I made this a while back but neglected to post it. With the new forums I might as well. Let me know what you think.
Any reevaluation of the war declaration system in Eve should begin by considering the purpose that wars should play in Eve. The assumption taken here is that the war declaration system in Eve is primarily meant to allow one group of players to destroy space assets and disrupt the in-space operations of a second group of players. While other reasons for wars abound, most of them fall into what We would consider to be acts of ‘avoidable aggression’. These other cases all share the problem that no meaningful player interactions will occur, regardless of the actions undertaken by the aggressing party. In fact, at worst, they turn people away from Eve. The Eve player base naturally contains many players who enjoy pvp combat interactions, but it also includes a significant number of players who do not. No amount of mechanical systems will make a player from the second group want to take part in a war. Instead, these players simply stop playing. Therefore, we suggest that fixing the wardec system requires re-focusing it mechanically on the more limited principle that wars should be about the destruction of group assets, or a limitation of their access to resources in space, and that the system should remove some of the ways that allow large entities to prey on smaller entities for no other reason than griefing. We feel that these are reasonable objectives that both sides can come to fight over while staying away from simple denial of gameplay for the people being aggressed. To this end, We propose the following changes.
Firstly, We would suggest a total revamp of the war ally system for both defenders and attackers. We will refer to this as the protectorate system. All organizations in Eve can declare themselves to be protectors of another group. This can be a unilateral(one way) action, though it can also be bilateral(both ways), with each side declaring itself to be a protector of the other. It takes 4 hours for a protectorate to become effective (much like the current ally join timer). If a group declares itself a protector of a group with an active war, it must pay a fee commensurate to declaring war on the opposing party. Ideally, this would drive protectors to only join wars in which they have a sincere desire to participate, and dissuade them from joining protectorates in which they have little real interest. Once established, a protectorate must last for at least 48 hours. After that time, a protector can drop its role, with another 4-hour delay before the role is nullified. Any wardec made to or by one group will propagate down the chain of protectors, with all groups counting toward the cost of declaring war. The cost is currently capped at around 550M, which seems fairly reasonable for a war against a single, large group. (The current fees to declare a war are levied as follows: a flat 50M fee for the declaration, plus an additional fee based on the number of players in the corp/alliance, up to a cap of 500M, making a total possible cost of 550M ISK).
Under the protectorate system, the wardec mechanism would have to check for the possibility of recursion; if an entity involved in a chained relationship of protectorships were to wardec a ‘downstream’ protected entity, the system would have to check for this and disallow the declaration to be made. It will instead display the current chain of protectorate obligations, so that diplomatic action can be undertaken. Since the protector chain should be visible to the public, it should be possible to preemptively cut off groups who are supporting your enemies.
Secondly, there needs to be a better way to deal with neutral logistics, neutral command burst effects, and other remote assistance in wars. Under the current system, a neutral player who lends assistance to a war target receives a suspect flag (15-minute timer), which makes them vulnerable to attack from anyone present. Unfortunately, though, this mechanism is open to abuse via a loophole in the code. When a suspect (the neutral logi) is aggressed, both the aggressor and the suspect (neutral logi) also receive limited engagement flags (5-minute timer). This timer continues to refresh as long as they engage each other. The problem comes when the aggressor also has in-corp logistics ships present on the field. In theory, in-corp logistics should only be open to attack by opposing war targets. In practice, though, if the in-corp logi repairs the original aggressor – who now has an engagement timer – then the in-corp logi will also inherit a suspect flag, leaving them open to outside attack from anyone present. (There is a work-around, but it is unnecessarily complex, requiring the logistics pilot to acquire a limited engagement flag with every suspect that your fleet mates attack. This means that you do not inherit a new limited engagement and trigger a suspect flag yourself.) In short, we feel that this is broken. While engagement by neutral assistance ought to render a player open to retaliation, in-corp assistance should not.
We would propose changing this. Under the new system, if a neutral individual lends remote assistance (repping, bursts, etc) to a pilot in an active war, then that individual automatically would become flagged as a member of that protectorate for the entire duration of the war, in addition to immediately being flagged as a suspect. They are in essence choosing to join the war by lending their assistance, and as such, should automatically be included into the protectorate. However, in order to eliminate the loophole described above, attacking a player with a suspect flag should not incur a limited engagement timer for the attacker, in those cases where the attacker is already at war with them.
Neutral command bursts would have much the same effect, but with a few small differences. If a player applying command bursts has their safety set to green and is in high sec, then the burst will only affect fleet members not currently in any active wars. If a player applying command bursts has their safety set to yellow and is in high sec then the burst will affect all members of fleet, and if any fleet member is in an active war, then the command bursting player will be automatically flagged as a member of that protectorate for the duration of the war, as well as immediately going suspect to any all in the current engagement.
Our third point concerns the current proliferation of war declarations. Under the current system, war is almost always used as a means of obtaining a huge number of weak, and relatively cheap, targets, who are mostly picked off one-by-one at gates and stations. These large aggressive alliances repeatedly declare war against a long list of unaffiliated targets, in many cases for nothing more than ‘lolz’ and killmails. This merely leads to uninteresting gameplay for the defenders. If no actual space assets or resources are at stake (pocos, stations, starbases, etc), why even do it? Some habitual wardeccers claim that casting such a wide net is the only means of finding active war targets, partly because the watchlist can no longer be used to track player activity. We would make the counter-argument that war would be improved if players could be encouraged away from this behaviour.
Crucially, the indiscriminate proliferation of war declarations could be countered by implementing a soft limit on active outgoing wardecs. My recommendation is to multiply each additional war dec cost by 1.5 or a 50% cost addition for each new dec. The formula for this could be something like [ warcost = current formula * 1.5^number of active wars - 1 ]. While ISK is not an ideal method of limiting anything in Eve, due to the shear amount some entities hold, common sense (and finite bank balances) should impel even the richest of players to make reasonable decisions. Exponential costs mount up quickly; even the wealthiest of alliances will soon find themselves at the mercy of the wallet this way. Consider the following for an example of how this soft limit might work. Where a corp or alliance’s first war might cost 55M to declare against corporation , if the same alliance already has nine current wars running, the same declaration against corp (this now being their tenth declaration) should scale up to cost them 2.1 billion instead. Adding an exponential increase to the cost of war declarations should cause them to become prohibitively expensive after around the tenth active outgoing declaration, and encourage aggressors to pick targets that matter, rather than the current system of using declarations as ‘fishing expeditions’ to gather as many targets as possible.
Amendment: If the corp is closed and the isk spend on the war is refunded.
In terms of finding targets, we agree that locator agents remain a useful tool for those wars that fall under our original premise – that is, wars that have limited and tangible goals. With two small changes to the locator agent code, agents could become more useful in wars. First, the code is broken with regard to Upwell structures. Agents normally report a player’s current station, system, and region (in K-space); however, if a player is docked in an Upwell structure in K-space, the agent merely reports the system. This is clearly an oversight in the new code and should be fixed. Second, agents could be changed to report whether a player is online or offline. We agree that a return to the watchlist system of old would, at this point, be unhelpful. However, given the long delay between agent requests (every agent can only be queried once every 30 mins), and the standings bonuses (only higher-level agents report out-of-region locations), it would be difficult to abuse the agent system, but still provide some small help to those players conducting a war against an identifiable set of targets.
As a side note, one of the driving reasons for wardecs currently in Eve is killmails. As a corollary to that, one of the main reasons to avoid partaking in a war is to avoid being the subject of killmails. Killmails are permanent scars for many players, and act as a deterrent to partaking in player vs player interactions in Eve. If We might suggest a change to kill mails, it could be hugely beneficial to remove the names of defeated players from both the attackers’ mails and from the APWe pulls. An option should exist for the victim or the victim’s corporation to view the full mail, but the full mail should only be available to this limited pool of players. In this way, the ‘social trophy bonus’ from killmails is retained, while removing the permanent social and intel scars it can leave on a player.
TLDR: People can protect others, if they are decced or dec others, their protectors come along. If you neutral logi a war-target your a protector and join the dec personally. Add scaling cost to new outgoing decs. Make agents work right. Sidenote of Killmail changes to make people not scared to pew.