The Action Rebalance - How are we feeling?

You have to evaluate the changes that FDev have made against their design goals. Generally, FDev want the player to feel small in a vast universe, but also to make player's actions to feel meaningful. They've accomplished that.

The reason why some groups have been able to push factions into so many systems is because they've been consistently been putting the effort in for years. That's what it is, constant work. Whatever other changes the have been to the BGS, it's still a level playing field. Since the BGS nerf, it takes four times as much effort to achieve the same effect, but a quarter of the effort to defend gains against random traffic. Is that fair? I don't know, but it doesn't break the game.

Players aren't the factions they support. If the Da Vinci Corp spreads into seventy systems, that's billions of NPCs living and dying under a vast corporate bureaucracy- supported by a handful of independent pilots subtly manipulating markets and conflicts in their favour. Players are the straw breaking- or making- the camels' back.

It goes without saying that Powers are completely different from factions. They're charismatic individuals who wield a lot of influence. Factions are large political parties, ready to take the reigns of government. Player groups and squadrons are just a handful of independent pilots with a common purpose, sometimes political, sometimes not. The overlapping levels of influence and control make the game interesting, and add to the galaxy's rich detail.
 
(Regarding happiness adjustmenst)

I admit that I did not follow it too close just noticed that in the limited range of states (none to investment and civil liberty) it goes elated when economic and security states max out and revert to happy when these two expire. I have also seen happiness below the happy value. I know that is not a systematic test however. My apologies if conveying my impressions were misleading.
Happiness factor must not work until we have clear option for negatives actions towards the BGS.
And you don t need to apologize. We are just discussing.
 
Let's wait for the happiness factor to kick in. I am expecting to be THE factor to slow/stop PMF growth.
"If it takes forever I will wait for you
For a thousand summers I will wait for you"

I'm not holding my breath.

You have to evaluate the changes that FDev have made against their design goals. Generally, FDev want the player to feel small in a vast universe, but also to make player's actions to feel meaningful. They've accomplished that.

The reason why some groups have been able to push factions into so many systems is because they've been consistently been putting the effort in for years. That's what it is, constant work. Whatever other changes the have been to the BGS, it's still a level playing field. Since the BGS nerf, it takes four times as much effort to achieve the same effect, but a quarter of the effort to defend gains against random traffic. Is that fair? I don't know, but it doesn't break the game.
FD's attitude to "tweaking" the BGS again emerges, IMO, from the idea that the core function of the BGS is to provide that "background, living, breathing universe"... I figure far as FD are concerned the players are "here for the sausage, not for how the sausage is made", and perceive the BGS as the system which makes the sausage, rather than being the sausage.
There is frequently a gulf between what Frontier wants and what communities active in the game want. Frontier may have achieved their design goals to some extent, but I have to wonder whether or not those design goals are good for the community. As discussed, 3.3 has absolutely accelerated faction growth to a break neck pace, and the action balance has not slowed it considerably. There's no expansion tax, so factions that reach 75% may stay there until pushed down (which is now more labor intensive), resulting in multiple expansions in sequence. For groups that want systems filled, this is nice. But is it in line with Frontier's goals? Or is it a consequence of the unimplemented happiness expansion mechanic? For what it's worth, we've specifically elected not to expand continuously because it just feels untidy. There is always a reason for our expansions.

Since March, we've been mostly focused on taking stations in systems we're already present in. There is a huge difference in effort required to trigger a conflict vs. effort required to win it. I am not sure it makes sense to need to run dozens of missions just to trigger an election and only four missions unopposed to win it. But as I've said elsewhere in the thread, I worry that Frontier's idea of rebalancing here will mean requiring more work across the board. That's just going to create fatigue.

To expand - it took an enormous amount of care and control to keep all systems out of pending, active or cooling down conflicts, in order to let an expansion initiate. You needed to be right on top of influence of all the systems you were present in - making sure there was no way you could accidentally or deliberately be pushed into a conflict on the critical day. There was a huge incentive not to expand into systems that you could not keep your faction out of trouble in. We "enjoyed" some really sneaky/skillful opposition from an unseen opponent, who would snipe our expansions with sudden movements on critical days. In turn we would have to anticipate these weaknesses and in turn, block the move with blocking state of our own. It was gloriously complex strategic play - like 3-d chess, requiring planning, anticipation and timing. The rate of growth was limited by the need to manage states.

In contrast, we have added around 150 systems with 3.2 dropped - largely because there was no need to prioritise one system over another. We are slowing now because basically, we've flipped almost everything so it's going to be one per faction per fortnight.
Going to quote something I sent you in November, which I never ended up posting here:

"Simultaneous states or, more specifically, the removal of blocking states, will have a huge impact on how multi-system minor factions are managed. A faction that is unopposed will no longer have their rate of expansion limited by the time required to gain control of new systems. Limits on the rate of control will also be significantly reduced, as factions will be able to leverage simultaneous states to move into controlling positions without having to fight wars in sequence. In practice, this is going to homogenize PMF BGS and Powerplay BGS, which generally relies on manipulating as many different factions in a control sphere as possible so that favorability can be gained as quickly as possible. The new happiness mechanic notwithstanding, a faction in five systems is going to be functionally very similar to a five different factions.

Factions that are opposed are going to experience this change differently. Currently, multi-system factions can use blocking states to protect themselves. A war triggered in one system will limit influence gains in elsewhere, but also blocks threats to control or assets. Being able to trigger elections quickly is an important part of defending a minor faction: it prevents additional conflicts while, more importantly, removing murder from the opposition's toolkit. Simultaneous states will make multi-system factions vulnerable in every system where they are present. The ability to mitigate vulnerability through careful positioning and state management is seriously reduced. A multi-system faction could be challenged for control in all systems simultaneously. Without strong defensive tools, groups willing and able to leverage murder will be empowered.

These changes will also reduce the tactics available to all groups. Per the information currently available, careful state management (particularly of timings) will be devalued. As a result, the 3.3 changes may:

  1. Eliminate truncated expansions.
  2. Eliminate killed expansions.
  3. Eliminate truncated retreats.
  4. Eliminate use of blocking states to stunt secondary factions.
  5. Eliminate ruling from behind.
All of these are important tactical options that flesh out BGS manipulation. Achieving difficult objectives through the use of complex mechanics is rewarding and I am concerned that 3.3 will close the door on the challenges many of us like to accept."
 
Although blocking states had their uses, I have to admit that it's much less frustrating now to do what you intend to do. Plus, we have the gridlock mechanic in our toolset instead.
 
Happiness factor must not work until we have clear option for negatives actions towards the BGS.
And you don t need to apologize. We are just discussing.
Oh, that! Happiness as a factor does not work at all and if my opinion would matter it never would. I cannot envisage a useful / meaningful way of introducing it to expansion logic right now.
That said, I'd be glad if it would be a driver of population growth for instance.

[B][USER=84934]Misaniovent said:
[/USER][/B]
Pretty much spot on across various issues. In many ways it works as it was expected. Of course not all effects were expected as not all details were known and what was known was not put into practice. The key question if the reversion of the underlying mechanics might be on the table in the future and if not are there any mechanics we can think of to mitigate the adverse effects?
Reintroduction of expansion tax?
More sizeable distinction between draw and win in conflicts?
Global penalties on multiple conflicts? (Might sound complicated but I have a lingering impression that it was implemented after 3.3 at some point at least.)
More undermine?
 
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Oh, that! Happiness as a factor does not work at all and if my opinion would matter it never would. I cannot envisage a useful / meaningful way of introducing it to expansion logic right now.
That said, I'd be glad if it would be a driver of population growth for instance.


Pretty much spot on across various issues. In many ways it works as it was expected. Of course not all effects were expected as not all details were known and what was known was not put into practice. The key question if the reversion of the underlying mechanics might be on the table in the future and if not are there any mechanics we can think of to mitigate the adverse effects?
Reintroduction of expansion tax?
More sizeable distinction between draw and win in conflicts?
Global penalties on multiple conflicts? (Might sound complicated but I have a lingering impression that it was implemented after 3.3 at some point at least.)
More undermine?
Well, my concerns about defending factions from murder-focused attacks are mitigated by the action nerf considerably, as a faction controlling all ports in a system has a significant advantage. Combine this with the way mission-spawning mechanics push traffic into supporting retreating factions, we are playing in a system where attack is not easy. I'm not sure if the loss of data to counter murders effectively has balanced this out. Honestly, we have not had to deal with any angry people lately (hooray!)

I do feel reintroduction of the expansion tax would be useful for balance, and I think global penalties on multiple conflicts or multiple back-to-back expansions would make sense. Conflict and expansions should represent resource sinks for any faction and overuse of limited resources should result in factions seeing economic decline, experiencing famine, civil unrest, so on and so forth. Of course, then we're in a different conversation about whether or not famine and civil unrest are actually undesirable states, mechanically speaking.

As far as undermining of faction influence goes, I think little things could help here. The obvious one is a shift back toward missions as the most effective way to move influence, but I think distributing bounties earned with a KWS between factions in a system better could go a long way. On that note, I think that adjusting the faction ships spawning in a system to focus on factions actually local to that system would be a strong change, especially alongside a reduction of powerplay NPCs in exploited systems. Beyond that, I think that having installations and scenario signal sources spawning more predictably and for a more equitable array of factions in a system would help.

I'm not sure what you mean by a "more sizable distinction between draw and win in conflicts."
 
Reintroduction of expansion tax?
More sizeable distinction between draw and win in conflicts?
Global penalties on multiple conflicts? (Might sound complicated but I have a lingering impression that it was implemented after 3.3 at some point at least.)
More undermine?
Realistically? Actual mechanics and gameplay to target factions with negative effects. The absence of these mechanics is why retreat is so scarcely achievable, and the universe is all but devoid of states like Civil Unrest, Lockdown, Famine and Bust. Ideas which simply rate-limit positive effects are just band-aids for the real issue; the imbalance between player agency to conduct positive and negative effects.

Take the first-pass implementation of the new states; almost everywhere with player activity went to Investment/Civil Liberty instantly. Instead of addressing the real issue (the lack of meaningful activities which would balance this out), they just introduced a natural decay. While not necessarily a "bad" option, it totally skips over the issue which got them there in the first place.

I'm a broken record, but benefits to aggressing a faction when in a hostile rep state need to be introduced, and mechanics to target negative effects towards a faction in the same way we can target positive effects towards a faction, and gain benefits when becoming allied to a faction. Look at the current state of affairs for targeting[1] effects:
Targeted positive actions:
  • Trading on the open market
  • Bounty hunting in a faction's jurisdiction (and submitting said bounties)
  • Running missions
  • Handing in exploration data to a faction's jurisdiction
Targeted negative actions:
  • Murderhoboing
  • Trading on the black market (if one's available.... I continue to insist Black Markets get an overhaul, part of which means they exist at every station)
That's it. Black Market trading might as well not be there as it's highly situational, and impossible against many faction types. That means murderhoboing is the only effective method of targeting a faction with negative effects. Murderhoboing leads to Hostile, and trying to disrupt a faction (particularly one which owns all assets) when Hostile, you might as well be fighting with one arm tied behind your back. Sure, you get to war and 99% of missions will be targeting the enemy faction then, but by that point, you're at war, that was the goal, job done, move on. If it's not done, and you want them Retreated, well, go read the "Is retreat even possible?" thread.

A sensible rework of mechanics involving Anonymity Protocols, Hostile Rep, Notoriety would see players embrace being "the bad guy" and bring a more natural balance to things, centered around actual gameplay mechanics. If FD got it right, I'd be the sort of guy who would gladly trade being able to dock at any Federal port and being KOS to any Federal faction, with the ability to more effectively bring the fight to the feds. FE2 got this right, ED has not.

I've been banging this drum for years now, because it was blatantly obvious this is the state we were going towards back then... now we're at Elite: Best Friends, maybe FD will start to realise criminal/unlawful mercenary/military career paths have been neglected for way too long.

If we want to mitigate the effects of "rampant, unwanted success"... there needs to be the means to effectively push back, with incentives.

[1] What I mean by targeting:
Deliberately targeting(1) , and without having to wait for the RNG to shine on you (2), take action which has a specific positive or negative effect on an intended faction.
Example (1) of targeted positive and negative effects
Trading commodities on the open market is a targeted positive effect for that market owner.
Trading commodities on the black market (at a station owned by a non-anarchy faction) is a targeted negative effect for the faction where that market is present.

Example (2) of the difference between deliberate actions, and waiting for the RNG to shine on you.
Taking a mission offered by a faction is a deliberate positive
Waiting for factions to offer missions which target a negative effect towards a specific faction is waiting for the RNG's blessing

EDIT: Coincidentally... I honestly never see FD fixing this, since, like in the various livestreams I love to quote FD from... FD perceives positive states/effects as the result of player success, and negative states/effects as the result of player failure (e.g if you smuggle successfully, you gain credits/rep... if you fail to smuggle, you lose credits and rep through fines). If FD still maintain that attitude today, we're stuck with Elite: Best Friends.

Again; this underpins the problems we currently see. Players are generally "successful", therefore there's a prevalence of Investment and Civil Liberty.
 
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Another balancing thought - or rather, a bug which is causing long-term imbalance. At the moment I think the effects of this are only really visible in Colonia, but I think they'll show up elsewhere eventually.

Retreat is difficult to achieve in systems with random traffic, for various reasons. So busier systems will tend towards having seven factions.

The safety valve for this is invasion - a way for systems with seven to be expanded into anyway, in a one-in, one-out way. The system still has seven factions after the invasion conflict is resolved ... but maybe a different seven. Filling up of systems due to retreat being difficult needn't be an absolute barrier to further expansion by factions.

The catch at the moment is that - I believe it's a bug, but maybe not - losing an invasion conflict doesn't force an immediate departure: both factions stay in the system regardless of the result of the war ... and therefore the system stays at 8 factions and can't be further expanded into even by invasion.

Because of this we've gone from 1 system with a stable 8 factions in Colonia before 3.3, to 14 today (of a total 68 unlocked systems). In the Colonia region this isn't really a problem - in the bubble with the increasing number of PMFs it could lead to significant stagnation in some regions.

(In balance, we've also seen a much increased retreat rate from the low-traffic systems, as retreat is no longer blocked by the state hierarchy, so in low-traffic systems or overexpanded factions a lot of retreats can go through in parallel. So we also have a lot more systems on only 3 or 4 factions than previously)
 
Such an excellent package in such a short time!

I'm not sure what you mean by a "more sizable distinction between draw and win in conflicts."
I definitely agree with all your proposals, though I'd leave missions out of this for reasons I mentioned before.
I meant not just any contribution should be sufficient to win a day in a conflict with no opposition but substantial contribution would be necessary.

Actual mechanics and gameplay to target factions with negative effects.
That is also spot on! More negative actions are needed and RNG should not dominate negative actions.
If on benefits to negative actions you mean BGS benefits, I also agree. Separation of BGS actions from actions with other motivation (like choosing between inf+, credits and materials as mission rewards or differentiation between selling in page or individual system data) are good mechanics. BGS should be an investment.
That said accessible systematic means to negative actions would be very useful. Trading at loss was one of these. Scenarios starting at space installation (not rarely and randomly) without the uncertain third faction in addition to the system and installation controller could be another.

Retreat is difficult to achieve in systems with random traffic, for various reasons. So busier systems will tend towards having seven factions.
Because of this we've gone from 1 system with a stable 8 factions in Colonia before 3.3, to 14 today (of a total 68 unlocked systems). In the Colonia region this isn't really a problem - in the bubble with the increasing number of PMFs it could lead to significant stagnation in some regions.
This could be a nice alternative mechanism, that would not fully replace normal retreat that is still necessary to open up a spot in a specific system.
 
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Oh, that! Happiness as a factor does not work at all and if my opinion would matter it never would. I cannot envisage a useful / meaningful way of introducing it to expansion logic right now.
That said, I'd be glad if it would be a driver of population growth for instance.
that makes a lot of sense. the happier a system, the more people that would want to immigrate to it.
 

Jane Turner

Volunteer Moderator
that makes a lot of sense. the happier a system, the more people that would want to immigrate to it.
Digressing wildly, I still dream of the day that there is a birth rate, a death rate (outbreak and famine raising the latter) and a combination of population density and financial wellbeing drive immigration or emigration values. Passenger missions would spawn according to these drivers and the actual transport of passengers changes the population. Expansions would result in a relocation of part of the population. You can even imagine an exodus/colonisation state.
 
Digressing wildly, I still dream of the day that there is a birth rate, a death rate (outbreak and famine raising the latter) and a combination of population density and financial wellbeing drive immigration or emigration values. Passenger missions would spawn according to these drivers and the actual transport of passengers changes the population. Expansions would result in a relocation of part of the population. You can even imagine an exodus/colonisation state.
That would be good, mainly as I'd be trying to empty certain systems of pesky citizenry before going in and nuking the weakened sec forces.

131643
 

Jane Turner

Volunteer Moderator
I expect there would have to be a minimum skeleton crew left behind. If the feedback loops worked well, there would be mass immigration and it would be hard to clear everyone out - you might empty a system more effectively with wars, famine and outbreaks
 
I expect there would have to be a minimum skeleton crew left behind. If the feedback loops worked well, there would be mass immigration and it would be hard to clear everyone out - you might empty a system more effectively with wars, famine and outbreaks
Driving a population out would also be a great way to destabilise a neighboring system with refugees. If wars made people flee (just like some NPCs broadcast) it would add extra dynamism to conflicts and repercussions.
 
I expect there would have to be a minimum skeleton crew left behind. If the feedback loops worked well, there would be mass immigration and it would be hard to clear everyone out - you might empty a system more effectively with wars, famine and outbreaks
Yep. I said it in a different post a long time back but population mechanics could/would work in pairing with the "repair state" station mechanic. I'd call it dereliction, but let's just stick with "repair" state

Behind the scenes population of a system get distributed among the stations/outposts it contains. As the population falls, stations go into the "repair" state, and a bunch of station services close down, and maybe the local jurisdiction even becomes lawless, and if the "capital" station becomes derelict, the whole system enters Anarchy. Most station services like outfitting, shipyard, repair/refuel/rearm aren't available, while facilities to accomodate restoration such as commodities market (with a "Repair" economy type) and mission board, with missions tailored to restoring that station offered. As the population rises again, stations become populated again and services restored.

I don't have a good suggestion for the opposite effect (increasing population over it's normal)... maybe it doesn't, or that's the hook for positive effects.... or maybe even overpopulation could lead to similar problems?
 
Overpopulation generally leads to famine and outbreak, followed by diversionary wars and/or revolution.

At the other end of the scale and in the early days of Colonia, an entire system, including a Coriolis starport, was run by a crew of six. Whether these six changed their views following a change in management, or were swapped out for more compliant staff, is not recorded.
 
At the other end of the scale and in the early days of Colonia, an entire system, including a Coriolis starport, was run by a crew of six. Whether these six changed their views following a change in management, or were swapped out for more compliant staff, is not recorded.
The system in question was a locked one, so presumably they had some way to avoid arguing with each other that badly.
 
I generally assume that the galactic map draws on inaccurate census data, only accurate to one or two orders of magnitude. Starports are highly automated, though. Low population systems also have itinerant populations of spacers. (In FE2 some systems were listed as having populations of spacers, even when there were no stations.)
 
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