Powerplay The State of PowerPlay in 3304

The State of PowerPlay in 3304
PowerPlay launched with 1.3 in June of 2015 to much fanfare and a highly underestimated user base. Communities formed around the original 10 Powers overnight, and we have always strived to spend our time making our communities fun for those involved. PowerPlay communities have always had a high rate of turnover, not least because PowerPlay modules encourage CMDRs to spend a year unlocking each unique Power module.

The other reason for PowerPlay’s high turnover is due to the repetitive nature of the mechanics. The original concept for PowerPlay measured contributions in the hundreds, but within several cycles, that ballooned into the tens of thousands due to the overwhelming support of the community. As the years have worn on, many of these communities have shrunk, but not all, so the targets remain in the tens of thousands while the pledged pilots contribute in the hundreds of thousands.

In short, every Power community will welcome new commanders into the fold and do their best to ensure those commanders enjoy their time with the community-run turn-based 4X meta-game that is PowerPlay. Most commanders participating in these communities enjoy PowerPlay despite its flaws, exploits, and abuses.

Links to PowerPlay Communities
Frontier Developments have provided a sub-forum for PowerPlay and one for each Power community. Users created subreddits for their Power communities the day their Powers were available to be pledged.

The Proposed Beyond
Near the end of 3303, as Frontier Developments announced Chapter 3 of Elite: Dangerous, organizers of the communities built around PowerPlay were advised to refrain from recruiting new members. This was during a time when the primary organizer of the #1 Power was calling for PowerPlay to be frozen or removed from the game due to its neglected state and numerous persistent issues.

The belief was that PowerPlay could be re-visited during the development of the Beyond expansion and then we would all be in a wonderful place to recruit new users to share in our three year old communities to which we have devoted so much of our galactic time. The future of PowerPlay was widely discussed and hotly contested on Beyond’s Focused Feedback, but sadly, neither time nor resources are infinite, and PowerPlay will not be revisited for Chapter 3.

The recent recruitment posts from /u/Grey_Seattleite/ and /u/Pfluegge89/ has made this open letter to the community a necessity. PowerPlay organizers have kept the vast majority of PowerPlay events, news, and drama away from the primary /r/EliteDangerous/ subreddit because we did not want to mislead and encourage people who would later become sorely disappointed.

PowerPlay: An Exercise in Competitive Mathematics
The lifeblood of any Power is its Command Capital Surplus at the start and end of any Cycle. Command Capital is an abstraction of the population in Controlled and Exploited Systems.

The death knell of most Powers is in the Overhead calculation. Since Season 2, Overhead is no longer a hidden value, and has become included in a Preparation target’s Upkeep, but remains separate from Upkeep in a Control System.

Powers that have under 55 Control Systems will have low Overhead costs, so they will have a strong surplus of Command Capital. This should give them free reign to Expand, and every Power can grow until they cannot afford to grow anymore.

Unfortunately, this is where Preparation Sabotage exacts its toll. By forcing a Power to Prepare and Expand into a deficit-causing Control System near Power HQ, the saboteurs decrease the Power’s Command Capital Surplus while increasing the Power’s Overhead costs.

A Brief History of Preparation Sabotage
Every Power has seen valueless preparations on their ‘Top 10 Preparations List’, and every Power has Expanded into a deficit-causing Control System despite their best efforts. There have been a handful of times since June of 3301 where a Power has seen overwhelming numbers of merits contributed to deficit-causing Preparations in a clearly organized effort to sabotage the Power’s standing balance of Command Capital. This increases the amount of Fortification required to maintain a surplus at the close of the Cycle and that Power’s vulnerability to Undermining.

This is what has happened to Senator Zemina Torval over the past six months. Torval used to hold many profitable Control Systems distant from Synteini, their Power HQ. They lost control of their Consolidation Vote, and in the last hour of every Cycle, an organized fifth column of saboteurs would prepare a deficit-causing Preparation in close proximity to Power HQ. The Expansion triggers would be realistically unopposable. No one has claimed responsibility for these acts of sabotage.

A Brief Word on Weaponized Expansions
A weaponized Expansion will decrease the Expanding Power’s Command Capital while also removing Command Capital from a hostile Power.

CD-49 3617, HIP 44811, and Amuzgo is probably the best (and first) example of a weaponized Expansion between hostile Powers. Those three Control Systems share 15 Contested Systems at a value of 106cc. That means neither Power receives any Command Capital from those 15 systems. All three Control Systems are deficit-causing for their Power, but they decrease the available Command Capital from the opponent.

During the Expansion phase, and for every Cycle that follows, each Power can Oppose and Undermine those weaponized Control Systems to their heart’s content. These actions may be cancelled and may not result in Turmoil for the Power, but it is available via standard PowerPlay mechanics. Since these systems are on usually near the Powers’ borders, it is possible for them to fall into Turmoil without being in an Undermined state.

Preparation Sabotage Compared to Weaponized Expansions
Both Preparation sabotage and weaponized Expansions will decrease a Power’s surplus of Command Capital and increase the Power’s Overhead costs.

Sabotage of a Power via deficit-causing Preparation leads to a situation where loyal members of the Power have to defect to a hostile Power in order to Oppose the Expansion. Since the Consolidation Vote requires 4 months continuous pledge for the best influence, any defections further risk the Power’s ability to prevent future Preparation sabotage.

Additionally, when saboteurs are well organized, they can effectively use the Power they have infiltrated as a weapon against neutral Powers. (Elite: Dangerous labels the Power to which you are pledged as ‘allied’, any Power sharing your Power’s superpower as ‘neutral’, and any other Power as ‘hostile’.) Neutral Powers cannot Oppose an Expansion with ease, as they earn de-merits, not merits, when neutral Power NPCs are destroyed. Neutral Powers have to use piracy to steal Expansion cargo and exchange those for merits at a 1:1 rate.

While Senator Zemina Torval’s fifth column used Preparation sabotage to decrease their surplus of Command Capital by over 500cc, it also Contested systems Exploited by Senator Denton Patreus, Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval, and Aisling Duval at a cost exceeding over 200cc, and most of those deficit-causing Expansions are still contesting the Control Systems of neutral Powers. When the Emperor suffered from similar Preparation sabotage, her surplus decreased by 789cc and cost our Imperial allies over 100cc.

Due to their spatial placement and ease of Opposition, a weaponized Expansion against a hostile Power is not sabotage, but gameplay. The hostile Power can Oppose these Expansions earning 30 Merits per NPC ship destroyed, while the Expanding Power usually has to travel further to deliver their cargo.

Weaponizing to Fight Sabotage
One reason a Power will launch a weaponized Expansion is because the Power cannot control its Consolidation Vote and has to prevent a deficit-causing Preparation from reaching the Expansion stage. CMDR Justinian Octavius of the Torval Strategy Team explains the current straits in which the community that supports Senator Zemina Torval has drowned. Now that Torval is out of Turmoil, there were no more Torval loyalists present to combat the fifth column. Her allies have stepped forward in an effort to ensure that Torval’s low Overheads and strong surplus of Command Capital will not be used against them in the future as they have been previously. By using weaponized Expansions against the Federation, they are ensuring that Torval’s Expansions will be Opposed by a dedicated combat force who will not have to defect from their own Power to fight them.

The Future of PowerPlay: Beyond ‘Beyond’
PowerPlay was never intended to be fair.

The past year has clearly shown that the Power or fifth column with the most active users between 0400 and 0700 GMT will most likely win any direct competition.

It has also shown that the band-aid that is the Consolidation Vote is not a solution to the unbalanced nature of Preparation sabotage.

The scenarios announced for 3.3 give many players hope for the future of Elite: Dangerous, but there is no indication that these changes will be felt in any aspect of PowerPlay.

Everyone who participates in PowerPlay knows that the mechanics need to change to improve the experience for all participants. How those changes occur are of great debate within the community.

If there is an effort to preserve some of the past three years of community-driven changes, then those communities will fight hard to ensure that what they want will be preserved. If there is no effort made to preserve this living history, then much of the community will crumble. Yet if no changes come from on high, there may not be a community left when FDev has the resources and time available.

Thank you for your time and fly safe, commanders.
O7
 
Good post outlining the current situation Powerplay finds itself in. With the Powerplay characters getting refreshed bios in the codex we can but hope that indicates FDev intend to update the Powerplay mechanics as soon as they have the resources to do so.

CMDR Justinian Octavius
 
To expand slightly on aspiringexpatriate's otherwise excellent post, the sabotage systems we've been seeing are pretty much impossible to lose. I'm not intimately familiar with the Empire's systems, but I am with Edmund Mahon's, so I'll use his as examples.

The organized powers very quickly realised that PowerPlay could go one of two ways:

  1. Use the sabotage strategy against everyone else.
  2. Play "above the board" only.
If everyone went with the sabotage strategy, PowerPlay would not be fun for anyone. It would extremely quickly degenerate into every power expanding into their allies' territory and expansions into previously unexploited systems that have no PowerPlay value whatsoever, and after a few months massive turmoil would bring every single power to their knees as they shrink through losing their most distant and usually profitable systems, and once out of turmoil they'd be forced to use their surplus, however small (Mahon's cheapest expansion only requires 35 CC and would lose ~70 CC every cycle if picked) and it would probably take less than a year for every single power to be completely destroyed.

We want PowerPlay to be enjoyable for everyone who participates beyond the stupid grind for idiotic PowerPlay items, and sabotaging a power is only enjoyable for the saboteurs.

For those who do not participate in PowerPlay, let me paint a simili in normal game terms.

Imagine if it only took a ship docking in a station with any kind of Thargoid item in its cargo-hold (including materials) to cause it to shut down from Thargoid interference the next BGS tick. And that if ship carrying Thargoid-items docked at that station when it's shut down from Thargoid interference to bring along a Thargoid swarm to put the station into emergency repairs the BGS tick after that.

Now imagine how fun it would be, if a large group of people who thought that the BGS was unfair or boring or simply enjoy ruining other people's fun, decided to go visit the 40,934 orbital stations in the game in short order. Now everyone who wants to do pretty much anything in the game has to spend all of their time bringing supplies from planetary bases to orbitals to get them functional again, only to be foiled by those same saboteurs who only have to dock once every few days to mess everything up for everyone else.

This is essentially what we've been faced with in PowerPlay for a VERY long time, and FDev's response thus far has been "well, no one participates in PowerPlay, so we won't spend resources on fixing it", completely ignoring that no one participates because it is broken.
 
I would love to see in the Future of Powerplay, that each power gets a "new player spawn" , not only 1 in Federal space. yes i understand everything is build about the Federation, but if FD is always trying to "Balancing" things ingame, why not create new player spawns? As that would balance the manpower in the Future of Powerplay. So the new Players, don't only get to hear the one-side Fake news propaganda machine.
 
Well put. I for one would be happy to return to Powerplay if its mechanics were revised so that sabotage isn't the most effective tactic.
 
Well put, but...

If there is an effort to preserve some of the past three years of community-driven changes, then those communities will fight hard to ensure that what they want will be preserved. If there is no effort made to preserve this living history, then much of the community will crumble. Yet if no changes come from on high, there may not be a community left when FDev has the resources and time available.

Thank you for your time and fly safe, commanders.
O7
I see that many dedicated powerplayers will see it this way, but...

If Frontier would decide to wipe powerplay and restart it from scratch with a total new implementation, I would also happyly agree. The current Thargoid incursion could be used as fluff to accompany a powerplay relaunch with reset.
 
Well put, but...



I see that many dedicated powerplayers will see it this way, but...

If Frontier would decide to wipe powerplay and restart it from scratch with a total new implementation, I would also happyly agree. The current Thargoid incursion could be used as fluff to accompany a powerplay relaunch with reset.

I hate to say it, but I agree that this would probably be for the best.

"The galaxy's most powerful have agreed to set aside their differences and engage the common foe, ect. ect."

"Their once-exclusive modules are now available at human tech brokers."
 
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The State of PowerPlay in 3304

If there is an effort to preserve some of the past three years of community-driven changes, then those communities will fight hard to ensure that what they want will be preserved. If there is no effort made to preserve this living history, then much of the community will crumble. Yet if no changes come from on high, there may not be a community left when FDev has the resources and time available.
Yes! This week I will have put in around 15hrs just to directly counter exploitation of the broken mechanics against my Power. How many hundreds of hours in the last 12 months ive no idea.
This is why it is a pressing issue above others, because it isnt just waiting on fixes. These problems give a stark choice, abandon Powerplay and (more importantly) its communities, or continue being subject to the actions of a few exploiters, that cause a disproportionate amount of time and effort to counteract.

When the devs talk on every-other livestream about the 'humbling and amazing dedication and passion of the community'. it is groups like this they should be referring to.

Some urgent action, starting with some reassurance, is surely a reasonable request in the circumstances.

You can call this an Entitled attitude if you wish. I personally think it is a hard-earned call for engagement, that is exceptional by nature of its consequences.
 
Let's face reality, Powerplay is a broken system and I'd rather see it rebuilt from scratch than keep this thing alive. The only main reason I'm still playing is that I like the community I'm in and enjoy playing with them.
 
If Frontier would decide to wipe powerplay and restart it from scratch with a total new implementation, I would also happyly agree.
I was about to agree with you, but then I remembered how FDev has treated things that aren't instantly popular. A PowerPlay feature without a willingness to properly support it is going to be a failure, regardless if it's the current implementation or something brand new.

With PowerPlay FDev built something that doesn't give instant rewards, doesn't give instant feedback and requires coordination with large amounts of players to be able to achieve something, and the moment that most people realised that this was not something they enjoyed, FDev dropped support for it. Instead of trying to incorporate these supposedly powerful politicians into the story lines, they were dropped off at the orphanage, and they still can't seem to accept that they created it.

Sure, you could restart it with some kind of Thargoid incursion theme, but unless that has a tangible impact on what happens in game, who cares? The Empire managed to be in control (whatever that means in PowerPlay vs BGS vs in-game lore) of the Federal Navy Shipyard for months on end and nothing happened at all. Not a peep, not a shot fired (officially sanctioned at least).

Unless FDev is willing to either appoint people from the community to drive the story as told by the PowerPlay figures or their replacement, or do it themselves, with scheduled comments, suggestions etc. every cycle, then don't bother. Seriously.

That's the ultimate failure of PowerPlay to my mind. FDev let loose 10 community driven political figures, and then chickened out the moment they opened the gates. Making the same mistake again won't make a relaunch any more successful.
 
I still hope all the discussions in the feedback threads where not in vain.

If powerplay will embrace squadron-mechanics and fleet-carrier gameplay with a littel nod to open players and some general tweaks, bug- and ui-fixing, it might be just fine.

If the ties to the BGS will be severed or deepened, or if missions will be added to make more variation the better.

To make myself clearer, I like the general "turn-base" 4X style of powerplay and I don't want a total scrap of the current powerplay system. I think it just needs some major tweaking and facelift and I will welcome all or some of these changes regardless if the powers will remain as they are or be resetted.
 
The previous 3 years have been a protracted alpha and we know what works and what is flawed. The proposed fixes are OK but will not really solve deep rooted issues, plus we are continuously asking for less and less in a vain hope to get anything developed. Thats not a healthy way to provide hope to players.

From a pure drama perspective, Guardian and Thargoid incursion should be a wildcard that acts as an NPC PP influence, a bit like barbarians in Civ- or, that you can ally yourself somehow. But then that plays havoc with the narrative and we get the parallel lore issue- the fact that player activity never actually influences what is said on GalNet is telling, even if its one leader giving mock sympathy for another powers turmoil.

But it can't be far from next on the list, not unless PP was a decisive feature within FD towers and is an office football.

Either way, FD need to be honest with the PP playerbase and simply say what is or is not coming.
 
We keep asking for changes, or a complete scrap and redo...

What would you change (at a minimum) to improve PP enough to keep it worthwhile?

Just curious..
 
As a minimum, probably the changes Sandro proposed in May.
https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/426940-Powerplay-Proposal
Repped because I missed the second page and was just about to post the same link with the same comment, without the 'probably'. :)

It is a series of changes that all work together to deal witha number of major issues that plague Powerplay, and many PMFs as well. In additiom to ^, moving Powerplay modules to relevant techbrokers would give something to everyone. (And is mentioned by Sandro in that thread too)
 
As a minimum, probably the changes Sandro proposed in May.
https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/426940-Powerplay-Proposal
Exactly this is what I had hoped for to come this december. But it was clear pretty soon, that we will have to wait for maybe another year before any changes will happen. For this reason (and being tired of the repetitive cycles) I stopped playing powerplay mostly. I am getting tired of this kind of being put off. I would have eagerly returned for dedicated powerplaying if those proposed changes in the link above would have hit the universe about now. But as it is, I'll neglect powerplay as much as the devs do. I am on strike, and not sure if I I'll be coming back to dedicated powreplay anytime soon. Those changes are direly needed :rolleyes:
 
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From the pp n00b perspective (only interested in the toys), if all I do is farm merits in my opposing power's expansion system for 4 weeks, does that mess with your ecosystem?
 
From the pp n00b perspective (only interested in the toys), if all I do is farm merits in my opposing power's expansion system for 4 weeks, does that mess with your ecosystem?
As long as you (and all others who oppose) are not going over the treshhold and over the active powers expansions effort, no one will really mind. It will depend if the expansion you oppose is an expansion important to that power.
 
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