Conflict is life

The May release has dropped and for virtually everyone outside of Delve nothing has changed.  In Delve some NPC raid content is happening and just like all PvE content in history of gaming, everyone expects it to be “on farm” within a few days.  But hey, I don’t live in nullsec, so I don’t expect anything new to happen until at least winter 2018.

Back to the topic.  With the publication of the roadmap out of the way, the EVE community ceased to focus on hypothetical and large scale solutions and hones in on features in the game that could be improved in order to make the game more playable and appealing.  Upfront at the moment is the War Dec system that allows a corporation to initiate a time period where legal conflict is allowed between them and another corporation or alliance.  The target does not have to agree and hence the term “non-consensual PvP” is used.  Generally, the receiving corporation laments that their gameplay is now effectively stopped while the aggressor finds ways to maximize his return by wardeccing multiple helpless targets and selectively culling the dumb ones.  For the vast majority of EVE players, wardecs are useless at best and a nuisance at worst; virtually nobody sees the current system as adding satisfying content to their gameplay.

The Reddit brigades of course have solutions for everything ranging from tweaks to complete re-design of EVE.  At this time, I do believe a healthy conversation with CCP needs to happen and its a darn shame that the entire CSM is comprised of players who are not affected wardecs.  One should hope that some individuals have the maturity to look beyond their gates but I am not holding my breath.

So, what purpose to Wardecs have in EVE?  Do they have any?  One one hand, they allow “content” to be dynamic and player-driven in high security space.  With the exception of the market, all high sec content is PvE driven and hence scripted, repetitive, predictable and ultimately not satisfying to many (not all, there are many who like to run the missions or afk mine for example, me included.  Its a balance thing).  Wardecs allow to bring nullsec-mechanics to high security space with scope and time limitation.  Players of all walks of life should rejoice the opportunity to be able to initiate content and respond to changing conditions; wardecs are – for better or worse – the only player-impacting content in high security space.  So, the idea is excellent and wholesale removal of the system itself (as warranted by some) would be a huge mistake.  But the risk / reward cycle has to be maintained.  At the moment, the aggressor risks exactly nothing.  The defender risks everything since fighting back will guarantee more losses than the defender can sustain and spawn a renewal of the wardec at the end of the period.  Many, many corporations flame out under the relentless barrage of wardecs, players leave for other regions, fall back to NPC corps or outright leave the game.  The lone single thing that wardecs bring to the defender is acting as a catalyst for players to leave high sec.  If CCP’s intent was to use wardecs to drive players to nullsec or Wormhole space (where wardecs dont matter since everyone shoots at everyone anyway), the system succeeds half way at least.

Let me try to categorize the issues with wardecs:

  1.  The misconception of some players that high sec = total sec and that it allows a carefree PvE environment.  This is false today and should be false tomorrow.  EVE is at its very core a PvP game with periods and regions in which PvP can be mostly avoided.  Old EVE players think they invented PvP, especially zero-sum fights and that new players simply are too soft.  Thats total nonsense, chess is a tad older than EVE and a lot more popular and it is about as zero-sum as games goes.  But no chess player expects to play cooperatively.  The expectation is that a fight will happen, in EVE, that expectation needs to be tempered, not the fight removed.  There are many ways this can be addressed ranging from better tutorial content (yes, make kitten fights in starter system a feature), re-design of the dueling system, mission content (receive a mission that allows you to hunt someone with a corresponding mission, like an Agent-brokered duel), vastly increase insurance payouts for Wardec losses or lower the premium (or have the wardeccing party pay the premiums..), connect specific missions into the Faction War system allowing players to get a taste for FW but duck in / out.  Basically, change player’s perception of PvP, reduce the hesitation to engage and shoot, awaken the hunter that lurks in everyone.
  2. The second issue is that the aggressor in the wardec has absolutely nothing to lose. Wardeccing corporations tend to sit on the undock in tradehubs and wait for players to approach and do something mindless.  If their target fights back, the aggressor logs in more and more “neutral” characters until the target is swamped.  If that doesn’t work, the aggressor warps off, docks up or otherwise removes himself from the fight. Wardecs are not – just like in real life – designed to create fairness.  They are designed to codify an imbalance in power and allow it be actual rather than theoretical.  I personally have never played in such a corp and I honestly have no ideas which nerfs or changes would be acceptable, which ones would simply destroy the system.  No idea, no comments.
  3. Recipients of wardecs have a 24 grace period to prepare for the war.  Many active corporations are under wardec 24/7/365 and hence live under constant war footing.  PvE content, highsec life in general does not allow for that without the use of Alts, Alt corporations, third party hauling services etc.  I.e. tools that are available exclusively to the older and experienced players.  Newer players are – by design of the system – forced out.  In itself and as described above, not a bad thing, newer players should replenish attrition in other EVE regions.  But the path towards that is not taken within a 24h grace period.  It requires more experience, training and engagement from the player and the ultimate home (e.g. nullsec corp). Here, I see most room for feature conversation.  Wardecced corporations could choose to temporarily align themselves with a faction, thus becoming part of a much greater PvP environment, gain the backup and camaraderie of a professional warband but of course in return experience danger outside of the undock ring.  When the wardec is done, they may have gotten a taste for this lifestyle.  Other ideas would involve better recruitment and corporation information tools and systems.  Again, its a rethinking of what wardecs mean in context of a new player, not to specifically mess with one or more features.

Lastly, I am not a great fan of fix-all features and my apologies if I am not enthusiastically promoting “all neutral logi should be flashy red” as the panacea.   EVE players are resourceful and find ways around any nerf or buff.  At the worst, wardec corporations pack up and play Overwatch thus depriving all of EVE of content.  In my view, we need a much more thought-through revision of player-player interaction in empire space.  While there, I would like to suggest a total revision of what lowsec should be, of faction war (still one of the best ideas that CCP had but utterly under-developed) and how system-wide changes can be dynamically implemented (think Incursions, DUST or FW and their effect on payouts for missions, rats etc).   The goal has to be to foster and support all player interaction and yes, wardecs are a vital part of that.




4 responses to “Conflict is life

  1. When a player is taught chess, they learn the piece moves and are then placed into a PvP situation. They do not get a story about the king or queen.

    Reduce the PvE in the tutorial of Eve. I would remove the industry component all together. The basics of Frigates. The game has a more linear ship path now from tieraside. You can learn from a missile frigate, destroyer, cruiser and so on. Part of the lessons would be duels or arenas restricted to newbros. Then direct the player straight into faction warfare. The ones that get through will be ready for anything.

    Increasing the “fighting player” would raise the bar for Eve. Add a lot more risk to casual war-deccers.

    • Yes, agree. I think the PvP component of new player experience is not good. Fighting people, losing ships is an essential part of EVE and should not be traumatic.

      I played in RvB for a while, they had (have?) a totally different attitude. I think in one fight I went through 10 Atrons in under 30 min and everyone laughed. Its not my game style in the end but losing ships and engaging needs to be learned.

      I wonder what the reason is why some players so object to PvP. It cant be ISK, running missions pays enough to feed a T1 frigate habit. It may be the “public” nature of kills and killmails implying shame.

  2. It has to do with a certain mindset and with RL turnover.

    It was a shock when I was first time wardecked, character age ca. 12 days, 4th time logged into the game. My mind was till then strictly focussed on what I learned so far: have a training queue (have a goal) and earn ISK to reach the material side of the goal.
    There went my Thrasher and half of my total wealth. Queue still running, ISK gone. What now? What was that good for?

    A month later, when I first time participated in a public fleet, I was suddenly relaxed: loosing a ship and having fun were two very new goals. Both achievable, both affordable, both fun! Finally.
    Why can such an experience not start in the first week of a new character?

    Much later I learned to have an alt to avoid wardecks in Highsec. For the minimum skills needed to make an acceptable hauler I had to finance an extra training queue (with extra money).
    Flash of insight: If I were CCP I would support wardecks. Really, I would give them blingy ships for free! They assure additional training queues, not all of them financed in-game.
    Is it that, wardecks are good for?


    • Interesting comment and CCP may have the numbers to back up your theory. My “hunch” is that more people stop playing because live in High Sec as a PvE player is not engaging and rewarding.

      Overall, the mission system is incredibly outdated and penalizes for avoiding bad design (low sec missions, missions against a faction), HS exploration is both repetitive and financially not worth it and war decks remove any incentive of forming a PvE-centered community. Oh, yes, industry is so vastly more profitable in Nullsec that high sec industry is for the afk-players only. From CCP’s side, a rich player (rich in ISK and game experience) is a lot more likely to stick around than a poor player. And HS life simply is both low in ISK and high in risk. If anything, CCP is trying to drive people out of highsec by keeping the game experience intolerable.

      So, I don’t think that players necessarily leave because of wardecs but because the overall EVE experience in areas where wardecs play a role is terrible. Smarter players roll alts etc but I think CCP loses a lot of players that way.

      I don’t mind if players want to migrate to bigger and better things and avoid the unpleasantness that HS life can be – but the path should be easier and better laid out.

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