Mutual Warfare

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
on them.

Solomon: But at least with the bounty system, Concord is still there to protect you. In the wardec system,
it’s not.

(snip)
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.

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4 Responses to Mutual Warfare

  1. evehermit says:

    I think the really interesting part of the dicussion was the fact that most War Dec’s (70-80%) result in no loss of ships. Even accounting for Shield Decs and the like, it suggests a very high percentage (50% maybe?) of proper War Dec’s see the defenders dock up and not play, and the attackers getting no fights. I am not suggesting in the slightest that War Dec’s are dropped – but it would be interesting to clearly understand why people won’t fight back, and what can be done to encourage more of them to do so. Something like being able to specify when declaring war that it ends after 2 weeks, or after the destruction of 5 or 10 or 20 hulls. (Excludes shuttles and nob ships, and the total is counted from either sides losses.) Maybe a War Dec can specifiy that the destruction of PODs won’t be covered, so CONCORD will respond to any such loss? Or in other words, either rewarding you for fighting back, and lowering the cost to do so. Of course War Dec’ers don’t need to chose those optional settings – they may just want to grief the enemy like they currently do, and that should be allowed.

    • Ugleb says:

      I think that most groups in EVE take the view that if they don’t provide any sport, the bad men will go away. Most players simply avoid PVP, consider this quote from page 101 of the minutes:

      “Dr.EyjoG: Turning to PvP, the kills per 1000 subscribers per day sharply increased after Escalation, going from 16 to 21, and grew modestly throughout 2012. The long-term historical value of this indicator is 20.”

      1,000 subscribers collectively result in 21 kills per day. Even assuming that most of these are group kills, the vast majority of players don’t make a kill on a typical day. Many years ago, my original corp, being a small collection of noobs in frigates, would frequently war dec random corps that we thought might fight back. Most didn’t even try, and it definitely wasn’t because we were elite veterans.

      • evehermit says:

        A good point about one side in most wars deliberately not giving the attackers what they want (PVP). Often if the 0.0 parts of the Corp or Alliance came to Empire to hunt WT, they were politely asked not too – as it would just extend the war and the impact it had on miners and haulers.

  2. Pingback: Wanting to Undock « Evehermit

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