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Making It Count

by on January 18, 2013

(some of my formatting was lost and there are some excessively long paragraphs in this article. As soon as I figure out why what I see isn’t what I get, I’ll fix it)

Highsec warfare is my favorite part of Eve. When it works properly, it’s amazing. There’s a lot more finesse to fighting in highsec: you can’t simply roll from system to system, smashing everything smaller than you and avoiding the bigger stuff. You have designated targets, and they have a clear picture of who is trying to kill them. It’s about wits, preparation, and having a solid understanding of game mechanics.

That said, I think most of us can agree that highsec warfare is quite broken. As I want to make it clear that I’m not some highsec wardec griefer type complaining that I don’t get to gank enough careless miners, I want to approach this from the perspective of looking at the purpose of war, corporations, alliances, and how I’ve interpreted CCP’s vision for the game based on current mechanics. (Fair warning: this will be a bit of a flow of consciousness piece, so if I ramble just bear with me.)

First off, let’s “define” a few things:

Corporations in Eve aren’t like corporations in our world. They’re more like a sovereign state: the members work toward a collective good while paying taxes to the corp so that its expenses can be met and community assets such as POCOs and POS can be supported. You aren’t hired and paid a salary to perform a service for a corporation, you become a “citizen” of that corp and pay taxes into it for the privileges that come from membership.

Likewise, an alliance is intended to be about mutual benefit. Mutual profit, defense, conquest, whatever. It’s a very serious and binding agreement between parties, and something to which I would hold my allies accountable.

War is conflict for the purpose of gaining, maintaining, or denying control or access to something. Wars are fought for a lot of reasons, but ultimately it comes down to one guy wanting something the other guy has, and the other guy not wanting to give it up.

With that set out, let’s look at the current state of warfare in Eve. Let’s say Corp A has  a major mining operation that clears out the belts across four systems on a daily basis. They want to expand to add a fifth consecutive system, but there’s a sizable mining corporation (Corp B) already operating there. Corp A declares war or hires mercenaries to declare war with the intent of pushing Corp B out of the desired system.

Now the expectation would be for there to be one or two major fights, resulting in one corp or the other deciding to abandon the system. They would find it less damaging to simply go elsewhere to mine, even if it were inconvenient to pack up their assets and make the move. The reality, though, is completely different: Corp A starts a war, Corp B’s miners all drop from the corporation, and they continue to mine like nothing happened. War for the purpose of controlling territory in highsec is simply impossible under the current mechanics.

At the alliance level, it’s not much better. Whole corporations empty out, leaving behind others to bear the force of the war. What good is an alliance when your allies suddenly lose 90% of their membership?

So how do we make war count? I have some ideas (of course).

  1. Make corp ownership non-trivial. A few possible options:
    – Raise the cost of creating a corporation to reflect the rising price of everything else.
    – Raise the skill requirement for corp creation so that it requires several weeks of dedicated training.
    – Rather than having a CEO skill requirement for supporting x members, require additional “staff” (directors)
    – Require certain skills for both director and CEO roles. This would mean that if a CEO quit a corp and there was no suitably-skill replacement, the corp could collapse.
    Goal: to prevent the rampant creation of new corporations whenever someone gets the whim.
  2. Make corp membership meaningful. Right now, corp membership really means a few things: variable taxes, shared private chat, and (with roles) access to corp hangars and POS facilities. I can manage all of that without being part of a larger corp. CCP needs to create tangible benefits for long-term corp membership and cooperation. Added bonuses for being boosted by a member of your own corp in fleet.Goal: to discourage people from dropping corp, and encourage cooperative work. This is an MMO, it should be about doing things with people, not chatting as you each do your own thing.
  3. Make NPC corps hard to live in. This is an old goal of mine, to pressure players into corporations by making NPC corps undesirable.
    – Add an RP element by regularly shifting NPC corp standings with other corps and empires, resulting in players losing access to high-level agents and station docking privileges. This should drive even haulers out of NPC corps when they can’t deliver their goods to Jita 4/4 because Perkone and Caldari Navy are quarreling over mineral rights.
    – Steadily raise the price of staying in an NPC corp, so that those who stay in for six months or more pay 50% taxes.Goal: To compel players to get out from under the safety of the NPC corp and join player corps where they are viable targets, but also gain the advantages I talked about in #2.
  4. Give corporations something to defend. We’ve been batting around the idea of a “Corporate Office” on TeamSpeak for some time now. The basic concept is to add some sort of structure that is required for corporate ownership and provides local perks based on its configuration (industrial, combat, et cetera). As it is expanded to accommodate a larger corporation, it would gain additional defense so that a large corporate office would require a substantial effort to destroy. In order to prevent them becoming virtually impervious in highsec, corp offices located in highsec would be limited to a certain size, thus limiting corporation size and the local boosting capabilities of the office.This would also become a driver for conflict, as corporate offices in prime locations would be targets for removal so that other corporations could take over the location. As for the mechanics of how these offices would be set up, I’ll leave that to CCP. I’d kind of like to see them replace the highsec POS entirely, leaving corps wanting more space to expand into low/null/w-space if they want to grow more…but that’s for the eggheads to sort out.Psychotic Monk asked me the question after reading a draft of this: Where would we put our office and what would it do for us? I don’t have an easy answer to that, other than to say that a) this is just an idea I’m throwing out as part of a larger concept, and b) we don’t fit the mold of the typical corp. It may be that the requirement for a corp office will fundamentally change the way wardec corps fight. Or it might not affect us at all. But I’m not going to toss this idea out because it doesn’t benefit us or because it inconveniences us. I want to make wars meaningful all around, not easier for guys like me.

In all, the idea is to get people out of NPC corps and into player corps that they will be committed to defending. People should feel invested in the corp they join and they should want to defend it from aggressors because it’s to their benefit. This isn’t just about getting my wartargets to fight; it’s about getting people to be a part of a larger community. What I’m proposing here is at best a draft. This is spit-balling of the highest order, tossing out ideas both to see if they stick, and to see if they inspire better concepts in others. What I want every reader to realize, though, is just how insignificant corp ownership and membership are under the current mechanics.

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4 Comments
  1. Dusty permalink

    Excellent

  2. ilaister permalink

    Wholly support, even from Anoikis.

  3. Bishops Guest permalink

    Corp is a lot more meaningful outside of highsec already and a lot of your proposed changes would mess with other parts of the game. The biggest thing for me (a wormhole dweller) is the added corp intel. Status tells me a lot, We mark people as “Threat,” (grey) “Lives in w-space” (or) and “Threat in w-space” (red) meaning the quick glimpses we get of tags before someone cloaks can tell us a lot. It also defines who I should and should not shoot.
    (Also corp bookmarks. I still have random stations filled with bookmarks from when we had to contract them to each other.)

    First, I do agree, war decs are really meaningless. Highsec corps just drop members then go on as normal. Nullsecers and w-spacers just use alts, or get a friend with an alt to do it. A mild inconvenience, but not too bad. I just don’t think this is the way to make them meaningful. It would mess with too many core mechanics that I think are already reasonably balanced.

    I think before talking about war though, we need to talk about high sec. What do you think high-sec should be?

    To me highsec is the shallow end of the eve online pool. I just shop there and go off to more interesting parts of space. I just have to remember not to lock and shoot every non-blue ship I see. I would not mind if it was a little more interesting, but I really do not understand the long time highsec bears because there is nothing attractive to do in highsec besides the broken wars.

    I do like the idea of corp offices or some sort of defendable corp structure that is not one of the current POSes. It helps give corps baby steps into owning and controling space in low, null and w as well as giving meaningful targets in highsec.

    I also would not mind individual wars so players who leave corp are still targets, but can surrender on their own.

  4. Sogol permalink

    I have read and enjoyed the site as a whole. This thread may be too old for responses.

    While you encourage identification with a corp, you yourselves are not doing this. It is required for your narrative that someone be doing it, but you are not. Where is the corp you are invested in protecting? If it existed I am sure you have made many friends who would like to know about it.

    Your play instead seems to seek to reveal the artificiality of such investment, at a variety of levels including, but not limited to the corp. You seem to be ‘invested’ at the level of community and ‘the life’, but this for you transcends corp identification. If you were forced to stay in one corp with which you were structurally invested in order to play, it would destroy much of your narrative. Equally, if no one else were invested in any way it would destroy your narrative, though perhaps allowing another in which you found equal satisfaction.

    One possible criticism of your reforms is that they merely create a playing field, in which you yourselves do not actively participate at the level suggested, but from which you benefit. Essentially you are calling for a system that creates more potential targets for you, while you remain invisible. And why not?

    I might add several things. Make it impossible to rapidly switch corps either leaving or joining. Someone can be stripped of all rights or actions with respect to the corp, but cannot join or create a new corp for a some meaningful period of time. Their is always an imposed bureaucratically dreary waiting period associate with any move, in which you are in a corp, but have no ability to interact with any aspect of that corp. The other component that is inconsistent is the ability to rapidly spam alts, with regard to which you have no identification or investment. There are several ways to work with this, many a bit draconian and invasive to player. Instead bring certain qualities of criminality and espionage more formally into the game. I recognize this could seem particularly un-fun to you, but it does address the inconsistency. For instance create various espionage skill trees that require significant, even ongoing investment that allow you to temporarily create cover identities and such. Counter espionage trees would also exist.

    Not great really, but gets at the inconsistency of your proposal.

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