Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CSM #3 Policy: Gameplay

Gameplay is a broad topic, and I have opinions on a wide range of issues related to the actual gameplay mechanics of Eve. I've picked out two to give emphasis to in this campaign, but if you want to know my opinions on any topic, feel free to contact me in-game, on this site, or by email.

The first topic I'd like to focus on is the issue of low-security space. At present, lowsec is basically a wasteland. It's the realm of too many pirates chasing not enough targets, with the odd factional warfare gang, newbie on autopilot, alliance convoy, or industrialist using short-wait research lines to mix it up a little bit. It should be a stepping stone for players and corporations who want to move towards the more lucrative but more dangerous 0.0 space, not a scrapheap that seemingly exists solely to sit in between useful parts of space. There have been some improvements in the state of lowsec in recent months. Most notably, the addition of battleship rats was a welcome change, adding significantly to the profitability of lowsec ratting. However, I don't believe that this is enough. Lowsec will never be as busy as Jita, but it needs to be improved further so that there's a reason for risk-tolerating players to try their hand at it.

I do not believe that the solution to lowsec lies in doing one big thing, no matter what that one thing is. Space that is mostly useless but has one overwhelmingly profitable thing is difficult to balance, swingy, and doesn't promote a healthy environment. You get people doing that one thing, and the pirates who hunt them, and nothing else. And if that one thing ever dries up, we're back to square one. The correct solution to lowsec is a smaller, but more wide-ranging, buff. Don't give it 0.0 moon mining and highsec ore, give it a medium level of both. As such, I have brought up a number of proposals for buffing lowsec. None of them does the job by itself, but none is supposed to. Each will bring in some new people, and together they should lead us to a better lowsec all around, with many groups who have a reason to want to visit.

The two primary improvements that I see as necessary to this change are a significant improvement to the profitability of lowsec mining, to bring it back up to being a fair bit more profitable than highsec mining, and the ability for players to claim lowsec space as their own and defend it without destroying their ability to enter highsec. My thread on lowsec mining has several interesting ideas for how to improve the profitability of lowsec mining, all of which I will bring forward to CCP if elected. My personal preference is for new ores, to allow lowsec to remain profitable even if nocxium is cheap, but the proposals for illegal crystals or even a simple buff to the existing lowsec ores are also worth looking at.

The proposal for lowsec occupancy is more complex, but I believe that it will help greatly in establishing actual residents of lowsec other than -10 pirates. For the details of this proposal, look at the thread I posted on the topic, but the broad strokes are to allow corporations to gain occupancy status in lowsec systems not currently used for factional warfare, which will grant them a POS fuel use reduction as well as several mechanics to let players better defend their space from incursions without losing sec status nearly as quickly as they do at present. The proposal has been balanced to ensure that this doesn't just mean that alliances conquer all of lowsec, or that pirates take over a system and get free ganks on any passers-by. Of course, some systems will likely be held by large alliances or pirate corporations, but the bulk of the use of this mechanic will likely be from smaller corporations looking to establish an actual presence in lowsec, which is exactly the sort of thing needed to make lowsec more heavily occupied and otherwise more useful space.

Related to this is the idea of adding new epic mission arcs. I have already proposed this, and it has been taken up by the current CSM, but I will continue to work for its implementation going forward. This proposal is intended to serve two main purposes. First, it deals with the longstanding issue of players being irrevocably frozen out of a faction's space due to low standings in a much nicer way than at present. It is simple, logical, has the correct level of effort required, and should be interesting to play through instead of just endless grinding. Secondly, while the proposal will be usable for minor and pirate factions, the primary use of it will be for the four main empires, and for the four empires the arc will be based in lowsec. This fits into the aforementioned goal of providing many groups reasons to visit lowsec - there aren't many people who want to recover standings at any given time, but they're yet another group who can be given a good reason to visit lowsec.

The second broad topic is the improvement of some underused skill trees. This is not as pressing an issue as it was during the last election, due to the addition of neural remapping in Apocrypha, but there still ought to be a better balance between the skill trees and attributes. In particular, Charisma skills are in woefully short supply. A player can easily spend two years in a Per/Wil specialization, training ships and guns, but there are barely enough skills using Charisma to fill a one-year specialization even if you take everything useful to 5. While remapping helps those looking to lower their Charisma, it doesn't do much for people who want to use it. I think that there are many reasonable Charisma-using skills that could be added to the game. I believe that there is room for a significant expansion of the Corporation Management tree, with some specialized skills for POS gunnery, as well as an expansion of corporate officer roles to include new skills(I've got a thread on this topic I'll be raising once I have the details ironed out). There's also room for a couple Social skills to be added, such as one to determine how often you can decline missions. I'll do a lot of consulting before I make a final proposal on what sort of skills should be added, but those are the areas where I think there is room for useful expansion. There will never be as many Cha skills as Per or Int, but it should be less lopsided.

There are, of course, a thousand other gameplay issues I could discuss. Issues like balancing of Doomsday Devices, revamping of sovereignty, allowing alliances into Factional Warfare, fundamentally changing the nature of how rats drop loot, revamping the production cycle to include components, and dozens of others in this vein have been the primary job of the CSM thus far, and this will not change in future. There are far too many of these issues for me to express an opinion on each of them here, but if you want to know about any of them, just ask me. However, I will outline my approach to these issues generally.

Firstly, my primary goal is to do what is best for the game as a whole. I'm not running to benefit one group at the expense of others, and even if I was, CCP wouldn't implement any such proposals. There are always winners and losers in a change, but I will do my best to ensure that every change I propose would create more winners.

Secondly, I will ensure that every proposal I make is careful and well-considered. I like to muse about many things on the forums, but when it comes time to do this as a responsibility and not a hobby, I will take it seriously and ensure that my advice to CCP is as good as I can make it. CCP operates under limits on time, money, programmers, public relations and player sentiment, and they are hemmed in by the consequences of their past actions. If the CSM does not respect these limitations and seek to work within them ourselves, we might as well be talking to a wall, because our suggestions will be useless to CCP. I will attempt to make proposals that respect the real limitations on CCP, and that work within those limitations to make a better game for everybody.

And thirdly, I will consult with players on proposed changes. I read a large swath of the forums, and I like to think that I generally know what's going on with the game, but I don't know Doomsdays as well as a Titan pilot, and I don't know manufacturing as well as a long-time T2 builder. If I'm proposing major changes to the way that these people play the game, I intend to talk with them first. That includes any other CSM reps with special knowledge of one aspect of the game, and it includes players at large. I will maintain an open-door policy when communicating with you, the player, and will take into consideration what the players tell me on issues. Nobody gets a veto, but if you have something to say I'll listen.

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