Back in December 2014 I, among others I’m sure, was approached by Sugar Kyle (CSM 9) on her campaign to gather player feedback on the state of lowsec to bring with her to the CSM Winter Summit. In my case in particular I was also asked to provide feedback specific to Factional Warfare, which I did to the best of my ability. Among the points we discussed were things like LP tax, rewards for system control, combat recons, FW missions and rewards for engaging in PvP. With the Winter Summit in the books, it’s time to take stock of what was talked about concerning lowsec.
In the land of gud fites and honey…
People that live in lowsec have generally been happier about their game than other areas of space, and that has only gotten better since Phoebe. Since the reduction of force projection, the lowsec PvP meta has begun to “grow”. The reduced risk of the Whack-a-Mole effect of undocking anything that was bigger than T1 cruisers at hotdrop o’clock, means that lowsec has been given room to evolve. Battleships and other more expensive ships are a more common sight and can be seen in the medium and small fleets which are the hallmark of lowsec fighting. This is because the ability to escalate to capital ships is no longer a prerequisite to not being dumb (and dead).
Following the summer slump and a slow number of months in the Gallente-Caldari war zone, the population has also grown compared to previous levels as more people are drawn to the positive vibe coming out of lowsec. This includes Factional Warfare which has grown steadily since the summer according to figures from CCP. However, the numbers show that people don’t generally come to lowsec for the PvE or the industry—the stats on NPC kills (although receiving a bump with Kronos) and mining are as low as they have been traditionally—they come for the fights. The kill-per-login ratio is increasing, so not only are there more people, but they are fighting more than ever, according to CCP.
The glaring caveat to all this is that CCP did not have stats for non-Factional Warfare lowsec, an area of space that is comparably dead by all accounts and perhaps in dire need of help.
So if we have a population that comes for the fights, it would be natural to have a system that rewards the fighting itself and allows people to live off of it at least partially, right? Although Factional Warfare is at its core an attempt to provide a solution to this, it also an indirect one. Orbiting structures inside plexes isn’t fighting even though it often leads to it, and even though blatant farming has been noticeably reduced, fighting and actually making a living from FW are like oil and water: together yet distinctly separate. Rewarding kills themselves has always proven to be problematic due to the risk of exploitation; the unattainable missing link in the FW system.
The issue was brought up and discussed during general talks at the summit about the FW LP system, and it was suggested that the LP payout for PvP be fixed to what it is at tier 5. This would make the payouts for kills something more than a joke, while not being profitable enough for widespread exploitation.
In a related issue, the previous benefits of holding a station system in Factional Warfare were rendered inapplicable due to fundamental changes to the game, most notably the fact that clone costs no longer exist. Holding a system today is de facto useless apart from denying the enemy access to the station. Although discussions have been held, no solution for this was presented.
Those who paid attention to the Summer Summit CSM Minutes and the Lowlife lowsec coverage of them will know that FW missions were discussed. It was clear to both the CSM and CCP that they urgently needed a rework or at least a balance pass. Unfortunately, even the tools to do this the right way are not yet stable enough according to CCP, and given the focus on nullsec sovereignty for 2015, it might be some time before we see any improvements on this front. In other words, the missions will remain the disjointed and broken LP farms they are today, at least for the immediate future.
As far as general lowsec-only sources of income such as Mordu’s Legion NPCs and Tags-For-Sec, CCP says that they are seeing healthy use. However, Progodlegend’s question about more static sources of income in lowsec able to support larger groups prodded Sugar Kyle to warn that it could lead to stimulating the growth of large fleets beyond the point where small gang and solo fighting would begin to suffer. We are already seeing lowsec fleets grow in a controlled fashion, and it would perhaps be wise to let that evolution reach a more mature state before adding any large-scale sources of income.
Another topic making a return from the Summer Summit was the ability to tax LP. (Lowlife explored the issue in detail.) Although not universally supported, the theory put forth by the proponents of this idea was that an LP tax would give power to the so-called “enablers”—the FCs, CEOs and other content creators of FW—and it was explored and discussed in articles as well as forums with a generally positive outlook. Essentially, it was stipulated that corporations in FW should be able to tax their members’ primary source of income, just as any other corporation would tax PvE income, in order to support centralised activities and things like SRP programs. This in turn would yield content as well as providing incentives for militias that had suffered heavy losses to organise and get on their feet again.
Unfortunately for supporters of this feature, CCP Fozzie made it clear that it was not possible without a ground-up rewrite of how LP worked. One cannot help but wonder why this was not clear when the idea was proposed the first time.
Furthermore, concerning militias that are down-and-out, Fozzie said he did not believe in any sort of mechanical aid. This was an issue that was brought to the forefront after the Gallente had taken command of, and eventually secured 100% control over the war zone in early 2014, a blow the Caldari militia has only recently recovered from. Meanwhile, the war zone saw some relatively dry months, and it was discussed within the community if there should be some form of incentive structure in place to help speed the process along.
Overall, it was made clear that anything beyond making superficial changes to current Factional Warfare systems would require the type of overhaul that could not be undertaken until other more pressing projects were completed. It is rather obvious that it’s all hands on deck for the long awaited and crucial new nullsec sovereignty system that is bound to dominate development time during 2015, putting lowsec and FW on the back burner.
Overall I find myself coming away from the Lowsec session portion of the CSM Minutes with two distinct feelings. Firstly, that we won’t be seeing any miracles in lowsec during 2015; just balancing and tweaking on what’s already there. But that’s OK, because at least FW lowsec is in a relatively good place and is currently evolving as far as PvP meta is concerned. Secondly, Sugar Kyle is a damn good CSM and will most certainly be on top of my list.
Tags: csm, CSM Minutes, lowlife, lowsec, niden, winter summit