The Action Rebalance - How are we feeling?

TL;DR: Missions are a waste of time and that's bad.

But here's some nuance.

In March, Frontier finally got around to fixing some of the major issues introduced with 3.3. And while they still have not implemented everything that 3.3 was supposed to bring to the table in terms of the BGS, we know now that they have considerable nerfed the impact that some actions have on influence. This has been discussed in a few threads, but I wanted to start a separate conversation specifically on the current balance of actions available to commanders moving factions up or down. I'm going to be a little wishy-washy with my analysis since I'm writing this at work, but here we go:

The Cap

We strongly feel that all evidence indicates that the maximum possible influence change in a system has not changed. The cap has not been reduced. However, the work required to reach it has increased considerably. In practice, this means that commanders working for a faction are not going to hit a point where further work is wasted nearly as quickly. Said differently, it means that the work required to achieve the best possible result has gone up. Which side you fall on here likely depends on your available manpower.

Missions

The impact missions have on influence has been significantly reduced. The value of a mission is still variable (++, +++, +++++), but lower across the board. We've heard suggestions that they are now worth between a tenth and a quarter of what they were in February. We lean toward a quarter in our tracking.

Trade

Because of the way the game defines transactions, trade on its own is more labor-intensive than running missions or even bounty-hunting for a non-controlling faction. However, high value trades that earn at least 1000 credits of profit may be the most valuable transactions available to commanders. Aiming specifically for these transactions requires a solid market and research and, in our experience, still may not result in the kind of influence gains we would have expected prior to March.

Bounties

We have not done solid testing on whether or not their is a minimum value bounties need to meet in order to count as a transaction. With that said, experience since March suggests that moving bounties is an effective way of moving influence — if the target faction is generating bounties in the system. In high security systems, or systems that do not have a RES, bounties for non-controlling factions can be rare. But a controlling faction with a nav beacon or RES close to a station can be bolstered very quickly if necessary.

Data

We've yet to see any conclusive evidence that data has any real value for moving influence.

Murder

This is still a valuable tool. Our experience suggests that murder is most effective as a way to control how influence is redistributed across a system when missions, trades, and bounties are completed on behalf of other factions.

But how do you feel, Miso?

It's so nice that you care about my opinion! Many of the changes introduced by 3.3 were geared toward added a level of realism (believability?) to our manipulation of the game's governments. Simultaneous states, new conflict zones, etc. In my view, the action rebalance promotes more "organic play." The increased comparative value of trade and bounties means that commanders are induced to base out of stations owned by the factions they're supporting. Commanders are rewarded when they seek out profitable trades to bring home with them, buying commodities every time they dock. And once-annoying interdictions by pirate NPCs become a valuable opportunity to earn bounties that can be dropped to support the target faction.

But to some extent, this organic play is superficial. Despite Frontier's efforts to obfuscate mechanics, players are going to find the most efficient ways to work — and that may mean avoiding missions and instead setting up complex trade routes where goods are shifted from one target faction to another. In other cases, it may mean that we are back to cycling bounties just as we used to during wars (single bond turn-ins). The diversity of missions becomes meaningless when missions are so weak, and peaceful commanders are left with less to do.

The value of bounties in particular means that combat pilots are weighted very heavily right now. Because finding bounties for a controlling faction is far easier than bounties for secondary factions, controlling factions are in a strong defensive position. Controlling factions that have resource extraction sites and ambient traffic or high numbers of players willing to bounty hunt efficiently will be hard to touch. The value of trade means that markets are strategically critical, so factions that control none are going to be at a significant disadvantage. Taking that first asset in a system is everything — and you had better hope it is in an election, because the reputation impact of fighting in a war is going to devastating to groups on the offense, even against NPC factions.

I don't miss data, but I don't feel this rebalance was necessary and I absolutely feel it needs to be adjusted again. I suspect Frontier will do this by nerfing bounties and trades, putting all actions on roughly the same playing-field while leaving all groups with a higher work requirement to achieve their objectives. But I would rather we go back to where we were before, as I do feel there's a very real level of attrition in the BGS community that is not healthy for a game that will have no major content updates for a year and a half.
 
Thank you for the excellent wrapup and overview. From time to time it is essential to step back from the daily routine and have a look at the big picture.

To be honest I don't think that the current system is that bad. I am neutral towards data: it could be more efficient, but at least the playing field is level. I imagine that the effect of commanders returning from DW2 was feared when nerfing the explo data. It could also be accumulated like no other BGS measure that could be used as a reserve or as a nuke.
Trade is an essential element in a current mix, nerfs would really have an impact on BGS efficiency.
Missions have a more limited effect. Missions however have strong state effects, they are universal, available in all situations for BGS except for wars and are still not capped: with a really high number of missions still any previous goals might be reached, even under a BGS pressure.
BH is efficient and it should be. My impression is that low value bonds are not as efficient as expected and KWS without a RES is not really time efficient.
 

Jane Turner

Volunteer Moderator
Ooh lots to go at there.

  • Yes we think it takes about 4x as much effort to hit the maximum gain possible in a given system.
  • Yes we think the max possible gain for a combination of population and starting influence is so close to 3.2 to be the same within our ability to test.
  • We are certain that FD are still fiddling with the relative contribution of different actions. Until a week ago it seemed that trade was the only activity that wasn't nerfed.
  • We are also sure that the values (x) required to count as a full transaction in value-based activities such as BH and trading have also increased. I've drawn this a lot recently to explain - so here is the hand drawn in discord version
131138

  • In 3.2 it was really hard to get below X, so in effect, the BGS was purely transactional Now is much more likely that actions will fall into the region where impact varies with value.
  • Yes is annoying that currently, BH is the most time effective way to move influence positively - I'd quite like to see things skewed the other way ie to missions. I hate BH and resent having to do it for purposes of being time efficient
  • We have seen positive effects for data - just not seen the same outcome twice
Of course, I am on record, more than once, for saying that too little effort was needed to move influence, and its only fair to say that I think it's about right now... had we not had the easy life of 3.2 I don't think there would be many complaints. I too wish the balance of 3.2 was there though. Our best guess is that BH is now 2x as effective compared to missions and trade was 4x as effective, though I have not tested trade for a bit. It seems we've gone from state management as being the brake on the expansion of a faction to willingness to grind. Its certainly making our life in CI a great deal less complex and a great deal more boring.
 
So ... start off, I don't play the BGS in the sense of trying to get specific systems to do specific things. I'm more interested in the regional patterns generated by people doing that, and non-intentional traffic. My perspective is probably going to be a bit different.

In that respect, I think the rebalance is generally better than shortly after 3.3, in terms of balance between activities:
- CGs etc. don't appear to be actually negative for the controlling faction
- Colonia (lots of exploration data and bounties to Jaques faction, trade and missions more spread out) seems to have stabilised at a sensible level (and I would guess from this that exploration data actually works pretty well, in the right circumstances)
- Controlling faction advantage is sufficient to stabilise a system, but not impossible to overcome
- Mission-heavy systems (Trakath, for example) behave reasonably.

The speed of influence movements is perhaps a bit slow, though - the overall balance between activities looks about right to me, but I think it's time for Frontier to bring the effectiveness up a bit. It was understandable that the March update slowed things down to let them get a handle on things and test stuff without it potentially throwing half the galaxy into chaos, but now it's working it could be tuned faster again.
 
Thank you for the excellent wrapup and overview. From time to time it is essential to step back from the daily routine and have a look at the big picture.

To be honest I don't think that the current system is that bad. I am neutral towards data: it could be more efficient, but at least the playing field is level. I imagine that the effect of commanders returning from DW2 was feared when nerfing the explo data. It could also be accumulated like no other BGS measure that could be used as a reserve or as a nuke.
Trade is an essential element in a current mix, nerfs would really have an impact on BGS efficiency.
Missions have a more limited effect. Missions however have strong state effects, they are universal, available in all situations for BGS except for wars and are still not capped: with a really high number of missions still any previous goals might be reached, even under a BGS pressure.
BH is efficient and it should be. My impression is that low value bonds are not as efficient as expected and KWS without a RES is not really time efficient.
Since we talked about this a bit on the BGS discord I'll try to repost my comments here...

I agree with you to an extent; it certainly means that systems are stable in the face of traffic and there is value in that. We don't see the kind of swings we used to. That's not necessarily bad, because it does create less work in other cases. I also think your comment about states is interesting. We don't typically value specific states so this isn't really a factor for us. If your goal is to achieve certain states without disrupting influence levels in a system, then this is great!
 
Of course, I am on record, more than once, for saying that too little effort was needed to move influence, and its only fair to say that I think it's about right now... had we not had the easy life of 3.2 I don't think there would be many complaints. I too wish the balance of 3.2 was there though. Our best guess is that BH is now 2x as effective compared to missions and trade was 4x as effective, though I have not tested trade for a bit. It seems we've gone from state management as being the brake on the expansion of a faction to willingness to grind. Its certainly making our life in CI a great deal less complex and a great deal more boring.
You're saying you'd prefer the 3.2 balance between actions, but with reduced impact across the board? That's actually the direction I'd most prefer Frontier not go. Finding a middle-ground would be ideal. Doubling the points required to hit the max swing from 10 to 20 would be fine. 40 is a bit much, especially when a stray bounty or trade can throw you off so considerably.

So ... start off, I don't play the BGS in the sense of trying to get specific systems to do specific things. I'm more interested in the regional patterns generated by people doing that, and non-intentional traffic. My perspective is probably going to be a bit different.

In that respect, I think the rebalance is generally better than shortly after 3.3, in terms of balance between activities:
  • CGs etc. don't appear to be actually negative for the controlling faction
  • Colonia (lots of exploration data and bounties to Jaques faction, trade and missions more spread out) seems to have stabilised at a sensible level (and I would guess from this that exploration data actually works pretty well, in the right circumstances)
  • Controlling faction advantage is sufficient to stabilise a system, but not impossible to overcome
  • Mission-heavy systems (Trakath, for example) behave reasonably.
The speed of influence movements is perhaps a bit slow, though - the overall balance between activities looks about right to me, but I think it's time for Frontier to bring the effectiveness up a bit. It was understandable that the March update slowed things down to let them get a handle on things and test stuff without it potentially throwing half the galaxy into chaos, but now it's working it could be tuned faster again.
This is a really valuable perspective, very different from what someone focused on making "specific systems to do specific things" might have. Some of the points you make raise interesting questions, and I have to wonder if perhaps a middle-ground might be best reached by changing the cap so that low-population systems are less susceptible to wide swings. This would settle Colonia a bit without slowing directed work for groups working in higher population systems.

Your note about CGs is also interesting. Are you talking about CGs for factions not in control? Or are you saying that factions with an active CG aren't penalized by huge influence jumps?
 

Jane Turner

Volunteer Moderator
I should add we have 4 factions in 50 or more systems and another 6 in 30+ many of them shared (with up to 6 factions in the systems) Keeping them out of conflicts was a logistical nightmare, but deeply satisfying. There was a massive incentive to control expansions to avoid unwanted conflicts. Now they are all spamming away unchecked, one per faction per fortnight since there is precisely zero penalty for an unwanted expansion. This is of course a gripe about the state changes rather than the balancing, so I'll stop.
 
  • In 3.2 it was really hard to get below X, so in effect, the BGS was purely transactional Now is much more likely that actions will fall into the region where impact varies with value.
I think this is a good compromise. Purely transactional BGS is immersion braking for the participating commanders, purely value based would unleash a whole new set of problems not totally unheard of.

I should add we have 4 factions in 50 or more systems and another 6 in 30+ many of them shared (with up to 6 factions in the systems) Keeping them out of conflicts was a logistical nightmare, but deeply satisfying. There was a massive incentive to control expansions to avoid unwanted conflicts. Now they are all spamming away unchecked, one per faction per fortnight since there is precisely zero penalty for an unwanted expansion.
I'm with you in the nostalgia towards pre 3.3 state management.
That said although it could be coincidence or just misperception I'm relatively confident that at least until 3.3.03-04. there was a penalty for too many simultaneous conflicts. We did not test it after 3.3.05 because our focus on some critical matters.
The proliferation of expansions is obvious and there is a significant penalty associated with it at least for the disciplined factions who face more and more loose canons expanding to their systems. That has a consequence: diplomacy requires more and more efforts and extraterritorial activities will have an increasing share.
 
Your note about CGs is also interesting. Are you talking about CGs for factions not in control? Or are you saying that factions with an active CG aren't penalized by huge influence jumps?
I'm thinking of the effect seen e.g. in the first Distant Worlds CG where the controlling faction was receiving
- a massive amount of exploration data
- a massive amount of trade
- most of the bounties collected in the system minus a few KWS secondaries
- few if any missions for anyone
...but its influence just collapsed.

There were a few other CGs after the 3.3 release which appeared to have a massively negative and not very explicable effect on the host - and similar was happening in Colonia system without a CG. So for example in https://cdb.sotl.org.uk/systems/1/history?minrange=3304-10-01&maxrange=3305-05-10
- in October you've got some (pre-3.3) recovery from wars elsewhere, then a settling into Jaques high, Council low, People very low.
- on 3.3 release, Jaques just starts losing influence for no obvious reason
- instant and rapid rebound for Jaques on March 1st BGS patch which has now stabilised out pretty well and seems to reflect the relative value and traffic of their controlled assets

Ogmar had a similar pattern with more factions - https://cdb.sotl.org.uk/systems/5/history?minrange=3304-12-01&maxrange=3305-04-01 - as well as being a very good example of a "conflict tarpit" in the middle there. I was somewhat uncertain about the "no assetless conflicts" rule when it was introduced, but I think it's generally been positive for the Colonia region, and stops systems completely seizing up under conflicts.

I don't think there's much need to slow smaller systems down relative to larger ones - small systems tend to have few assets, and therefore be heavily consolidated to the system controller, which means that the other stabilising factors are fine with respect to general traffic ... or at least, they are post March 1st changes. The stability problems in early 3.3 were more that the aggregate direction was consistently "wrong", than the size of the changes.
 
However influence gains from missions works... I think it might be a bit extreme in some cases.

131159

System of pop 1,500.

2nd May I ran 30 missions (Surface scans mostly, typically +++++ or +++) to try and tip expansion. Although the updates aren't "realtime" it does include data for 2nd May 8th May. As you can see, it had almost zero effect.

I show the historical graph primarily to establish that there's no obvious counter-effort... if there is, it was timed exactly when I did these missions; information nobody would have known.
 
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In term of efficiency only, missions are useless as everyone spotted above.
BH is efficient but its intrasect value has changed also. It was +2 before, it is +1 now.
Trading is still the same (didn t test during boom).BM is working properly. S&R also. (i put these 3 in the "trading" categories)
Negative trading seems to have minimum to none effect.
Murdering has some effect to some extend.
Still has bug on election where you have to run PAX instead of standard missions / carto. Otherwise, inf goes to system owner-
Same for war. Redeeming bounties can go to the system owner instead of your faction. Just have this example lately in Oppida.

To summarize, there is too few available options if you really want to maximize your time for BGS efficiency. Best being a mix of trade/BH.
Lack of possibilities to generate negative transactions - that aren't exploits - is almost none.

As no surprise, it became The Care Bear Galaxy where all populated systems are happy and live long and prosper.
And reducing our gameplay possibilities is not - in my opinion - the best way to contain PMF growth. Just making more of a grind as usually with FD in ED. (which was not the case before the big bgs changes)
 
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I really wish FDev started listening to you, the players that put hundreds of hours in to the game, and the BGS in particular. Most of the time I feel like FDev have no clue how their own game actually work. And when changes are made, near none inhouse testing is done (part from seems like a barebone minimum to check for instabug/crashes (yeh, not even that)). Sadly, even the open betas goes past without even the most obvious reported bugs being ignored for months and months (some even years)

/takes a breath and pops a Monster (Absolute Zero)



MDH

P.S I also got hundreds of hours playing the BGS, but still there is so much that passes me by of how it works and acts
 
Stuffed if I can find the relevant dev post... but I recall a post from (someone) which basically said "There's issues if you do too many things to support a faction".

I wonder if that's still extant, and FD have either:
  • Nerfed the amount of influence activities achieve such that the "overflow" value is never hit; or
  • If the problem is generally still extant.
 
Stuffed if I can find the relevant dev post... but I recall a post from (someone) which basically said "There's issues if you do too many things to support a faction".

I wonder if that's still extant, and FD have either:
  • Nerfed the amount of influence activities achieve such that the "overflow" value is never hit; or
  • If the problem is generally still extant.
I seem to remember that, and it was a comment made on a livestream.
 
Stuffed if I can find the relevant dev post... but I recall a post from (someone) which basically said "There's issues if you do too many things to support a faction".

I wonder if that's still extant, and FD have either:
  • Nerfed the amount of influence activities achieve such that the "overflow" value is never hit; or
  • If the problem is generally still extant.
I think I remember something like that but the nearest I could find was this in the BGS patch notes...
At the current time, if you are trying to support a faction in a system, we would recommend that you try not add too many positive influence inputs to other factions that system, especially if they have relatively low influence.
Obviously not the same meaning but maybe I'm miss-remembering it.:unsure:
 
Nah that's the quote... and re-reading it it's definitely not exactly what I was getting at... though generally I think it's still relevant.
 
I really wish FDev started listening to you, the players that put hundreds of hours in to the game, and the BGS in particular. Most of the time I feel like FDev have no clue how their own game actually work. And when changes are made, near none inhouse testing is done (part from seems like a barebone minimum to check for instabug/crashes (yeh, not even that)). Sadly, even the open betas goes past without even the most obvious reported bugs being ignored for months and months (some even years)

/takes a breath and pops a Monster (Absolute Zero)



MDH

P.S I also got hundreds of hours playing the BGS, but still there is so much that passes me by of how it works and acts
I have to wonder what Frontier's goal is. There are arguments that they don't consider the BGS as something that is meant to be manipulated as we do. But it is something that we manipulate; it's a huge driver for a big part of their community. There've been a lot of interesting comments in this thread, but I think the takeaway so far is that while some like the quiet, others are finding the additional work to be a bad change.

We're still experiencing situations where we are secondary pushing factions much harder than we would have needed to in 3.2 and seeing minimal results, if any. This result is unusual in situations where, if we were being opposed, logically our opposition would be pushing the same faction. Of course there are a lot of possibilities, but static results are frustrating for everyone.
 
I really wish FDev started listening to you, the players that put hundreds of hours in to the game, and the BGS in particular. Most of the time I feel like FDev have no clue how their own game actually work. And when changes are made, near none inhouse testing is done (part from seems like a barebone minimum to check for instabug/crashes (yeh, not even that)). Sadly, even the open betas goes past without even the most obvious reported bugs being ignored for months and months (some even years)

/takes a breath and pops a Monster (Absolute Zero)



MDH

P.S I also got hundreds of hours playing the BGS, but still there is so much that passes me by of how it works and acts


When a player factions owns more System than Major Power - this should have never happend in the first place. But it did.
They need to do more Damage control on this.
 
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