Thursday, August 30, 2012

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

In other words, it's time to get down to fixing all the stuffs.

Today Poetic Stanziel sent me an Evemail asking me for the top 10 Faction Warfare fixes that I'd like CCP to include in the Winter expansion.  This wasn't easy - there are certainly far more items that would benefit the community if the resources were committed, but you have to start somewhere.  You have to have a core to work with - in this case, I couldn't slash any less than thirteen.  These are not my own ideas, they are simply the changes that I feel most effectively address the community's concerns and the thirteen I personally hope CCP commits to fixing first.

All of these iterations are interconnected.  Many of them fail if not implemented in conjunction with several others.  I've made it abundantly clear to CCP that there are no "magic bullets" here, a holistic package is necessary if they want to make Faction Warfare rewarding for years to come.  And let me be clear - the most powerful reward for Faction Warfare pilots will always be the quality of the PvP itself, never the underlying isk system needed to support it.  Every change CCP considers must keep this cultural consideration in mind, or it will fail to achieve expected success.

Also, an update on the timeline here:  CCP is currently having their individual teams report on all their work so far and wrap up their release planning.  Release planning will define the scope of the features to be iterated on or developed from scratch this Winter.  It will NOT, however, be the final list of changes to be implemented, but merely the first presentation of what exactly they would like to deliver.  So keep calm everyone, and keep posting.  CCP is actually listening, so let's be civilized about this and put our best foot forward.  Feedback is best focused into these stickied threads.  They are not the only ones you will find developers poking around in or reading however, so keep an eye out for those blue tags.  The more adventurous the devs have become in roaming freely around the forums, the harder they've become to keep track of.  Help each other out and point each other in the right direction if you see a good conversation going on.

My best guess is that we are a couple weeks away from a lot of the stuff CCP is working on hitting the forums for public review, so stay tuned.  I'll keep you posted as it all rolls out.  This goes not just for Faction Warfare iterations, but for all the other elements slated for Winter - Crimewatch, War decs, ship balancing, and more to be announced.  It may seem in the meantime like CCP is lurking, but I can report firsthand that things are once again bustling in Iceland after the long summer break.

So here they are, a baker's dozen in no particular order:

*An end to "market spiking" by reverting LP store prices to pre-inferno levels across all factions, and instead scaling the actual payouts based on the current tier of Warzone Control.  I-HUB upgrade prices and bleed rates would need adjustment to compensate for this and allow a faction to actually live at a tier for an extended length of time. 

*Adjusting the aforementioned payout multipliers so that the losing faction still has a minimum viable income.

*NPC content overhaul inside the complexes. The war should not be won by AFK frigates.

*Slight reboot to the complex "flavors" - we need a complex that allows Tech 1 frigates and rookie ships only, (no pirate ships or dessies).  We also need to increase the spawn rate of unrestricted compounds slightly, to shake up the monotony in fleets fielded.  Everyone is getting bored of the Thrasher thing now.

*More visibility for when complexes are entered and taken – let players run, but not hide. This could be an explicit notification (all notifications are still supposedly being moved into their own UI in order to end all the email spam) Something much more elegant that I really like is having systems on the mini-map flash to indicate a currently occupied complex instead of redundantly presenting information available in the column to its right.

*Complex capture timers that can be seen system-wide.  POS and POCO timers are known to all, complex values should be known as well.  This creates a sense of urgency for the defender and prevents the ninja-farmer from being able to conceal his activities and avoid a PvP threat.

*Instituting a gradual rollback to "0" for the capture timer when a complex is empty in order to discourage bouncing around to evade PvP. This way it would be more LP-efficient to fight off an attacker rather than to continually flee at the first sign of danger, only to return later and pick up where they left off.

*An end to LP payouts when systems are taken vulnerable.

*System contested percentage “buffers” need to be nuked severely.   A small contested percentage buffer is needed, otherwise the attacking fleet will never have a viable window to launch a proper IHUB attack.   But the tactic of permanently holding systems in a vulnerable state needs to end.

*Defensive plexing - it blows.  "Punishing" players for "winning too much" by boring them to death leads to a lot of people not wanting to play at all.  I don't see any reason that an enemy faction spawn can't appear in a defensive plex environment, ending this one-sided protection that provides zero challenge for half of all plexing that can be done, and I don't see any reason why we can't institute a *reasonable* perk to participation as well.  I want to see militia pilots feeling free to engage in ANY activity in Faction Warfare and not feel like they're missing out on their paycheck.   I want pilots going wherever the war takes them, and not feel continually enslaved to the isk metagame.

*Batch purchasing in the LP stores. (Or if not technically feasible, the introduction of wholesale offers and multi-run BPC's.)

*Better system upgrades:  More industry slots, faster industry speed, lowered POS fuel costs, and the ability to deploy single use, limited-duration cynojammers (with appropriate cooldown) to cover tactical engagements.

*Did I mention that merely hanging out inside a Faction Warfare complex should be a colossal "come at me bro" sign to your enemies?  Faction Warfare complexes need to be crazy risky to justify the crazy profit - but risky because it's much more likely that someone will try to kill you when you go in one.

They should NOT be risky because you may end up wiping to a wave of uber-NPC's.  Whatever happen to complexes this winter - they need to support PvP above all else. 

We already have our agent missions for farming, the time is long overdue for our complexes to be retrofitted for war.



  1. To plug it again: let market forces push FW payouts. If we imagine a finite faction warchest being used to pay capsuleers to achieve war ends, then if we have a lot of capsuleers desperate for our goodies (LPs, LP store) then we can pay them less. So if one faction becomes super popular then clearly the guy in charge of the war not only has less money/goodies to pay each capsuleer with, he has no reason to pay them top dollar (or ISK, as the case may be). Not only does this help prevent abuse, it helps keep faction war going so we don’t have the “pile on the winning bandwagon” effect.

    1. It's a neat idea, troubled somewhat by the fact that almost nothing in FW LP store is exclusive to that store.

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  3. I don't know how much you know of World of Warcraft, they has a "faction warfare" zone, Tol Barad. Just like CCP they rewarded offensive action and what they got was open win-trading: every turn (the battle was in fixed times) the defenders just danced and jumped around letting the attackers win, so next round they could attack and win. The battles were super-fast and everyone got lot of "LP". Blizzard hotfixed it by decreasing the payment to minimal, so no one cared but dedicated PvP-ers. Next WoW expansion has no FW zone because they could not come up with any system that rewards players enough to participate but don't reward some peaceful farming solution more.

    When I mentioned it at Inferno start on several places, the answer was "lol wow we r pvpers we r here for gudfites". But the truth is that Amarr and Gallente are practically non-existent and everyone and their mother are farming LP in AFK frigs.

    I have some ideas worth considering, but I'm not sure that the problem is theoretically solvable. Every system can be played for higher rewards if the "sides" (often the same guys alts) cooperate.

    * Give daily LP budget to the factions. It would have a fixed part (that they get even if they have no systems) and a part depending on territory control. The players would get victory points during PvP and plexing and every downtime yesterdays victory points are converted to LP. If you got 1% of the VP, you get 1% of the LP budget. Being one of the 20 Amarr would pay better even if Amarr has zero systems than being one of the 10000 Minmatar at T5 (soon there will be 10000 Mimatar "FW pilots". I heard that one of the mining bot developers is working on an FW plexing bot).

    * Allow militia members to kill same-militia members without any punishment. Let the active pilots weed out the AFK-ers, bots, enemy faction alts, spies ...

    * Different plexing power of ships. A frigate shall complete a battleship size plex much longer than a battleship. Of course it should complete a frigate sized plex as fast as the battleship does the battleship plex.

    * Bonus for gang plexing: for every friendly ship inside the plex the ships get 10% bonus to their plexing speed. It motivate people to fly together so a PvP fleet can find enemy fleets instead of solo players who will obviously run.

    * Super-local channel: an automated intel channel that lists who is in local of which FW system.

    * Ship scanner to Plex NPCs: if there are living NPCs in a plex, they send message to the intel channel telling what fit the plexer flies. Of course the NPCs can be killed to stop them talking.

    PS: I'm happy to see that you actually want the game work instead of trying to get imbalanced features for your "block". I did not regret voting for you (

  4. My ideas on the potential fixes:

    An end to market spiking: A good idea, mostly because I think market spiking would screw those not in the spiked timezone, and this would therefore eliminate that.

    Adjusting Payout Multipliers: Assuming that the spiking is removed, then this would have to be adjusted to compensate. I would set multipliers somewhere in the .60, .80, 1.0, 1.2, 1.4 ratio range for tiers 1-5.

    AFK Frigates: Correct, interaction is needed in the plexes, whatever that may be.

    Complex Flavors: I am in favor of more than a slight reboot (I would like to see 6+ different "sizes" of plexes, as I believe it would add additional flavor to the game), but adding one more plex size for now would be a start.

    More visibility on complexes: If the information is added to the FW UI, then I am fine with it, as it would cause people to be able to better chase hostiles in plexes.

    Complex capture timers: I disagree here. Although it would let FC's know how much time they have to finish forming up, before needing to attack the plex, it would also make ninja plexing SOOO much easier. Not to mention it would allow neutral pirates to affect plexing in a much more active kind of way.

    Institute a gradual rollback: you betcha, good idea.

    End LP payouts when systems are taken vulnerable: I would amend this slightly, to say end LP payouts when a systems buffer has become full (ie: if buffer = 110% vulnerable, then keep paying out until maxed, otherwise who would want to plex to buffer for extra vulnerability?). This would need to be coupled with a smaller buffer.

    Nuke buffers: yes, keep them, but make them much less. Should they also be a known quantity? (Ie: should the system show its at 104.8%, or just say "vulnerable").

    Batch purchasing in the LP stores: yes please.

    Better system upgrades: Yes please, benefits are still laughable. Jump clone installation may be an idea as well.

    Another idea: have plexes dynamic, as opposed to static. For example, dont always have the button X KM from warp in. Have it 25 KM on some plexes, 30 on others...... and 60 (or whatever it is now) on some. This will make it so that some plexes are safer than others. Not all plexes are equally safe, despite both being the same kind of the same size plex.

    -Durrr - Amarr FW- Not to be confused with DurrHurrDurr

  5. I like the idea of defensive plex LP.

    Stasis and points on the NPC frigates has merit as well.