With the current state of the game, the wars and invasions are very exclusive activities. For the vast majority of the players, it is likely the kind of thing other people talk about, not something you actually think of as a part of your game. Likewise, the benefits of governing a settlement can at times be very large, and are focused on very few players. Making for a very different game for these people.
Now, with so high stakes, it probably makes for one of the most exciting games, for those that get to partake in this part of the game, and for those who still seriously aim for it. But, that said, there is probably not enough of them, to keep a single city upgraded in full, if all the other players grow tired of the game.
And for me at least, it makes very little sense, to have parts that are such a large part of a games identity, be so exclusive in nature. To me, it’s basically heightening a few players experience at the cost of the majoritys,
It essentially means that the majority of the players get a play only half the game, in order for some few to get that much of an excitement. And it feels like it’s likely to significantly shorten the lifespan of the game.
Now, before I start lining out a new system, I will write down a few statements that I belive in, that will somewhat shape the new system.
The current PVP quests arent overly exciting, and I dont think they generate nearly as much emergent gameplay, as they were probably designed to do.
– In fact, with how exclusive wars are, I’m not sure that many is actually putting up a real effort to avoid them.
– Afterall, a defensive war is probably far more excitement per effort compared to running PvP-quests to stop one.
The current system with governing settlement’s and controlling taxes are probably meant to both reward winners and to make it painful to lose.
– The idea presumably being that it would give players a drive to keep fighting.
– It really doesnt seem to be working fully as intended.
– It could well be that the difference between the top players and the rest breaks morale rather then encourage to fight them
The current system suffers from capitols, and despite attempts at tweaking this, they remain.
– This means not all settlements ever grow to be “full” settlements.
– Gegraphical location is probably an important aspect of why this is the case.
– Attempts at creating “faction”-capitols elsewhere seems to fail, potentially because not enough players care about factions/wars/invasions enough to modify their habits.
— This is likely excarberated by the fact that you can not get your money back for your houses. It’s a very expensive move to keep your houses where your faction is currently in control.
– And I fear that is the degree of control most players see themselves having. They probably no longer see taking the settlement back as an option, since wars arent content they feel is part of their game.
If your problem is with how a settlement is governed by your own faction, you are completely out of luck until additional features are added.
– In theory the factions should work together and thus this should be possible to resolve that way.
– But in practice, most companies are so greedy for governing that there is a fair degree of toxicity and elitism even between players in the same faction.
Because Invasions also affect the very lifeline of a governing company, there is no real reason for them to let other people join in on them. Hence keeping them for your best players makes sense, and therefore this content becomes nearly as exvlusive as wars.
The current reward system is fairly permament.
– Even if you were to finally remove a company from ruling one of the capitols, their gear advantage remains. They probably still have their wallets stuffed to the brim and their banks filled with valuable stuff, “just in case”.
– It will take a long time for even a new capitol company to catch up. That is assuming their gear-disadvantage doesnt lead to the old company retaking it before they have time to really benefit from it.
NPC Controlled Settlements
Now, for the new system, we will no longer have companies governing settlements. Their rule is replaced by a basic AI, or a simple subroutine that tries to upgrade things. Either randomly, or in line with some lore-reason for that settlement. IE have the subroutine for WW priotize weaving due to the abundance of fiber nodes in the area. This will make adjustable taxes moot, so they will all get stuck at default values.
It’s also possible to have all possible upgrades as quests in the townboard, and then what people work towards becomes upgraded.
With this new system, there is no longer a need for money to maintain or upgrade the settlement. It all comes down to the towboards being done in time, no more and no less.
Each time a Maintenance Townboard-quest is completed, the maintenance buffer is increased and a new Quest is immediatly added to the Townboard.
Each hour the maintenance is decreased, and how much is defined by several factors. One of them being how high the upgrades for the town is.
If the maintenance buffer is empty, the Settlement will warn the zone, with the same red system-messages that are used for upgrades and downgrades today.
After having been empty for a set amount of hours in a row, it will degrade one thing in that settlement, before reseting that counter.
If each settlement upgrades according to a unique pattern, it makes sense for degradation to occur from last to first. So that the newest addition gets removed first.
The taxes are still collected, and put into that settlements profit pool. Which we will make use of later, but for different things.
Benefits related to which Faction owns the town are still there, both with regards to traveling-costs and storage transfer. And you could probably add a few more like tax-reductions or harvesting-speed in that area, depending on how hard you want the playerbase to segregate into their factions zones.
More forts instead of PvP-quests
The second thing to be sacrificed for this new system are the pvp-quests. They should either be removed, or adapted to have no impact on influence. They could still serve to give additional benefits and reasons for engaging in PvP, so they can remain in that capacity without affecting the new system.
Instead of having PvP-quests to control the influence, we will instead have 3 more forts in each zone, for a total of 4 forts. The new forts doesnt have to be as big, nor do they actually have to look like a fort, as long as they are a defensible position of some sort which can be captured and held.
Influence-ticks will be made at given intervals, like every 15 minutes or every hour. Depending how you balance things.
At every tick, each faction will lose one influence in this zone. They will also gain 1 influence for every fort held.
If during a tick, a faction has X more influence in the zone than their nearest competitor, it will transfer to them.
This means that to take a zone from another faction, your faction will need to first catch up, and then move X influence ahead.
This means that as long as you can somewhat consistently hold at least 2 forts in that zone, you should be able to hold that zone.
Each fort should have a Shrine at a reasonable distance to allow porting in for a battle and for being able to toggle the PVP-flag in the area.
In order to attack or claim a fort, you need to be PVP-flagged. In order to lay claim to the fort, you also need to belong to a Company.
The action of claiming the fort is an interaction with it’s flag. It will claim it in your companys name.
It should take 10-15 seconds, enough that you arent very likely to get away with it while there are still defenders in the immediate vincinity.
At every influence-tick, the company that currently owns that fort will get a number of “profit tokens”, which is an invisible currency later used by the system to split the profit-pool of that zones settlement.
Also at every influence-tick, the players in the owning companys faction that are PVP-flagged and in the area(inside the fort, and bit outside of it) will also be given a number of profit tokens, even if not as many as the owning company. This includes players of the owning company who can thus earn “personal” tokens as well, in addition to the ones their company gets.
At the end of each day, a settlement’s profit-pool is split equally over all that zones tokens that were handed out during that time. It then checks how many tokens are owned by each player/company who received them during that day, and uses that to calculate each players/companys payout for that day. Then it clears all tokens, leaving a fresh start for the next 24 hours.
This means that if a fort remains in in the hands of another faction for some time during the day, that company and that factions players who were there for it, will be getting some handouts as well.
The idea with the tokens, is to dynamically split all the profit for a given period, without having to worry about how many players fought today or how many companies were involved during different times of day.
Because of this fluidity, the system can easily handle attempts at rewarding certain behaviours. Examples, though not necessarily good ones are:
- Increase token-payout when few players are in the area and the fort is considered under attack.
- Decrease token-payout when a very large amount of players are in the area.
- Let token payout start out at say 25% for the first tick, increasing with 25% each tick until it reaches 100%.
– Would reward those who stay behind to defend over those who rush in later. If you would want that for some reason.
Of course, the actual implementation doesnt need to have actual tokens per say, they are just used to visualize how the profit-pool is split.
In fact, tokens should ideally be able to have decimals in the hidden system, in order to deal with fractional increases/decreases due to different things.
With the above system in place, there should be enough potential PVP-activity going on that probably every player online could be involved, and there would still be somewhere to fight for everyone.
New Gold Sink
So far in this new system, we have also lost the gold-sink that the maintenance-costs and upgrade-costs are today. So, we will instead allow players to sink this gold into the forts.
When a fort is newly claimed, it will be unmanned. Over time it will spawn in a few NPC’s guarding the fort/flag. These will over time be respawned if they are killed but the fort isnt taken.
Attacking these will be considered as Attacking the fort, and will therefore be announced in the zone.
This means that there will be a short delay between when you attack, and when you have successfully claimed the fort.
The fort will be considered under attack, until it is either lost or have replenished it’s guards.
I’m imagining 10-15 minutes as the respawn-time for these guards. Potentially delayed further by PC-deaths in the area.
Now, exactly how many and how hard these NPC guards are, depends on the tier of the fort.
A newly claimed fort will be T1. But if you are willing to invest some gold into making it a T2, that will increase quality and numbers of guards.
Thus increasing either the delay between announcment and being lost, or the number of people that’s needed to efficently attack and claim this fort.
And this continues, with more gold and more improvements, until you reach a T5 fort.
I personally imagine a T5 as taking some time do deal with, even with 10-15 people. Ofc this means that 20-40 or even more people will still likely steam-roll them fast enough that reinforcement players porting in might have to engage in an attack instead of a defensive battle.
Investing should probably be balanced around the fact that it is more about keeping small groups from easily claiming the fort before you get there, than it is about actually allowing you to defend the fort without people there. So rather than being very expensive, make it a QoL thing most companies will always invest in. Ofc, a few real players around to disturb any obvious PvE-tactics against the NPC’s might make them last quite a bit longer
It’s also possible to add the ability to use gold to purchase oil vats and other defensive gear or even buffs for defending players too.
It should be possible to respawn in (but not port directly into) a claimed Fort of your faction if you are PvP-flagged.
That way you can at least get in, even if you are butchered on your way to defend.
If there is a cooldown applied for that, it might be something thats affected by its Tier.
In order to fit invasions into this new system, they too needs to be centered around these forts, and while we are at it, we might as well tie it into the current status of the zone.
At certain intervals, the zone will try to spawn in a new invasion. The more breaches that are open, and are left open for a longer time, the shorter this interval gets.
When it is about to spawn an invasion, it will give a warning, about an hour or so in advance, about how energies of corruption are concentrating around a specific fort.
When the invasion is actually spawned, it arrives as one or more special corruption breaches adjacent to the fort. These breaches will spawn waves that try to claim the fort.
After a the waves are done, the breaches will disappear on their own.
If they successfully claimed the fort, the fort will become corrupted and considered to be claimed by none. It will be guarded by a set of NPC’s, maybe equivalent to what would guard a T4 or T5 fort.
In order to cleanse the fort, it needs to be reclaimed by a player, just as if it is stolen from another faction.
Every influence-tick which a fort remains corrupted, the maintenance buffer for the settlement in that zone will take an additional hit. Meaning that having corrupted forts will rapidly reduce the time until you begin to lose upgrades in that settlement.
Due to how tokens work, having corrupted forts in a zone, will increase the value of the tokens generated at other forts, since 1/4 of the tokens that normally would be there taking that part of the profit-pool is not generated.
Since it affects the buffer, not the stations directly, having a large enough buffer or doing new maintenance townboard-quests fast enough will allow the Settlement to remain untouched for a while, despite a fort being corrupted.
While the above is the core of it, there are some other things worth noting.
One, which is fairly important, is that with this system numbers will matter much more, the plans of single companies will matter much less.
So this system will probably show the balance between factions far more accurately on the map.
This also means that while I do think this system is an improvement over the current one, in terms of the games longevity, it is still not perfect, in that it is also more sensitive to unbalanced factions.
This means we need to consider options for increasing the balance.
We can either target the forts themselves.
- Making it possible for smaller factions to get away with claiming and holding them with smaller numbers.
Or we can more aggressively try to target the faction-imbalance itself.
- Making it easier for groups of people or even entire companies to switch factions
- Have the taxes increase when your faction is larger than average (measured by anyone of: weekly active players, owned zones, etc)
- Have the taxes decrease when your faction is smaller than average
- Give some kind of additional one-time benefits to people picking a smaller faction when they make the first choice.
– Rare materials (different for each faction)?
– Achievement (The Underdog?)?
– Bonus territory standing?
Secondly, with numbers mattering more, optimizing battles and large-player groups fighting is going to be even more important in the long run.
However, in the short run, the fact that each battle isnt nearly as decisive as wars and invasions today, means that the playerbase are likely to be much more tolerant towards it.
With how far more of the battles are likely to take place with less planning, there needs to be ways to quickly generate a cohesive group with a “shotcaller”.
The need kind of already exists, and there are probably many ways of doing it. Below is one way that might work:
- Needs to be a group larger than 5, probably 20 or 50.
- Cannot be democratic
- Needs to be able to start quicker
– When initiated, send invite to anyone that is PvP-flagged and of your faction within a certain radius.
– Ability to repeat every once in a while, or even automatically sent if not full and someone with no “large” group comes close.
- Has a separate party display which is much more spaceefficient to accomodate the larger numbers
– Shows health and 2 icons for their weapons
– The leader can move people around between sub-groups
-The leader should get help controlling their group.
– Their context-markers are given much more oomph!
– Only they and sub-group leaders can speak and be heard by all.
– All others are only heard within their sub-group, so for important info the sub-group leader will have to repeat for the rest to hear it.
– With this, sub-group leaders will be a sort of filter for the major group, causing less chaos. At the price of making it harder for the sub-leaders to give orders to only their group…
– Separate chat-channel in which only leader and sub-leader can write, but is readable by entire group.
How the forts are designed will have a very significant effect on how entertaining this version of pvp/invsasions will be.
If the forts are designed with bottle-necks as a feature, having anyone with a PVP-flag on be body-blocking might be needed to make the most of it.
It might be worth adjusting the rate at which the maintenance buffer is consumed based on how frequented a zone is, or just directly have it less for edge-zones.
This should make it more likely that all zones end up being fairly useful.
It is possible to do something similar with the current system by adjusting costs, but it’s probably a little less things to fiddle with when it is all boiled down to a single buffer.
One should probably use a similar system to how contribution is tracked for corrupted breaches in order to give additional rewards for successful defenses against invasions.
I might be wise to limit a company to officially claim one fort in each zone, since we want to encourage the idea that defending a zone is something the faction does, not a single company.
If so, might require that a company that already has a fort can still “unclaim” forts claimed by other factions, putting the influence-gain back in their faction.
But doing so should give no tokens, and the first same-faction player of another company easily take ownership of that fort, pretty much as a freebie.
Gives no company-token rewards, and can be officially claimed by other faction-companies when they show up. (freebie)
If anything is shown visually on the map show just faction-color, and no symbol, for those that are really claimed by a company.
You could also just assume that at any given point in time there is likely to be at least players from 4 different companies available to lay claim to forts.
And that the times this isnt the case is so rare that the implications this means in trying to control influence-gain isnt worth bothering about.
Depending on if the forts are actual forts, or other types of locations, it is possible to have some or all of them generate additional benefits to the faction and/or the owning company.
Ie is a lumbermill you could do one or several of these:
- Increased yield for wood for owning faction in zone?
- Increased yield for wood for owning company in zone/globally
- Players in owning company get X pieces of random quality wood delivered to their storage every influence-tick
- Has a T5 relevant woodcutting station which has no maintenance-cost and can only be used by owning faction
– And has increased bonuses?
- Owning faction/company get increased woodcutting bonuses for any crafting done in the ordinary woodcutting station in settlement
With how the new Invasion-system is set up, it would be trivial to add other invasions(angry earth, lost) to the rotation as well, even though there is no clear connection between them and the breaches to affect how often they spawn.
Additional gold-sink can be added by allowing players to purchase “single-use” guards to forts, in a similar manner to bears and brutes in OPR. Will allow players, for a price, to buff the guards with additional units that wont
If more are bought than can be sensibly left out in the world, have these spawn in as the first ones are killed.
It would kinda make sense to have some of the PVP-quests be about temporarily buffing the existing guards or adding additional single-spawn ones (not too powerful though)
It would probably be a nice idea to also pay out some PVP-tokens for the same situations that rewards players with profit-tokens.