My alliance had a long (and rather animated) conversation on TS3 last night regarding docking rights--pros and cons for different parties and how to make it work. Some people were completely against docking restrictions, no matter how much we fixed some underlying issues, and others didn't seem to care one way or the other.
I think that one thing I've heard twice now (both from an alliance mate on the EVE Online forum post, and on a comment on this blog) is that not allowing neutrals to dock is problematic ---From one perspective, it could make FW space more 'FW only' where less and less neutrals come around, and from another perspective, it forces a player into Faction War if they want to dock in the system, or already have assets and live there.
Considering that the focus of a lot of what I've been looking at for fixing FW has been to offer more choices and less restrictions, this perspective of forcing neutrals into unwanted gameplay is very troubling to me, and an extremely valid point.
Some other concerns/opinions:
1. Allowing neutrals to dock in FW 'base' stations doesn't really fit with the storyline of FW.
2. Neutrals view FW stations still as 'npc' stations, and in general, these should be dockable by everyone in EVE, as they are currently.
3. Preventing docking will get rid of docking and station games.
4. The ability for neutrals to dock will make it meaningless for FW pilots who can't dock because they'll just use neutral alts to get their stuff out. It downsizes the risk of losing the system.
5. If there aren't docking restrictions, there is no reason for a faction to take a system--there's still no benefit to sovereignty.
6. If neutrals can dock, then FW pirates who don't want the docking restrictions will just leave FW and kill everyone--being able to continue to live there.
7. Docking rights and sovereignty are too close to null-sec mechanics, and could force 'blobs' in FW.
8. Sovereignty shouldn't be about the stations at all.
9. Restricting docking access to FW pilots will 'shift' pvp between systems and create a sort of 'front line' perspective, with enemies being 'pushed back' and giving FW more 'warlike' qualities.
Some solutions that were discussed:
1. Allowing neutrals to dock, and only pods from the opposing militia. (Hans Jagerblitzen's idea) Hans' main reasons for restricting docking seemed to be that this would discourage newer players from trying FW and would 'nerf' pvp between FW pilots since they could lose access to their stuff in so short a time.
Some counters to this:
a. mechanics that allow you to dock in a certain state at a certain time, and undock in a different state and etc. are overly complicated and may in and of themselves frustrate new players who are trying to learn basic pvp mechanics.
b. docking in a pod, then undocking a ship and not being able to dock in the event of a station camp would make things just as (if not more) frustrating for new players. Older players would still have to move because of this, so it ultimately would not completely solve the 'nerfing' of pvp in that system.
2. Another solution that was offered was to instead restrict some of the station's functionality for hostile parties--station services, and etc.
There were different 'degree's suggested -- some saying that just FW related components could be restricted such as agent access, LP store, etc. Ultimately, this would be done by the sheer fact that the station was turned over.
Others said that additional services such as medical and fitting should also be restricted.
Some counters to this:
a. not being able to use medical and fitting services would still make people 'move out' and wouldn't address some of the underlying issues why people are opposed to restrictive docking in the first place.
I didn't reall hear, nor think of opposition against restricting FW specific services.
First, I've been somewhat convinced that we can't restrict neutrals from docking anywhere in Empire. This greatly influences any solution, in my mind.
Thankfully, almost any solution to docking falls outside of the tiered approach to occupancy that leads up to sovereignty. Almost everyone (if not everyone) I've discussed tiered Occupancy with has generally liked (or absolutely loved) the idea. Changing sovereignty/docking mechancs doesn't really 'mess this up.'
So now, we need a solution that is truly worth being the 'cherry on the top of the cake.'
Looking at it from both a storyline and mechanics perspective how about:
1. Adding defenses to FW (only) stations. Though anyone could dock because it's empire, station guns would shoot hostile militia, as well as neutrals who have negative standings with the sovereign faction.
The station would also shoot any neutrals with an aggression timer of any kind against the sovereign party, as well as any neutrals providing logistics to the hostile party. (ie: if a neutral gang shows up and starts shooting the sovereigns who live there, the station will defensively shoot back, and hostile faction militia could not easily get around the station's defenses by parking neutral logis outside.)
2. The sovereign party would be the only ones with access to agents. (obviously)
3. The station offers free (or hugely reduced) medical clones to sovereign militia members. In addition, repair bills for the sovereign holding party are significantly reduced.
Hostile militia pays more for repairs and clones then normal, or are heavily taxed in some way.
Neutrals pay the same as before.
It's not perfect, but I think this solution accomplishes the following things:
1. It's simple and makes sense. If you shoot the owners of the station, or at war with them the station shoots at you. This would be an easy concept/mechanic for new players to grasp and understand.
2. It doesn't hurt neutrals, but it offers benefits for people living in that station to be in militia.
3. It offers consequences for losing sovereignty. Higher prices, loss of agents, etc.
4. It impacts pvpers and plexers as well as mission runners. Loss of agents alone isn't enough.
5. It offers multiple reasons for militia to take systems --whether they actively want to 'move in' or live in that system, or simply deal a financial blow to their enemy.
Fixing Faction War: The Big Picture
Faction War is a Sandbox, Too
Tiered Occupancy: Victory Points