I posted a version of this in the Wardec discord (invite) but let me work on these ideas a little more here:
The main problem I have with this top-level discussion as reported in those minutes is that it doesn’t really address what problem they are trying to solve, and even seems confused to what are the real problems with wars. Is it their impact on new players? New groups? The “funness” or balance of the the wars themselves? I mean practically everyone acknowledges there are issues, but at least from that discussion no one seems to be on the same page, or starting from first principles and deciding what wars should be accomplishing. I think CCP Fozzie tried to get some comments on that, but how productive that effort was isn’t well reflected in the minutes.
But what can we say from reading that? Well first, I am pretty sure that both CCP’s previous statements on how new players are affected by wars, the existing stats on how players die, and the comments in these latest minutes agree that new players are not affected by wars to a large extent. As was remarked, new players don’t have anything of value, and even the edge case brought up by CCP Lebowski of new players joining a nullsec group and losing their stuff I bet statistically is insignificant. It also makes little sense as if a new player joins a nullsec group, puts everything into a hauler and heads off to nullsec to join their new group, they are as likely to lose their hauler to lowsec pirates as to wardeccers.
So new players aren’t grossly affected by wars. Veterans carebears also aren’t affected by wars either, or at least they have found easy ways around them by exploiting corp hopping and the NPC corp. That pretty much leaves larger and/or upcoming highsec groups who suffer most under the current war mechanics.
In these groups, I think the discussed social corp serves both general classes of corp well - the carebear/social/casuals who just want to fly spaceships together and not fight other groups, and the nascent competitive corp trying to grow and compete with the rest of New Eden. The first are protected from wars and can do their thing as a group (with appropriate restrictions similar what they can do now in a NPC corp and shared chat channel) and the second can use it as a temporary regrouping place if endless wars get too much. They can retreat to the protections of the social corp if the monotony of endless wars gets too much for them.
However, the social corp doesn’t solve the balance/meaning problems of wars themselves which, as many people have commented and I agree, largely stem from a lack of purpose for corps and a lack of objectives to control and fight over. As long as the reasons for wars are so ethereal some groups are going to decide they don’t want to fight this one and turtle up, like everywhere in New Eden. To rehabilitate wars, there needs to more reasons to fight in general engineered into highsec, but that isn’t a simple fix.
Social corps seem easy to implement and require little game design time as their equivalent - the NPC corp - is already in the game. Of course, I’d love it if the devs get the go-ahead from the higher ups and could spend the time to reimagine the whole thing and come up with a more dynamic and balanced system that puts players fighting over real, organic sandbox objectives. I just estimate the chance of that at near zero.
But reading this discussion, I am not sure I learned anything new about wars. New players don’t die often in wars - knew that. Wars are especially harsh on smaller highsec groups that reach a certain critical mass and get noticed - knew that too. Player activity (read krabbing) drops during a war - easily predictable give how the two preferred strategies to deal with wars are not undocking and using alts or staying logged off, or corp rolling/hopping. Plus, reducing player activity/income is often the main point of wars. I expect a similar drop in the level of activity of bad nullsec corps that rely on local as their only defence when an AFK cloaker shows up, just as we see for the many highsec corps rely on CONCORD as their only defence.
In fact, I would argue that some drop in “activity”, or at least some kinds of activity is desirable in your competitive game, as if players were completely unaffected by another group actively trying to kill them, the game would clearly be broken.
Well, if anything, this discussion convinced me more that a social corp giving groups the ability to opt-out of wars much like the NPC corp does for individual players is the only practical improvement possible. I see no other solution that doesn’t involve a sweeping revamp of highsec and CrimeWatch mechanics, which I deem there not to be enough resources for. But I am under no illusion that if CCP executes a social corp perfectly, the complaining will stop. There will always be players that feel entitled to free NPC-protection and all the perks of a competitive corp are who will still be upset another group has the ability to turn that off and make them actively defend themselves, even if you point them directly to the new social corp and tell them to live there if they don’t want to deal with wars. There will also be constant background whining that it is unfair the competitive corps get toys like structures, and moaning from the corps that do take the step to becoming a “full corp” and who get beat in a war and fail, just like people complain about how things are unbalanced and favour the bigger, stronger side everywhere else in the game.
That’s Eve for you. Wars are a manifestation of the core idea of the game and are often going to result in one side declining to participate because they are outmatched or unwilling to risk anything, or being smashed into oblivion by a steamrolling opponent. I hope next time wars are discussed CCP has had some more time to think about what they want wars to do and what they want highsec to be, and is willing to share that with the CSM and the players. I think it would be a more productive use of everyone’s time, even if I do appreciate the fact that the CSM pushed to have this session at all.
Baby steps I guess.