Thursday, March 13, 2008

Making Factional Warfare Work In EVE: Realistic Politics

Factional warfare is, without a doubt, my most anticipated feature for EVE. Ambulation looks great, and I'm sure it will be a great addition to the game, but at the end of the day it is going to be a cosmetic change, at least initially. The premise for factional warfare, as far as I can tell at this stage, is to have a resurgence and creation of various wars and skirmishes between the major NPC empires of EVE that allow for player involvement. Whether this means traditional EVE PvP, or PvE content, or even an introduction of RvR is yet to be seen. No matter the final form, the concept of factional conflict grants CCP the opportunity to really open up the universe to give it a more interactive feel. This is a real challenge to build into the game as it stands now, since a mis-step could really break things and send us down the SWG path. I have more faith in CCP than that, though.

As it stands now, the universe, while interesting and well-designed, is really little more than a backdrop for the interactions of players. While this model has proven sufficient for the enjoyment of their subscriber base thus far, the fact that they are developing a factional warfare system speaks to the fact that CCP is interested in making the NPC world more approachable.

I know I've mentioned factional warfare in the past, but what I'd like to do here is to describe some of what I think would be critical features for a successful implementation of the system. Mechanics and whatnot aside, the first thing I would like to cover is the handling of different political structures and interactions within EVE. I choose politics first for two reasons. First, it is where my educational background is. Second, in order for this project to be a success, CCP needs to create a system of complex interactions that are at least competitive with the look and feel of the interactions between player groups.

The first step to realistic interactions between the NPC factions is the proper establishment of what each of those factions is, politically and structurally. We have the broad strokes: Amarrians are a monarchical theocracy somewhat reminiscent of medieval Europe, the Gallente are absolute freedom classical liberals and laissez-faire advocates of 18th and 19th century France, the Caldari are a supercapitalist state bordering on fascism, and the Minmatar are the burgeoning republic of freed slaves. That's enough background for player to player roleplay interaction, but incorporating the NPCs means that they will need backstories as detailed and diverse as those of the players. That isn't to say that each NPC needs pages of personal history, but the major ones certainly do, and each faction and sub-faction should have some detail put into their own philosophies, governmental systems, and relationships with other factions/sub-factions. This leads to the opportunity for a new depth of intra-faction roleplay as well. For example, the Gallente and Intaki bloodlines of the Gallente Federation have vast differences in their general disposition, so expanding that and allowing players to align themselves more closely with their own chosen ideology will give a richer roleplay experience.

On the subject of ideologies, I think factional warfare gives CCP and the EVE player base the chance to break away from the racially-defined philosophical paradigms. Right now, the major RP groups out there, with the exception of Star Fraction (anarchists of the Heinlein vein), are all tied to one faction or another. With the way the game is now, that means they are tied to one race. Factional warfare gives the chance for groups to rise and flourish with any consideration of player or NPC base being extrinsic to the cause of the organization.

It is a lot of work to put in, and maybe this is exactly what CCP is doing, but the radio silence and continued delays make me wonder if my most anticipated feature is coming any time in the near future.


  1. Good post!

    They have asked for player input multiple times, so it is obvious they did not have an ultimate solution for an implementation successful on all levels. Consequently I would not be surprised if this introduction will keep taking longer as ideas will be have to be revamped, again and again.
    Let's hope they will use this extra time to "get it right" at implementation ;=)

  2. Great article Crovan. I'm surprised the comments thread isn't longer then this.

    Might point is in the same line as alessandra. I think that the CCP is working with the its folks in the Atlanta office to create some additional depth to the EVE storyline in order to have a full and interesting background; one further developped then we have it now. If that's the case, we should see more and better chronicles published soon.

    /me crosses his fingers and toes!

  3. Beyond the role-play aspect, I could see CCP use faction warfare to revitalize low-sec.

    Let's say several pirate factions set-up or take over a station in a low sec system. Only player aligned with that faction would be allowed to dock and use that station services. Then it's up to the player to expand the faction control of low-sec by taking over the other stations, using the same system as in 0.0, without the POS system. Whoever bring the station to minimum health get to take it for his faction, it's up to the other players to defend it.

    Once a faction control all or the majority of the stations in a system, that faction get sovereignty over the system. People of that faction can get missions from faction npcs and can mine in belts without harrassment from rat.

    If someone from another faction engage in combat in that system, say with missioners, miners, or defenders, npc rats from that the sovereign faction of that system would launch from the station to help the defending player(s) (add dps, like gate sentries if you will).

    Then it's up to the players to expand the faction control of low-sec by taking adjacent system, like a game of RISK if you will. Various bonuses could be granted by the faction to its affiliated players depending on how many stations and systems it controls.

    Such a sytem i think would bring lots of player to low-sec thanks to the role-play aspect, missions, bonuses, added protection from faction npc rats. This in turn would please player pirate corps as it would mean more targets, hence causing a renaissance of low-sec.

    Well maybe, what do you think?

  4. I tend to think there a lot of unanticipated challenges about Faction warfare.
    I would imagine that one of them would be how to reward the players for helping one faction. While at the same time having the faction the player runs against punish the player without cutting off vast areas of the game. The last thing CCP wants to do is punish players for participating.
    The other would be how to do this while still keeping 0.0 attractive. This I think CCP have seen, they have at least mentioned that they don't want the 0.0 action to lose its place in the game.
    Of course while you're waiting for on-demand pvp, you could always join the channel redversusblue and check us out....

    *ahem* shameless plug.

    Fly Smart,


  5. Who is to say that faction warfare would be best employed in the PvE environment?
    Couldn't it be employed as a tool to introduce more people into PvP whereby you have certain "front lines" in the war against an opposing faction. Where constant warfare is allowed and the teams are split by race, allowing People to go to these areas looking for trouble in their own time. There could also be twice daily battles arranged in these areas, announced over the the server which could be waged over strategic points.

  6. Good post! You make very good points about Factional Warfare without going into the various mechanics by which it would operate. I would love to see the backstory and details of the empires expanded for no reason other than the fact that it makes for good reading.

  7. It does indeed seem that there are a lot more background storied being introduced as news items lately, and many of them are leaning towards factional tensions. It seems like they are building tension one event at a time, similar to the increase in tensions preceding the first Iraq war. It would be great if there was enough back story that people could follow the in-game news events and make predictions about certain NPC's and factions are going to react. Right now, there's just not enough storyline to allow educated speculation on how the NPC world will react in any situation. Eve has a really great theme and it could be developed a lot better to encourage more roleplay. I'm sure you're right about the Atlanta office and the White Wolf people being tasked to spice up the flavor of the Eve backstory. I hope they are.

  8. So here we are two years later - how has it stacked up in your opinion? We have a corp that is looking to get involved, but what I have read so far seems rather lack-luster.