This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss EVE’s ongoing development.
This is my first blog entry for a couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit lax so sorry about that. I’ll aim to try a little harder!
I’ve been reading a few player comments and having a little think about factional warfare and its upcoming changes in Inferno, when it occurred to me that I never actually did get around to watching the fanfest presentation. Oops. So I went off and did that last night. There were some interesting points in there, although most of it I had already picked up on elsewhere or had expected to hear.
One of the more interesting distinctions was the idea of doing away with the fuzzy concept of ‘occupancy’ so that taking systems in FW would mean changing sovereignty itself. I actually really like the feel of that idea.
What was particularly interesting was the passing suggestion in the presentation that CCP are considering that having a sov change could mean that the local NPC’s change type to match the empire holding the sov (As the Amarr advance the Angel Cartel NPC’s give way to Blood Raiders etc). I’m not sure if that would be good, bad or indifferent for game balance, but I suppose it could result in fluctuating meta loot prices if a given type of NPC becomes more scarce due to low-sec sov changes. Might be an interesting consequence of war.
Speaking of consequences, that word is going to become the defining point of FW in the near future, if it isn’t already. For years players have bemoaned the core failing of the current FW design; that inescapable fact that occupancy is utterly meaningless. There is neither reward nor penalty for taking and holding territory other than to say you did it.
CCP, to their credit, have accepted this and set out to do things that make it relevant and place territorial conflict in a central role. This appears to be getting a very wary response from FW players. The primary consequence of territorial control proposed is that you will only be able to dock in low-sec stations that your side controls. To which the FW community promptly asks; “But what if I have ships in there?”. Obvious answer is obvious; you have to take the system back to get them. Or, you know, use an alt or something.
As proposed at fanfest, this change would apply to all stations in low sec, regardless of the NPC faction owning them. It would be just like losing your outpost in null sec. The potential problem with this is that unlike a sov fight in null sec, which usually takes nearly a week to run its course, in FW a system can be captured in just 6-7 hours; literally as you sleep.
I am very much in favour of occupancy, or as it shall be known, sovereignty, having a real impact on how players can use low sec stations. Being able to freely use the enemies stations as an active combatant has always been a ridiculous state of affairs and is the reason why no-one cares about occupancy in the first place. However, if a system can be so easily flipped several times a day then only a fool would try to base from such a vulnerable station. In fact, many FW players are reportedly already removing assets to high sec and are feeling very edgy about the impact of this change.
It has been a long time since I were active in FW, but I’m not sure how much I sympathise. The reason I left FW behind was that it felt toothless. It needs consequences, and ‘consequence’ means more than just ‘rewards for success’; it also means that there needs to be penalties for defeat. Simply getting paid less isn’t enough, you need to be risking something as well.
But, low sec is not null sec, and FW needs to be more accessible, or simply a little less brutal, than the ‘winner takes all’ nature of null sec. Being totally locked out of a station with your stuff in because you chose the wrong 7 hours to sleep or go to work is very high stakes. At least in null you get a few days warning!
So the question becomes, should CCP look at the pace of system capture or is locking out the wrong penalty? Personally, I think that CCP should probably postpone implementing station docking lock outs for now and instead start by removing access to station services while docked in the opposing sides sov. No repairs, no fitting, no medical services, and ideally no market access (although that would be hard to implement and isn’t the case in null sec either). Those restrictions would make staging in hostile space trickier, although not impossible.
My feeling is that the rate of system capture should probably be slowed considerably. Which might even happen if the concept of ‘front lines’ were implemented. In the fanfest Q&A session this was broached and the suggestion raised that it should be much harder to capture systems that do not border your side’s space, and therefore focus attention on the border systems making the systems deep within your territory less prone to sneaky ninja flipping. Make it hard enough, and maybe the problem of unexpected 7-hour sov flips might be mitigated allowing for some tougher penalties to come through in a later iteration.
Something that doesn’t seem to be featuring directly in CCP’s current plans is for FW to directly impact non-FW players, aside from the prospect of handing the militias cyno jammers as sov upgrades. I also think that CCP should probably hold off on cyno jamming at first. Low sec is highly important for null sec alliances logistic efforts, suddenly finding that key system X is cyno jammed could prompt large null sec alliances to take a negative interest in FW purely to seize control of jammers. CCP’s intent with cyno jammers here seems to be an attempt to counter Pandemic Legion style ‘hot drop griefing’ of low sec where super capital blobs are thrown about with impunity. The ‘threat’ of low sec cyno jamming might increase null sec interference in FW rather than reduce it.
Who FW should aim to influence is not so much null sec residents, but high and low sec. If you live anywhere within empire then the supposedly vast ‘Empyrean War’ should mean something to you. And CCP are making some small steps in that direction I think.
Adding datacores to the FW LP stores and doubling their cost via R&D agents will make FW meaningful to inventors. Furthermore, as LP rewards will now scale according to the successes and falterings of the militias, the supply of racial datacore types could fluctuate along with the war effort. Potentially, this could be significant to T2 production.
I would like to see such things go further in future, with the outcomes of the Empyrean War in low sec having a direct feedback into the economics of the four empires in high sec. Maybe then the self-proclaimed high sec residents might feel a growing attachment to low sec. Hey, they might even become inspired enough to get involved.
Wouldn’t that be nice?