This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss changes to Factional Warfare that may have already gone live before you read this…
Well I did not expect to see this Dev Blog today. Now thar be a game changer!
If you are not up to speed on factional warfare mechanics or the current state of play, then here is a summary. Pre-Inferno FW was largely pointless as taking territory had absolutely no impact upon anything at all. The main thing that Inferno did was to introduce loyalty point rewards for capturing FW plexes that contribute towards contesting and ultimately capturing systems. Along with this, the concept of ‘war zone control tiers’ was introduced where the prices of items within the store go up or down depending on the tier level.
This did achieve the goal of creating an incentive to controlling FW territory. What it failed to do was create an incentive to maintain control over systems. Players quickly realised that the most efficient tactic was to make timed and coordinated pushes to higher tiers for short periods of time where everyone would just ‘cash out’ all of their LP at once for huge discounts. In between cash out pushes there is not much reason to keep hold of your space other than where you need to dock (station lock outs are another Inferno feature, one that I agree with).
The state of play within FW since Inferno was released has been a sharp rise in farming alts. FW plexing mechanics have always been broken since FW launched, although while there was no actual rewards tied to plexing it was not a pressing concern to anyone outside of FW. Inferno changed that. LP became highly farm-able and FW has been invaded by low skill point alts evading combat but aggressively farming. Once Retribution was announced, activity in the FW warzones shifted further from PVP as everyone set about making as much ISK or just ‘stocking up’ on gear as they could before the holes were plugged.
That has resulted in an increasingly frustrating/dull ‘warzone’ and a growing impact upon EVE’s economy as wealth first moves towards the LP farmers (and hopefully at least some of the ‘genuine’ FW players) and then get spent on things no-one care about like oh, I dunno, PLEX.
The understatedly entitled Inferno 1.3.2 patch is setting about plugging the largest of those holes. We all knew that come Retribution on December 4th this was coming. But I sure as hell was not expecting CCP to bring it forward to October 23rd. Tomorrow. Guess what? I haven’t cashed out lately. 😛
I, like the rest of FW I suspect, was planning on bear it up some over the next few weeks and cashing out what I could between now and then. Thing is, I haven;t actually been logging in so much/for as long for the past couple of weeks for a few reasons, and yeah, that has been reflected in my blogging I think.
The Dev Blog does a good job of summing up the flaws in the current FW system and their effects. My enthusiasm has been dented a fair bit by the rampant farming and general lack of urgency in taking/holding territory created by the tier-spiking behavior. Then there is the number of alts actively avoiding combat to speed tank plexes, I’ve caught a few but they are annoying. Also, XCOM. I have been enjoying XCOM. 😉
Inferno 1.3.2 is going to be very good news for the health of EVE, it squarely kicks plex farming and tier spiking in the balls. But it is also clearly an emergency action on CCP’s part. The PLEX market is very important to EVE’s health and is in a rough place at the moment which affects a great many players. But there is also the fact that FW was a major feature of Inferno, that is showing some pretty serious signs of ill health.
CCP are implementing a partial change to plexes in order to combat the farming alts. We will now have to kill all of the NPC’s present in a plex to complete it. So that’s the gun-less speed-tanking frigate alt’s out of business! But this change was meant to be implemented alongside redesigned NPC’s using the revamped AI. Instead it is being done right now using the old NPC’s with the old AI. I cannot imagine that CCP would have taken this step lightly.
We are seeing CCP pull the parts that are ‘done enough’ out of the winter release in order to mitigate the problems rapidly developing in the game today. This means that FW is getting a couple of bodge job fixes hastily applied with basically zero notice. There will probably be a bit less in the winter release for us because of it, along with some awkward issues probably resulting in the short term until they finish the job properly.
Despite the risks of a rush-job, I actually approve. Had CCP given us warning of this patch, we would have seen another round of last minute tier spiking as everyone races to cash out. This way the opportunity has been minimized and so has the ongoing economic impact of tier 5 cash outs. Furthermore, this might be what FW itself needed to see the warzone conflict reinvigorated. As of right now the emphasis shifts from intentionally shedding systems to trying to keep hold of them. Because as of tomorrow, we should have every reason to keep them.
CCP have recognized the growing crisis and taken action sooner rather than later. This might not be a neatly implemented fix, but it may well prove to be timely. And for that we should applaud their efforts.