Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Revisiting Faction War

There hasn’t been a whole lot of heat in the warzone as of late. This was to be expected—there is usually hype following an expansion, tapering down until things become ‘old hat.’ Also, the wars going on in nullsec have many peoples’ focus elsewhere –either on their mains, or on nullsec alts.

I have often thought of taking a break from FW myself. But alas, the prospect of lag and mind numbing quantities of structure bashing keeps me comfortably stationed at my usual post.

I find the situation to actually be somewhat relaxing. While targets could definitely be more plentiful, it has given me ample opportunity to flex my solo pvp wings, and work on some side projects.

But, now that the dust has settled, I have a few things I really wish they’d take a second (or third, or fourth..) glance at. Not overhauls mind you. Just a bone or two CCP could throw the pvpers—the ones who are in FW for the long haul and not just mesmerized by something shiny and new.

1. Plexes

First, I would do a hard rollback of the timer in the event a player leaves the plex. This would also happen if the plex changes hands.

I have always disliked the strategy of ‘rolling the timer down to 30 seconds so the other side has to run it for an eon to take the plex.’ This is what I would categorize as an ‘avoidance’ strategy, which is ultimately a strategy of defending, or taking a system through means that avoid pvp. In the act of making the plex undesirable, we're hoping the hostiles never bother with it.

In making the timer roll back to ‘0’ if the plex is abandoned or lost to the opposing side, losing the field now has consequences. This will impact stabbed farmers, who run away at the first sign of a threat and wait for it to pass before continuing their merry-go-round-the-button, and it also gives meaning, in war-terms, to holding or taking the field in a plex engagement.

It also means that technically, neutrals could impact the war, which I think could be an interesting facet to Faction War.

Secondly, I would significantly change the size scaling and spawning of plexes. Right now, there are three main plexes that spawn on a regular basis –novice, small, medium. Large unrestricted spawn more randomly and are much more rare.

This means that in general, most plex fighting is restricted to cruisers and down.

I have always been annoyed by the plex restrictions, finding them kind of anti-sandbox. Shouldn’t Faction War players be able to defend, and attack systems in any ship they want? On the flip side, I do understand the argument regarding wanting to have smaller ship battles, solo frigate fights, etc. So as much as I’d prefer to just get rid of the plex gates altogether, I’d compromise on a less drastic approach.

I would change the primary ‘three’ plexes that spawn regularly to small, medium, and unrestricted. The novice plex would spawn randomly.

It wouldn’t be significantly different, but we would now have regularly spawning unrestricted plexes with ample opportunities for battlecruiser, and battleship fights if we so desire. We can buy them in our LP store, they might as well be good for something.

Thirdly, I would tweak the plex payout system, to pay a ‘per person’ amount instead of a ‘per plex’ amount. The formula would be such that up to a certain number of people, everyone gets paid equally, and over that number, it tapers off somewhat. (I think incursions do something similar?)

This would encourage small gangs of players to plex together, and would also significantly change the profitability for solo farmers.

Fourthly, I would make timers something you could see from outside the plex, similar to a POCO reinforcement timer.

2. Warzone Control

In the event that CCP wants to spend even more time on FW, beyond tweaking plexes, I have a few ideas for warzone control that could be interesting.

Warzone Control should be about much more than just making ISK. It should impact….well….the control a militia has of the warzone. (lol)

First, what about tying station lockout with warzone control? Perhaps, by degrees instead of an on/off switch. For example, at Warzone Control 4 & 5, it would be the same as now –hostiles would be completely locked out. At Warzone Control 3, hostiles could dock, and perhaps use fitting services, but not much more. At WC 2, hostiles could also use medical and repair services. At WC 1, hostiles would have unrestricted access.

 In other words, there would be a strategic benefit to gaining higher warzone control levels beyond making more LP.

Secondly, and this is a little ‘out there’, but what if faction ships (ones available in the LP store) had some sort of non static bonuses based on how well the faction was doing in the war? It would be similar to basing bonuses off skill levels, except instead it would be based off warzone control levels 1-5.

Warzone control would impact the ‘quality’ of the ship, and you would have the popularity of some ships fluctuating based on who is doing well in Faction War, instead of what static change CCP made. It would give a whole new aspect to the sandbox, with something else entirely that the actions of players could affect.

In conclusion, I think there are a couple ‘problem areas’ in Faction War, that even a few small changes could significantly impact. While Faction War will never have heated action 24/7, I think that putting a little more power in the hands of pvpers, and taking away some of the advantages of passive farming would definitely encourage conflict. Also, opening the sandbox up a little more, and allowing FW pilots more options, more tools, and more ways to affect their landscape would improve not just this mechanic, but the game as a whole.


  1. "Thirdly, I would tweak the plex payout system, to pay a ‘per person’ amount instead of a ‘per plex’ amount. The formula would be such that up to a certain number of people, everyone gets paid equally, and over that number, it tapers off somewhat. (I think incursions do something similar?)"

    This would simply hurt the average every day plexer, as farmers will simply plex with their 5 stabbed toons rather than their 1 stabbed toon. This would then lower the value of LP as these farmers would gain a disproportionately large amount of LP, flooding the market.

    I like that you're thinking of ways to try and improve FW, but unfortunately, this one shan't work.

    1. However, if they have to pay for 5 accounts to make what they used to make with 1 account, it might not be entirely worth it to them. Also, in conjunction with the timer rollback, one player will have quite a hard time holding the field with 5 stabbed alts. ;)

    2. If one person will paint my fence for $75, its not like I will pay him $150 if he brings a friend.

      These sorts of artificial increases in pay to promote blobbing only hurt eve.

      If you want to make plexing about pvp then simply give the pvpers intel on where plexes are currently being captured so they can fight for them. Simple. That combined with a timer rollback system and fw sov is fixed. Its really the obvious solution that many current fw plex rabbits don't want to face.

      I know this obvious solution keeps getting ignored in favor of all sorts of other ideas that do nothing to make fw sov more pvp. e.g., give rewards for plexing, give rewards for defensive plexing, give more lp instead of a discount when warzone control is high, make people kill rats, make the rats have stronger tanks, etc etc.

      None of this helps place pvpers into plexes. That is why the warzone continues to be dictated by plex rabbits.


  2. You bring up some really good ideas (timer reset, plex spawn, better warzone control) and i think most FW-PVPers agree that something has to happen in those areas.
    I don't like the payout system and agree with Durrr on that subject and i also really don't like the ship scaling idea (i think there would be a lot of abuse and manipulation).
    A very nice article overall and i think everyone agrees that there have to be some changes/tweaks to FW.

    1. what kind of abuse and manipulation? you mean...people joining faction war to push one or other milita to win so their ship is better?

      Isn't that kind of the point? =p

  3. "I have always been annoyed by the plex restrictions, finding them kind of anti-sandbox."

    I see this sentiment thrown around a lot, and not just with respect to FW, and it bugs me because it's usually a fig-leaf for "I don't like this". Plex restrictions are no more anti-sandbox than capitals not getting to use gates or frigates not getting to use doomsdays. The sandbox is simply a rule set that defines possible actions.

    I do agree about timer roll-back and incursion style reward scaling, though. It's pretty egregious that the best way to plex (offensively or defensively) is in a solo stabbed frigate that runs from every fight. The most time efficient way of defending should be throwing the attackers out, not waiting until they've gone and running a different plex.

    On the other hand, I think WZC is a pretty terrible concept, and at the very least should be decoupled from income. The idea of higher tiers unlocking is decent - the stuff wouldn't get any better, but you'd have a situation where if you were at tier 1, you wouldn't be able to get your faction battleships or HG militia implants, for example.

  4. The only idea I really liked from this post was the idea of having timers be global. I think all the other ideas would negativly change fw pvp.

    I do like the idea of changing the what can go in each plex though not in the direction you were referencing. I think it would be cool to add a plex for bc and down as well as potentially adding plexes that only allow a certain ship type. I.e. bs only not bs down or cruiser only. This would allow for fun fights with a slightly different meta to them as if you are in a bs you don't have to worry about tackle condors for instance

  5. Heh, Changing the pay out structure to promote small gangs working together would be a nice change all right.

  6. I think CCP has the rather dismal view that Faction Warfare is simply to be a training ground for null. Want to fly big ships? Want to have an impact on sov? Go to Null no matter how hopelessly broken it might be.


  7. Some interesting ideas. Making the tier count for more than just the LP gain would be good. I don't think ships should be affacted (not sure what the rational in game argument would be for this either), but the gradation of access to station features would be useful.

    Station access could also be made more meaningful if neutrals were prevented from docking at militia controlled stations.

    Would be good to see some more changes that aim to reduce the farming, promote PVP and ownership of the results of the conflict

  8. I agree with timer rollbacks, definitely. As you said, it would be a much-needed nerf to semi-AFK button-orbiting stabbed alts. Supposed to be faction _warfare_, right, not faction-ninja-CTF? I guess I'm just as confused on that point as a lot of "FW" people I see around Placid.

    Secondly, I LOVE the idea of neutrals (such as yours truly) being able to "influence" FW. As an RP-really-lite type, it is part of my stance that Intaki is a free sovereign state, to be free of Gallente or Caldari occupation (not necessarily hostile to either side, but not to be conquered or occupied, either).
    As it stands, I can aggress a button-orbiter and chase him out of a plex, but he can just come back after I leave or log, and pick up right where he left off. If his clock reset every time I chased him off, he might actually either A) stay and fight (which's fine), or B) go away and find other buttons to orbit in other systems, thus satisfying my "Free Intaki" in-game urges. ;-)

    In the end, CCP needs to figure out what FW is going to be all about. Is it Faction Deathmatch, Faction CTF, or something else entirely? Until they can answer that question, any mechanics changes are pretty much going to be and feel arbitrary.