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The Economics of War, A Treatise on Factional Warfare

Hwong Jian
Caldari State
#1 - 2011-12-01 06:36:42 UTC  |  Edited by: Hwong Jian
I really like the ideas that are kicked around now with one major exception: FW missions.

Before you start discussing WHY the missions should be changed, WHAT is it that you hope to gain from changes?

It is my hope that, once you finish reading this, you will understand that the economics of FW missions are a wholly separate matter from the gameplay mechanics.

Allow me to tell you what I've learned about FW in my two years as a member of the Caldari Militia, and how it is different from every other PVP-related aspect of EVE.

Lack of Infrastructure
I'd estimate that about 95% of people in the 4 militias fall into one of two "groups": plexers/pvp'ers and mission runners/tax dodgers. If there is one thing that FW truly lacks, it is the "support" guys. I don't mean logistics pilots. I mean miners, industrialists, traders, haulers. The "working class" folks.

These are the people that build ships for ship replacement funds, seed markets in hubs, and generally make it so that the members of their group have an easier time getting the things they need to do what they do.

Faction Warfare, by dint of being factional and a constant war, quite often leads to ships being blown up. These ships are blown up on a daily basis. Some pilots will lose a dozen or more ships in a day. Are they bad? Are they unlucky? Doesn't matter. What matters is how they get the ships they've decided to lose.

Without any solid form of infrastructure, a majority of FW pilots have to scrape (scrounge, if the last 4 letters got ganked) together the funds to buy their ships. That is something that having a corporation helps with, but not to any great extent. Which leads me to my second point:

ISK Faucets or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Greedy
An ISK faucet, which many people seem to forget, is something that brings new money into the game. The "faucet" from FW missions are the ~1.5 mil isk reward and ~1.5 mil isk bonus from your mission. That is the only isk that is generated by running FW missions. Everything else, I repeat, every other isk gained already exists in the game.

Your LP transaction will go like this:
1. Run 7 level 4 FW missions, earning 21 million isk.
2. Go to Jita.
3. Buy Scorpion, spending 60 million isk.
4. Buy Nexus Chip, spending 6 million isk.
5. Go to Nourv and trade Scorp + Chip for N. Scorp, spending ship, chip, 150k lps.
6. Return to Jita and sell N. Scorp, earning 290 million isk.
- Assumptions: 21.5k lps per mission (requires level 5 in your bonus LP skill)

Unless the market fluctuates, which it always does, you're looking at a 240 mil isk profit. Faucet? No. The game spawned 21 million isk for the 7 missions you ran. Missions which give no bounties and, if you're in a stealth bomber, no item drops either because you kill the mission spawn and move on. So, your 240 mil profit is 21 mil spawned by the game (the isk faucet) and 219 mil given to you by another player.

Now, if you're quick about picking up your missions, and uninterrupted while you run them, you can finish 7 missions in under 2 hours. While I am not the smartest man in the world, I'd venture to say that 10.5 mil isk per hour isn't an overwhelming faucet.

On the other hand, though, 120 mil isk per hour earnings is pretty good.

Is 120m Too Much?
Why would it be? What is the money used for? What do actual FW pilots use the money for? Blowing stuff up. About 75% of the money an FW pilot spends gets destroyed in a glorious display of shimmering pixels. The other 25% or so goes to the person that looted the field. <-- Eventually, that is.

Tax Evasion and Belly-Rubbing Stare Machines or Al Capone Would Be Proud of You
The issue people have with FW mission runners, as I can best see it, is one of two things: anger that you can't catch and kill *gasp* a covert ops ship, or anger that these non-pvp'ing mission runners are cutting into your profit margin.

Every militia has its population of people that never log on, never pvp, never undock and generally don't do anything other than sit as a +1 to the total militia population. Can something be done about them? I think so, and I think it can also be something that helps make FW missions better for actual active militia pilots. But, I'll get to that in a bit; right after we put checkmarks beside the topics.

State that FW missions are not broken? Check.
State that active FW pilots need the missions to support their actions? Check.
State that FW missions do not destabilize the economy? Check
Suggest a simple solution to the perceived problem? ..... Well, I guess I should do that. After all, what kind of person brings up a problem without offering a solution? *eyes a majority of forum posters*

Parasites and Symbiotic Lifeforms or Get off My Lawn!
How do we fix the overabundance of solo mission runners? I really don't think that the best solution is to make it harder for everyone. Especially since FW is supposed to be for "casual pvp'ers". Anything you do to make it more difficult pushes FW further and further away from "casual" and more towards a "group effort". So, instead of making sweeping gameplay changes that ramp up the difficulty without adding any significant enjoyment to the game, what do you do?

By the way, if you think game developers anywhere think it's a good idea to make things harder to do without also making it more rewarding, you're probably mistaken.

But, I digress. How does one go about making FW missions something that benefit actual active militias? Simply this: limit the payout of missions to your participation in pvp-related objectives. Add a quick item into the game, a "missioning license" or something similar. Have it cost victory points.
Hwong Jian
Caldari State
#2 - 2011-12-01 06:37:12 UTC  |  Edited by: Hwong Jian
Victory Is The Key to Great Success
Wait, Hwong... Did you just say that victory points would buy someone the ability to run missions? Yes, other Hwong, I did. But, it shouldn't stop them from running missions completely if they don't have a "missioning license", just stop them from earning 20k lps per mission.

That's what a FW missioning license would do. If you buy one with your victory points (or whatever method CCP chooses to use), you get the current amount of LPs per mission for a limited run of missions. Think of it as a modified BPC, but it's for mission runs, rather than manufacturing runs. Every time you turn in a mission, it checks to see if you're allowed the "participation bonus". If you are, then you get the full amount. If not, then you get about 40% or so of the full amount.

Is 40% too much? I don't think so. Not in the slightest. It gives "regular" FW missions a slightly higher payout than non-FW missions, but without giving the "parasites" the ability to drive prices down.

She Works Hard For The Money
What the hell have I just done?! Did I just revolutionize the entire FW missioning process by making it more rewarding for active pilots engaging in PvP? I think I did. Did I just give people a reason to plex and PvP other than to bait out fights? Guilty as charged. Did I just passively decrease the numbers of people running FW missions in stealth bombers? Probably not. But, there's a good chance that a change such as this would make it less appealing for the professional mission runners. Did I do anything else? Well, I might have suggested a way to make navy faction ships a bit more of a status symbol. Also, I managed to introduce a relevant use for victory points.

If You Build It, They Will Exploit Your Visitors
So, now that we've given victory points a purpose, how do we keep it from being abused? How do we not hurt people that are bad at pvp and also stop the parasites from leeching? Situation awareness.

If you are in a player-owned corporation, the Victory Points you earn go to a corp pool. Spending to buy the license is done by using the pool. Who has access to this pool? I don't know, since I'm not that well-informed on corporation management or anything like that. But, I'm sure there's a role that it could fall under. This would also give CEOs the ability to offer more services to their pilots, since they could conceivably have a PvP wing and a mission-running wing. That would give CEOs added incentives for recruiting, having fleet ops, pvp'ing and give them something they can offer to their members in return.

What about the people that sit in the NPC corps? Quite simply, a personal victory point pool. This way, your participation in FW PvP events has an impact on the PvE benefit you have available.

Supporting the War Effort
Quite simply, my proposed change makes it a situation where your faction will adopt a "the more you help us, the more we will help you" mentality. It makes the nations offer better benefits to those capsuleers who put themselves in harms way to protect their faction.

Honestly, this seems to me to be the simplest and most elegant solution. And, in addition to (hopefully) requiring the least amount of changes, it also fits with the story and even introduces a new dynamic to Faction Warfare.

Well... that's my idea, my suggestion, and my attempt at coming up with a solution that doesn't wreck FW or make things more difficult to (what I believe to be) some of the hardest working and most challenged people in the game.

In the words of Johnny Storm, "flame on!"
Hans Jagerblitzen
Ice Fire Warriors
Infinite Pew
#3 - 2011-12-01 10:23:28 UTC  |  Edited by: Hans Jagerblitzen
Here's someone who gets it. This is some seriously good stuff, even though I'm pretty sure its been suggested a few times before, but never in this much detail. I think this has a lot of merit, thought it would hinge on them also tweaking the EWAR of the NPC's, and maybe make the plexing itself a bit more complex or engaging. Forcing people to grind button-orbits only to grind more missions only adds another layer of grind to your grind. At least Xhibit would be proud.

The richness and variety of PvP players can build with the framework CCP builds into FW will be the key. I am adamant about two things:

1) Seizing territory for your faction must come with consequence, real consequence, or else it will never hold players interests indefinitely. Economics are certainly a good start, though I feel there should also be a territorial benefit with a geographic element - such as having opposing militia stations fire upon you (this seems like a no-brainer. Oddly, 24th Imperial crusade never cares that I hang out there to sell boosters).

2) The act of seizing territory must have varying levels of accessibility. This second one is critical, it is what seperates Faction Warfare from piracy and nullsec alliance wars. In Faction Warfare, even a few week old character can begin to accumulate kills, find opponents on his/her level, and be able to tell some stories to his friends about how he saved Huola. Sadly, with no reason to plex, that demographic has washed out and all that is left are the core veterans who refuse to give up their old grudge matches, and continue to patrol their home territories.

Your proposal would be an excellent feature as long as it is supported as part of a suite of fixes, perhaps as a defining feature of say, Summer Expansion! (Get CCP Dropbear in there to draft up some sweet corresponding Live Events and you'll blow players' minds.)

Edit: I've linked you on the main Faction Warfare discussion thread. Everyone should read your ideas and share their thoughts.

CPM0 Chairman / CSM7 Vice Secretary

Hwong Jian
Caldari State
#4 - 2011-12-01 10:48:12 UTC
Thanks, Hans. Though, I disagree. This doesn't add grind to the grind. You wouldn't have to do plexes/get kills/earn victory points in order to run FW missions.

Instead, it turns FW missions (arguably the most lucrative missions in the game) into being a perk for FW pvp'ers, while making them moderately more profitable than "high sec missions" for non-pvp'ers. This way people who actively work to better their militia are rewarded with easier isk to support their efforts.

If CCP could add in anything worthwhile to system sovereignty (docking rights, faction gate/station guns, leadership bonuses in system regardless of fleet members, victory/loyalty points for conquerors/defenders) plexing would go from "something we do because" to an actual focus because it is the most beneficial aspect of being in militias.

If that was a part of the change, plexing would go from having no discernible benefit to enhanced* missions, gaining bonuses in the system and giving your side a "home field advantage".

* Disclaimer: Missions would only be "enhanced" because they would be lowered to a point where they are only moderately more profitable than high sec missions, rather than the current 4x as many LPs.
Hans Jagerblitzen
Ice Fire Warriors
Infinite Pew
#5 - 2011-12-01 16:17:53 UTC
Hwong Jian wrote:
You wouldn't have to do plexes/get kills/earn victory points in order to run FW missions.

Instead, it turns FW missions (arguably the most lucrative missions in the game) into being a perk for FW pvp'ers, while making them moderately more profitable than "high sec missions" for non-pvp'ers. This way people who actively work to better their militia are rewarded with easier isk to support their efforts.

My bad. I guess that shows you how sleep-deprived I was last night when I read your post, I missed that detail about the Victory points giving the bonus payout to missions, not the license being required to do the missions. I stand corrected, and that makes a lot more sense. I don't like the idea of being forced to run plexes if we don't want to - at least not in their current state. I'll be perfectly honest, I never got into plexing much since I'm active well past downtime so the fleets in my timezone rarely engaged in plexing. When I did, I found orbiting the button waiting for an enemy who might not come pretty boring. A real-time alert system would greatly improve the bait-factor of plexing, and restore them as a useful tool to coax out a fight.

As for the missions themselves, this is personally where I see a lot of room for improvement. I'll confess, I have no shame about hopping in a bomber and farming the missions for LP, but as you pointed out, this helps sustain my ability to pew in expensive ships. I dont care if others frown on this, its what we have to work with right now. The missions work much better than plexes though in baiting fights - the problem is that you only need a bomber to do them, so missions only really encourage interceptor vs bomber PvP. Adding target painters, missiles, and other anti-frigate measures to the more difficult missions would ensure that they are run by gangs, and engaged by gangs, instead of the solo shenanigans of today. With some effort, Faction Warfare could encourage PvP not only to boost the profit to be made from the mission, but also to encourage more interesting PvP during the missions.

Your detailed outline of the economics facing us militia pilots should be very handy for CCP, the CSM, and anyone else interested in the faction warfare system and the challenges it faces. Whether others in the militias ultimately agree or disagree with your proposal, your assessment of the problem is spot on and I hope this serves as a valuable development resource moving forward. I share your view that much of the problem lies in, and can be solved through, underlying economic factors.

That, and simply having the enemy's stations actually shoot the enemy! Station games are boring, lets toss em out the airlock.

CPM0 Chairman / CSM7 Vice Secretary

Shalee Lianne
Northern Coalition.
#6 - 2011-12-02 19:50:09 UTC

It's well thought out and it makes a lot of sense. I think it would work. I like it a lot.  ~ Roleplay blog. ~ Faction War blog.
Dian Lung
Hellcats Reloaded
#7 - 2011-12-03 00:31:26 UTC
This is probably one of the most thorough and well-reasoned viewpoints on FW missions I've seen in a long time, not to mention that it expresses sentiments I've held off on due to a struggle to phrase them coherently. The only shocking thing about the ideas you've posted here is that I detect relatively few traces of trolling - how heavily did you have to censor yourself for that?

Seriously though, I completely agree with all of your points, and I'm intrigued by the solution you've offered. Maintaining resonable income (i.e. enough to fly something larger than frigate hulls regularly) for FW pilots while reducing the ability to simply farm ISK for its own sake, giving victory points relevance beyond bragging rights, and wrapping the entire thing up with reasons that actually make sense? Where can I sign up for that version of factional warfare?

(Also, big thanks to Shalee for linking this on Sov Wars, or I probably wouldn't have spotted it.)
Hwong Jian
Caldari State
#8 - 2011-12-05 07:19:11 UTC
Shameless self-bumping.

FW needs some love and I believe we need exposure.
The Schnoo
#9 - 2011-12-05 09:23:12 UTC
I'm new to the FW myself, having yet not done any FW missions, but I did plex a bit and most importantly had fun blowing ships and getting blown up.
But from what I understand, FW missions themselves have no impact on FW territorial control (or any other thing except generating money). Why should such a thing even exist - what's the point?

The way I see it, you are trying to change the privilege to do FW missions which was given by default to everyone who has joined FW corps, to a privilege that is balanced based on PVP you are doing. But to that I ask, why not remove the missions as they are - i.e grindable PVE nonsense, from FW all together, and give rewards (isk and lp) to those that plex? Because that's the "goal" of your militia, to claim as much as enemy territory as possible - why shouldn't that be rewarded? (whoever captures a plex gets 10-20 mil worth of ISK, in ISK or LP)

Or, FW missions could have an effect on the FW objective - conquering systems, but then it should be fine to have the rewards as good as they are now.

And at the end, territorial control should have multiple effect - economical and strategic (docking rights?), both on a personal level and as a militia group.
Plus 10 NV
#10 - 2011-12-05 15:37:28 UTC
Thanks for posting this. You cover allot of ground and do a good job of it.

Tying mission lp rewards with pvp is a great idea.

Your idea would work if they made plexing a pvp activity. Right now its mainly a pve activity.

Make faction war occupancy pvp instead of pve