you, would you introduce them? And at what point? How would it mesh with the existing infrastructure?

    • See, to me this approach to intelligent AI reminds me of Sleepers. CCP introduced their new AI code in an isolated environment. It turned out well, so now Sansha has that same AI, and its slowly spreading throughout all the NPCs of EVE.

      If this type of idea were fleshed out better, and it was applied to Factional Warfare and worked, then I think that yes, it should slowly be moved across New Eden to all factions, starting with pirates.

      • Ah, I should have worded it better, I meant your thoughts on pirate factional warfare, so players can align themselves with the Angel Cartel for example 😉

        I do really love the intelligent AI and share the same sentiments that slowly spreading it is the way to go.

        • I’m all for players aligning to every faction available ingame: pirates, Concord, etc, etc. When I first started, I wanted to join the President’s faction in Heimatar, and was confused why I couldn’t.

          Thing is, that simple thought requires a LOT of work and preparation to be successful.

          Is it a direction I think the game should go? Yes. But I also think getting the existing game stable should be a higher priority than new features.

  6. I really like the ideas you have on FW perks that would only work against war target enemy targets. Perks are great ways (as the fashionable trend in other video games show) to keep people interested in progressing and that is one thing that is lacking from FW; no real reason to do it/gain FW rank. The perks would need to be temporary though to encourage further involvement.

    You said — “You stated one of the very reasons why I left FW. I got tired of doing small gang roams, only to get blobbed by massive fleets while plexing.” — that is still the biggest whine you hear in FW today unfortunately, but I don’t think there is an obvious way to stop it unless they limit the amount of ships in plexes and fighting is more frequently done in those, but then you loose the sandbox ideals and freedom that make the game great. I don’t know really, it’s a tricky one.

    • Dynamic Resistance principle. Wormholes currently use mass to determine when they will collapse, so larger fleets need to have a more logistical approach to their operations.

      Plexes could easily have the same type of system. The gate measures the amount of mass coming through it, sounds the alarm, and the defenders scramble an appropriate response fleet. This would discourage larger blobs, as it will become too costly to lose ships to NPCs, and encourage smaller gangs to have more engaging and entertaining battles.

      Just off the top of my head.

      There are many ways to solve the issues of Faction Warfare. The first step is dedicated effort from the CSM and CCP.

  7. Actually its quite easy to reduce blobs in fw plexing. Just make it so there are many plexes in different places at once. If the militias needed pilots in say 50 of the roughly 100 fw systems at once you would be forced to divide the blob. When you consider the ship class restriction of each plex, I don’t think a mass restriction would be necessary.

    If they did this in fw the plexing would not be done via blobs. Just 1) do the above, 2)make them spawn at times other than downtime, 3) let the players know where plexes are being taken by a notification mechanic, and 4) do away with npcs. Suddenly you have blob free pvp in eve.

  8. Really like some ideas here.

    Though could do something with the plexing system too. I have been in factional warfare for a year and a half now for the minmatar republic and would like to go over some other ideas with you. If your up for it and not too busy.

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