Friday, October 12, 2018

Updated Thoughts On War Declarations

One of the big issues, if not the biggest issue, coming out of the first CSM 13 summit in Reykjavik was the state of the war declaration system in EVE Online. In my blog post on Tuesday, I pointed out two key passages from the summit minutes. I'll repeat them here.
"In the EVE Leadership meeting the CSM was presented with numbers resulting from research into the state of war declarations in EVE and those numbers quite starkly showed how asymmetric the situation is, and how war declarations allow a small number of players to negatively affect a huge number of people, with low risk. These numbers may be discussed further by CCP at a later date."

"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."
Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. The mechanic is such a long-running, open sore on the game that I broke down three years ago and worked out a different system. I think my proposal is a bit too complex and would take up too much development time to implement, but I still like some of the core assumptions I made. Instead of attempting to come up with a brand new proposal, here are some core concepts I'd like to see in a War Declarations 2.0 system.

General theory - In the current system, war dec corps and alliances tend to camp certain systems. The war dec play style reminds me of street gangs standing on the corner more than anything else.  So mold the new system around years' worth of demonstrated behavior. If the system elevates our current street gangs into mafioso running protection rackets, so much the better.

Limited geographic scope - The current war dec system never made much sense to me in a lore perspective. An Amarrian corporation could bribe CONCORD to allow it to fight Matari corporations inside the Minmatar Republic? Madness. At the very least, a new war dec system should not allow war declarations to extend past an empire's borders. If players want cross-border conflict, they need to declare two war decs.

I also believe in internal conflict within each empire, with competing regional interests competing with each other. We have that with the Amarrian royal houses, Minmatar's tribal structure, the competition betwen the Caldari mega-corporations, and whatever is happening in Gallente space. To reflect that conflict, I would like to see war decs limited to a single region.

The war dec flag - In keeping with the spirit of player groups fighting over space, ownership of a structure like a citadel or refinery in the region of space the war dec occurs in should be a requirement for participating in a war dec. Don't want to become involved in a war dec? Don't put up a structure. Simple, right?

Added incentives and costs. In my original 2015 proposal, I had corporations paying NPCs for immunity. Since I now would like structures as a requirement, let's make everyone's life easier and impose a tax instead. Impose a special 1% tax on all bounties and mission rewards in high sec. Once a month, distribute that tax to the owners of citadels in high sec. But split the tax revenue based on the system the taxes are collected and the location of citadels.

For example, Lanngisi is a mission hub for running level 4 Sisters of EVE missions. In a given month, perhaps 4 billion ISK in special taxes are collected. If two corporations owned structures in Lanngisi that month, then each of the corporations would receive 2 billion ISK.

Costs of war decs. The cost of a war dec would remain as is, despite the fact the amount of high sec systems affected by a war dec is reduced from 23 Empire regions down to 1. The change would have the effect of tripling the cost of war decs targeting the systems surrounding Jita, as Sobaseki is located in Lonetrek and Muvolailen in The Citadel. Assuming, of course, that the defending corporation/alliance has structures in all three regions in order to allow the attacker to declar war in all three regions.

Ending of the war. Wars should end in one of five ways.

1. One side loses all structures in the region.
2. One side surrenders to the other.
3. One side disbands.
4. The attacker fails to kill a ship during the week AND fails to either reinforce or destroy one of the defenders structures.
5. The attacker fails to renew the war declaration.

Failure to perform penalties for the attacker. One of the problems with the current war declaration system is that the wolves thin the sheep herd way too much for long term stability of the game. War is serious business, and the consequences of launching a thoughtless war should reflect that. My inspiration comes from the cult classic The Warriors and what happens to Luther and the Rogues in response to Luther's killing of Cyrus and failure to pin the deed on The Warriors.

Honest failure has a price. But if the failure is a result of issuing troll war decs? Well, CONCORD and the empires have memories. Here are the penalties for poor or lazy performance during a war dec for the aggressor I would like to see in a new war dec system.

1. Failure of the aggressor to kill a ship, reinforce a structure, or kill a structure results in the loss of the ability to issue new war declarations for one week, with the penalties being cumulative. So, for example, if a corporation declares 10 wars, but fails to kill a ship in three of the wars, the corporation (or alliance) would be banned from issuing war decs for three weeks. If, the following week, the aggressor fails to get kills in 2 of the remaining 7 wars, two additional weeks would be added to the total, meaning the corporation could not declare new wars for 4 more weeks.

2. The attacker disbanding the corp or alliance results in each individual member picking up a one week inability to declare war declarations, which transfers to the new corp/alliance which then accepts the player's membership application. Also, if the disbanding corp/alliance had an existing ban on it for making war decs, that amount also transfers with the player. However, that amount is not cumulative. For example, if a player leaves a corp due to disbandment, and the corp has a 1 week ban on declaring war, then if joining a corp with a 2-week ban, there would be no additional penalty to the accepting corp.

3. There is no penalty for surrendering. The defending corp/alliance would probably accept a shortened period of war. No sense in creating mechanics that would artificially extend the fight. Plus, if the attacking corp wants to pay the defending corp money to avoid one of the above penalties, that seems fair to me..

Limits on war declarations. I wouldn't put a limit on war declarations if the above suggestions were put in place. The penalties and geographic limits to war decs are designed to naturally discourage the widespread issuing of war declarations. If a corporation declares 100 wars, and in 50 the aggressor fails to kill a single ship, that's basically a one year ban on declaring new wars, transferable to a new accepting corp/alliance. I think that's disincentive enough to keep the war decs limited in number.

I like my original idea from 2015 better, but can one make a business case for something that complex? I think implementing this simpler outline would be easier, but with the existing legacy code, who knows? Still, I've now thrown my two cents into the discussion. Let's see if CCP announces anything about war decs at EVE Vegas.

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