Friday, July 4, 2014

Rambling: Why Alliances?

TL;DR: I meander in a dozen directions without saying anything useful.

When I wrote about the recent tweets by CCP Bugartist  reference the EULA when it comes to account sharing a few people commented that items such as Titans should become corporate or alliance assets. That they should be shareable and this would eliminate all of the people who break the rules to share this expensive but useful asset.

I don't agree with that. I just want to make it clear. I very much respect the time, energy, effort, expense, and upkeep of super capital ships. I'd like it to stay that way. A Titan for every corporation is not a campaign promise you will have found me to have made. However, this isn't about that. It is somewhat related and started when it was suggested that alliance assets were something that should be supported up to the level of sharing an account for a Titan.

Why are so many things tied to alliances?


It started with ship replacement. There are a few types of ship replacement. There is ship replacement that a lot of people dangle like a cherry. It is the ship replacement I happen to dislike. What happens is the corporation is in some way taxed on its goods. Be that tax corporation tax, fees, loot tax, membership dues, donated assets, time spent mining into the corporation mining hauler or whatever. Then this money is taken and used to pay people for losing their ships. It is a savings plan forced on you and you are supposed to be thankful when you get paid your own money for ships you lost and you only hope that you qualify to get that money. I don't like that one.

But then there is alliance ship replacement. It is when the alliance has assets that make ISK. Normally these assets are things like moons. Or corporations pay membership dues. The alliance takes this money and uses it to supply its members. Fuel, ships, ammo, skill books etc. The goal is to allow the player snot to have to do things like mine, PvE, or whatever money making they need to do to pay for their ships that they are going to lose on alliance operations. It also has the secondary effect of causing people to be able to log in and get content without doing things they may not want to do. I am weird in that I enjoy the process of earning and losing my ships.

My mind was wandering further afield and I wanted to know, "Why does an alliance have to control sov? Why can't it be a corporation?" This is probably the result of reading so many development blogs over the last months for my history series. CCP creates sov and alliances and sov has always been tied to alliances instead of corporations. I realized, I didn't know why. I had not figured any reason why other then trying to create a reason to tie groups together. Once tied together we created the need for alliance assets and ship replacement programs.

In bizarro world, Calamitous-Intent [7-2] decides to take sov. We have already decided we will go and take 7-2Z93. Because we have lost our minds this makes sense. But, to take that system we will have to be Feign Disorder [FEIGN]. That means we create a shell corporation, make ourselves an alliance and do the exact same thing we would do. If one ignores the current state of the meta and null sec which I am because this is bizarro world, what differences does it make from being 7-2 to FEIGN beyond some ISK? Was it just a barrier of entry that CCP created or was it an effort at social engineering that the game may have outgrown. There were not as many people in Eve when alliances were created. There was not the game that there is now.

I may be reacting to the fact that my corporation and many low sec corporations have shell alliances.  It is because we have to not because we want to. I don't think that's engaging game play. Are we our corporations or our alliances? Does it matter? As someone who harbors a lot of corporation loyalty, yes. Therefore it may just be me and I may make absolutely no sense because I am to consumed with my fierce independence. I also don't know that it would add anything but I somewhat feel that it may on a smaller scale. And I may simply not be serious business enough. I have this concept of liking my corporation and wanting to be a part of it and that expands to the alliance level.

It is not that I do not believe in alliances. Better ways for players to work together are good. But, would corporations really work under the alliance mantle where they hand over so much to the alliance executor corporation? Should not the corporations instead have better and improved ways to work together and with each other and support each other? In this future that is coming where we want null sec to farm its own materials and live in its own space alliances should not be the corporation but the corporations should be the corporations.

There is a lot of discussion about alliance level taxes for instance to do alliance level things and on one hand I understand that when alliance shave goals. On the other I wonder if that type of movement devalues the individuality of the corporation and because corporations cannot control things but alliances do we've handed over their strength and responsibilities completely instead of just towards alliance goals.

My wandering leads me to thinking that currently, alliances and corporations are too close to each other. People want to stay with their alliance not their corporation. People know alliances and not corporation members. And, when thinking about redoing corporations it seems sensible to think about their actual place in the game and their integration with alliances.

And! End ramble.

20 comments:

  1. Corporations need to own Titans because right now they are character coffins. You either train into one then shortly later, or you train up/buy an alt.

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    1. Okay? This is a choice that each pilot makes when they decide to get this asset. Which goes back to the heavy maintenance of an item like this. Why does it mean it needs to be an alliance asset that anyone can log into and use at any moment? Is not part of the limiting factor of the ship that it is piloted by a single individual?

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    2. Maybe. But why not leave the choice up to the player? Why not make ships donate-able to a corporation, who can choose which pilots have access to shared ships (maybe through an interface)? This would make a lot of sense for supers, since then they could be left in space, and then in an emergency piloted by whoever is available at the time (and on the access list) instead of having to have someone logged in 23 hours a day, who may or may not be available. While less common, this could be done for any ship class.
      *This idea is not an intentional nerf to corp theft, it just means that you will have to prove yourself first to whoever gives access to those ships. And in response to those that would say that any ships needs to be open to stealing when no one's in them, I ask, who would build such advanced ships as the ones in Eve, and yet forget to make something akin to a key? Even we primitives in RL came up with that for our cars.

      Sjaandi

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    3. Why not just allow titans and supers to dock or be stuffed into an array. Once that is done they can be shared or not in the same way as any other ship using corp hangars and permissions. The coffin nature is not engaging game play. Are there any fun, useful or engaging consequences of that, if there are I can't think of any. As it is this same behavior that the mechanic seems to prevent is happening via account sharing.

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    4. I do think the coffin is not engaging.

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    5. This conversation is weird. I live in WH space. We have no need for Titan pilots. I would like corporate characters who can a) have Starbase Defense V, fly every carrier and dreadnought and c) have PI up to V. They must be corp assets! CSM! Make it happen!

      No, I am not serious. But every pilot knows why they are training and what the consequences are. Train for a Titan -> be entombed. Don't like it? Don't train for one.

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  2. Interesting points! It somewhat lacks coherence, but I can see where you are coming from. Maybe if you develop some of your ideas into more fully formed posts, it will help you state it more clearly and give others a more thorough way to see your point of view (plus provide ideas for new posts!). Maybe start by defining what corporation means to you, and then expand on that to what an Alliance should be, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the definition and possible implications on gameplay/roleplay. Then go into what a corporation, and alliance should and should not provide/receive from their members, and what their main purpose is.

    Just my thoughts,
    Sjaandi

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    1. Rambles ate not ment to be the most coherent of posts. ;)

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  3. Forgive my rambling here, this is just a subject near and dear to my heart and one argued over in my own corp for many years.

    After three+ years of being in the ceo chair of several corps (high/null/low), I find that Corps really are just extensions of ourselves. Alliances on the other hand, I've moved in and out of frequently as they do not reflect my values but are an extension of the values of those who created/maintained them. Or are just marriages of convenience (Renting alliances). Even the alliance I created (Easily Distracted.) was an attempt to bring my value set to a larger audience and work with those of like mind.

    Overall, I wish corporations had the capability to be modified into whatever form the ceo desires. The roles either don't give enough power or give too much. The number of tabs (both storage and wallet) are never enough and there's no way to tell it to use a person's personal wallet if you don't want to give them a wallet. All in all, it has always felt like the corp roles system was created by someone who didn't understand the need for security or the need for corp members to be protected from each other... or that some CEO's would really like to re-organize them as democracies and such. For instance, where's the switch to enable Concord protection between corp members in highsec? As corps gain assets, they also stand to lose more to Awoxers. Or is the best way to have this protection be to create an alliance and put each of the members in their own corps so they can't shoot each other with impunity? (And kick in the 2m a month to pay their part of the alliance bill?) Such an alliance would allow each individual to basically run his own show, but would be so disorganized as to be a nightmare if anyone wanted to share anything between members....

    Overall, I think corps should be as secure as they want to be, or as sharing as they want to be. Without needing to resort to twisting the system and making things difficult.

    P.S. Sov is held by corps, but they have to be in an alliance. I think it was done that way to have a barrier of entry and so inactive alliances couldn't hold sov forever (Costs would eventually cause them to shut down, even if it is only 2m/month+sov bills, and the occasional wallet auto-pay fail) Also, by having the corp be in an alliance, they have to play nice with their alliance, so I guess there's also a social engineering principal at work here.

    - Serinas Setzuni

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  4. It is, indeed, a long ramble Sugar. One thing you appear to be exploring is the ongoing tension between fierce loyalty and fierce independence. In this post the tension is examined at a corporation vis-à-vis alliance level. A few weeks back you explored something similar at the individual vis-à-vis corporation level (The Corporate Individual [taxation] & W to the D [individual mercenary work]). It’s a rich theme worthy of multiple mediations.

    One thing I would add is that it’s often unclear where loyalties lie (and thus when those loyalties will trump independence) until said loyalties are tested. If you’ll forgive a real life example . . .

    I happen to live in the United States and when traveling about the country I’ve noted a complex independence/loyalty relationship in a state called Texas. Unlike some other areas of the US, I suspect a lot of Texans consider themselves Texans first and US citizens second but, curiously, that identity can shift overnight when put to the test . . . When the US was irrevocably drawn into World War II via Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor I don’t suspect many Texans thought, “What’s this to me? I’m Texan, not Hawaiian. What care I if Hawaii gets bombed?” No, I’m confident most Texans thought, “My Pacific harbor just got bombed. This means war.”

    Similar things can and do happen in game. I suspect that if someone declared war on The Cougar Store most members of Calamitous-Intent would take the assault personally. Accordingly, when put to the test, Calamitous-Intent suddenly starts looking less like a fiercely independent corporation and more like a loyal member of Feign Disorder.

    So, with the conceptual tool in place, we can examine one of your closing sentences, “My wandering leads me to thinking that currently, alliances and corporations are too close to each other.” Could it be any other way? Whatever the mechanics that link the entities, if loyalties link as well, they are, in many instances, one body.

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  5. I've always wondered why we need alliances to do certain game mechanic things, too.

    Sugar makes a good point about forming shell alliances just to do what a single corp would do. Alliances came about IIRC, because CCP saw emergent gameplay where corporations were more or less perma blueing other corps in their area and working closely with each other. There's definitely an advantage in forming an alliance with another corporation; it formalizes a mutual support relationship, much like the difference between being two people being married as opposed to being in a common law relationship.

    But what if, like Sugar's corp in her example, my corp doesn't want to form an alliance and just wants to take sov? What if we're as big as Brave Newbies? Why should we have to form an alliance with a shell executor corp just to do what we can do alone?

    We definitely should be able to form alliances if we wish to, but should we be forced to? Then again, we force players into corps if they want to do certain things, so if we force players to form their own 1-man corp in order to put up their own POS, why not force corps to form their own shell alliance to claim sov?

    EvE is an MMO, of course, and by structuring certain mechanics to force players to group up, the multiplayer bit gets a boost, so I can see a design argument for forcing formation of corps and alliances for certain activities. I do think we need to re-evaluate those tipping points, though. POSes aren't POSes, they're COSes, POCOs aren't POCOs, they're COCOs, etc. It wouldn't hurt for us to rethink corps and alliances and why and when they're required.

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    1. I like your POS example (the others were good too). I would love to put up my own POS, and still be able to be a part of my corporation (without having to give certain access to everyone, or be afforded that access to everyone else).

      Sjaandi

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  6. This is indeed an interesting topic.
    I feel compelled to share a personal experience that I encountered when I transitioned into a GSF corporation from a member alliance's corporation where I had previously lived. In the member alliance's corporation it was all about the corp and loyalty to the corp [and its CEO] I would describe the situation as more akin to how I believe that you feel about 7-2. We were a relatively close group of internet-spaceship-friends and enjoyed doing things together. There was this unspoken sentiment of: "We [corp members] are better than the rest of the people in the alliance. They wouldn't be near as good without us. (etc.)"

    It was a complete night-and-day shift when I moved into the GSF member corp that I am in now. It is 100% all about GSF as an alliance. When I reflect on my status I think of myself as a GSF member, not a Goonwaffe member. The corp identity is almost non-existant. I think that this comes primarily from the culture of "Sigs" and "clubs" that are cross-corporation.

    It still makes me scratch my head when I think on the topic.
    At times I find myself longing for the "old" day where I felt more belonging to a corp, but then I realize that my 'Corp" is now the entirety of the alliance and I can make friends wherever I go. Perhaps instead of defining ourselves as members of a corporation we should instead be approaching it from a "define our group of friends within EVE". Perhaps that is really what we mean when we state "Corporation"

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    1. I think in the case of the Goons they are sufficiently different as to be the exception that proves the rule. The Goons are a large guild that just happens to play EvE, so for them, membership in the Goons is their core identity, and that is formed long before they ever create a character. To them, their alliance is their corp and vice versa. Goon corps, or so I understand, are merely tools to get more Goons into the Goons because of corp management limits.

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  7. I would like preferential trading tools for corp / alliance members. Currently, they are all out-of-game tools that someone runs. But wouldn't it be nice stock your LS market and ask a fair price from the public and a subsidized price from your alliance / corp? Since I live in POS, I'd love the same system work from a CHA....

    Please tell me that you can't do that currently. I am not an industrialist and may well have missed that....

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    1. The market scorns everyone equally.

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    2. Where do I sign up for this? ;)

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  8. The nice thing about your rambles is you hit a lot of topics with no coherent point or thread holding it all together so we all get to play association games with the aether. It's also the down side. It's easier to draw your own opinions on something against a relief. And no, I'm not actually trying to be poetic. Hazy thoughts are just hard not to be poetic about them in the English language. :)

    That said. Who knows what CCP will do with alliances. If anything. It's got it's hands full dealing with Coalitions, and there are no in game tools that allow them to exist at all. Personally, the maturity of the tools holding coalitions together have matured enough that I think the Alliance System has outlived its usefulness. Fix up corp tools, edit alliances out of the game, and just allow corps to join Alliance/Coalitions with the out of game tools already there. CCP will never be able to duplicate those tools for the masses, and with Alliances now forming specifically with no head and just giving all alliance power to the Coalition leader from creation. Seems sorta silly to have Alliances in the first place.

    For people who don't need the sort of overhead current Coalitions are, just finish the silly Treaty System CCP was talking about years ago as a bridge for Corps to be able to act as larger entities without all the official titles. For say.. Wormholes.

    Ideally, I'd like players, singular, to theoretically be able to take Sov, put up POSs, and all the things tied to Corps and Alliances without needing to be in one.

    My two cents anyway. But what do I know. I shun just about every organized part of Eve as being a part of the game I don't want to deal with. I just want the tools personally without needing all the bureaucratic overhead of game mechanics with the Corp or Alliance Systems. :)

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  9. I'm fine with XL POS with capital ship bays in which supers can dock in the relative safety of sov v space. That's more logical than removing them from the game on logout. If you ask me, caps have little or no upkeep costs. They aren't even really T1 ships. They should be Tech C with more diverse resource inputs.

    I'm also fine with hostile alliances only being able to effectively attack the periphery of their rivals, rather than diving right for the heart. If that is what it takes to have campaigns rather than weekend hellcamps, then fine.

    To compensate, give alliance empires clay feet. Make every deployed asset be vulnerable to interference (a step below removal) from every size gang. Even solo pilots should be able to creep in and hack the output of a reaction vessel.

    The only way to resolve the numbers creep problem of sov grinding is to add a different, numbers-independent mechanic. Adding travel time by putting POS inside of deadspaces would add the kind of time that numbers couldn't mitigate. In addition, it would give CCP the necessary conditions to lower POS HP, or let them be peeled like onions. Think of all the bomber run opportunities when fleets are slow-boating around. How cool would it be to see cruisers moving back and forth between regiments?

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  10. I always thought corp/alliance mechanics should be revised, alliance mechanics should be altered to support the current 'coalition' mechanics.
    The current corporation role can then be extended to hold sov and do whatever it is alliances do. Existing corporations should become a division/sig within the old alliance/new corp mechanic.

    I am not sure it's clear what I mean without it turning into a huge wall of text.

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