Monday, July 21, 2014

Sandbox PvP: What to do with the Losers?

Last week, I posted a story from the Mittani detailing how Goonswarm  beat Test, not specifically on the battlefield, but by breaking them as an institution.

While it's a clever and effective tactic, one has to wonder if it is a good tactic for the game at large. One thing I've noticed is that when a guild or group breaks from drama, a significant percentage of players just quit the game outright. I would imagine that something similar happens in Eve when a guild breaks because of meta-game tactics.

Even generally, though, what should a PvP sandbox do with the losers of a PvP war? For the sandbox to be meaningful, they must lose. But for the long term health of the game, they should not be pushed to quit.

Perhaps the winning side should have an incentive to absorb the losers. There's a lot to be said for this approach. For one thing, it pushes the winning side to be more "gentle" in their tactics. If you pursue warfare by any means necessary, the losers won't join you after the fight is done, and that weakens your long term position.

For example, maybe in Eve there could be something where every planet has a governor. Only one planet per account, and the governor has to continue to keep the planet in health. So if an alliance conquers more planets than it has members, it needs people to maintain those planets. Simply absorbing the current governors into the winning alliance structure gives you people.

For the losing side, well, you lost the war. But now you are on the winning side, so maybe you keep playing with new people.

Of course, the issue with this is that it's a case of the "rich getting richer". An alliance which wins a war due to superior numbers has even more numbers after the conflict finishes. That could set up a positive feedback loop which pushes the alliance to dominate the game.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spycraft in Eve Online

I came across this story from the Mittani (leader of Goons in Eve):

Two interesting comments popped up on my Update Dance piece:  
One of the greatest troubles TEST faced during the war was information overload. There was so much to organize and so many channels of communication were dead as people went afk. 
Night after night it was a hairpull trying to find structures to bash. Just from alliance chat, we'd get 40-ish people in bombers with blops easy; getting someone in recon to provide the location of an SBU was the hard part. 
I was in White Van during that war. The number of early mistakes the CFC made in not IHUBing captured systems, or letting me follow folks SBUing... After week three I gave up, my reports and scouting went nowhere... asked for jobs, got none. 
This was because the GIA had compromised the spreadsheet that TEST Recon used to record all their scout information on. We wouldn't alter the spreadsheet in a flagrant way, just adding slight errors throughout it which were always written off as user error or incompetence. POS locations would remain on the right planet, but slip a moon or two to the left; key tower reinforcement timers would be adjusted by an hour too soon or too late. Because we were subtle, this 'incompetence' resulted in a ton of redundant and replicated work as the same targets had to be scanned and rescanned. Eventually the whole org collapsed under the strain, and without functional recon you cannot win - or even stay afloat - in a bloc war. 

That's the kind of thing that happens in the first few weeks of a war with the CFC, when our enemies are usually yowling to anyone who will listen about how we're 'not winning fast enough' or otherwise completely stalemated: we assault the people and the institutions of a hostile org first, and the actual sov is an afterthought. Watching your foes tear each other apart as they blame one another for errors your agents seeded is an added bonus. 

I don't know if this really happened, or if the Mittani is just sowing dissension and playing head games with his current enemies. The comments on the post seem to indicate that it really happened.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

DPS Feedback Idea - Historical Meter

As you know, I am of the opinion that the reason of lot of DPS players play badly is not because they don't care, or are innately bad. Instead it is because they lack the required feedback necessary to improve.

Currently, the best tool for feedback is DPS meters. But while DPS meters work, they are a very blunt instrument. They don't account for differences in gear, or fights, or even tell what number you should be aiming for.

I think a better DPS meter could be made, but it would probably require the game developers to implement.

Currently, DPS meters compare you to the other players in the current fight. It would be better if the DPS meter compared you to the overall historical performance of people with your item level.

Let's start by recording everyone's performance on individual boss fights. Note the boss, DPS done, and the item level of the player. Once you aggregate all the records, you can tell for a given boss and item level, what the top DPS was, or what the median DPS was.

That gives you a target number. If the top DPS on Boss A at i500 is 10k, you can tell the player after Boss A: "You did 6k damage. The top DPS was 10k." That is concrete feedback. The player can't blame her gear or the fight mechanics.

Of course, using the top DPS mark is probably bad, because it would be a very lucky parse and probably individuals doing something excessive to hit that mark. A better target number would be something like one standard deviation above the median. Or possibly target the range between the median and one standard deviation.

The advantage of using this mechanism, which looks back at the history of all the people doing the fight is that it nullifies variables and fight mechanics. Because the amount of data collected is large, a few lucky parses or exceptional players do not skew the results. It provides a viable target number that people know for a fact is within the capabilities of the class and gear.

As well, this doesn't necessarily involve the entire raid. You aren't being compared to other people you know, but to the entirety of the WoW community.

If feedback is vague, you can always make excuses as to why you don't need to improve. For the DPS to improve, they first need unequivocal proof that improvement is necessary. This Historical DPS Meter would provide that feedback.