Hello everyone. CCP Fozzie here writing on behalf of my teammates in Game of Drones. We’ve got some updates for you all regarding our plans for Factional Warfare.
TL:DR Is that we’re accelerating some of our Factional Warfare feature changes that had been planned for Retribution and releasing those features that are ready for prime time starting with a patch on October 23.
The Story so Far
Team Game of Drones has been working on Factional Warfare (FW) iterations for quite a few months now, releasing the changes for the Inferno expansion that revitalized FW and brought in masses of players including those new to PVP and experienced players looking for a change from the status quo. As part of CCP’s continued focus on iteration and polishing our features we have also been working on a second set of iterations to Factional Warfare for the Retribution expansion.
The Factional Warfare iteration process has been a very successful example of close interaction between CCP and our amazing community. Starting from a series of FW proposals collected from the community and brought to CCP through CSM 6 and continuing through the current CSM 7 term we have been working hard to learn from the FW community and channel those lessons into a better FW system. The announcement of the overall plan for the Retribution FW iterations made in two threads on the Features and Ideas forum was the culmination of our dialogue with the FW community up to that point.
Warzone Control and System Upgrades
Rebalancing FW NPCs and Plexes
These roadmaps have received generally positive feedback and we’ve been working since then to tweak the proposal internally and with the CSM, adding new changes that the community has brought forward and removing aspects that the community has pointed out to us are flawed.
The goals of the Retribution FW revamp have been:
- Encouraging fun PVP gameplay and removing areas where the incentives discourage conflict
- Balancing the Factional Warfare benefit system that has become universally acknowledged as too lucrative considering the risk and effort involved with certain activities
- Providing new ways for players to become invested in and excited about taking territory for the glory of their chosen empire
You can see the threads linked above for details of the original Retribution plan and I’ll have some updates to it at the end of the dev blog but for now I want to fast forward to the recent weeks.
Like I said above, the plan was to introduce these much needed community-sourced changes in the Retribution expansion alongside our upcoming changes to Bounty Hunting, Crimewatch and our unprecedented wave of ship balance changes. However more recently we have seen signs that waiting until December 4th for all of these changes would not be in the best interest of the warzones and the game.
Since we announced the Retribution changes many players involved with Factional Warfare have let us know that the excitement and action in their warzones is trailing off quickly. The annoyance with non-combat evasion plexing alts that do not contribute anything to the fun of FW has been building, and with the inevitable decrease in income on the horizon many players have understandably focused their efforts on farming and cashing out LP instead of combat and interacting with the rest of the community. These are the problems that our Retribution changes were designed to alleviate, but players have been telling us that the situation is degrading faster than we had expected.
At the same time we have begun to see the more significant effects of the newly wealthy FW players flexing their economic muscles. Although FW is not an isk faucet and does not generate any additional isk in the economy, the influx of cheap LP store items has caused a crash in the income of some mission runners and the concentration of wealth has contributed to the rising price of PLEX on the open market. Players stockpiling PLEX have simply been responding to the economic incentives at the time in good faith, but the price rise has affected the gameplay experience for those who rely on PLEX every month for their subscription. CCP is working via a variety of methods to bring the price of PLEX down, and FW has been identified as an area that can help the process along.
Faced with the dual problems of FW stagnation and PLEX inflation we saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Team Game of Drones is still in the process of completing the FW changes for Retribution, but the specific features we already have completed internally are ones we believe will have a significant positive impact on Factional Warfare right here and now.
The New Hotness
Here are the feature changes we have ready to go that will be releasing with Inferno 1.3.2 tomorrow:
- Replace the LP store price reduction from War Zone Control Tiers with a LP gain bonus. This is intended to encourage the various factions to keep their systems upgraded instead of “spiking” tiers to cash out their LP on one day. You will gain the best benefits for taking, holding and upgrading territory over the long term instead of spiking up for one weekend at a time.
The actual multiplier numbers for the LP gain bonuses have been adjusted since we posted the original plan to increase the benefit at Tier 5 somewhat. All FW LP store prices will become static at the values formerly received at Tier 3 (pre-Inferno values).
Old system was:
Tier1: LP store offers 4 times more expensive, LP gains unchanged
Tier2: LP store offers 2 times more expensive, LP gains increased by 5%
Tier3: LP store offers unchanged next to pre-Inferno levels, LP gains increased by 10%
Tier4: LP store offers 2 times less expensive, LP gains increased by 15%
Tier5: LP store offers 4 times less expensive, LP gains increased by 20%
New system is:
Tier1: LP gains reduced by 50%
Tier2: LP gains staying the same
Tier3: LP gains increased by 75%
Tier4: LP gains increased by 150%
Tier5: LP gains increased by 225%
- Remove all LP rewards for completing offensive complexes in a hostile system that is fully vulnerable. Currently the optimal path for each militia is to keep most systems under hostile control so they can farm complexes. Militias even use alts in the opposite side to flip systems since holding system when you are not spiking is not optimal. This change should return some sanity to the incentive structure and help get people fighting over space instead of fighting to get rid of space.
- Add new LP rewards for defensive plexing at a reduced and variable rate. The formula here has also changed since the F&I post, and now is:
LP Gain = Base value of plex * (Contested percentage of the system/100) * 0.75
So if a system is 100% contested and you run a defensive plex you would gain 75% of the base payout for that plex type. If the system is 50% contested you would gain (0.5*0.75=0.375) 37.5% of the base payout.
- Add new LP donation tax based on each faction’s warzone control. The higher your warzone control level the more of your donations are consumed by the tax. This is in place to provide diminishing returns and to compensate for the increased LP gain from the new tier system. When reaching Tier 5 the tax would be as high as 70%.
- Increase the cost of upgrading systems and decrease the bleed-out when those systems are attacked. Currently 50% of the LP gained by offensive plexers is removed from the upgrade level of the system they plex in. We are reducing that to 10% and increasing the total LP pool for upgrading systems. This will result in systems taking twice as much LP to upgrade but also make degrading those upgrade levels take 10 times as long.
Old upgrade costs were:
Level1: 10,000 LPs
Level2: 25,000 LPs
Level3: 45,000 LPs
Level4: 70,000 LPs
Level5: 100,000 LPs
Buffer: 150,000 LPs
New upgrade costs are:
Level1: 40,000 LPs
Level2: 60,000 LPs
Level3: 90,000 LPs
Level4: 140,000 LPs
Level5: 200,000 LPs
Buffer: 300,000 LPs
- To combat the proliferation of non-combat evasion alts in plexing we will be requiring the defending NPCs to be destroyed during the course of offensive plexing. This will be implemented at this time with the current NPCs, as the new ones are not ready yet. We acknowledge that it would have been better to release the new NPCs in this patch as well but we have decided that AFK plexing was doing so much damage to the fun of the warzone and the economic impact of FW that we are best off to make the incremental change to the current system while we work hard to finish the new improved NPCs.
The Rest of the Plan
There are some other changes to the rest of our original roadmap that we are making after consultation with the community:
- We will be implementing a cap on the number of missions one character can have open at once. This cap will affect all Security, Distribution and Mining missions, not just FW missions. The exceptions to the limit will be Storyline, Cosmos and Epic Arc missions. The current plan is for the cap to be 5 simultaneous missions.
- We will be attempting to release two new features to the FW complexes that have been suggested many times by the FW community to increase PVP opportunities in complexes:
Have plex capture timers count backwards to the default state when no players are contesting them
Have plex capture timers visible to everyone in system so you can easily tell which plexes are close to being captured.
We cannot commit 100% to getting these changes in quite yet since they were added a bit later to the plan, but we have added them to our backlog and want to get all your feedback on them.
- There is a change in the original Winter FW plan that many players have pointed out to us is flawed. This is the proposed change to make any defending player anywhere in the complex grid contest capture. We have decided that you all are correct and this change would cause more problems than it solves, so it has been removed from the plan. Thanks to everyone who took the time to help us come to that conclusion.
The rest of the plan as described in the F&I threads linked above and below is still in our backlog, and we will be working with the goal of getting as many of those changes as possible delivered to you by Dec 4th. Expect another devblog discussing them as we get closer to release, and as always you can keep up with the latest in our changes through the official Features and Ideas forum.
That Was a Lot of Words
On behalf of team Game of Drones, thanks for sticking with us through this blog. We welcome your feedback on these changes in the comments thread for this blog and the two F&I threads on Tiers/Upgrades, and NPCs/Plexes. We’re committed to dialogue with the FW community as we continue the iterative process of improving Factional Warfare so don’t hesitate to get involved in the process.
We believe getting these changes out early will go a long way towards shaking up and reviving the FW warzones while also reducing pressure on the economy (most notably the price of PLEX). We will keep observing the impact from all of these changes and will keep tweaking as needed to get the best results possible.