Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Station Lockouts And Derived Standings

Every so often I read or hear someone bring up the idea of locking people out of stations based on their faction standings. A very old idea, we saw the feature implemented in factional warfare in the Inferno expansion in 2012. With CCP working on new PvE content that may come out sooner rather than later, I figured now is as good a time as any to take a closer look at the concept.

First, let's examine the mechanics at a relatively zoomed out level. Players currently require standings with a corporation in order to run missions for that corporation's agents. Faction standings can modify the level of agent the player can access. For example, a character with standing of 5.0 with the Caldari State, for example, can work for every level 1 thru 4 Caldari agent in New Eden. On the flip side, a character can have perfect 10.0 standings with an NPC corp, but if the pilot's standings with that faction are below -2.0, then a pilot can only access level 1 agents belonging to that corporation.

I should add that the level one restriction did not always exist. When I began playing, one could not run any missions for a corporation with which one had faction standings below -2.0. Recovering from bad standings was, in polite terms, painful. In order to gain standings, one had to do missions with a faction allied with the faction the player wanted to gain standings with. The derived standings gains are smaller than directly running missions for the NPC faction. Even with access to The Plan, I don't think anyone wants to return to the days where players could lock themselves out of access with a faction's agents.

Now, can anyone see where locking players out of stations for having low faction standings could cause a problem? Locking players out of stations would lead to locking them away from agents that could allow them to directly gain the standings needed to get back into the stations. Then we're back to the derived standings game if one has already utilized all the one-time use agents that reside in space.

The second complaint is about realism. Some may argue that the Amarr would not deal with someone with bad standings. Putting aside the theory that sometimes playability is more important than realism, I think the current situation has that covered. Let's use the Amarr Empire as an example of how things work today.

Let's say someone like me, who likes to shoot Amarr, shows up in the Empire looking for work. With standings of -4.3, all of the good paying jobs are closed to me, unless I seek work at a non-Amarr station. I'm stuck with low paying work from level 1 agents. And if I keep up my Amarr-bashing ways and my standings fall below -5.0, the faction police will chase me out of the high security sections of the Empire.

Outside the Empire, the lucrative Amarrian agents will still shun me. As for the level 1 agents? They seem pretty desperate to me. Let's take Chadla Herorad as an example. Chadla is a level 1 distribution agent for Nurtura, a large Amarrian agricultural company with interests throughout New Eden. Chadla is stuck in Aldik, a system in the Minmatar Republic region of Metropolis, two jumps out of Geminate. Does anyone really think Chadla cares who hauls the fertilizer out of the station as long as the smell goes away? Any warm body who can fly a hauler will do.

Now, I have to stipulate, the above is based on the current situation in EVE today. As I mentioned above, CCP is working on changes to PvE that could upend everything we know. But as long as we have the current standings system, I hope CCP doesn't make recovering from a mistake, or even sheer ignorance, too onerous an undertaking.

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