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Observations Concerning Community Warfare


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#1 PringlesPCant

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 02:56 PM

Lessons About End-Game Community Warfare





I Apologize for the Wall of Text Formatting, the forum editor isn't very friendly.


Community Warfare is hard to do, there are a ton of factors that have to go right to keep it balanced, interesting, fresh and challenging. It’s a long process to go from a cool concept to actually implementing it, and for every game that succeeds a dozen fail. When I use the phrase community warfare, I mean that at least two different groups are fighting against each other in a persistent world rather than just running into each other in a random team deathmatch game.
The two games I’ve personally been in involved with that have done a good job with Community Warfare are Eve Online, where I rose to rank as a Director in Goonswarm before burning out, and World of Tanks where I’m currently a deputy commander for one of the SA Goon clans that controls Western Europe. These two games are defined by their Community Warfare, it’s a key part to their success, popularity and longevity.
My purpose in this thread is to illustrate some universal lessons I’ve learned from my fairly unique experience as a leader in both games, and then propose some ideas that will hopefully be considered by the developers to make the Community Warfare in MechWarrior Online as polished, fun, and successful as possible.


Lesson #1 - The Spoils of War Have to be Worth Fighting For
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but still deserves a reminder. Winning has to be meaningful. It has to cause the players to want to invest their time and energy into winning. For World of Tanks the primary reason for winning is to take over different provinces that provide your clan with large amounts of gold. The only other path to acquiring gold is to pay real money, so by extension winning in game means winning real money. However you also get to see your clan’s logo and color owning the territory on the map, which provides a sense of achievement and prestige. Your clan appearing on the map proves your superiority, and the better the territory the more prestige you receive.
In Eve Online the rewards of winning are more dramatic. Permanent ship destruction means that losing a ship can set you back millions of ISK, losing a more powerful ship can set you back billions of ISK and losing a fleet can cost you tens of billions of ISK. With the ability to trade real money for ISK in game easily, that means replacing a lost ship can cost hundreds of dollars, or a lost fleet thousands of dollars. An alliance losing a war could mean losses to its members in the tens of thousands of dollars. Getting into the specifics of what the rewards are for winning in Eve Online would take too much time, so let me leave that topic with the point that one major driving factor that managed to redeem Eve’s terrible UI, Lag, poor game mechanics etc was that winning brought huge rewards and losing brought huge losses and this motivated people to develop the biggest, most sophisticated, and most efficient organizations in Videogame history with Corporations and Alliances with thousands of members and power blocs with tens of thousands of members all in the same fights and the same world.

Please note that I am NOT advocating for permanent mech destruction in MWO, that works for Eve but not for MWO.



Advice
Reward Merc Corps for controlling a border world with prizes that no one else can get in the game, not even by spending all the money in the game. There are a lot to choose from, MC, C-Bills, Loyalty Points, special defense bonuses for planets owned, a visible presence on the map, perhaps the prestige of participating as your faction champion in faction campaigns or tournaments run by the devs, special mods, special mechs, etc. As long as the rewards are worth it, the players will be more than happy to fight the entire galaxy to earn them.




Lesson #2 Create Richer Areas and Poorer Areas
To put it simply, rich areas attract the veteran experienced proven corps, and poor areas attract the amateurs. This is good. It creates a clear path for a corp to follow from infanthood to maturity. They are able to progress from a low reward low competition area and steadily move on to greener and more competitive pastures as they improve. The entire time they are fighting against people more or less equal to them which is the best type of challenge, not too hard but not too easy.
In Eve this is done with low sec space, faction owned 0.0 poor 0.0 then finally full fledged 0.0 space that has plentiful and profitable moons and good ratting/mining. In World of Tanks this is done by varying the amount of gold each province offers. Clans starting out can go to Africa where the land values are very low, and the skill of the clans fighting for them also low. Then as they improve their skills they can go after progressively more valuable land, where they face progressively more skilled clans.



Advice
Implement this graduated system into Merc Corp warfare. Make sure there are extremely valuable areas for the elite to fight over, but also poorer areas that prospective powers can grow in without getting curbstomped by the reigning champions every day.. This allows clans to always be fighting in the ‘goldilocks’ zone, their opponents are not too hard, but not too easy. Also make sure that the poorer areas are accessible to beginners, so that they can always get to where they need to be without having to go through a gauntlet to get there. One idea would be to make the systems on the inner side of the border worlds be less attractive compared to the worlds on the very outer edge.





Lesson #3 Don’t Limit Community Growth by Artificial Member Limits
Again this isn’t really a groundbreaking concept, but its still an important one. This is something that Eve has gotten right, and WOT has dropped the ball on. The beauty of Eve is that every single member of your corporation is able to fight alongside each other. They have the same space, the same fights, the same enemies, the same shared experiences, the same managers, the same leaders and large numbers that allowed members to specialize and produce things like shipping lines, spy agencies etc. All of THAT is what makes people bond, and what makes for strong powerful communities. You will often talk to people in other alliances and find out that they were involved in the same fights and campaigns as you, but perhaps on the other side or in a different system.
However in WOT you are forced to separate into 100 member clans. Worse, the clans can’t cooperate or fight directly next to each other, the best you can do is cooperate strategically on the world map. If a friend of yours is in another clan you will NEVER fight next to them in clan battles. This kills community growth and unity. It also prevents clan’s from building a story together.
You don’t fight together, you don’t live together, you don’t come up with plans together, and you view yourself as a member of the clan you are in first, and as a member of your gaming community second. it cuts off similar players from each other, and it divides up your leadership dangerously thin. There are too many examples in WOT of a clan’s leadership all taking a vacation at once, returning to a broken clan and seeing the entire clan break up with fewer than 50% of them remaining active while the other clans of the community are doing fine.
It also cuts off newer players from the vets, why bother investing time in a new player when you know they will be going into a different clan anyway? By contrast in Eve you want to provide the highest level of support to every single member of your corp or alliance no matter how new or inexperienced because you have a direct interest in their development and retention in the game.



Advice
Make Merc Corps have unlimited members, if you only take one thing from this thread take that. It will let communities grow to big self sustaining numbers which is a prerequisite of a healthy community warfare end game. Its these large groups that allow compelling narratives to play out, rivals banding together to face against a bigger threat or a multi-year long death struggle between hated enemies (google Band of Brothers vs Goonswarm). That’s the sort of stuff that keeps a game interesting and fresh, and if you force a community to separate that isn’t going to happen.





Lesson #4 Strike the Proper Balance between Structured and Unstructured Community Warfare
In Eve PvP is almost completely unstructured. War can happen at any time, in any numbers, anywhere. Running an alliance is a full time job constantly requiring logistics, accounting, PvP fleets with no warning, etc. Basically anything can happen at almost any time. While high rewards motivate the players in Eve to form these giant tens of thousands of player strong power blocks, they would never have happened if the game mechanics didn’t allow them the freedom to do so. There quite simply are no rules, and that’s part of Eve’s charm. You get people whose entire experience in eve is pouring hours and hours into advancing their corporation with always something else to be reaching for, alliances to be made, space to defend, assets to acquire etc. Granted the gameplay is terrible but the impressive thing is that Eve can still be fun in spite of that due to the rich complexity that this unstructured warfare allows.
In WOT, there isn’t really anything interesting going on at the strategic level, you just move chips around on a map and there isn’t anything clever or innovate you can do to try to get ahead. This takes a lot of the fun out of the metagame because there is no point in spying on either people or trying to outwit them on the map when their choices are predictably dictated by the situation on the map.



Advice
My advice for MechWarrior Online would be to strike a balance between the two. Yes warfare will be based around those structured X vs X matches but there is still a great deal of room to give players as much freedom as possible to innovate and create new tactics and strategies. If the end game is limited to ‘lets move some chips around on a map’ you will be hamstringing that. Give people incentives to spy, to form giant alliances, to do diplomacy, to take risks, to whatever. Just give them as much of a sandbox as is possible, and if you have everything in place the players will create giant digital sand castles.




Lesson #5 Allow Players to Invest in Their Worlds

In Eve Online there are always things your corp or alliance can be doing to get ahead. You can invest your money into improving your space, you can stockpile assets, you can raid enemy space, or you can try to launch a campaign to destroy them and take their space for your own. There are a million different ways for players to contribute to the prosperity of your corporation or alliance, and a thousand ways for corporations and alliances to develop, prepare and exploit their space if they are willing to spend their time and treasure.
One of the downsides of WOT is that there is no actual way for you to improve your land or leave your mark. All you can do is just sit on your land and collect gold while waiting for people to attack you.



Advice

Allow Merc Corps to develop the worlds they own, so that if they take and hold a world, or a group of worlds and can invest time and treasure into it, they can have industrial and military advantages, but not overwhelmingly so. There are many ways to do this, but the specifics of it aren’t as important as giving the corps the ability to customize and develop their space so they feel invested in it and have a concrete visible goal for them to work towards and feel proud of achieving.





Lesson #6 Add Some Level of Stability
In Eve, you always face the ghost of some rogue director undoing all of your accomplishments (Thanks Haargoth!) but in reality it almost never really happens. People know that their neighbors will still be neighbors and enemies will still be enemies at least fortnight to fortnight if not month to month. This stability allows you to do diplomacy and long term planning because you know that the situation will last long enough to make it worthwhile. In WOT it’s a lot easier to lose all of your land, but there is still diplomacy because clans own the same territory long enough for it to matter. All the fun metagame stuff requires at least some stability to do.



Advice

I’m worried about the bidding system for MWO because some ways of implementing it might end up with a chaotic changing map every single day, it all depends on how the bidding system is implemented. If you can bid for any planet at any time with no regard for space or time constraints than you will just end up with a polka dot map where corps take and lose the majority of their territory every single day. However as long as Corps are able to work together, and can expect some measure of stability everything should be fine.





TLDR

As a final note, my overall philosophy for community warfare can be boiled down to a simple formula. Success = Activeness of Members * Skill of Members * Skill of leadership at the game and meta game. All other things being equal, if one clan has a higher level of activeness among members it should win. If one clan has members better skilled at the game, they should win. If one clan has brilliant, charismatic and skilled leaders who lead them on and off the battlefield, who skillfully engage in the metagame, waging ‘realpolitik’ they should win. As long as you follow that formula everything should turn out fine in the end.

#2 Mjilaeck

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:00 PM

All fawning aside, anyone who thinks that this post isn't pure gold should be drug into the street and shot.

#3 Garth Erlam

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:06 PM

Fantastic, thank you very much for this (well thought out and written) post!

#4 Space Coyote

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:10 PM

Intelligent and constructive, thumbs up

#5 Joe Kid

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:10 PM

Another WoT reference I have to check this game out.

#6 mynnna

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:10 PM

"This guy's a goon, he just wants it this way so that they can dominate the system like they do in Eve and World of Tanks!"

Spoilers: I'm a goon, too. I'm going to hit this silly little talking point before it inevitably comes up, and it's quite simple, really. The reason why we want a robust and competitive community warfare system is so that the game is fun and interesting, because frankly, without a robust community warfare system, this game will more or less be TF2 with Mechs. Maybe that's interesting to some, but its not interesting to us, it's probably not interesting to many of you, and I suspect that it would make the game far less successful than it has the potential to be.

So, with that addressed, lets have a thoughtful and interesting discussion, shall we?

Edited by mynnna, 08 June 2012 - 03:11 PM.


#7 AtomicArmadillo

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:18 PM

BANG!BOOM!-----Wall of text crits you for OVER 9000! Nice that would have taken me two days to type.Good work and dedication my man.

#8 Alfred VonGunn

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:29 PM

I like..



in point toward your Planet taking comments.. I for one hope we have something where some a certain % of battles for each planet must be fought with certian mech classes.. ie... not every battle in the Galaxy is fought between Assault Battalions or Companies.. Many are fought between light/Med Companies which make up the majority of the House Armed Forces... Say it takes a Minimum of 40 wins to control a Planet(assuming you lose none)... in 25% groups they could be 600/800/900/1000 ton matches. This does a couple things.. ensures EVERYONE has a chance to have fun in their style of mech.. Also spreads the wealth as it were.. You might have a great group of 12-15 people that are insaely good in your Assault and Heavies.. But you need more it you want to hold that planet.. Because no matter how good you are.. 6 Assaults will get eaten alive by a well fought recon company...

Just my 2 C-bills

#9 Inquisitor Pain

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:35 PM

I too am an eve player and i agree, it's the social aspect and large scale of eve that keeps it interesting. MWO needs large strategic goals (on multiple lvlv) in order for players to have an ability to affect the game on a scale where other groups of players can feel it.
I would suggest mech factories as one idea to make this happen, holding all the factories that can make the Atlas would give other groups more than enough incentive to attack and if they're too weak then they should have the ability to bring allies, coalition warfare should have a place in this game.

#10 Namwons

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:45 PM

Well thought out points +2

I'm coming from many years of Shadowbane, sandbox pvp mmo, and would love a full sandbox metamap. If I'm Cappellan, I want the chance to conquer the Combine or vise versa. Might be a little to hardcore for some but I want boders to have major dynamic movement instead of only a few planets back and forth.

And the ability to attack behind enemy lines too.

Edited by Namwons, 08 June 2012 - 04:06 PM.


#11 Forums Terrorist

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:17 PM

This is A Good Post.

#12 Lilli

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:28 PM

This post as a whole is extremely well thought out and deserves some recognition. Most of this is stuff I had thought about on some level or another, but point 2 is actually really interesting. I hadn't really thought about differentiating worlds based on value being used as a divider for separating players based on skill level. That's a really interesting/clever way of viewing it.

#13 wargames

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:32 PM

One thing I really want is some really robust mangement tools for my corp and my allies so even if you do limit corp size we can trade players with allies and what not.

#14 JackDeez

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:33 PM

Great post. I can't say i disagree on any of the major points. MWO has such potential beyond 15 vs 15 deathmatches and to see it reduced to otherwise would be a travesty. The end game sandbox potential is HUGE. Implementation is where it can go very wrong and this game will end up just another in a long list of failures that peter out quickly.

The quick match/random battle for instant gratification and also allows more casual players to enjoy the game. The end game sand box that allows for politics between clans/guilds/corps(w/e you want to call it) capturing and loss of territory and those territories to actually have worth are what will keep the hardcore and the various gaming communities coming back for more day in and day out.

The history and backstory of MW/BT is well written so the work there is done. Create that universe and unleash the players apon it to do as they will. You will have a game that will endure much like Eve simply because of the devotion of it's player base.

Edited by JackDeez, 08 June 2012 - 04:36 PM.


#15 UncleKulikov

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:34 PM

AHRMAGHOD

Affirmative.

#16 errorabbit

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:45 PM

Great post. But why did you focus on Merc Companies?

Edited by errorabbit, 08 June 2012 - 04:45 PM.


#17 Nexus Trimean

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:49 PM

Excellent post. Im glad at least one of the devs has read it already.

#18 Arzachel

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:53 PM

View Posterrorabbit, on 08 June 2012 - 04:45 PM, said:

Great post. But why did you focus on Merc Companies?


Because House companies aren't confirmed yet. From what I've gathered, joining a house drops you into their matchmaking pool with the higher ranked players having some say in the expansion of the house.

#19 Orzorn

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:54 PM

Perfect post, seriously. 100% agreement. I really really hope we see this kind of support for community warfare in MWO. I absolutely hope we see the ability for factions to make diplomatic agreements with each other in-game.

#20 PANZERBUNNY

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 04:59 PM

View Postmynnna, on 08 June 2012 - 03:10 PM, said:

"This guy's a goon, he just wants it this way so that they can dominate the system like they do in Eve and World of Tanks!"

Spoilers: I'm a goon, too. I'm going to hit this silly little talking point before it inevitably comes up, and it's quite simple, really. The reason why we want a robust and competitive community warfare system is so that the game is fun and interesting, because frankly, without a robust community warfare system, this game will more or less be TF2 with Mechs. Maybe that's interesting to some, but its not interesting to us, it's probably not interesting to many of you, and I suspect that it would make the game far less successful than it has the potential to be.

So, with that addressed, lets have a thoughtful and interesting discussion, shall we?


Goons don't make the game fun and interesting for the community. They make it fun an interesting for them. Dress a ***** up as nice as you want.

How many goon posts in EVE do I have to see defending "their" game and how they play. Don't like it? Stop them.
That's an attitude needed in EVE for survival.

I think we can do without heavy doses of elitism attempting to rule parts of this game. We'll have a hard time pushing back on the people who insist on making Merc Companies from lore or Clan Named Merc companies with them as Khans, even though we've been informed they face Dalek extermination. (Can't wait to see the forum whines when the first few get blasted.)

More depth and dynamic conquest system would be cool, but you have to remember something...

.....EVE is a sandbox. This isn't.

I like high risk games, but the gamers who demand such functions in any game they are interested in are selfish and a vocal minority.

I'm pretty sure many of us have dumped countless hours into Day of Defeat or Team Fortress Classic. A perfect example of amazing games with ZERO risk or reward and still being played by the thousands.

P.S IF this game isn't interesting to GOONS, I think it's safe to say we can hold a parade that day.
Guilty by association.

Edited by PANZERBUNNY, 08 June 2012 - 04:59 PM.






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