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Thread: Yokai's guide to rank progression (reputation) and working around the seeming bugs

  1. #1

    Yokai's guide to rank progression (reputation) and working around the seeming bugs

    Those of us who have successfully ranked up to Baron or higher (or the Federal equivalent) in a major faction's navy, or who have achieved Friendly or higher reputation with a major faction, have already wrapped our heads around the very obtuse and nonintuitive way that rank progression and reputation progress works. But I see _many_ posts and threads demonstrating great confusion with these two systems and no clear guides yet. Like many other players strugging through the progression, I often wondered if I was being hampered by an outright bug or simply didn't understand the mechanics. Searching for keywords to help answer these questions found only threads where most people surmised that rank progression was just outright broken, and the few voices here and there who tried to explain how it worked and how it wasn't broken were hard to find and not very detailed. So, hopefully this guide will be remembered and pointed to when the next OMG IT'S BROKEN thread arises.

    Note: this guide will not discuss "influence". The community as a whole seems to be demonstrating to FD that influence is indeed broken right now, or else we just haven't reverse-engineered how it works yet. EDIT: Everything the community knows about "influence" so far is summarized quite handily in this one post in the long "Mercs of Mikuun" thread. Give some rep to the commander who painstakingly compiled and summarized this _great_ list of dev quotes.

    -----Does this sound like you?-----

    So: You're trying to reach Baron rank in the Empire so you can finally buy that sweet Imperial Clipper, but those "naval ascension" mission never seem to appear, or flowed nicely for a while and then suddenly stopped for many days or even weeks. (The bug allowing the Clipper to be purchased earlier than Baron rank has been squashed in v1.05, BTW.) Or you're getting shot at in various systems--perhaps suddenly and unexpectedly--and you've become aware of this thing called "reputation" and are now trying to improve it, but it never seems to go up. Or you've gotten a new system permit invitation, and after visiting the system you don't get any "message" or "communique" as clearly stated in the special summons, and then the SAME permit invitation keeps appearing in the "unobtainable" section of your bulletin boards. Or, you get scanned for hauling some "illegal" cargo and your reputation with a major faction suddenly goes from ALLIED to UNFRIENDLY. Say whaaa?

    Do scenarios like this mean you are bugged? Is this bug the reason you haven't seen a new rank mission in ages, or the reason you haven't seen your reputation with a major faction change in weeks? No, probably not. There actually IS a rhyme and reason to both rank progression and reputation progression. (Well, TBH the system permit system IS buggy as heck, but not in a way that hampers either your rank/reputation progession OR that hampers your system permit unlock progression. And yes, SOL permits are currently bugged for beta players, but again not in a way that hampers anything except perhaps subsequent permit unlocks for Federation-aligned players.)

    ----- Rank vs Reputation vs System Permit Unlocks -----

    Naval ranks and reputation "ranks" are not the same thing, and they have a _mostly_ independent progression. System permit unlocks are also a _mostly_ independent progression. More about the specific dependencies in a moment.

    Indicators of naval rank progression are very clear: you get a clearly different "naval ascension" mission (or similar title) in your bulletin board list, you complete the mission, and you can clearly see the rank label change in the REPUTATION sub-tab of your System window's STATUS tab from "Squire" to "Knight" (and so on). One mission: one rank. If you want details on each specific rank and what type of missions you must run to advance each rank, you can look at some excellent guides by Commander Fenris Wolf that I'll link in another section further below (SPOILER ALERT).

    However, indicators of reputation progression are more obtuse. All you ever see are some blue or red arrows in the REPUTATION sub-tab (or in the mission completion screen). Sometimes those arrows disappear entirely. What's going on?

    -----How rank, reputation, and system permits relate to each other-----

    Your reputation with each MAJOR faction is the primary driver to rank progression and system permits. However, there is ALSO some RNG randomness involved! Think of it like this: You have a hidden "reputation score" with each major faction. You can see only broad labels like Hostile, Neutral, Friendly, Allied, and so on. But each of these broad "bands" of reputation comprise a range of numeric values. For example, when the number hits a certain point, you get bumped up to "Friendly". If the number drops below that point again, you drop back to "Neutral".

    Where it gets tricky is that the numeric value of your "reputation score" ALSO drives certain thresholds after which some RNG kicks in to determine when you'll see your next rank ascension mission or your next system permit unlock. Even more tricky: these threshold values are DIFFERENT from the points at which the broad labels like Hostile, Neutral, Friendly, etc. are applied.

    So: you just finished one rank mission for "Serf", and the _very_ next time you open a bulletin board you see another "ascension opportunity" mission! You complete that one, and now you've gone from Outsider > Serf > Master in just two back-to-back trips! But then.... 5 days (or more) go by and you don't see another "ascension opportunity". This is all explained by thresholds and RNG. What happened in this scenario is that you actually hit the Empire reputation score to unlock the "Serf" mission several days ago, but RNG prevented it from appearing in a bulletin board. In the meantime, you kept advancing your reputation with the Empire and finally kicked it over the threshold for the "Master" mission. Then, finally, the RNG gods rolled in your favor and finally made the "Serf" mission pop, and on your next visit to the bulletin board, the RNG gods again rolled in your favor and you got the "Master" mission pop. But after that point? Who knows? Maybe the RNG gods just hate you for the next 5 days, OR, you might have actually lowered your underlying reputation score with the Empire and not even have realized it.

    The bottom line here is this: to advance your naval ranks, you simply must keep working diligently to push up your reputation with the associated MAJOR faction, AND you must also be patient and pray to the RNG gods to smile down upon you. However, there are lots of ways you might be letting that reputation score drop down, without realizing it, which might take the RNG gods completely out of the equation for a while. We'll cover how this works in the next section.

    This pattern I've described for the naval rank unlocks is exactly the same for the system permit unlocks. You hit a certain threshold score, and now RNG might finally roll your invitation to the locked system.

    Let's step aside for a moment to talk about the one thing about system permits that is truly buggy ATM. Well, two things that are buggy. There _seems_ to be a genuine bug where beta people who already unlocked SOL are not actually able to visit SOL post-release, and the post-release version of the system invite is persistenly in the "unobtainable" section of the mission board. That said, what those beta folks might be experiencing is the next bug, which applies to EVERYONE. The bug has two separate issues:
    1. Your summons to visit a system like "Summerland" (Empire) clearly states to look for a "communique" when you arrive at Summerland. However, this is just flavor text, and is totally misleading. Because there is no communique.
    2. The same summons to Summerland (or whatever) keeps appearing in the unobtainable section of the bulletin board after that. And keeps appearing. Sometimes appearing twice in the same bulletin board!

    The important point is that: A) you have successfully unlocked Summerland (or whatever), and B), at some point in the future you will eventually pass the reputation threshold needed for the _next_ system permit mission, and it's all up the RNG gods after that. In the meantime, it's nothing more than an annoying bug that you keep seeing those summons in the BB. Most importantly, NOTHING about this particular bug affects or "breaks" your naval rank progression or your reputation growth/loss with the Major faction.

    -----How exactly do you control your MAJOR faction reputation growth?-----

    Because the obtuse blue/red indicators are not well understood, it's hard to tell exactly why your reputation gain with a Major faction might seem to have stalled out. For a long time. OMG IS IT BUGGED? No. All is well. And actualy the mechanics are pretty easy to understand and explain. Just not that easy to reverse engineer.

    A) Your rep with each MAJOR faction relies on the cumulative growth of your reputation with multiple MINOR factions.

    B) It's not enough to become "Allied" with just two or three MINOR factions. At some point, your MAJOR faction growth will stall out unless you increase reputation with _more_ different MINOR factions.

    C) It's _far_ easier to lose reputation than to gain it. If you botch one mission or inadvertently do anything to cause a red "down" arrow for a faction, it takes multiple blue "up" arrows to eventually compensate for the loss. You can dig yourself a hole that will take a _very_ long time to crawl up out of. Of special note: smuggling illegal goods or shooting at a "clean" target can cause a HUGE reputation drop if you don't pay the associated fines on time! (For example: Why is it so easy to ruin your reputation?). PAY YOUR FINES PROMPTLY, and don't freak out when you see a huge reputation swing: it might simply be temporary until you pay off the fines. Even after paying the fines, you might need to relog before you see your reputation restored correctly.

    D) Every blue "up" arrow for a minor faction at mission completion also contributes to a positive improvement for the minor faction's associated MAJOR faction. BUT ONLY TO A POINT! Basically, once your minor faction's visible "band" hits ALLIED, either it completely stops contributing to the major faction's reputation gain or at the very least tapers off to a much flatter slope of improvement. The bottom line is simple: STOP ranking up a minor faction after you hit ALLIED, and go find _other_ minor factions that you haven't ranked up yet. For example, I was stalled out at "Lord" rank in the Empire navy for a long time. As soon as I experimented with consciously raising my reputation for three entirely new minor factions in the Empire that I hadn't yet done missions for, within just a couple hours my "Baron" mission finally popped. Before that, I had been trade grinding for my Clipper out of stations that made me allied with only three different Empire sub-factions, so I wasn't hitting the threshold needed to tell the RNG gods to make with the "Baron" opportunity. This entire time, I was sitting at "Friendly" with the Empire as a whole.

    E) It has been surmised by some players that if you do missions for a minor faction that is not aligned with the controlling faction for a station, then you make greater reputation gains both for the minor faction and the associated major faction. Me? I'm not so sure, but I'll throw that out here for consideration. Not really sure how to test the verity of this assertion or not.

    F) If you do missions for a MINOR faction that does not also belong to the MAJOR faction you're trying to improve your reputation for, then you will not grow your MAJOR reputation. You should always look closely at the REPUTATION sub-tab of your System window's STATUS tab for every new station before you start pulling missions from the bulletin board. Make sure that you choose missions ONLY from those minor factions that are allied with the major faction you're trying to improve! Any one system typically has a mixture of minor factions from _different_ major factions operating inside of it. Know your factions!

    -----Fenris Wolf's excellent guides to specific naval ranks (SPOILERS)-----

  2. #2
    Very helpful, thanks again

  3. #3
    I have a headache... this is way complicated...


    1: What does leveling with a faction actually do? It says Allied, i get a nice "Welcome friend" when i request docking, everyone's Green on my radar... and then what?

    2: Concerning Naval Rankings... I had multiple Ranking Missions to accomplish (0 cr - Reputation Gain).
    Situation: I was Warrant Officer (feds), i accomplished 3 Reputation Gain missions back to back. I am Ensign. Shouldn't i be LT Commander?

  4. #4
    THAT explains it! I was banging my head why doing all these missions weren't raising my Fed rep out of Unfriendly, even though I had gotten one subfaction to 'allied,' but this explains it -- I need to do missions for more subfactions. Thank you!!

  5. #5
    I would like to put forth the theory that reputation gains are not accumulated the instant a mission or act is finished. Or alternatively, gains are immediate but the arrow is displayed a proportionate time to the actual reputation gained (much more likely).

    In other words, the amount of reputation that you gain can be seen in the length of time that the arrow, positive or negative, persists. This is only a theory but it is something that I've noticed while grinding reputation.

    If the case is the former, then it may be of use to time out reputation gains so that you cause the next reputation gain just AFTER the blue arrow disappears. Once again this is very much speculation.

    at the very least, if the arrow in fact does indicate the amount of reputation gained by the amount of time it persists on the GUI, then we might have a good indicator as to the best types of activities that will cause the most reputation gain.

    Also if this is true reputation might work more like a constant tick rather than an immediate value. In other words the game might be saying, instead of "give player X reputation", it might actually be "give player X milliseconds of reputation gain at Y rate".

  6. #6
    @Thisdale - There are actually several good benefits to being "Friendly" or "Allied" with the _controlling_ faction of a station:

    1. New outfitting gear appears that is _not_ available when you have neutral or even friendly faction. For example, I traded in my Asp for my Clipper at the station where I turned in the delivery mission that pushed me to Baron rank. However, they had literally NONE of the upgrades I actually wanted to put on the Clipper. I mean, for pretty much every single internal slot there was no option to buy the specific module I wanted. I had to fly all the way back to my "home" station where I had Allied status with the controlling faction. There, every single advanced module I wanted was available.

    2. The local system authority vessels pretty much ignore your contents with they scan you. At my Allied home base, I could blithely fly in a full load of 120 slaves (the illegal kind) and sell them off. Yes, I'm a slaver. I did it for the nookie, the nookie... But I digress, and you probably don't remember Limp Bizkit. Point being, I got scanned at the dock _every_ single time and never, ever once got shot at or fined. There was one point where dozens and dozens of return trips to that station were nothing but holds entirely full of illegal slaves. Having friends in high places pays off in this game.

    3. You get more and more bulletin board missions. When you go to a new station where you're simply neutral with the faction, at first only like 3 mission options ever appear. By the time you're friendly, you'll be seeing closer to 12 possible missions to choose from.

    Regarding your second question, I had this happen once too. I did a mission that bumped me to Lord and at the station I landed at there was another ascension mission that I was sure would bump me to Baron, but no dice. At the time I thought it was funky that the new mission looked exactly the same as the one that pushed me to Lord. What really happened, I suspect, is that once you surpass a threshold for the next ascension mission by a certain amount, that mission pops at literally every bulletin board until you finally take it. Also, there might be a little bit of lag before the system recognizes that you finally increased in rank. So that back-to-back mission was just a duplicate of the Lord mission, and the system hadn't yet had enough time to remove it forever. I was in a reputation ranking frenzy by that point. I wanted that sweet, sweet Clipper bad. Real bad. So I was speed-dialing the bulletin boards at each station. I was also playing tricks to log out of Solo and immediately log back into Open to see if there were any high-reputation options to choose from in the other mode. Yeah, slap my wrists. I was mildly exploiting because after a certain point the reputation ranking was feeling really bugged to me, so I trying to rank up in three new minor factions as quickly as possible just to see if that would indeed change things.

    @aeshec - Watch that blue/red indicator when you log off and log on again. Gone. I don't think time has anything to do with the _strength_ of the reward. I think its simply a _timeout_ or a _logout_ that resets the indicator to nothingness. You can test this by doing something that you know gives a larger reputation gain than normal, such as a food delivery, "free the slaves", or money donation mission ("feed the beast"). Then after receiving the reward, immediately quit to the main menu and immediately come back. All arrows will be gone.

  7. #7
    I'm allied with the Empire proper and with every local Empire faction I come into contact with. I've been stuck at Baron with no advancement missions for a couple of weeks or more now. I might be missing something, but I'm starting to think I'm bugged.

  8. #8
    Reputation blue arrows tend to take time before they appear. If you hand in a bounty in a Federation/Alliance/Empire system (typically, these bounties are gained via KWS in an anarchy) then you won't see the positive blue arrow next to the relevant major faction until you've jumped elsewhere and waited a while. It will appear, though. I've gotten to allied Federation, friendly the other two, almost entirely via bounties and trading, where the latter occurs less due to me trading a lot in independent systems.

    A word on the arrow persistence. Arrows remain visible until you log off (as pointed out above). They don't represent continuous increase or decrease. They just get turned on when you do something to affect your reputation and that arrow remains there indefinitely, regardless of what you do (although I assume getting the opposite coloured arrow would replace the previous visual, but I don't tend to get red arrows so I haven't tested this).

    The OP is correct in how major and minor faction reputation is relational. If you are friendly to the Alliance, all Alliance aligned minor factions have a boost to how they regard you. An example is I was working on my Alioth Independents reputation so I could get the Permit to Alioth. When I started, I was friendly to the Alliance and Neutral to Alioth Independents (having never gained or lost rep with them before). But because of my associated rep with the Alliance, my rep with Alioth Independents was friendly. When I completed missions for them, the mission summary still showed them as neutral, but they regarded me as friendly.

    I actually became allied with Alioth Independents long before they were actually allied. I became friendly to them (again, visible on the mission summary) and then about 8-10 missions later I was allied, despite still only being friendly in reality. I then got my Permit mission and gained access to Alioth.

    Essentially, if all the major factions like you, all related minor factions will like you more. I assume you can become hostile to a minor faction yet remain unfriendly, if their parent faction likes you enough. It may even be possible to be neutral with a minor faction, despite them actually being hostile to you, if you're highly allied with their parent faction (I am not sure if Allied/Hostile are simply "On" or if they can be "leveled up").

    I know there's a lot of confusion with this system but I learned everything I know by simply playing and paying attention. It is actually very logical. And it works quite well. So long as you're careful and don't commit too many crimes. I've been fortunate enough to only commit two crimes, which have long been forgotten by whichever faction registered them. So, generally speaking, the majority of the galaxy likes me.

    Does this mean anything, currently?

    No. Not really. I believe there's some work to do in terms of what being allied actually gains you. It probably has a reducing effect on interdictions (although I have been interdicted by a friendly pirate, once. I guess it was only "relational" and they were actually neutral to me). I have noticed a significant reduction in interdictions in systems where I'm liked a lot.

    Other than giving access to permit missions, and maybe some slightly better missions (no way of testing this though), there doesn't appear to be any benefit except for role-play. But, you might as well work on your reputation. Unless you specifically want to make an enemy of a major faction for role-play reasons, or you're a criminal player, of course, there's no real benefit to being hated. And, the main reason, I imagine reputation benefits will be worked on and added as time goes by.

  9. #9
    Oddly I've been having ships and stations for minor factions show up green on my radar before I get them to Friendly...not by much though...all three times I've noticed it happening I was like 'o.O am I friendly with them already? rep screen shows only neutral' But then like one or two missions later poof they finally show as friendly. Don't know if it's a bug...or just a lag in the rep screen....or if it's intended as a 'hey you're close to friendly!' indicator... or if I'm the only one seeing this happen >.<

  10. #10
    Thanks for the info, OP!

    Rep to you!

    By the way, would you happen to be the same Yokai who used to write wonderful guides for The Secret World?

  11. #11
    @Nereus - Yes, I'm that Yokai. Glad my TSW wiki/guides were helpful for you!

    @Ydiss and @Distopiana - good comments. I too noticed that I am often "green" at a new station I've never seen before and which was controlled by a minor faction that I was "neutral" with. Also note that with the entire Empire, I'm still listed as simply "Friendly". I didn't talk about this behavior in the OP guide because frankly I don't fully yet understand the rules. My running assumption so far was that in such cases there _might_ be two different mechanisms at play (either or other):

    A) Perhaps once your internal "score" for a major faction passes a certain threshold (somewhere in the "Friendly" band), you appear to the system authority of every system that is aligned with that major faction as "green", and the local system authories appear green and so do any stations whose minor faction is aligned with that major faction. In other words, there's a "bloom" effect from your major faction reputation that affects ONLY the behavior of the local system authories and of the station guns.

    B) And/or perhaps your underlying score with the major faction associated with a system applies a small "weight" to your interactions with that local system. This weight is just enough to kick over the local system authorities and station guns to "green" (Authority ships are less likely to scan/interdict you, and even if they do scan you--station guns seem to ALWAYS scan you regardless--both authority ships and station guns are less likely to shoot at you or fine you for carrying illegal goods. Or at least certain types of illegal goods. I have trucked _many_ shiploads of illegal "Slaves" into larger stations where I was allied with the local faction. I haven't tested (nor want to) scooped cargo cannisters.

    Anyway, great food for further thought and observation. Perhaps as a community we'll eventually figure out exactly what's going on here.

    Regarding the arrow persistence, there was a time window where I made a point to log out to main menu after _every_ successfull mission turn in (and subsequent blue arrow). Then I'd do the next mission and see what happened. Logging out would ALWAYS clear the arrows. Turning in the next mission would always bring back a new set of arrows (remember, sometimes a mission will create both blue and red arrows. For example, turning in two Slaves for a "free the slaves" type of high-rep mission would always create a blue arrow for the minor faction and for the respective major faction in terms of "Reputation", but will also ALWAYS create a red arrow for the minor faction's "influence". Influence is still opaque to me, and from forum reads, still opaque to most of the community. Or it's just bugged outright, lol. I'm staying away from this subject for now.

    Note that I would be able to have like 10 Slaves in my cargo hold, turn in one "2 slaves" type of mission, then play the log out to main > log back in to the _other_ game mode to get different BB mission lists, and see another "2 slaves" mission there. So there were several times I was able to find and turn in a "2 slaves" mission three times in a row without ever leaving the station. In such cases, I would see new arrows appear instantly after each back-to-back turn in. The main reason I played all these log out > log in shenanigans was to test whether mission turn ins were actually increasing my MAJOR faction rep each time after already hitting Allied with the local controlling minor faction. This is why in my guide I state that even after you've hit Allied with a minor faction, you still gain _some_ rep with the associated major faction but it's at a greatly reduced factor (imagine a line sloping upward to the right at 45 degrees, and then at one point that line flattens out to something more like 5 degrees. This type of cutoff "bend" or curved "knee" with two different slopes on either side is commonly present in game mechanics and generally described as a "soft cap" or "diminishing returns". It was clear from my experimentation that hitting Allied with the local minor faction was not a "hard cap" that shuts down all progress towards improving your score with the associated major faction, as some players have surmised. Instead, hitting Allied with a local faction just incurs a pretty steep slope change at the "soft cap".

  12. #12
    UPDATE: I've edited the OP to include a link to this _awesome_ compiliation/summary of concrete statements by FD about how influence works. Much thanks to the Mercs of Mikuun for their grand experiment, and much thanks to Commander Soda Popinksi for such a helpful and time-consuming compilation. Shoot that commander some rep! Here's the link duplicated here as well in case you don't want to re-read the OP to find it.

  13. #13
    A) Perhaps once your internal "score" for a major faction passes a certain threshold (somewhere in the "Friendly" band), you appear to the system authority of every system that is aligned with that major faction as "green", and the local system authories appear green and so do any stations whose minor faction is aligned with that major faction. In other words, there's a "bloom" effect from your major faction reputation that affects ONLY the behavior of the local system authories and of the station guns.
    This is the case. As soon as you get "friendly" or "Allied" with a major faction, then all stations belonging to that faction will be green to you.
    This is why you want to become "Allied" with a major faction. Then all stations linked to that major faction will show you their best outfitting gear. There is also talk about why we don't see any "overcharged" weapons in release, that were all over the place in beta. It makes sense that stations will only show you their "special (overcharged)" goods to those they are Allied With.

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by Arda View Post (Source)
    This is the case. As soon as you get "friendly" or "Allied" with a major faction, then all stations belonging to that faction will be green to you.
    This is why you want to become "Allied" with a major faction. Then all stations linked to that major faction will show you their best outfitting gear. There is also talk about why we don't see any "overcharged" weapons in release, that were all over the place in beta. It makes sense that stations will only show you their "special (overcharged)" goods to those they are Allied With.
    It would be good if that was the case, but until a CMDR actually manages to see and buy one of the "special" weapons, we have to conclude that they are no longer available for sale anywhere at this point in the game. I can't find the thread but a CMDR posted that one of the designers mentioned (probably in a pm) that "special" weapons are not in game. That by itself is also ambiguous, it isn't clear if he was mistaken and meant they're "not in game" or more likely "not available for purchase in game" as we know for a fact that some CMDRs have retained their "special" weapons from Gamma.

  15. #15
    I'll start to hunt around allied stations as soon as im back to allied status with the feds. I got scanned entering an allied station with illegal goods. Dropped my fed ratings from allied to neutral and gave me a 200k fine.
    Back to friendly with the feds now, but it will still take a little time to get back to allied.

    Edit: I don't think they are in game though, but I hope they are.

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