Monday, June 16, 2014

W to the D

"How will you save the world, Sugar?"

"One thing at a time."

It may be that I won't save the world. I'm not in the mood to deny myself the opportunity. War Decs are a topic that come up over and over again. The forums, the blogs, my campaign, my candidacy, in chats, in mails, war decs are a never ending topic.

"War decs are broken, Sugar."

I think war itself is broken, at least by the terms of civilized society. I've pondered in the past that the very term war has a deep, visceral meaning for us. To declare war on another group is more than saying, "Gonna come fight you!" No. You've planted your flag and said that this is war. This thing is war. This is the time when we come to end these things.

I don't think war can be something that isn't broken in the end. It is formed of so many things and then you swirl a game with no ending and no beginning into it.

"We need to fix them, Sugar."

Maybe we just need to fix our approach. Every discussion about fixing war decs starts to impose rules upon them. Once we start imposing rules we are creating a complex situation. It seems to make sense but trying to force people into a mode of game play tends not to work. What does work is encouraging people to follow a particular path.

"But you said there is no carrot nor enough stick to make people do what they don't want to do."

I don't think that trying to force people into behaviors is workable. It is appealing. It seems sensible. But I don't think we will get results. I don't think that means we cannot look to do or create things that change or modify behaviors.

I started the conversation with an idea stolen from Epi at the Eve Meet last Saturday. The question was, "What is an individual player can enter into a war dec as an ally without taking their corporation?" And I liked this. I liked this idea because I could see someone in an environment such as my own breaking off to go and occupy themselves by white knighting. I felt that the weight of the corporation having to enter into the dec as an ally is a hindrance. I do not think that leaving your corporation should be the solution. Our corporation anchors so much of what we do in this game. But, to be able to do more things as an individual would be amazing but not as an individual aggressor. I don't care for the idea of being able to wardec an individual.

But, I don't think that single players will solve everything. I do think allowing people to white knight easier would be very interesting.

But I want a real mercenary system. I think that having one would improve the war dec system and change the bulk (but not all for nothing will ever change all) of high sec war.

"But Sugar, there are mercenaries now."

Yes there is. There are mercenary groups now. There are mercenary groups that are good at being mercenary groups. They are but a handful. And you have to know how to contact them. You have to know how to use outside of the game resources to find these groups, vet these groups, and decide on these groups. It involves a reasonable amount of research and then trust.

It should be a successful player made mechanic. Eve thirsts for war. But, I think that the hurdles that a mercenary corp has to overcome are to large. They need tools for their clients to find them. For them to start small and grow. The people who don't work outside of the client are often the people who need them the most. We need to do more to give those tools to the players who do not know how to look for those tools.

"Oh well. They should engage."

It is funny. We so often talk about freedom of choice while demanding others do what we want them to do. It is no different with this. I can believe whatever I want to about how people should engage, should embrace the greater social concept of Eve, should, should, should, should, should ! But I can should till the end of time. People are not engaging in something that they should be. This is needless complexity.

It means that there is something missing. A piece needed for the rest of the connection to grow. It is no insult to the handful of successful mercenary groups out there, but they are only a handful of successful groups. They should be atop an entire field as the cream of the crop. But instead, they are the only options.

I left a single lined concept on Mike's blog the other day. I said that the expansion and flexibility of the system should happen instead of a rework. This is that idea spurred by my chat. I think that yes, something is broken. But it may not simply be 'war decs' themselves.

Let those who will not or do not wish to do violence pay another to do it. Let those who seek reason for war find it. And let those two things happen, easily and clearly.

15 comments:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly, although I suspect it would require a huge rewrite of both the wardec and corp code, similar to the problems ccp is having with changing pos mechanics.

    One of my formative experiences in eve came from a white knighting his way into my noob mining corp to help us fight off a wardec. We were a prototypical noob corp, a dozen or two players, all less than a year old, with a ceo who was a nice guy but didn't know what he was doing any more than the rest of us. We were too small to attract the attention of groups like marmite, but got ourselves wardecced by a small corp that liked to fly shiney. So whenever we undocked it was loki, proteus, vigi vs t1 fitted moas.

    A corpmate had an RL friend who lived in Syndicate, and he agreed to join our corp for a week or two. He sanity checked our fits, got us on comms, and FC'd our fleet. We wound up having a blast, and crushing the wardeccers. Our greatest victory had us setting a logon trap that killed their navy mega. By the end half the wardeccers had dropped corp, and we camped the rest into station. I had gotten a taste of what eve actually is. After the wardec ended I started solo roaming in gallente lowsec, and a month or two later I had moved on from the mining corp and was living in lowsec full time.

    But the point is we got lucky. We got the help we needed, but this guy had to drop his corp and join ours for it to work. If he didn't know a corpie of ours in real life, it never would have happened. In highsec the game mechanics just don't encourage this kind of interaction between veterans and new players, and any change that makes it easier for people to help each other would be good for the game.

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    1. I think almost anything will require a lot of work. But, when thinking and dreaming and saving the world we don't worry about finances and resources. We just get things done.

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  2. My first proper war came about because a friend of a friend's noob corp was being griefed. The random bittervets I was hanging around with took offence, so we spent a week hunting gankers and their alts.

    Like anon above we got lucky, and our targets were bad at EVE, so we cleaned up nicely. I suspect most people who wardec indie and newbie corps are as well...

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  3. Sugar,

    Upon reading this post I had the uneasy feeling that you might be grasping at too much. Eve’s merely a space pixel game and you are well nigh wrestling with the human condition. Then . . .

    I read the first two comments and noted that both reported harrowing origin stories with “got lucky” escapes. I’m beginning to realize that harrowing origin/got lucky escape stories are woven into the fabric of Eve. This is no surprise. “Rite of Passage” is a long venerated method of struggling with the human condition.

    Eve is hard. It should remain hard. Surmounting difficulty is (often) central to both rite of passage narratives and Eve. Not all will succeed. Universal success reveals faux difficulty - mere theme park. But some should succeed and t’would be better if more managed to.

    It’s a fascinating/harrowing journey you’ve undertaken Sugar. I thank you for publically documenting so much of it.

    DireNecessity

    Post Script – Now a touch of criticism . . .
    Corporations are not families. They don’t have to love you no matter what and you don’t have to love them no matter what. Accordingly, if a particular player wants to partake in something outside a corporation’s primary purpose (say White Knighting) there’s no harm in expecting them to drop corp. It’s not a one way trip. If you leave on good terms you’ll be welcome back when the dalliance fades. It’s unreasonable to accumulate all the advantages of declaring allegiance to a corp and then chafe at the limitations such allegiance imposes.

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    1. Eve is hard. Trying to give people methods to reach out is not something that takes away hard.

      I refuse not to think about things. Going "oh its fine and it's how it always has been" will only get people blind sided by a decision to change made from everything they ignored.

      And my corp is my family in game dire. Criticize to your hearts content but do not think that you will move me in that battle. If you have read anything I have written you should understand that my passion for the game is firmly rooted in those around me.

      People will make decisions based on their ticker every day. A corporation is more than an individual and it's needs will be different from an individuals needs.

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    2. More to the point, there's nothing hard about luck. If you have some bittervet friends who can help you curbstomp some griefer, then it's not hard. If you don't, welp.

      If it were merely hard, that would be a major upgrade. As it is, it comes down to whether you know someone more experienced in game who can FC competently.

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    3. Sugar,

      Let’s not talk past one another. “Eve is hard. Trying to give people methods to reach out is not something that takes away hard.” I whole heartedly agree and wish to again emphasize that it’s a great pleasure to observe and engage with you on the struggle to support both at the same time. In all honesty, when I started to assemble my comment I’d planned to end with a “Yes, we really should be helping the noobs get lucky” flourish but I feared the sexual reference would appear too flippant. Perhaps caution has failed me.

      Alas, however, not all things are amenable to both/and approaches. On to my post script . . .

      Again let’s not talk past one another. “People will make decisions based on their ticker every day.” Exactly my point. For decisions to be meaningful they must offer benefits *and* impose costs. If doing X doesn’t simultaneously inhibit doing Y there’s no intriguing decision to be made. My point regarding corp allegiance grows out of this observation. Hoping to 1) declare public allegiance to particular in game group and then 2) asking CCP to loosen the restrictions that public decision creates (like the ability to White Knight in other’s wars without it affecting the corp you’re a member of) waters down a crucial either/or game decision. Note that this has absolutely nothing to do with genuine loyalty. A ticker is just a ticker and need not, in fact, must not be the only genuine measure of loyalty and friendship or what’s a scout for?

      Perhaps a concrete example will help. Does White Knighting in other’s wars still allow you to receive RR from your corpmates without them going suspect? If it does then you’re not really individually White Knighting. No you’ve brought your entire corp along with you in particularly crafty fashion. If RRing an in corp White Knight generates a suspect flag then, again, White Knighting brings your entire corp along for the ride in a very particular way. No doubt other such examples lurk in the underbrush.

      I see no good reason to introduce such a rat’s nest of obscure complexity when one already has the option to drop corp knowing full well that genuine loyalties haven’t shifted one iota.

      DireNecessity

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    4. I absoutly disagree with you, Dire on the aspects of dropping corp.

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    5. Dire, I have to say my initial take on Sugar's idea was "that's too hard". But I thought about it and I do think that adding the ability to join wars would be, well, great fun. It's something I can see doing myself. And I think it would be generally favorable for newbs, which is a plus. It would be worth some work.

      I do agree w/ Sugar about about dropping corp to join a war... I don't want to do that. I like my corp. I like my guys. Socially speaking, although I think it would be fun to get in on a war, at the same time I don't want to be out of my corp. Also, the corp gives a bundle of benefits such that dropping corp is inconvenient. I.e., my being in my corp allows me access to anchorables at my POS, the roles to run the POS, etc. It gives me low taxes at my POCOs. And when I rejoined, I'd have to go back through and reassign all those roles that I don't understand completely. Ugh.

      I do agree it would take work to formalize the rules for individuals joining wars, I don't think it would be impossible or even that hard. And I don't think it would be that hard to understand.

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    6. I wrote up my ideas on how CCP would do it, if they did.

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    7. Von Keigai,

      I’ve cut and paste my comment to your blog below (go take a look/see at his post fellow readers, its good stuff). First, however, a general comment that I appreciate your blogging/commenting style. When somebody tosses up an idea for public scrutiny I presume they want the idea scrutinized and I’ve been known to scrutinize with zeal. You’re style recognizes that a community endeavor is afoot and, though things may get testy, we’re all on the same path exploring the same worthy goals. On to the cut and paste . . .

      >>><<<

      Von Keigai,

      I had two primary concerns with Sugar’s Individual Mercenary idea.
      My primary concern derived out of the mechanic enabling a player to join a corporation with, for lack of a better set of words, “light status”. Individual Mercenaries would be “light” members in the sense that they’d joined a corporation but then chosen not to accept the limitations (like individual control to dabble in others wars) joining a corporation imposes. Your particular instantiation of the idea greatly reduces this concern since the decision to allow light members is decided at the corp level not the individual level.

      My secondary concern was difficulty of implementation which greatly affects whether resources will be directed towards something. We could argue whether 7 goals and 18 specific rules is too resource intensive to be worth the bother but that’s connected to how popular the mechanic would be which I have no way to measure.

      As is my style, whenever I examine a mechanic I look for devious ways to use/exploit/bust it to my devious benefit. One curious aspect of your proposal is the ability to set up well nigh impregnable “secret societies” backed up by huge corporations within massive alliances. A player sets up a front corporation, dozens of players from different corporations (many within large alliances) affiliate with that front corporation. Front corporation declares war. Victim faces an astoundingly difficult retaliation situation since declaring war back at the affiliate members means declaring war on dozens of corporations (many members of large alliances). Being a devious player, I actually kind of like this feature but point out that it’s not very white knighty.

      DireNecessity

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  4. War in highsec is not war as we know it today. It is war as was (mostly) practiced prior to the Great War, that is, the combatants fight, one loses, a couple provinces are exchanged, both sides go home, nothing major really happened.

    War in nulsec is (or should be) the warfare we are all accustomed to reading about in our history books.

    In real fact, the wardec system is more a way of issuing a bulk letter of marque than it is declaring war. Is it broken, though? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on one's perspective, I guess. If there is a problem it is with the vets declaring war on the newbies, as most new players don't know how to respond.

    The more I think about it, the more I begin to think the wardec system is not really broken. Rather, it's how players respond to it that's broken. Instead of going out to fight the enemy, players stay docked. Huge alliances run scared from 6 people because "it's not worth their time" to sweep the pipes/trade hubs. The indy types dock up and log for a week instead of taking the risk of mining and watching local. None of that is CCP's problem, that's players being lazy.

    And before the knives come out, yes, I was wardecced as a newb. A 1-man corp had us all running scared and it took 6 of the seven days to convince the rest of the corp that we just needed to group up and go hunt this guy. So I do have some direct experience with being new and under wardec.

    As for mercenary corps, the reason there are only a few is because, well, the few we have aren't mercs so much as privateers, and privateers, by their very nature, don't do war. Rather, they are pirates with an unofficially-official stamp of approval. Maybe the new POS status changes will help to change that and give the 'merc' corps more to do than act as privateers camping hubs and trade routes.

    It would be very nice, though, if there was an in-game mechanic for rating these groups, so potential employers would be able to see just what other customers thought.

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    1. Aye, I just believe that people would try it out and many would find what they wanted here.

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  5. I think any revamp of wars in Eve needs to throw away from the idea of forcing people to be in wars. That just does not work. People will drop corp. If you can war dec a person in a NPC corp, or people can't drop corp. Then people drop out of Eve. What needs to happen is to 1st focus on making wars fun, and rewarding. Right now as a defender I have no incentive to fight. I'm going to lose isk. I'm going to be bored. I'm going to be annoyed. Send me a war dec I'm not going to fight you. I'm going to head out to LS or a wormhole because at least there pvp is fun.

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    1. I don't think that scraping the mechanic is in the books. So, some type of productive approach must(?) be found.

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