The T.A.B. – FW series, Tweaking A Better FW, will focus on discussing the different mechanics of Faction Warfare, their strengths and flaws, and the different ways those mechanics affect Faction Warfare.
In Faction Warfare when a faction controls a system, that faction has the opportunity to upgrade it by donating Loyalty Points (LP) to the system’s Infrastructure Hub (IHUB).
As you would expect, upgrading a system gives benefits to the people living in that system. But today, I will tell you about why those benefits should be removed.
System Upgrades! Huh! What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!
First off let’s see what System Upgrades and Levels in FW are really about.
A system starts at what we could call Level 0. The system has a zero amount of LP donated to it and thus doesn’t have any upgrade active. Then a player of the faction controlling the system can come to that Level 0 system and donate LP to the IHUB.
For each Level the IHUB needs a certain amount of LP donated to it. For Level 1 the IHUB would need 40000 LP, for Level 5 it would need 200000 LP. When the amount of LP reaches those thresholds, the system receives the corresponding upgrades.
For each Level, starting at 1, the system will receive a 10% reduction to broker fees for contracts and market orders, and a 10% reduction to costs for industry activities in NPC stations. But more importantly, the system will start giving out one additional Point toward warzone control for each Level of the system to the Faction Tier. For example, an non-upgraded system would give 1 point out of the 420 available in the Caldari-Gallente warzone or out of the 606 points available in the Amarr-Minmatar warzone.
This is of course important, as the more you upgrade your systems, the closer your faction gets to the next Tier, and thus to an increased amount of LP from plexing and missioning.
So if those are the benefits you get for upgrading a system I’m sure most of you can already see a glaring problem with those upgrades. They provide very little to people fighting in the warzones (I will call them FW Soldiers). Those are great benefits for FW Industrialists or FW Market Moguls. But for the FW Soldier who makes his money by plexing, missioning, or exploding other people, the bonuses are next to inconsequential. And that’s not the sole problem. It’s hard to realize it the first time you see the upgrade, but it profits to everyone in the system, even people who are not in FW. That means Pirates living in your system will profit from your hard-earned, but ultimately donated, LP.
This is somewhat problematic.
That, coupled with the fact that outside of the points they provide toward warzone control, their benefits only matter when you have stations in the corresponding system, as you cannot make market orders or contracts without interacting with a station.
So we have a set of benefits that barely profit FW Soldiers and whose only reliable utility is to serve as a faction tax on LP and as a way to determine who has the biggest hold on the warzone.
The problem is that if the goal of those upgrades are merely to assess control of the warzone, the number of systems controlled could easily do that. Keep It Simple, Sherry!
Isn’t that LP Maintenance Tax Useful?
There is a case that the System Upgrades and Levels give a way for the game to get some LP out of the economy. As more people push for higher tiers, they have to spend more LP to maintain that amount of control of the warzone. It does make sure the winning side has to work to maintain its advantage.
However, the problem is most of the time you only have a select amount of people that take care of upgrading those systems. As people notice that the warzone control is decreasing, you have the same people in Militia Chat acting like it’s the end of the world and asking for everyone around to donate. Indeed they are going to beg people to donate, because their farming depends on it. Suddenly losing 50% or 75% of what you were supposed to get is a big deal. The problem is they also have the very best reason to not donate: greed.
After all some sucker will eventually do it for them!
So we have a system asking people to donate for the greater good in a game that is very much capitalistic. Thus the obvious result, only a select few will be able to donate and care enough to do it.
If the goal is really to get more LP out of the system as people control more of the warzone, a better way to do it is simply to tax people when they convert their LP. Again, Keep It Simple, Sheesh!
So in the end we have a system benefiting the wrong people and whose useful functions could be better handled by better mechanics.
Eliminate or Ameliorate?
Of course you could say that instead of removing these mechanics, we could change them so that they become something more desirable for FW Soldiers. But it would be difficult to find benefits that would only benefit FW Soldiers in a way that would motivate them to donate. If you make the donation system increase the resources available in the system, such as rats or asteroids, then everyone and even those not in FW, can benefit from those upgrades. If you make them about benefits to corps living there, repair costs, or other things like that, those benefits will only matter in systems with stations.
There is only one kind of benefit that could matter even in systems without a station that solely benefits people in FW, and that is having System Levels increase the amount of LP the controlling faction can get out of the system! Other than that, you need a station or you end up with something benefiting everyone in that system’s space. And the obvious problem is, the tier system already take care of affecting the amount everyone can get out of a system’s plexes. You have a clear overlap of purpose here.
From there, you are stuck with two options: Make the Tier system no longer affect the amount of LP gained from plexes and FW missions or come to the conclusion that there are really no benefits you could give through system levels that would make them good for FW. And if donating is not about benefits, it merely becomes a glorified tax on LP. And the burden of this tax falls onto the less selfless among the militia (while everyone else farms away).
I’ve heard many times that the Tier system should be removed outright. Following that perspective, you could say system levels would do a better job at handling LP amounts from FW systems. I don’t exactly like that perspective because the Tier system so far has actually done its job. It makes people care about systems and money. You have a very clear and direct incentive to make that control bar gets bigger and you are properly rewarded when you do so.
Suddenly, if you remove the Tier system, you end up with null-sec. A place where the only motivation is your ego. Although I can see the “romantic” aspect of it, that leaves out a big portion of not only the EVE player base, but of the gaming population. Plus, the Tier system can do everything System Upgrades can do, and more! Want to add mechanics to help the losing side? Add them to Tier 1. Want to add benefits to Stations, they can fit right into the Tier system.
Whatever way you look at it, System Levels and Upgrades are either boring, redundant, or downright punitive.
Every day FW shows its potential for content creation both on a small and large scale. But what will help the zone reach its potential is the implementation of more mechanics that encourage people to get into more plexes and do more fighting. Unfortunately, System Upgrades and Levels do not help with that. They add a burden to a system that doesn’t really need it. More complication in what is so far a pretty clean and straightforward set of mechanics.
Removing them could only help in making FW cleaner and more focused.