Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fractional warfare

You know what could have been an awesome PvP expansion?  Incursion.  That could have been an awesome PvP expansion.

In September 2011, my KOTW was a player named Drake Arson who was selected by CCP to be the first EVE player to be accepted into a pirate faction as a full member.  In this case, the faction in question was the Sansha Nation.  Drake was a Sansha role-player and was going to be deployed as part of the military.  As a going-away-come-back-soon present, CCP presented him with a high-sec super-carrier (sans drones, fighters, or fighter-bombers).  He was then allowed to be part of an Incursion Live Event where he could use that super-carrier to attack players with its three high slots in support of an NPC Sansha fleet that was the basis of the event.

EDIT (11/Dec/2012): I heard from Drake Arson this evening.  He was very complimentary of the reference above and the post in general, but he did have one correction.  Citizen Arson was under dev control, not Drake's control.  It was just a character that was named in his honor, not a character he controlled.  Thanks for the correction, and glad you're back safe, Drake!

At the time, I welcomed this as both an expansion of CCP's infrequent Live Events and an opportunity to get players involved in pirate factions directly (something that the pirate player base has wanted for a long time).  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a blip on both fronts.  One data point does not make a trend and all that.  Neither experiment has been repeated in the year since that time and game development swung in different directions soon after.

But there's nothing saying it can't swing back.

I'm going to have more to say about this tomorrow, but CCP's strategy for the last year or so has been player retention, rather than attracting new players.  It's sorta mostly been working, but CCP's most successful expansions have been the ones that have pushed the envelope a little, not the ones that have been iteration-heavy.  I'm all for iteration.  But it's a diet of bread, water, and vitamin supplements.  It'll keep a person alive for a long while, but it's not particularly nourishing.

Which brings me back to Incursion and how it could have been an awesome PvP expansion.  In this context, the answer is fairly obvious: CCP could have opened up the Sansha faction as a playable option the same way the four Empire factions are open today.  In terms of game mechanics at that time, it wouldn't have meant a whole lot but it would have been interesting for the Sansha role-players.  Maybe the Sansha LP store could have been limited to Sansha faction members, or a few more Sansha items could have been added as Sansha faction LP store exclusives, the same way there are exclusives for faction warfare members.

You know what I can't help noticing, though?  The game mechanics are now in place to support pirate faction play.

Think about it.  The only things that were really missing to make this possible were:
  • the game mechanics to flag players as pirates; and,
  • a way for pirate players to both make ISK and be made valid targets for everyone else, the same way pirate rats are today.
Both of those are now in place.  Join the Guristas and as long as you're a Guristas faction member, your Suspect flag is automatically turned on and stays turned on whenever you're in space.  That might make flying in high-sec slightly problematic, but a lot of pirate players avoid high-sec today due to sec status.  In addition to the always-on Suspect flag, I would see being a pirate faction member as having one big disadvantage and one big advantage.

The big disadvantage: CONCORD would disavow players that were members of pirate factions.  CONCORD wouldn't automatically attack pirate faction players (the same way they ignore pirate rats today), but pirate faction players would no longer receive bounties from CONCORD.  No more ratting for pirate faction players, and no more Incursions for pirate faction players.

The big advantage: the pirate faction the player belonged to would pay players bounties instead.  What would they pay bounties on?  Other capsuleers, of course!  The pirate factions should pay based on the security status of the player killed, with a maximum bounty of 1.5 million ISK or so for killing a player with a 5.0 security status, plus a small amount of pirate faction LP given based on value killed.  In addition, pirate faction players would get a small bonus for killing players that are part of the four Empire factions.  CONCORD would continue to look dimly on attacking other players in high-sec, and the bounties would be small enough that it wouldn't really be worth it there.

But can you imagine the massive buff to low-sec and to null?  Pirate faction players would have to "rat" by shooting other players, and the more "carebeary" the player in question being shot, the more they're worth.  These players would then have an incentive to place bounties on the pirates, and the circle of life and death in New Eden would get a big new loop.

Kinda fun to think about.  And it's not the only proposal I'm writing this week.  I'm just in that sort of mood all of a sudden.  If this one isn't goofy enough for you, come back on Wednesday.  I've got something really off-the-wall to suggest then.

Anything obviously broken in the proposal above?  Discuss.


  1. I'd join the Guristas in a heartbeat.

    Jirai got screwed and Korako were framed! Best out of the 37th!

    Octopus Squadron Forever!

  2. I think I remember hearing this, or something very close to this, in the video of the fanfest discussion regarding Crimewatch 2.0.

    I thought it was a promising idea then, it still is.

  3. Logistics for a pirate would be a PITA.
    "There are some things you can do as a pirate. For everything else, there's alts."

    Would this be sort of like faction war where whole corps and alliances can join a faction? Cuz being in an NPC corp sucks.

  4. I love the idea, but I bet the first thing that would happen is that players would demand a new line of affordable "T1" Sansha ships. That's a lot of asset creation.

    1. The data has shown that players care more for new features than fixes to old ones.

  5. Awesome idea! I've always envisioned joining fictional pirate factions, and maybe fighting against other factions in a nullsec sov style against player alliances and other factions, such as sansha vs angels, guristas vs serpentis, serpentis allied with angels, etc.

  6. Great idea. I'd love to see more distinct benefits and playstyles available for supporting pirate factions beyond just having a largely unused positive standing with them. I think I'd prefer to go Serpentis or Guristas though, Sansha's Nation is a bit too kinky for me.

    In terms of implementation, something similar to the existing factional warfare would be great, perhaps with the option to push back CONCORD and influence the security level of border systems from 0.5 down to 0.4 as the McGuffin for conflict.

    I'd also love to see some more dynamic PvE similar to Incursions but tailored to the factions (Empire as well as pirate). The TALE system behind Sansha incursions is apparently up to the task, but it was the last of the Jesus features so it's not cool any more.

  7. I'd make two changes. One: members of these pirate factions would have access to cheap hulls from those factions at stations only they could access. This would encourage risk while giving them the resources to continually fight . Two: give bonuses to encourage solo roaming. After all, if the point is to encourage fights, solo or small gang pvp will accomplish that more than huge gangs of pirates... the targets would just dock up. But as a null sec resident, I would LOVE this.

  8. Meh. The wannabe play-along sansha roleplayers are a distinct minority that is basically out of touch with the game. They have no idea of how things would actually work out for them. Nor does CCP have any idea how to implement such a thing.

    I disagree that game mechanics already exist to facilitate such a feature. Players IMO appreciate the iteration and bug fixes over the last 3 patches (I no longer call them expansions). CCP has sworn off Jesus Features, but I think they need to commit to a new Jesus Feature at least once every 2 years. I expect occasional Jesus Features ALONG WITH iteration. Teams BFF, Five-O, BFF etc have done a lot of good work cleaning up the cruft that has built up over the years. I appreciate their efforts very, very much. But in the larger scheme of things CCP needs to step up to the plate now and provide some new content. It's way more than :18months: past due. POS changes might be that content, if they go far enough. At this point ring mining will NOT be sufficent to consume and entire 6-month patch cycle. There is NO reason they cannot deliver both in one 2013 patch. Too many personnel devoted to other non-eve-flying-in-space projects is no longer acceptable.

  9. That's actually a scary good idea...

  10. To take your bread/water/vitamin diet analogy a little further, it would taste like a feast to a starving man. But I think those iterations were long overdue in the first place and is as equally, if not moreso, important as shiny new features. CCP's in it for the long haul. It doesn't do them much good to be attracting in as many new players as they're hemmoraghing out older players.

    All that said, the idea you present for pirate faction implementation sounds fucking awesome.

  11. Actually, I think that faction NPCs (like the ones that spawn when your standings are low) would be what pirate characters would farm for PvE. For instance, a Guristas-aligned pirate player could farm Amarr and Caldari navies while being safe in Gallente and Minmatar space (neutral standings)

    Amusingly, the higher the sec status, the larger the navy presence, in inverse to that of NPC pirate rats.

  12. Join a pirate faction to hunt 5.0 sec players in lowsec. Sounds like a modified version of faction warfare, of which there isn't much benefit. Do a lot of positive sec status players roam low-sec to even provide a reasonable target pool given the attraction that being in Sansha's Nation would entice? Assuming there's a penalty being in the pirate faction, pilots have even less incentive to join their ranks. You've mentioned before in your posts: pirates with -10 are content staying out of highsec and those that do venture in easily conduct their business. Offering a measly 1.5mil isk and a small LP reward seems like a forced pvp function in the game.

  13. I like the idea but why not take it all the way Mabrick (the guy who mumbles) said it best http://mabricksmumblings.blogspot.ca/2012/01/what-carebears-need-isnt-protection-but.html

  14. You're really onto something here, especially in terms of revitalizing low-sec and null life, and the effects that would have for player retention.

    CCP should put you on the payroll for this gem of an idea. I can see the simple-minded ones getting lazy and thinking this is too much work for them to bother on; balancing it and all. But extending the RP aspects of Eve beyond high-sec will hopefully be enough to motivate them.

  15. "Anything obviously broken in the proposal above? Discuss. "

    Well the main 'broken' thing of course: rats don't appear in niether local nor D-Scan

  16. I seriously hope that CCP has plans for a new Incursion content in the near future... CCP Unifex's reliance on cheap Jewish 'emergent' game play is laughable when you look at the server spike right after Incursions versus Incarna or the iterations: http://eve-offline.net/?server=tranquility I hope he got promoted to the level of Incompetance where he no longer has a say about the next few expansions of Eve & concentrates of Dust

  17. This was supposed to be one of those big dream things when Faction Warfare originally went into play. CCP coded faction warfare with N+1 as a possibility so corps could affiliate themselves with pirates, get in on the fun of sacking lowsec systems, carve out little pirate haven kingdoms for themselves, and live off the rents the way FW people do.

    I like your idea of getting bounties off players. But I also like the original idea of pirates being able to hold lowsec space. So I kinda wanna combine the two. Let corps affiliate themselves with pirates and allow pirates to join FW, but remove plexing from their money loop. Instead move all money over to player bounties like you said along with the downside.

    I do have a caveat though. I don't particularly want to see a Gurista player roaming the other side of Serpentis's area of operation. I'd kinda like to keep the idea of each pirate faction having their own little sphere of influence. So with that in mind... while a player can kill anyone anywhere and receive a small bounty, they earn a bonus for working inside the regions their pirate faction works in.

    That's still a huge area they can roam, with Highsec, Lowsec and Nullsec systems for each of the pirate factions. But it keeps the regions looking like themselves. If you're flying in space mostly populated by Blood Raider NPC Pirates, you're also mostly going to see Blood Raider Player Pirates.

  18. I likepretty much all of this, exept that the pirats would be able to attack people in high-sec without CONCORD intervention (that is how I understood you). I think that sort of defeats the purpose of High security areas.

    1. No, CONCORD would still attack pirate faction players that attacked other players in high-sec. They just wouldn't automatically attack pirate faction players when they entered high-sec but did nothing else wrong. Unless they were outlaws (-5 security status) in which case the current rules would apply.

      So pirates could come into high-sec; the only thing that might stop them would be their Suspect flags.

    2. Neither Suspect flag nor Outlaw status gets you Concorded. Criminal flag does. Suspect/Outlaw gets you attacked by the police, which is a lot less bad (fast ships can easily gtfo before the police BS shows up and gets nasty (first frig arrives and webs you into warp :-), then cruiser arrives but is tankable and point can be stabbed, but BS will kill you no matter what)).

  19. Neat idea!

    If only I could +1 this... :P

  20. "But can you imagine the massive buff to low-sec and to null"

    In all seriousness, no I can't. I'm a low-sec dweller and I can't see how this would change the area at all.

    I don't believe it would bring other players to low-sec as the rewards you mentioned are pitiful and you've just removed lucrative missioning / ratting to anyone who may be enticed into joining the pirate faction. Anyone risk adverse (90%? of those who aren't already in low / null ?) would run a mile from a permanent suspect flag.

    The only people I see this potentially appealing to are a specific type of role player (pretty low number of players I'd assume?) or people who already engage in this sort of activity (so no change there). So this begs me to ask...

    Where is the "massive buff to low-sec and to null"?
    Who will take this up other than the small number of potentials I've already mentioned? What new game play will this create given this activity already exists?

    I'm not trolling, just trying to understand why people see this idea as being a fantastic thing for low / null sec. Would love some responses as I feel like I'm missing something important here.

  21. Great idea, Jester. My only concerns would be the "gaming" of the system as far as the pirate faction ships are concerned. You know damn well that everyone and their brother will then have a pirate faction alt that supplies their mains with Sansha/Gurista/whatever ships from their respective LP stores. Same with pirate implants...

    In your proposed idea, would they fly in "regular" ships or have immediate access to the pirate faction stuffs?

  22. Confirming I would join the Angel Cartel without a second thought.

  23. Bounty Hunting revitalized the pirate vs hunter mechanics

    You need however some sort of PvE content for the pirate loyalists, to me a cool idea would some sort of small scale CONCORD incursion into nullsec, with LP gained for the pirate faction owning that space.

    However the true gem for me, would be to do "smuggling and illegal activities" on behalf of the pirate faction. On that front you have plenty of player vs player activities.

  24. Holy... fucking... shit. This is awesome.

  25. One of the biggest risks of implementing NPC funded rewards for killing other players, is that players will totally game/exploit the system. Most of us long time players have multiple accounts and multiple characters on each account. As we have already seen, people will manipulate these to try and maximize the rewards they get from NPC's. Since players can potentially control both sides of the fight and the NPC rewards are limitless (unlike player made bounties which have a set limit) it can easily become a manipulated fountain of wealth. Yes, checks and safeties can be put in place - but you have to find all the holes that we will use while keeping the system interesting/worth doing. What seems to have worked better over time is providing a "thing"/resource that everyone wants so badly that they go kill each other over it and then providing mechanics that make the fight over those resources interesting (i.e. not the current Sov mechanics).

    Next, with the faction specific stuff. Since Eve has a player run econ and no export/transfer restrictions, anything particularly useful given to Pirate faction members would quickly enter the general market and be sold to everyone - if rare enough just the wealthy. It would just become a different mechanism to get useful pirate goods. That has always undermined the "faction" nature of Eve - many can fly any race/faction and we just use whichever ship is most effective, regardless of faction. If you can incentivize the right kind of behavior, this might be better than having people run faction missions to get the LP to get that stuff. However, if the main mechanism is killing other players we get back to problem #1.

    Scout, tackle, warp-in point, suicide agress, die.
    your humble Interceptor pilot

  26. Maybe you aren't that far from the future.

    If you take a look at the eve-o new site in the world news part some escalations with serpentis capsuliers are reported.
    Don't know if you follow that stuff but that might indicate that something is going on in that direction.

    And if I understand that right the first event was somewhere at the 8th of December. If your article is based on speculations about that, it would be nice to hear.

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure that there is nice stuff ahead of us in the new year.


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