Monday, June 18, 2012

For Fight's Sake

Over the last week or two, some may have noticed various posts on my blog relating to FW mechanics. You can find links to these posts here:

A Backwards Yet Lucrative Strategy
The Math Behind the Backward Strategy
Cheaper by the Dozen

The Strategy

While I've already talked about the strategy of losing systems on purpose so that you can make ISK taking them back, I would like to clear up a misconception I feel many people are making. This strategy is not some sort of weird idea coming out of the mind of Susan Black. (scary!) This is a real strategy being fully implemented by the Minmatar. In discussing it, I wasn't trying to create some sort of theoretical 'what if we did this' scenario. I was trying to tell you what we are doing.

Since Inferno, many systems have been flipped in the Amarr/Minmatar conflict. However, the Amarr have never been able to break a threshold of 16 systems. For the most part, they fluctuate between 12-15 systems.  During one week, the Amarr seemed to be gaining a foothold by taking several systems. At the end of the week, the Minmatar took 3 systems within a 24 hour period.

The Problem

The problem is that because systems in empire have no intrinsic worth, there is no motivation to defend them in light of the monetary benefits of plexing hostile systems.

A system that ultimately discourages defense, and encourages the loss of systems for monetary purposes ultimately discourages pvp.

In the weeks leading up to Inferno, both militias had a very real motivation for defending the space they had and taking additional space. With the upcoming patch it would become more difficult to take space, therefore it was imperative to take, and keep as much as possible.

The PVP that resulted from those weeks was some of the most intense pvp of my EVE career.

While the enthusiasm continued past Inferno, the fighting never reached that point again. In fact, things have calmed down significantly, and most battles are now your average skirmish, whether on a regular gate or in a plex.

It is my firm belief that this is largely due to the current problem I highlighted above. More and more, defense of systems has become 'token' whereby a defender sends in a small fleet just for the purpose of a lulz fight. There is no intense battle for the system because there is no motivation for the system to be defended, as there was in the weeks leading up to Inferno.

Also, most pvp is in tech 1 destroyers, tech 1 frigates, and tech 1 cruisers. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, I think it is a clear indication of the attitude of militia members in general--there is little motivation to bring out significant ship assets in the current system.

A Solution

The solution is to tweak the system in order to create mechanics by which it is very worthwhile to maintain sovereignty in systems, and as a result, very undesirable to lose systems. There are variety of ways this could be done and I'm not particularly married to any particular idea.

A Few Ideas:

One idea was to swap the defensive and offensive plexes. Since only contested systems would produce plexes with LP payouts, this would force plexers into conflict systems. Also, it would remove the benefit of taking systems and instead push this benefit into owning systems.

Also, I thought about reducing the size of the warzone in conjunction with this to promote pvp, and fire up the conflict. Right now there is a lot of 'dead space' in the warzone--systems unused and untraveled by FW pilots. Also, a smaller warzone would mean more volatile warzone control, as it would take less systems to reach various tiers.

A second idea would be to think about this a completely different way. One of the things CCP's expressed they were trying to do was to make PVP the most lucrative LP wise, followed by plexing, and then missioning. We all know that this plan failed. Right now, mission running pays out significantly more LP then pvp.

What if mission payouts were based upon system upgrades? This would not only give systems and upgrades worth, but it would make some systems worth more then others --instead of each system being another number toward warzone control. Hostiles could target key missioning systems, etc. for the purpose of running down upgrades.

In conjunction with this, defensive plexing would have equal but opposite LP payouts--half would go into the I-HUB and half would go to the pilots.

In conjunction with that, LP payouts for pvp would be buffed somewhat to raise PVP payouts to compare with mission running to some degree.

I think that this 'package' would greatly reduce the monetary benefit difference between taking a system vs holding on to one. It's not ultimately perfect but would go a long way toward heating up the warzone and making people want to defend and upgrade their systems.

What are some of your ideas?

1. "There is no intense battle for the system because there is no motivation for the system to be defended, as there was in the weeks leading up to Inferno"

There was no lp for defensive plexing before inferno either.

The reason the fights took place was because the amount of time it was going to take to flip a system was multiplied by 5 in inferno. So there was a sense of urgency that no longer exists.

The problem with the current system is the same problem there has been since faction war came out. Plexing is best done in pve ships. Hans is working with ccp to correct that.

But in the meantime you can change the payouts all you want. It will still be pve.

Both of your proposals just allow you to farm your systems that your enemies can't even dock in. Its similar to another part of the game.... I forget the what part now, but it will come to me later.

I had no reason to doubt some minmatar didn't mind losing systems so they can farm them. But that is risky you know it as well as I do.

Plus it is in your interest to defend them in pvp *before* your enemy caps the plex. Because if you don't then you will have to sit at the button to defend it or you will lose the system. That is yet another reason why the rule of no lp for defensive plexing is a good one. It gives defenders a sense of urgency.

The main reason though is that it is the only mechanic that will actual prevent the war from effectively ending by one side getting all the systems and players.

Basically these proposals have the same problems your proposal on eve-o had.

-cearain

1. The current system upgrades are lackluster. That would be a good starting point. I made a proposal for defensive plexing on e-o. You get LP bases on the contested value of the system. You get nothing for a stable system. A system that is at 60% - you get 60% of what you would normally get for a plex. At 80%, well, you get the idea.

In exchange I would like to see some of the obvious exploits or quirks closed. Running Caldari plexes for the Minmatar LP store. Minmatar missions sending you to Ezarra rather then Sahtogas or Haras.

The size of the war front is fine. An aggressive opponent could exploit that. I front where everyone has ships within 2 jumps is a little too WWI for my tastes.

Lastly, a tier one or tier two militia should have relaxed standings requirements and/or sped up faction grinding to increase recruitment. A kind of 'all hands on deck' emergency...

-zarnak

2. The idea of having your ability to recruit effected by the number of systems you have is an interesting idea. Someone else on this blog had mentioned it. He suggested that the winning side simply not be able to take in new members. But really I think ccps idea of no lp for defensive plexing is a better, more eloquent solution than saying "you can't join". Lower/increasing standing for the losing militia is not as hamfisted but then again its not really that hard to get standings.

But as far as awarding lp for defensive plexing I think we first need to realistically ask: Does the winning side need even more advantages?

If they do then and only then should we be talking about giving them lp for defensive plexing. I think the winning side already has huge advantages in this system. Taking away/mitigating the only balancing element in the game is completely uncalled for.

If we think on the other hand the underdog needs some advantages then we should be looking at the things that make getting back into the war a problem for them.

Just looking at the mechanics and saying - well this doesn't make sense in a real world or null sec way isn't a good way to make the game mechanics.

-Cearain

2. Another idea would be to add some time factor to systems. Who would like to work in a system that flips ownership every few days?
Only systems controlled for over X Days spawn lvl4 Agents (or Lvl 5?). At the beginning there are only lvl 1. Steadily rising with days occupied. Maybe even chained to system upgrades to get those agents. (The manufacturing or science slots aren't really a conflict driver, are they?)

Also time based idea would be to change that war zone modifier to a stability indicator which raises over time depending on the number of systems you have (with regards to upgrades) that are not under attack.
I still think those modifiers are too drastic. 4 times the normal cost if you ware on the loosing end? 1/4 if you are on the winners side? Wouldn't 10% to 40% be a bit more competitive?

3. How drastic the LP swing is for zone control is probably my biggest problem with the current system. Cutting it's range in half, so t1 is twice the old cost, t2 is 1.5, t3 is 1, t4 is 0.75 and t5 is 0.5 the original lp costs would be an easy step in the right direction. If the LP costs benefit gets small enough, then I think LP for defensive plexing becomes a very good idea again. But only if the LP value difference between the winning and losing sides becomes much smaller.

1. Personally I am sort of warming to the dramatic swings - assuming they keep the no gain for dplexing.

I think the rule that there is no gain for dplexing means the losing side can regain the upper hand and there will be potential for dramatic shifts in the war.

Look at the caldari Gallente side. There are about 20 systems vulnerable. The reason they have so many vulnerable is because of the lp for dplexing and they both want to build up for a scramble to get to tier 5. When systems actually do start falling there should be allot of great intense fighting thorughout the war zone (not just in a single system at a time)

The reason this system should work to create this sort of dynamic intense pvp spread out over all these regions is because of the dramatic shifts in lp value and because you only gain for oplexing and not dplexing.

Yes I know I was the one who complained about 16x difference. And I will admit, that was before I fully understood the implications of the no gain for dplexing rule. Time will tell on how this works or not. At this point I am not in favor of changing the lp reward structure.

-Cearain