Standings, Soft Nerfs, and the importance of legacy


Offshoring is a “feature” that was added along with citadels several months ago which allows players to avoid the normal taxes for buy orders by performing them from player owned citadels. Thanks to the fact that Citadel owners can set the tax rate of the markets within that citadel, and the fact that they can make operational ISK from other features such as clone jumping, Citadels have become a staple at all of the major trade hubs in New Eden for tax evasion purposes. The exact process of this was covered on TMC by Rhivre, but it’s natural consequences have not been adequately explored.

EVE is about choices, hard work, and consequences. EVE Online was, from it’s creation, sought to be “more meaningful than real life”, and in some ways it accomplishes it’s goals. The player interactions form “social contracts” that can really only occur on this level in a well-built sandbox with consequences. However, there is another side of the game, hanging on like a vestigial twin; the current EVE PvE experience, and in particular mission running, seems to have been cut from a totally different set of goals. In practice, the content the universe itself offers up is devoid of consequences. Sure, many of the challenges we have presented have “winners” for the big competition, but for the majority the consequence is simply a decision to not be the winner.

For PvE to matter, it needs to leave a mark on the universe itself

For PvE to matter, it needs to leave a mark on the universe itself. This is what most players seek to do, and EVE in general exceeds other games greatly in that field. Massive structures, sov maps, killboards, famous streams, EVE is full of opportunities to showcase your power over the universe itself. However, where EVE has always struggled is the showcasing of the marks we leave on our characters. Tributes to our accomplishments and a history of our coming and going are very limited within the game.

We wander through our immortality without much to publicly show for it. Partially this is fueled by our own paranoia: we cannot possibly give up inside information about what we do, for someone may come and disrupt it! We use alts, and hide behind masks in order to cover up our in-game secrets, often even from close friends. In this prioritization of secrecy, even the primary function of showing accomplishment – our medals – goes woefully underused. However, that does not mean that a desire to establish our own personal legacy isn’t there. Unfortunately, many EVE players have refused the features used by other games to establish these mechanics, options like achievements, trophies, and such are shouted down by a vocal minority, due to their comparison with other MMO’s like WoW.

However, throughout it all EVE does have a system that could easily be leveraged to track legacy at least on some level. There is a mechanic that exists that would allow us to track our actions within the universe, and likewise offer up consequences for those choices. Sadly, in recent years, like many other salvageable pieces of the EVE PvE experience, it has been somewhat cast aside, even argued by developers that the system should be removed altogether. In the Citadels expansion offshoring meant yet another blow to the PvE mechanics, removing one of the remaining useful aspects: the standings system.

The taxes that offshoring removes can be reduced by two other means. The first being that there are skills that can be used to reduce those taxes, but you can also increase your standings with the station-owning corporations to save ISK. While it is still true that offshoring is mostly used for major trading only (i.e. PLEX more than everyday items), and while offshoring does not remove the taxes on sell orders, this is a kind of nerf to the standings system. Combined with the removal of standings requirements for jump clones, there isn’t much value left tied to high standings.

Shadow of the Serpent EVE Online

What if Standings Mattered?

What would EVE Online look like if there were real consequences within the universe? What if you left not only a trail of angry, or friendly, players, but also NPC entities, in your wake? How can we use the standing system to better bring alive our universe?

The standings system tracks your reputation with individuals, corporations, and factions within the game. Assigned to each entity you have any history with, you have a number between -10 (which means they absolutely hate you) and 10 (which means they love you). As of right now the following mechanics are tied to your standings (source: EVEUNI wiki):

Positive Effects:

  • Agents of higher levels are unlocked: these requirements are listed on individual agents.
  • Refinery stations tax you less: Refinery taxes gradually reduce and removes them completely at 6.67 modified standing to the corporation who owns the station.
  • Reduced Broker Fee for selling items on the market: This affects orders placed in stations owned by the corporation. Faction standings affect this too, dependent on which faction the corporation belongs to, not the faction who owns the space.
  • At high levels of faction standing, 9.9, 9.2 and 8.5 modified standing an agent in that faction’s COSMOS area will offer you a two run Battleship, Cruiser and Frigate BPC respectively.

Negative Effects:

  • At negative 2.00 modified standings a faction will no longer allow you to use any of the agents belonging to that faction’s member corporations except for level 1 agents. This is also true for individual corporations. Situations exist where you may have requisite standings with an individual agent but your corporation or faction standings lock you out from that agent. Note that either negative 2.00 towards a corporation or faction is required for lockout, not both. Therefore both must be repaired if you are negative 2.00 or lower
  • At negative 5.00 modified standings a faction’s customs officers will shoot you on sight in their space. Having negative 5.00 or lower to a corporation has no further effect than the above mentioned agent lockout at negative 2.00.
  • The lower you let your standings get, the longer it will take to increase them again. That’s the only real added effect besides those listed above.

Furthermore, Faction Warfare standings have some additional effects:

  • You and your corp need to maintain at least a neutral (0.0) standings with the faction or be removed from the militia
  • You receive promotions, and each rank is tied to your positive, unmodified standing with the faction’s militia corporation.

Acquiring (and Losing) Standings

Standings are generally earned by completing missions, in particular special kinds of missions (COSMOS, Career Agent’s, Epic Arcs) and are generally lost by killing NPCs of that faction, either during missions or just by ratting in nullsec. Because of this, players generally increase standings with empire factions, and lose standings with pirate factions. However, there are missions in NPC nullsec that allow players to work for pirate factions to gain pirate standings and LP to purchase that faction’s BPCs.

With the proper goals or effects tied to standings, the earning of reputation can be made important. Again, this is a thing which the EVE playerbase has traditionally had a hard time digesting, as it is often looked at as a “reputation grind” which makes it more like “other MMOs”. However, this is a major opportunity to learn from a decade of hits and misses throughout the gaming sphere and implement some good changes to make this work in a very EVE-specific way.

an amazing opportunity to gain and lose standings based on which side you support

Each faction has their own views of the world, and each corporation has their own agendas. Right now that agenda is mostly manifested via mission running, but as I recommended in my SOE proposal, what if that wasn’t the only way? We are getting increasingly complex events such as the Shadows of the Serpent, which could be an amazing opportunity to gain and lose standings based on which side you support. Many of the perceptions about the penalties of losing standings are based in the fact that standings are also so hard to gain. Standings should be in general fluid, with perhaps the highest and lowest rating reserved for the best or worst actions. Instead of standings being something that is grinded, it should be closer to morality system of other RPGs, where standings are used to allow factions to remember your behavior to and for them in aggregate.

What if in the next event, there was a MacGuffin to collect, but there are two sides equally interested in getting their hands on it. Upwell could offer discounts on new services they are willing to offer, but this time the Serpentis appeal to the Capsuleers spirit of independence, and offer up their own reward. Whichever you choose, their standings goes up, and the other’s goes down. Additionally your standings could influence how hard the objectives are, or what kinds of rewards you receive, making each faction’s agenda a kind of rabbit hole for the player. Now, not only can your efforts have an impact on the world in the form of seeding blueprints and skins into the market, but it also has an impact on you. Regardless of your choice, that decision, or absence of one, will be indicated on your record with your lasting standings.

angel_cartel_figures_rev1[1]Artwork by Gabriel Cassata

Making Standings Matter

All of this is well and good, but the acquisition and loss of standings isn’t really the missing piece, it is the meaning of that choice. Creative minds can come up with a seemingly endless pool of answers on how to make this work. However, for the purposes of this exercise I will list a few potential ones. The specifics (such as exact standings requirements) are merely suggestions and would have to be part of the balancing process.

  • SKINs: One of the biggest problems with SKINs is that displaying them doesn’t ever mean anything other than that you spent AUR or ISK on them. Standings could offer more meaning. There could be levels which are necessary to access the SKIN licenses. For example maybe to display Intaki SKINs you first have to gain a minimum standing of -2.0 with the Federation and Intaki, but to use the Blood Raider skins you have to have at least 2.0 with that faction. Additionally, one could tie the ability to purchase SKINs to standings. This could potentially cause players to work towards gaining favor with a corporation or faction, simply so they can become a “brand manager”, selling the SKINs to those who didn’t or couldn’t do the same.
  • Access to Stations: In FW, if the enemy faction owns the system, you cannot dock there. However, in highsec you can dock freely in enemy stations. You can expand this to say that players should generally not be able to dock in stations which are owned by a faction that they have negative relations with (say -2.0). This would impact those who perform missions against other factions, as well as those attempting to live in NPC nullsec as they have to figure out a way to live with the locals (there would be increased methods to increase standings as well)
  • Access to Content: As we get more tools for dynamic content, such as the SCOPE news system, we can also use standings to curtail and control what kind of content we get. I spoke about this more in my design challenge on the Dailies System.
  • Access to perks. Perhaps some pirates have advantages that they can bestow upon only the most trusted capsuleers. Maybe they could allow limited access to the pirates gate network, allowing loyalists to move freely within their regions.

Through the Crystal Ball: Standings

I’d like to close with a story. Not a story of EVE as it is, but an EVE as it easily could be.

A lone ratter sits in a Paladin in an anomaly in Delve. He is not new to the region, and has been a scourge to the Blood Raiders occupying the area for months. Because of this, the Blood Raiders have a standing of -10 to him, a most hated enemy. The AI controlling the Blood Raiders site knows this, and so works its hardest to overwhelm the pilot. This show of force of course offers additional rewards for the pilot who withstands this firepower.

However, the Paladin is not alone, as you never are in EVE. Two jumps away another pilot moves through the belts in his Ashimmu. He is not looking for Blood Raiders to kill, but rather other players. As it turns out the Blood Raiders love Capsuleer corpses, and this pilot has made a deal with the devil himself and now makes his riches collecting unique player corpses and bringing them to his cult masters. He has done this for a long time, with over one hundred unique players remains disposed to the Raiders, and thus he has an outstanding reputation with them (+8). In his Neocom he receives a distress beacon. According to the report there is a Paladin two jumps away, at the Blood Raiders Sanctuary located at anomaly DJK-492. His friends are under attack, and perhaps he will get another corpse for his masters…

Tags: Ashterothi, development, pve, standings

About the author


Ashterothi has spent the last five years learning and teaching EVE Online. He is a host on the highly successful High Drag and Hydrostatic Podcast.

  • Afkforum

    Eradicate Standings & Fleet Boost altogether.

  • That sounds like a pretty big change, Ash. Are you not worried that players will deliberately avoid of parts of the map because they’d be worried about losing standings with some NPC faction?

    An interesting mechanic might be that if your standings are very high, that faction will assign you some AI NPCs to help you in some way. Maybe if you get attacked by someone, a few of those NPCs might appear to defend you. Just a thought 🙂

    • LMAO! That would be awesome. So I’m a Drones renter corp with a rorqual in the field and a half dozen carriers out ratting, when suddenly a wormhole opens up and a wormhole corp spills through it to prey upon my shitlords.
      Then, suddenly, fifty sleeper battleships appear to defend me XD

    • Ashterothi

      I guess I have difficulty seeing a problem with various areas of space being more or less safe for you as a consequence of your actions. As long as the player has proper recourse to fix their bad status with the locals, I think you _should_ have some pushback from the poor pirates you continuously prey on.

      More importantly, you can use the standings system to play out the “flavor” of various races. Maybe Sansha will only sell LP store items to you if you are +10. making those items super rare, and those who commit to the effort, rich. Maybe the Serpentis DGIF and won’t change behavior if you get to the lowest standings.

      The idea is to reimagine our interaction with the PvE. Instead of being red crosses we are shooting, how do we use the mechanics to remind the players that this is a universe they are taking part in, a universe with _some_ consequences. The factions we move between _have_ agendas, and would like to push for them as they can.

  • <3 <3 <3

  • DireNecessity


    First a quibble. Taxes are not affected by standings, brokers fees are. This is not an unimportant clarification. Taxes are set universe wide and buddying up to somebody (NPC or player group) doesn’t change them (though training the Accounting skill will). I suspect taxes exist mainly as mechanic to sink ISK out of an inflation prone virtual economy. Discounted brokers fees, on the other hand, are a benefit derived from how much somebody likes you. It used to be the case that station based “We like you” mechanics were only available via NPC corporations (at least in the Empire Space I’m familiar with). With the introduction of citadels, station based “We like you” discounts can now be extended via citadel owning player run corporations. Players can now compete with a once upon a time NPC monopoly. I believe this is a good thing. Why should NPCs get to have all the station fun?

    That said . . . navigating NPC standings was a source of motivating long term game play and handing players the easy option to buddy up to other players for beneficial discounts has taken some shine off grinding standings with NPCs. Still, I think it’s an improvement. Forcing people to grind standings because they want to be a competitive station traders is terribly off putting (I know, I’ve endured it). If your eve pleasures consist primarily in interacting with other players, you ought to be able to do that without having to ingratiate yourselves to NPCs first.

    2nd that said, massaging NPC standings, should such gameplay interest one, should be intriguing in of itself and there’s lots that can be done here including some of your fine suggestions but, and this is the crucial point, one should pursue standings based game play because one wants to pursue that game play, not because of some benefit it generates for a completely different sort of game play. Eve is a better place when players can fairly directly proceed to the activates they want to undertake rather than being forced through long scenic detours first.

    • Ashterothi

      You know, I checked that, and I somehow knew I was still going to get it wrong 🙁

      Thanks for bringing up that point. I guess it is a bit confusing in the piece, but I am not an advocate of tying broker’s fee to standings as it is now. The things standings are used for, and how it is gained, is currently very broken, but the potential is there for a really cool system, and I would rather look at the possibilities, rather than just overtime work the mechanic out of the game.

      • DireNecessity

        Great point. Standings are dying by a thousand little cuts (Crius removed their import from manufacturing). Given how annoying I’ve found them, I want be shedding many tears. That said (third that said :), it does create the space to reconsider the entire mechanic and turn it into something enjoyable rather than something endured. This is where I wish we could get into CCP’s heads to see if they actually have long range plans or are rather looking only a few meters in front of their feet.

        • Bill Bones

          The guidelines for the Rubicon development plan didn’t included anything for PvE. And this is exactly what’s going on, any new content that requires more than a small team of developers (how many devs work in PvE ATM? Maybe 6 people?) will have to wait until the development plan is finished. And that puts us roughly in 2018 as soonest to see any serious plans for PvE, assuming CCP actually wants such plans for PvE and not something else being equally backburned.

          • Viince_Snetterton

            Given the measurable and steady decline in PCU (and likely subs) since CCP declared war on high sec manufacturers with Crius, I wonder exactly how many players will be left if they just START work on saving their high sec base, since we will not see anything tangible for at least 6 months after any development decisions are made.

  • Kamar Raimo

    What I find most interesting is that last paragraph. NPCs batphoning you. Standings getting increased by giving them what they want. My girlfriend asked me whether she could get standings with the Drifters by giving them corpses because she saw the emergent threat trailer. Currently, standings are just a horrible grind. It would be great if there existed ways to get missions/standings by doing something special for NPCs

  • Bill Bones

    Well, all this is pretty theoretical since CCP decided that only what players do matters and everything else could go to hell (or stay in hell). “The Empires are losing their grasp” and capsuleers aren’t given a choice to enforce that grasp if that accomodates them. Capsuleers are a force of senseless destruction, behaving like assholes who play a videogame (cue Svetlana Scarlet’s article “I don’t wan to be a demigod” at TMC) with no chance to be anything else.

    Now, since player generated content will always beat developer generated one, the real hope for PvE in EVE would be that players had some impact on it. That PvE, or a part of PvE, reacted to what players do, even affecting other players. This would put a player mind behind the wheel of what NPCs do and how they interact to players and vice versa. Instead of hard coded systems which eventually would be gamed and/or min-maxed, PvE and NPCs would become more complex and lively.

    This I say is just heoretical. So far CCP is like really busy with the Rubicon plan to pump up PvP and everything else be damned. So probably whenever CCP gets in the mood to do something for PvE, there will be no PvE players left, much as today no longer are players left who want “walking in stations”.

    As Jester (Ripard Teg) said, either we buy the whole Rubicon concept of colonization of space or there’s not much else coming our way. And halfway through Rubicon we know for sure what does that mean.

  • sjp1966

    Putting the citadel thing aside for one moment, I always found standings to be such a grind that should you try and get a decent standing it was like pulling teeth, getting a story line mission every 16 missions to increase your standing by some minuscule number is something that I
    never particularly wish to do again.

    If each corp had different LP items and it was a tad easier to increase that standing (A bigger percentage over less missions maybe) then I would be tempted.

  • trollsroyce

    I like the idea.

    In fact standings are probably a placeholder system CCP has planned a lot of possible gameplay around but never really implemented. What they have in place currently is not the sort of a system anyone would actually aim for.

    Yes for docking rights
    Yes for special perks and services

    Perhaps so, that you may not have great standings with rival empires (sansha-angels) but have to choose whom you want to please. The perks would be quality of life improvements like a Serpentis smuggling service to get your clone and assets in a hostile station or citadel, locator agents for one empire…

  • Provi Miner

    That is a neat idea, perhaps another step let players join pirate npc in order to get that distress signal and to claim the bounty of killing capsuleers who farm rats.

  • Dreamer

    I my self think CCP should make all things in eve player made.

    * No more stations only Citadels (destructable) even in highsec (free move to closest one accoring to settings)

    * Fluctuating security of a system outside of (home systems) depending on what happens there.
    (this protects the main hubs for all factions)
    * If its a problem that some pipes needed in highsec for transportation then keep them protected to.

    if a 0.4 lowsec system is grinded down with ratting and mission running it can raise to 0.5 (highsec)
    if a 0.5 highsec system is not ratted in or alot of ganking taking place (lawless) it will lower its security
    if a 0.1 system drops lower it become NPC enemy factions system with a rank of 0.1 thus it can be improved.

    * Add player built jumpgates to allow own connections to be made.

    * Add incursions from all factions in all space (not same degree for the empire factions, as a Caldari Invasion of Galente space wouldn’t hurt innocents passing throug but if you got negative standing with Caldari then …. *outch*.

    * Add truely uniqie LP rewards for all factions, usable not just skins …

    * remove the old static missions. create them dynamicly depending on the situation of the constalation.

    * create resource needs for systems depending on availability. thus creating Courier contracts for it.

    * create recon missions for factions to scan ships etc. in areas for a given amount of time before returning the data this will be used by the AI to decide if an (incursion) is dooable.

    * Then to butter the bacon in nullsec:
    if a system is not ratted in (because of worthless anom) it will get lower sec.
    if a system is ratted heavely in (because of good anom) it will get higher sec.

    this will over time make all space in nullsec “Good space” unless extensive ratting occures then it will get toasted down to junk space.

    • Bozo

      I really like the idea of dynamic resources and sec status, which has cropped up in various places in the last two years. Very unlikely that CCP will implement it in a useful time frame, though.

      One note: some core highsec systems should always remain highsec regardless of what players do or don’t do, and there should be benefits to increasing the truesec of a system. Maybe better industry?

  • Saint Michael’s Soul

    Dear CCP. DO THIS NOW…then tweak it until it works nicely.


    I like the idea. I really like the concept of a system of missions that pit players against one another. Being able to ‘pick sides’ in these events was a no-brainer that I am surprised CCP missed, being that EVE is a game about options and choices and all.

  • Jare

    The last bit was the best, itd make running missions for the pirates worth it 😀

  • Bozo

    Love the idea.

    CCP wanting everything to be player made or initiated is just laziness. People are drawn to a universe, and the universe is richer if there are factions and your actions have consequences with them. It’s a more interesting universe if we have to deal with Amarr vs Blood Raider standings than if all we have to do is watch BigKiller123456 anchor mobile depots until he has drawn a penis in space.

    I’m fine with interacting with the latter, I just don’t want that to be the only content.

    When I joined the game, the motto was “actions have consequences”. That is increasingly less true, and the universe is smaller and poorer because of it.

  • Q Sertorius

    Love the ideas presented here. One thing you could add to it would be other tweaks – such as if you have high enough standings with a pirate faction, then the NPC’s from that faction will not shoot at you unless you should them first. This would open up so many more areas to nasty ambushes.

  • jasperwillem

    What if certain standings unlocked skins?