"Sort Dragon wants to take a step back and not worry as much about the mechanic specifics but rather what the next steps involved in this change. CCP Fozzie says that at this point they are waiting for a more detailed request from the senior management to see what the business goal is in this case, but are still investigating the potential mechanic changes."
"CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention."
A reading of the latest CSM summit minutes suggests CCP has a strong business case for not just revamping the war declaration system, but removing the feature entirely. Last week I gave my views on what the outlines of a revamped system should look like. But what if CCP decides to just get rid of the entire system? From a game play perspective, CCP cannot just rip the system out and implement a fix in a few months because of player-owned structures. Doing so would not only cause structure proliferation issues, but also lock in advantages players could take advantage of. CCP would need to do a little modification to New Eden to make high security space mechanics make more sense in a universe without war decs. Here are some points CCP needs to address if removing the war declaration system.
What is the purpose of high sec? I don't know what the original design document for EVE specified, but in a world without war decs, high security space would serve as a low intensity zone that would serve as an area for new players to try out the game, veteran players to return to if they burn out of playing in more dangerous portions of space but don't want to quit the game, and a neutral place to facilitate trade between warring factions. I believe that at one point CCP considered high sec a training ground for everything activity, including PvP. If the war declaration system is scrapped, that function would shift to low sec, possibly requiring development in that area of space as well.
High sec should still hold dangers. Removing the war declaration system should not result in the total absence of player-vs-player interaction in space. Suicide ganking should still exist, along with activities like ninja looting that result in players receiving suspect flags.
If CCP gets rid of war decs, the devs need to replace the danger with some new iterations of their advanced AI fleets. Adding additional NPC activity in high sec can help solve issues in a better way than relying on the current war dec corps and alliances.
Let NPCs clean up unused structures. The big argument in favor of keeping the war declaration system is the presence of player-owned structures. Some structures will necessarily need to revert to NPC control, but not all. For structures like citadels, refineries, and engineering complexes, players can still own them. In place of players destroying the old ones, though, let gangs of NPCs sweep though high sec attacking structures. I don't really care if the NPCs only attack unpowered structures or also make life interesting for citadel owners. I don't care if the structures are destroyed under cover of a Sansha incursion or if faction navies scour a region looking for deadbeats to makes examples of. I just want to see what the AI can do.
Return high sec POCOs to NPC control. If CCP removes war decs, then some corporations will receive a huge benefits by locking in changes. A big example are player-owned customs offices. Unlike other stuructures, POCOs require no upkeep. If the war dec system is removed, then CCP needs to also take away POCOs in high sec and hand them over to the faction navies.
Remove high sec moon mining. I have to admit, I never liked the idea of allowing moon mining in high sec. The removal of the war declaration system would almost necessitate removing moon mining from the security band. The only reason for not removing moon mining is if powerful NPC fleets would contest the existence of the refineries.
Sounds like a much easier task, doesn't it? Remove a couple of features and add some NPCs that could provide not only additional life, but more PvE content to high sec. Plus, according to the data collected, increase profits at the same time. Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?