I submit to your attention a tentative Plan (my trademark word for Suggestion) in order to solve the Commitment Problem in Faction Warfare plexes.
From what has been my experience after Uprising, the problem of people farming and yet still not being committed to a plexe (whether in assets or in time) has not been resolved yet. People farm plexes with empty hulls, or just never bother to engage even after spending 10mins or more in a plex.
A long time ago, I came with the realization that people will never feel committed to a plexe unless they have something on the line, and thus I proposed the Faction Warfare Plex Enhancer a long time ago as part of the Dantelion Plan.
But now I have realized that there is something else that can make people commit to the plexe.
The idea of directly helping the other side at their expense.
Thus came the following realization about Shared Timers:
Time in a plex should be shared between both factions of a Warzone. If a Faction Warfare pilot flees or is chased out by the pilot of another militia, the pilot of the other militia gets to keep the time the first pilot spent in the plexe in order to complete the timer himself.
To put it simply, leaving your plexe would be akin to forfeiting your time to the other side.
So you not only have wasted your time if you flee, but someone else gets to profit from your work.
Sure, this will not make absolutely everyone fight for their plexes, but this will introduce another side to the equation of “should I stay and fight and risk my ship, or should I warp away”, and if the pilot denies content to the other, the hunter gets to profit for the risk he was willing to take.
Alongside that I have a couple of changes that would accommodate this idea.
Drastic Changes to the overall distribution of Plexes
Commitment to plexes can be further increased by changing the way Plexes are distributed across systems and constellations.
The gist of the idea:
Focus on a limited number of sizes in a given solar system and focus on interactions between that limited number.
For example, a solar system would have plexes of size Small, Medium, Large, and that’s it. No Scout, no Open, just those 3.
Now between the 3 of them each size can have a clear role in the dynamics in the solar system.
The smallest size is a catchup mechanic. The other side is dominant, they have bigger guns and more numbers, thus you downsize yourself and run the smaller plexes. This is essentially a lose state, but you still get to be in the race and keep pace with the enemy.
The smaller plexes accommodate smaller groups by providing full rewards to less people (5), while the Middle size would provide full rewards to more people (10).
A more important number of plexes of Middle size would be present in the system, and that number would give a good ceiling and target number for FW corps, they would look to be able to run all the plexes at this size, and if there was 5 of them, the target size for a FW corp would be 5 x 10 = 50. A corp that would just blob one plex would get LP at a slower pace as a group, and would also open itself to being outmaneuvered in the other plexes.
The introduction of shared time between factions makes movement between those plexes AND sizes very tempting. The bigger size can choose to also downsize, but then they open themselves to being outrunned in the bigger plex (the people in the Small can still enter the Medium) and they receive less rewards than the smaller side.
And as fleets go back and forth from plexes, the timer still runs and approaches its conclusion that will ask for either action or conceding the plex.
Then the Largest Plexe can serve as a joker. Full rewards for everyone, but only 1 present in the system. The role of that size would be to allow a superior organization/fleet to essentially win out the system, while still exposing itself to being caught with its pants down or over-committed.
All those plexes should always be spawned together. And not until all those plexes are run can there be new plexes spawned following that structure.
Alongside that, at the Constellation level, a counter can be put to encourage people to not just stick to the plexes of a single system, and to not have to feel like they have to upsize once all the smaller plexes have been run. That counter would pretty much act as a way to encourage plexing all around the frontline, but also would act as a counter-force to blobs who would focus on a single plex at a time.
If the force that is more mobile gets more plexes outside of a solar system, they ought to have an advantage when they come for that solar system later, even at a smaller size.
To sum it, through Shared Timers, and through a Distribution of Plexes that focus on a few select sizes at a time in each solar system, while still having a counter for Constellation-wide plexing, we can create a dynamic that not only solve the problem of Commitment, but also creates a gameplay that rewards mobility, size selection, and both solar-wide tactics and constellation-wide strategy.
This is essentially a Tentative Plan to tackle both Commitment and the dynamics in Plexes. I plan to do a more proper document if I have time further detailing it.
Also, as a side note, Backline systems should probably be made into the only systems where FW ships can be manufactured, or at least have a significant reduction in their manufacturing costs. This would give FW its specific industrial dimension, linked to its geography, and encourage FW actors to participate in it.
That’s it, Cheers!