Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Future of Dust Corp Battles

For fuck's sake...

There is currently a little threadnaught forming on the Dust514 forums, mostly being fanned by CCP FoxFour, one of the devs.

The key points are people concerned about the current corp battle system and its effect on factional warfare (FW) in the EVE universe.

A breakdown of the current system:
A corporation as an attacker can choose from randomly generated "contracts" from each of the four factions. These contracts have collateral that the corp pays from their wallet. It is currently impossible to select a specific planet or district, and you have to keep refreshing the contracts page if you are attempting to siege a specific system.
Once you have a contract, you must wait around for a defender to take the defense contact. The defender can see who the attacking corp is, and has to decide if the they, too, are willing to front the collateral. The winner of this match (regardless of if any players go into the match) wins the combined pot (minus a tax) and the district is "won" for the faction they took the contract on.
Problems? Any two corps can conspire to just game the system with 100K contracts. This can flip many territories very quickly and have a noticeable effect in EVE FW. Also, the barrier for entry for new players to interact with this side of EVE integration is steep, as most don't understand the corp mechanic at all. And lastly, the incentive for Dust players to take these contracts is extremely low, because the individual mercs are not awarded SP nor ISK, the corp simply wins the loser's collateral. It's even worse if you lose, as you don't get anything at all, and are even out dropsuits/tanks/etc.

Now, the thread points out some of these problems, and CCP FoxFour jumped into the discussion revealing that corp battles are being looked at and ideas are being tossed around the CCP offices as to what they should really be. The gist? Planetary conquest on behalf of corps, not NPC factions.
Now, the problems that need to be solved: How should the battle system work? What should be the reward for doing this?

As far as rewards, I think the easy solution is either passive income or passive resources (I of course favor resources, as they can be turned into items and eventually sold on the market). But this system needs a lot of thought and Dust will need an entire expansion dedicated to industry and crafting just to facilitate the manufacturing component. So I'll instead cover my concept (that I put forth on the forum) on how the system should work:

The planets should all start unclaimed by players, owned by NPC factions, and attackers will just put up contracts to invade planetary districts. These districts will, at first, belong to the factions. Any players inside of the faction NPC corps or even the faction warfare militia will be able to take the defense contracts. If the attacker fails, the district remains under faction control. If no one shows up, the attacker wins by default. The attacker now owns this district.

Once a Corporation owns a district, the corporation must define a "vulnerability" time for this district, similar to the POCO reinforcement timers. If the Corp's district is surrounded by NPC owned districts, or by their own districts, the vulnerability timer for that district will be a 30 minute window starting at that vulnerability timer. If hostile forces own the surrounding districts, your vulnerability timer will expand, depending on how many districts are around you. The direction in which the vulnerability expands will depend on the neighboring districts' timers are. So if my corp sets their timer at 0200, and the neighbor has theirs set for 2300, my vulnerability timer will stretch from 0130-0230, and this will stack depending on how many neighbor districts are hostile.

As far as how many contracts to attack your district can exist at one time, I think a limit of 1 per day is reasonable, with some restrictions: The same corp can only place an attack contract on a specific district once a week. These attack contracts can be outbid by another attack contract, which voids the original attack. This money should be paid 50% in advance to a merc corp (this can include the same corp that wants to own the district) once it is locked in (at a random point 1-2 hours before the actual match), and the other half should only be paid upon success (minus a small tax, approximately 5%). This out-bidding system, coupled with the tax, and the limit of 1 attack attempt per week, should prevent the system from being gamed by a corp attacking themselves from an alt corp to prevent a hostile corp from invading. Also, the payment for such contracts needs to be reworked so a CEO/Director can specify that the money goes to the corp wallet or a percentage goes to the mercs involved.

Defenders can either defend their own territory at no cost, or hire mercs to do so on their behalf. These merc contracts can be made to specific groups, or made public, like killrights in EVE, with settings for standing. The mercs get paid 50% of the contract on failure, and 100% on success.

Now, to prevent zerg-style invasions of entire planet districts all at once, the limit for how many attack contracts against a planet should be proportional to the number of corporations that have a foothold on the planet. This pushes for complete planetary dominance for safety, and prevents large groups from wholly conquering all of EVE all at once. As an example, if SMERG owns all of Seyllin VII, only one attack contract can be made against the planet. Once another corp has a foothold on the planet, two contacts can be made (SMERG should get first choice to counter-attack immediately upon loss of their first district. If they don't take an attack contract for 1 hour, the contract is up for grabs, and can be that 2 attacks can be made against 2 different SMERG territories.)

Well, that is all for now. I presented a shell of the idea in the thread, and hopefully eyes at CCP take notice.

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