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.


  1. I suspect that in EVE, just like a conquering empire in real life, the winners often don't care. They won, and they're gonna rub your nose in it.

    Some, more enlightened empires, have made a history of absorbing cultures and not being such a fantastic jerk on the world stage (Persian Empire is a prime example, yet even it had its hubris). However, the "I'm gonna pound you so hard until your eyes bleed" empire is far more frequent.

    For the devs, however, it is a problem that they'd better figure out how to solve, because a game that suffers significant sub loss is a game with major problems.

  2. The thing with null sec is that the map colors change, but the players remain the same. The losers, if their alliance breaks up, tend to join other alliance. If not, they find new ways to get back into the game.

    I think, as an example, we have thrown Nulli Secunda out of their space twice, yet there they are, still on the map. The Russians imploded, but those still keen managed to find homes.

    Meanwhile, a couple of the TEST corps joined CFC alliances after the Fountain war, while the rest spent some time in Factional Warfare before returning to null as part of the HERO coalition as junior partners to Brave Newbies.

    Basically, people who like to play the game in null sec tend to find ways to stick with it. Corps move from one alliance to another. Aside from a few groups with long standing animosity, propaganda aside, it tends to be pretty easy on the losers.

    Not that there is not attrition, and the current state of affairs with two major power blocs isn't ideal. But those that want to be in null for fights can get in there.

  3. I don't know about that Wilhelm. One could say the same thing about raiders. After a raid guild breaks up due to drama, surely the people who like raiding just find new guilds?

    Yet, I'm not sure that's completely true. Some of them do, certainly, and you see their names again and again. But a lot of them don't. They leave the game.

  4. Well, yes, you could say the same about nearly anything. Anytime some team doesn't do well, some percentage says, "Screw it!" and goes off to something else.

    But you were casting this, in your post, as though a whole alliance of people, TEST specifically, up and walked away from EVE Online after losing the war in Fountain. However, I know that to be untrue, and can go over to DOTLAN EVE Maps and see exactly what happened with each corp in TEST.

    So, while I am no expert, I do not see any basis for your claim that the losers in such a war leave the game in any greater percentage than, say, people who got suicide ganked in high sec or any of the other ways that EVE can make people angry. Or bored. Lack of a war in null sec leads to a lot of attrition as well, for winners and losers alike.

    But all the data is out there if you want to make a study of it. FinFleet might be an interesting corp to study. They've been together since 2007 and have been on the losing side of most of the major wars in the game.