This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the War Dec system.
I have finished reading the section of the CSM Winter Summit minutes on the War Dec system, I found it interesting. I’m not quite sure how much of this is CCP devs playing devil’s advocate, but what struck me about the discussion is the use of the word ‘mutual’. In this context it is being used in the same context as ‘consensual’. The discussion starts on page 65.
Two step asked the team if they felt they’d accomplished all that they had set out to accomplish in
overhauling the wardec system, as it appeared to him there appeared to be just as much random
wardeccing and grief wardeccing as there was before the overhaul. Solomon joked that it would be so
much easier to just remove the wardec system completely, to much laughter of the CSM. Then, more
seriously, Solomon explained that the designers had been back and forth discussing this question, and
that the general idea has always been to develop a toolset where two entities could participate in mutual
combat even in highsec space.
Trebor: There is the important word you just said – mutual conflict. Just as you can have a mutual
engagement between two players, you should be able to have a mutual engagement between two groups. But the current system, it’s a cursed mechanic, because most of the people who get involved
want absolutely nothing to do with it.
Solomon noted that they were looking specifically into cases where one corp wardecced another corp,
and no losses occurred. Usually this means that a larger more powerful entity has wardecced a smaller
entity that wants nothing to do with the conflict and therefore does everything in its power to avoid being
caught or killed. Solomon wagered that this was the case in 70-80% of wars.
Solomon: The strong prey on the weak, but the weak aren’t responding, and nobody’s getting particularly
fun or nourishing gameplay out of this. Is that a failure?
Some discussion follows that, in which an example is raised of E-UNI being periodically war decced by someone expecting an easy war, only to go into hiding until it lapses after the first time E-UNI turns and punches them in the face. This is pointed out to be an example of a mutual war where both sides chose to fight (albeit apparently just once).
Fozzie: A wardec where only one side wants to be in it isn’t any less legitimate than a bounty that only
one side wants. We’re not going to go to anyone and ask them if they’d like to accept the bounty placed
Solomon: But at least with the bounty system, Concord is still there to protect you. In the wardec system,
Hans: If I could jump in here… One of the values of high-sec warfare is that it’s one of the few places
where you can engage in PvP and control the size of an engagement to a certain degree. If you go out in
null-sec, anyone can show up and hot-drop you any time. You go out to low-sec, you still have zero
control over how many people show up. If you’re engaging in PvP in highsec, you are then limited by the
other people that are involved in that war, other than suicide gankers. There’s a culture of players that
really enjoy high-sec PvP and enjoy the fact that they can fight someone knowing that there’s not going to
be 27 other entities in that engagement. And to me, that’s another value of the wardec system that needs
to be preserved. I do not think that suicide ganking should be the only form of PvP in high-sec.
Solomon: Should it be limited to each party’s ability to engage and fight, though? I mean that’s what we’re
trying to zero in on: that consensual, high-sec engagement where its mutual, and both sides have the
ability to participate and cause losses and cause damage, that’s the kind of thing we want to be moving
towards and encouraging.
Seleene: Wait a minute. Something just went off in my head here. You’re literally advocating that the days
of ‘I am pissed off at these people and I don’t care if they agree that I’m pissed off at them, I’m going to
wardec them and rip their shit apart’. Is that what you’re trying to get away from?
This goes on longer but from CCP’s side pretty much sums up with this:
SoniClover: And it seems that some are clamoring a lot for the game system to protect them. And we’re trying to minimize that as much as possible. EVE is never going to give you complete game system security. And we’re never going to go that route.
So the discussion largely revolves around the question of “what is the purpose of the war dec system?”. It seems a bit odd to me that so much of this CSM discussion was focused on that very fundamental question, when this summit was held shortly after Retiribution launched, yet the major overhaul was done in the previous expansion. Surely this debate is being held a year late? The impression I walk away with is that CCP are little happier with the current war dec mechanics than they were with the old system. Doesn’t sound very optimal, does it?
It obviously would have been helpful if CCP had decided what exactly their goal was with war decs before we reached this point, as it looks like the feature has suffered from a lack of purpose in its design. I think the system is supposed to do is simple enough; it is a tool that allows for one entity to attack the other without CONCORD intervention. It is not supposed to be a form of consensual PVP, it is about aggression.
If I choose to pay the ISK, then I get the right to freely hunt you in high sec. I take the risk that you might turn around and do the same to me, true enough, but the point of it all is that in EVE nowhere is truly safe. If someone is determined to hurt you, there are ways for them to accomplish their goal, but also ways for you to counter.
The purpose of the allies system is that it offers an entity that is weak in PVP (or otherwise out matched on their own) an opportunity to even the odds. The formal allies system is a good concept, if imperfect at present. It does however offer the opportunities that a defender needs to balance the odds, in theory at least.
The ability to declare a war gives you the option of pursuing an enemy that CONCORD would otherwise protect from you. Why people choose to declare war doesn’t really come into the equation I think, the option is a necessity and we have it. Likewise the ability to bring in allies offers a fighting chance to defenders, the usefulness of it comes down to social interaction with others, which is a core pillar of the0 almighty EVE sandbox.
There does not in my opinion need to be much more than this. It is not CCP’s place to balance a war or to artificially protect an industrialist from a PVP’er. In EVE ultimately what you cannot protect, you risk losing. It is down to the players to protect their investments how they see fit.
There is one part of the war dec system that can be considered mutual, but I think in Inferno we saw it changed into something else – mutual war decs. A long, long time ago mutual wars were introduced in response to lobbying from the roleplaying community. In pre-factional warfare days, RP corps/alliances of the time wanted a means of fighting their ideological nemeses in high sec, without paying ISK on it forever (back then the average player was considerably less wealthy and war dec costs were a bigger deal if you were paying them continuously).
The mechanic worked simply, one side declared war as usual and set it to mutual on their end. If the defender also set the war to mutual then it became an ongoing thing thing with no maintenance cost, until one side or the other revoked mutual status. It was simple, it worked, it allowed for two entities that wanted to fight each other in high sec to do so without hassle.
Inferno changed that. It made things complicated. Mutual wars became a means of locking an attacker into a war that they could not leave unless the defender chose to let them out. Corps leaving alliances also became trapped and also now unable to join a new alliance until the war ended. What we are talking about now isn’t really ‘mutual’, is it? The term was hijacked and turned into something else, the original intent was lost.
Today we have a system that is in some ways more complex than the old one. Dec Shield was a very convoluted little enterprise in twisting the mechanics to an almost hilariously broken extent, and I think it probably stemmed from this desire of CCP’s to make random wars into a mutual combat experience with even fights. Or something. Let’s break it down.
* Any corp/alliance should have the ability to war dec any other entity regardless of where they reside. In EVE, nobody should ever be entirely safe. Other players can always affect you.
* The defender should have a means of getting help against the aggressor (who may or may not be significantly stronger in either numbers or skill), but to do so requires reaching out to other players. Your ability to even the odds comes down to your ability to find it.
* The defender should have the ability to keep the attacker in a state of war if they choose, but there must be a better way to do it. I think a better option would be to allow the defender to begin paying the war maintenance fee at a discounted rate once the attacker tries to extract themselves. Attaching an ISK cost means that the defender doesn’t get to lock an attacker in for free, but it is possible to keep the war going. Another option to add a time limit so that the war is automatically ended after a month or so of the defender paying the bills.
* Mutual war decs should be reinstated as they were pre-Inferno. Both sides have to set the war to mutual for it be, you know, mutual, then it continues forever free of charge.
* War reports need to be redesigned to show what contribution each participating entity made to the war, without that information war reports are near useless as a tool for evaluating mercenary corps defenders might employ. There should also be a summary of average performance across all wars and options to filter out ‘junk’ wars where no actual fighting occurred.
The war dec system is not about balancing fights, it is about starting them. So long as tools are provided for the weak to find help, we really don’t need much more.