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Lore Wars

 

A long time ago in a blog post not that far away, the roleplaying community of Intaki Prosperity Initiative found itself beset by another war declaration (wardec) aimed at their hi-sec Customs Offices. Sakaane Eionell – the CEO – was not concerned about the notifications of war, or the loss of the 14 POCO’s. They are exclusively a role playing corp whose only interest in the wardec system is the pursuit of their own RP scenarios. This has always been very difficult for them, as their role-play involves a level of player engagement that is not just about blasting each other’s pixels. Sakaane digs deeper and suggests a different approach to how wars should be built up, based upon a growing number of engagements between involved parties. I encourage you to read Sakaanes post before I go full in with this as inspiration, it might help a little but is not required for the following to make sense.

 

War? Hurrah!

The way we use the word wardec in EVE seems to have lost its meaning and effect. Real-world wars are catastrophic. Entire regions can be affected by refugee crises, lack of provisions and loss of vital infrastructure. It can take years for a region to recover from war. Even more so if the refugees are afraid to return, or comfortable and well established in their new country of asylum. The soldiers themselves are also affected, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders, often for many years after the war has ended.

The great wars in EVE share some aspects of real-world warfare on the virtual level. Entire sweeps of the map are altered and change allegiance when empires clash, causing migrating players to seek asylum elsewhere if they lose the war. These wars don’t happen overnight or get concluded in the first fleet engagement. They can take months of planning and logistics, leading to a climax resulting in epic battlefields littered with wrecks. Sometimes they can be defused through “diplomatic” channels to great effect and benefit to the players from both sides. The major conflicts of the null blocs are therefore rightfully called wars. None of this requires a wardec, however. I wonder: is it the lack of a motivational objective and impact in a wardec that makes them seem inferior.

 

Lore Wars

I got inspired by Sakaane’s thoughts and background as a role player in EVE, some of the other ideas submitted into the #wardecProject on twitter, and from reading the recent Pod and Planet fiction writing contest results. As a result I have formulated the fictional system of a Lore War: a series of smaller conflicts scaling up to an open wardec in high sec.

A universe as rich as New Eden already has faction warfare, supported by much lore and background for each of the empires. Although not a lore expert by any measure, I do enjoy a good narrative supporting a war in EVE. The current wardec system is not narrative driven, and is simply a few clicks away. In 24hrs total open war is upon you, and all your assets in space are now at risk. Every single corp member, ship hull, POCO and POS is now an exposed target where it was once safe. That escalated quickly!

 

Engagement Licenses

What if a wardec required an escalating narrative coming from both parties instead? Declaring war on a corp/alliance would be replaced with “engagement licenses” that each have specific goals and targets. Completing several of these licenses would allow you to declare open war on your opponent’s entire collection of assets.

Each license would be different, based upon how large the target of your intended wardec is, but you as attacker get to choose which engagement license you are going to enact. Once completed, each license will increase your engagement level with the opponents and take you closer to an open wardec. The best way to illustrate this is perhaps with a graphic:

infograph

All of the various assets are broken down into engagement licenses which scale upwards based on the size of your intended target. Each full wardec you wish to issue will require 3 points of successful engagement against your target corp. The licenses will not give out any asset intel, such as locations. Under this system you would be allowed only two active engagement licenses against a specific corp/alliance at any time, but a ship engagement license counts as using both of these licenses. Let’s look at how the different licenses work:

 

POCO Engagement License

*Cost: 50 mil ISK

The size of the objective in this license increases with the size of the target, and that requires strategic decision-making. A basic POCO engagement license against a small corp (<30 members) may only require one POCO. That first POCO will be the only asset you may shoot until the license has expired or is completed. With a much larger target, a basic POCO license may require 5 POCO’s before counting as complete. Players in the target corp/alliance would still remain neutral to your side under such an engagement license. However, you will become flagged as suspect to them. If they choose to do so, they can freely shoot you according to suspect flag mechanics. Of course this will create a limited engagement timer that allows you to shoot back.

Helpless defenders no more, there is now a lot more a defender can do when under threat of war with an engagement license system. Since no intel is given with an engagement license, only the objective, it puts more power in the defender’s hands and can help to create a narrative for their corp/alliance.

An asset license may be issued that covers 3 POCO’s and you have options. The defender can choose to accept the license and transfer 3 POCO’s. This would grant them a four week reprieve from another engagement license from that same group. For the purposes of lore, let’s say that when such a license has been accepted peacefully, CONCORD would be more reluctant to issue another in short order. The threat of war from this opponent has been averted for the time being.

If the defenders have no POCO’s, or not enough for the attackers to fulfill the license objectives, they need not worry. The engagement license will fail for the attackers and the defender’s pilots will remain safe in space doing what they do, while the attackers desperately hunt for your nonexistent POCO’s. A defender may still hunt failed attackers, knowing that they are safe until they aggress first. The attackers will have wasted this engagement license. This can be ample time for your pilots to hone their own PvP skills against their own personal “pirate” suspects if they choose. This is aimed at offering more options for consensual PvP engagements. Under this system system the practice of holding corps being the ones who hold assets has the potential to change. You can now lose POCO’s without a wardec, allies, or any combat.

During the first week of a POCO license, the attacker would be allowed to “mark” assets for engagement objectives in week 2. This will present an escalation of content, allowing the attackers to specify the exact POCO’s required to complete their new engagement license. This creates a loop back to the defenders who can choose to accept the transfer of the named POCO’s and secure a four week immunity from this group, or know exactly where they need to be prepared to defend.

 

POS Engagement License

*Cost: 50 mil ISK

In the same vein as a POCO license, this license allows you to engage only a POS and its anchored modules. The defender’s ships would remain neutral to the attacker, but they would retain their own engagement flag with you as above. However should a defender choose to actively operate the POS defences, this player will also activate engagement flags on themselves for the duration of the POS engagement license.

The objective for completing the POS license would be based on the size of the target corp/alliance and weighted by the size of POS the attacker first engages. Let’s call this POS points. A small would be worth 1 point, a medium 2 points and a large 3 points. If defenders choose to unanchor and remove a POS that you have already activated, it counts towards your objectives as attacker.

Against a small corp of less than 20 members, a POS engagement license would require 2 POS points. This would enable you to engage your targets in a variety of ways. You could hit a large or medium POS, but this would be the only POS you can engage for the remainder of this license. If you split the license objectives up, you can engage 2 small POSes under this engagement.

Issuing a POS engagement license against a larger corp/alliance would still cost the same amount of ISK, but the POS points required would scale up to a maximum of 9 POS points. That is either 3 Large POS destroyed/removed or any combination you can achieve from multiple POS hits. These figures are hypothetical and open to interpretation.

Ship Engagement License

*Cost: Basic 50 mil ISK + Variable collateral (min 30%)

PvP ship combat is a major part of EVE, and so this license is likely to be one of the most popular. It is the only one that provides a guaranteed target, unlike a POCO or POS license which can fail purely due to the lack of the defending corp owning any or enough of those assets.

The ship engagement license will have a sliding scale for a total ISK damage target or number of kills set by the attacker. This would need to have a base threshold of total damage or ship kills to avoid abuse. A minimum target would start around 500mil ISK total, or 50 killmails, which the attackers can scale upwards when issuing the engagement license. Like the current war mechanics, a report would be generated for both parties to see. The losses on both sides will count towards this total, so for each ship the defenders kill, the more the attackers will have to kill.

During a one week period, attackers can engage ships until they reach the value set as their objective. So if they set the very minimum target value and reach it in less than 24 hours, they have to wait the rest of the week before being able to issue another engagement license. During that time they can not further engage their targets.

The defenders can fight back to counter the objectives set in the license at any stage in the seven day period. They would be sent a notification if attackers reach their engagement goal, and then get 24 hours to alter the results. This way, the ship engagement license can become a skirmish tool as both sides compete for the objective value set. An attacker can still fail this engagement if they suffer too many ship losses before the license expires.

To maintain a risk vs. reward balance, attackers will have to put aside 30% of their ISK target as a collateral for this license. At these figures It would make a basic ship engagement license cost attackers 200 mil ISK upfront, with 150 mil ISK set as the collateral which will be returned if successful. If no ships have been engaged, all of the attacker’s ISK is returned to them.

If the defenders are successful, then they receive the collateral ISK and deny the attacker earning engagement points against them. However, if the attackers manage to destroy the set amount in ISK/hulls by the end of the week they will have achieved two points of engagement and only require one more before they can open a full wardec.

 

Reaching Full Wardec Status

*Cost: Variable based on weekly fees. Non-refundable

Using the license system it would now take a minimum of two weeks worth of engagements before a wardec can be issued that covers all assets. The attackers require three points of successful engagements and may only select 2 asset licenses or one ship license per week against a target. The defenders can intervene at various stages in the process and hinder the progress of an impending full wardec. Even if we retain most of the current features of wardecs, such as costs, allies, mutual war and surrender offers, the defenders are still in a strong position if they choose to fight back.

 

Potential Gameplay Changes

Such a radical change is going to be controversial and will naturally have many doubters and detractors. Since this is a theory piece, it is hard to provide evidence, and I can only speculate on how this system would affect wardecs in the future. I may well miss some obvious points, if so please feel free to comment.

Would this create a barrier to “content”? Personally I don’t think that it would be worse than the way wardecs work now in this respect. Currently, you have no guarantee that your opponents will even fight if you wardec them. In fact it is a very popular response to deny content. If anything, my system offers more potential for PvP engagements. Defenders will have the option to counter engagement licenses, either through combat or diplomatic options, and stop a wardec before it begins.

As a defender, you will know exactly how many assets the attackers need to destroy and could defend these assets to stall the process of getting involved in a full wardec. This can help to create a narrative as well as content for players on both sides.

This system has the potential to reinforce the importance of cohesion within corps and would help to reduce the current response of dropping back into an NPC corp. I consider that an encouraging thought. The many routes defenders can take to counter each engagement license would be different each time. How much would killing one pimped out attacker’s ship affect the scales in a ship engagement license? Should defenders find themselves under a ship engagement license, their deployed assets in space would still be safe and Citadels could be used as staging areas to fight back.

Attackers can manage their content in variable ways. For example, they could only turn up in frigates and destroyers, looking for good fights. Mercs could have more control too and not even require a full wardec to fulfill their contracts. The engagement licenses would allow them to customise contracts to their own specialist area of operations, whether it is structure removal, or good old pew pew.

Neutral alts would also become less of a problem under certain engagement licenses. The defender’s ships would be safe from attack under an asset license, although all attackers would be freely engageable and flagged as suspects for them. In high sec this means any neutral assistance leads to global criminal flagging and is dealt with accordingly. The attacker is the only one allowed to shoot the POCO, if he gets assistance from a neutral, that third party gets a criminal flag, and anyone can engage them freely. This includes the defender’s ships who still can not be shot by the aggressor, until they activate their own temporary engagement flags.

The main obstacle with this system is small or one man corps. An entire issue that we all have views and opinions on including most of the WDP contributors, seen even now as a problem with the current wardec system. There are ideas and names such as, “corp-lite” and “social-groups” being more popular in discussion. Should these small groups be allowed to anchor assets in space? Could they be a stepping stone between NPC and full benefits of a player owned corp?

 

Conclusions

The end result is that wardecs take longer to enact upon a target and you must have made a concentrated effort in order to get to this stage of open warfare. Defenders have the option to prevent themselves from falling under a full wardec at several stages through the process. Attackers will technically need to be engaged for a minimum of 2 weeks before being able to declare an open war.

This system of Lore Wars/engagement licenses provides more narrative and purpose, with objectives being used as the only means to enter into a wardec. Once engaged in a full wardec all mechanics are as they currently are, with everything you own now at risk.

This idea has come from the Wardec Project which is being conducted right now with various members of the EVE Online community. We are keen to have more ideas and suggestions, as well as feedback. To find out more about the Wardec Project or to get involved, please visit www.spacecadetonline.com/wardec-project

Tags: game mechanics, highsec, Jason, pvp, wardecs

About the author

Jason Quixos

Jason Quixos has played EVE Online for just over 5 years. Having started in high sec with a successful war-deccing alliance, he has made several failed attempts at enjoying life in null sec. He currently has fingers in a few pies.

  • Sakaane Eionell

    Interesting ideas! In principle I really like what you have proposed here, particularly the potential for CONCORD to be “less likely” to want to issue licenses after a failure. Opportunities for both sides to escalate or diffuse the conflict help create the kind of balance I think the war dec mechanic really needs.

    However, I think I would like to see the progression of selection of the first license to full war dec be longer. Your graphic posits three weeks but I would like at least a month, maybe six weeks at the most. A war dec should not be a casual thing; the attacker should require real commitment to that path. As you said, wars in null require a lot of planning; wars in lowsec or hisec could stand to have more of that, too. Attacking a large corp should be a lengthy process due to the amount of assets and potential rewards involved; attacking a small corp should be just as lengthy because a weaker opponent has fewer resources/people to call on to mount a defense so needs more time or opportunity to try to counter the aggressor.

    Thank you very much for the shout out! I’m glad my post on war decs was inspirational!

    • Kamar Raimo

      I’m not sure whether that can apply to lowsec except for RP purposes. In the years I have lived in LS I only saw to instances or wardecs being issued. Once was RZR issuing a wardec against every single galmil alliance , and I guess they did it so they wont lose secstatus when shooting us, the other kind of wardec we sometimes get from highsec weirdoes like CODE who seem to think that influences us in any way. Of course all militia can be shot by opposing militia already in highsec, and many of us and other lowsec dwellers are criminals and can also be freely attacked.

      • Sakaane Eionell

        My corp has been living in lowsec for nine years (the alliance is five years old). There are tons of war decs in our history (us on the receiving end). People do it because they can and because it’s the easiest way to avoid gate and station guns, and sec status hits. Also the easiest way to get kills for lols when we do venture into hisec.

        • Ship and asset loss will always happen in EVE and it should happen. I have made sure not to avoid wars totally in this article, but more to give them meaning and escalation of hostilities. Its sandbox game and players can pretty much act and do as they want, for many that is loling while killing people they know can’t/won’t fight back to much extent.

    • Thank you for the original post – my first time reading about war from a role playing PoV.

  • Urziel99

    If the attackers can set their goal for the ship engagement, they will set it as low as possible to get the 2 points. Should be fixed and fairly high ratio on the lower end to prevent disbanding of small corporations. Fix it at 50 mil per pilot in the corp as a minimum.

    • The ship engagement was actually the hardest part to write. It could make its own article. It is a system that clearly needs an entry level minimum, but what that minimum should be is entirely debateable.

  • Black Pedro

    So you are proposing that if one small highsec corp wants to remove the POS or citadel of a rival highsec mining corp, they have to go around perma-suspect to them with no opportunity to shoot back until agressed? How is that balanced or likely to encourage players to use the mechanic when it puts them at such a mechanical disadvantage?

    All this convoluted proposal will do is discourage/prevent small groups from taking the risk of wardeccing, further consolidating mercenary groups and pushing wars even further out of the reach of the average corp and only into the hands of professionals.

    CCP said the purpose of wars is “to allow people to fight legally in highsec” in the last wardec devblog. Placing even more restrictions and mechanical disadvantages on the agressors is not going to result in more use of the mechanic to drive conflict and is not at all necessary considering wars are completely optional to the player who can drop corp at any time.

    • Thanks for the long reply Pedro. As a whole reply you make a good point about the accessability of war. Those who enact a war dec are generally more skilled and prepared for the coming engagements than their opponents. The attackers can choose any route they want to get to the destruction of the citadel, which doesn’t even have to be a license. WarDecs still exist, just takes longer to get there.

      It raises some other points though. I already see such a system like this being a problem with small and one man corps. Should wars be open to everyone?

      I can’t fly capital ships yet, nor can I mine gas. I can’t scan stuff down easy, or solo sleeper sites. There will always be players better equipped to do these things than I ever will be. Could wars not be more of a professional route to take in the game?

      • Black Pedro

        Locking small/solo groups our of wars is a valid position to take, but it has obvious predictable consequences. It will push those that are looking to participate in wars into large, professional mercenary alliances magnifying the decrepancy in power between the war participants. Wars will be even more lopsided and less likely to produce conflict then we have now. At a minimum it would need to come with the previously-promised-but-never-delivered mercenary market place because it would now be mandatory for small corps to hire professional assistance to challenge these large wardeccing conglomerates.

        Many of the changes CCP has made lately have been to empower smaller groups against larger ones (see FossieSov, jump changes, etc.). Making large groups immune to wardecs from small ones seems to be going in the wrong direction. If wars are imbalanced rather than just not incentivized (which remains to be seen as citadels and the other structures may completely change the landscape by giving corps something valuable to fight over) it is much better in my opinion to protect little corps from big ones with a “social corp” or another risk-vs-reward-respecting mechanism to protect small, non-competative entities, rather than giving large corps additional free safety to extract resources and print ISK isolated from thier smaller competitors of New Eden.

        • Another great reply and you sound like the type of player we would benefit working on any proposed changes in the WDP.

          I agree with your reply here, regardless of any changes, there will always be some portion of players/community who are affected, or at least feel they are in a negative way.

          I have never heard of this promised but not delivered mercenary market you mention though. Have you got any links to this?

          • Black Pedro

            I guess not delivered is in the eye of the beholder, but the “Mercenary Marketplace” was announced to be part of Inferno:

            http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/with-friends-like-these…-new-ally-system/

            We did get a system where an ally can offer thier services and be paid ISK to join a war, but this seems a far cry from an actual marketplace where players can bid for, or ask for services and review mercenaries and thier performance that one might have hoped for.

  • Afk forum

    +1

  • Anthony Falk

    I am very much liking how this article and the overall wardec group’s ideas are coming together.
    Having overall meaning to wardecs snd obtainable goals from both sides would be excellent indeed.
    Definitely a +1 from me.

  • Saint Michael’s Soul

    I’m still not sure how these changes would make a theorectically risk-averse HS corp undock and potentially fight a wardeccer.

    The risk-averse corp does’t hold assets in HS; There is literally no point in a HS POS now, HS POCOs don’t really make money except in huge numbers and are something smaller organisations don’t even consider as you’d be butting heads with the big boys.

    So we’re back to the dubious entertainment of (usually) one-sided engagements in HS. There’s still literally no reason for the HS corp to undock for the duration of the declaration.

    So although I like the mechanics, there is no extra incentive to get the defender to undock in order to finish the aggression/war-dec. To my mind what’s missing here is some kind of objective that enables the defenders to “win” the war – This could be a set of entosis style nodes across a constellation during a vuln window, or perhaps a set of spawned FW type plexes which would let in one ship from either side, who could then duke it out to win the node.

    The specifics would need refinement but at least someone could “win” a war early, which would encourage undocking .

  • Crash

    First, thank you for keeping the war dec discussion open. The war dec mechanic has been broken since I started playing EVE along time ago. CCP has made a few half-hearted attempts to fix it, but we all know how that goes.

    Second, you’re putting the cart before the horses. Your first step should be to engage CCP. Without the buy-in of the developers, time spent developing war dec schemes is pointless. CCP may have already envisioned a new mechanic that they aren’t sharing (typical). At any rate, CCP hasn’t made any indication that the broken mechanic is anywhere on their radar.

    Finally, rather than offering a detailed system, I’d like to address some of the core issues:

    Incentive: There is no incentive for the defender to participate in a high sec war dec. Any proposed solution is going to have to include changes to non-war dec mechanics to create an incentive for the defender to engage the attacker. A possible incentive is to make deployables more valuable.

    Opt-out: There are many players out there, myself included, who have no interest in war decs. If I’m dec’d, I have a couple of options available to me: a) drop corp, b) dock up and use a non-dec’d alt, c) take an EVE holiday. There is no mechanic that will force a player to participate in a war-dec. That fact should be recognized and built into the mechanic.

    In the spirit of the “Risk/Reward” mantra, war-dec immunity should also carry a price. An immune corp should not be able to use deployables (assuming they’re made more valuable – see above), and/or they should have the same NPC tax that NPC corps charge (as examples).

    My own preference is to remove most station services from NPC stations, relocate those services to player owned stations and allow corps to charge for those services. This would make stations an isk generating asset worth defending. Finally, war decs should be restricted to corps that have such deployable assets. If you have no deployable assets, you can’t declare war nor can you be the target of a war dec. If you want to participate in a war but don’t want the responsibility of deploying a structure, you can participate as a mercenary.