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Potential Settlement/Company Revamp Idea

Duffy Swiftshadow
(My apologies for the wall of text)

There’s a lot of contention surrounding companies, influence, holdings, and their relationships with settlements. Currently holdings benefit the settlement as a whole and are politically treated as part of the settlement, not part of the company that originally placed them. As long as they remain the primary asset for settlement upkeep and growth, this stance towards holdings is unlikely to change.

Additionally, there are concerns that the proliferation of influence can easily throw the feuding and territory game out of whack. While the population has been far from large, we have seen some of these effects working on a smaller scale. When additional companies and the influence they generate enters the system it will likely grow more chaotic and arbitrary as large amounts of influence lay around unused.

Companies themselves also suffer from an identity crisis that is tricky to resolve, but in most cases it’s not even noted. I’m going to propose some possible changes to the settlement and company to fix these problems, but still operate off some of some of the same principles we have today with an eye towards some of the goals stated in the past by the developers. These changes ultimately allow two different company ‘progression’ paths depending on the company's preferences that can be used in conjunction or separately.

Settlement Changes
We can start by moving the current concept of holdings to the settlement level and add a ‘war’ system that allows settlements to capture territory from each other. These wars could behave much like feuds today, but without all the company hopping and influence shenanigans. Wars will automatically include all companies attached to the settlement. Wars should be fueled with a combination of an influence like resource accumulated at the settlement level and Bulk Resources or assets created from Bulk Resources (more details about how this latter aspect could work below). This will take care of most of the logistic issues that currently exist between companies and their settlement.

Part of the idea behind holdings and the way influence was designed is that choices would need to be made: what hexes and how many to be claimed and what plusses to build/activate while working within a soft influence cap. There was also discussion of the DI system that would eventually need to be balanced via holdings (again a primarily settlement level mechanic). By moving the holdings to the settlement level this opens up a couple of different options to avoid the possible runaway company and influence issues that come with tying such important mechanics to something transient like population or ‘active’ characters.

We start by giving settlements their own resource to cap, bank, and spend. Just to keep it separate from current concepts let's call it Logistic Points. These points are spent and used much like influence today, the important difference is how these points are gained and capped. Instead of basing the current amount of logistic points off the player population in a settlement and general activity, the cap is based off the current total active pluses of the buildings making up a particular settlement. These logistic points don’t are earned by expanding your settlement which should be a group activity.

The key advantage here is that the holding and settlement relationship becomes cyclical, you need holdings to pay for your settlement upkeep and DI requirements, but you need to upgrade your settlement to expand or improve your holdings. This allows holding bulk resource production to be more tightly tuned and it puts hard caps on just how far a settlement’s reach can really go. Building far from your home region can be risky under this much more limited system.

Ideally the maximum number of holdings at any particular cap level should just out produce its requirements by a tiny to small margin. Enough to build reserves and fuel wars, but not enough to create gigantic stockpiles unless left alone for a very long time and the settlement halts its growth. Since the settlement level is tied directly to the logistic cap it should be very difficult for a settlement to ever produce way more than it needs. Lowering the settlement level releases territory and raising it requires more territory, reducing the effect of level manipulation on altering PvP windows. When balanced properly the logistics cap should always have a bit more than enough room to allow enough territory expansion to cover the next + building upgrade to the settlement which in turn grants just enough cap for the next upgrade, creating a cyclical feedback loop.

While there should be bonus efficiency for capitalizing on ‘good’ resource hexes and spending raw resources to create higher + holdings and outposts, it shouldn’t imbalance the system. Improving holdings in good to great resource hexes should always be cheaper and more efficient than adding a new holding. Focusing on upgrades and investing more crafting resources should free up enough logistic points to grant you an extra holding or two per your current settlement level cap in most cases. This can be used to generate spare bulk or help fuel Wars.

Since there is essentially a hard cap on how many holdings can exist for a settlement of a given level this should also help promote regional bulk resource trade and even local territory conflict. If a particular area of the map doesn’t have enough good quality hexes in a defensible proximity settlements are less likely to expand into other nearby settlement locations to use as token outposts since trying to maintain them could actually hamper their primary settlement’s growth. This could create a more interesting territory map over time where some settlement locations change between dormant and built up as empires rise and fall instead of the more likely scenario today where all settlement locations will be active at some level all the time. Something important to note is that due to this limitation there should be frontier regions where non-settlement affiliated companies can set up shop and be left alone by settlements more often than not. More details about this idea will be in the company section.

The new war mechanic for settlements is fueled by a combination of logistic points (much like banking for a feud today) and war camp/siege engine production via regular and bulk resources. To initiate a capture attempt the settlement will need enough of it’s logistic cap available to pay for minimum +0 holding/outposts or enough to cover the new reduced holding/outpost levels after their ‘degradation’ from fighting.

To solve some of the issues with spawning, the attacking force will need to place war camps made from normal resources to act as their spawn points when attacking a holding. There should be some restrictions on the placement such that opposing forces are not spawning near each other and to restrict how many may be active in an area for a particular PvP window, and of course to account for other possible oddities. These spawn camps create more tactical variety, especially when battles only take place in a single hex, and allows defenders to ‘win’ a battle without simply waiting for the PvP window to close.

If the attackers win they gain control of the hex much like today. If the attacker loses, the logistics points fueling the attack are unavailable for some reasonable amount of time (few days to a week perhaps) and of course all the resources spent are gone. If they still have spare logistic points available they can immediately try again, but ideally due to the settlement upkeep requirements it should never be possible to endless engage an opponent. This gives the defenders breathing room before the next possible round of attacks and creates an ebb and flow to conflict where winning a single well fought battle is more than a minor delaying action. Generally losing a single holding should not immediately put you at risk, but losing a few not only decreases your bulk production, but risks lowering your settlement level which will decrease your logistic cap and could prohibit you from counter attacking immediately until you’ve built up some excess bulk resources and reconfigured your settlement levels.

Sieges will need to follow a slightly different set of capture mechanics as they themselves do not require any sort of logistics expenditure to capture. Instead, to initiate a capture attempt will require crafting siege engines that use bulk and normal crafting resources in significant amounts similar to some reasonable fraction of what it cost to construct the settlement they are attempting to capture. In a game with infinite respawning it shouldn’t be significantly cheaper or less risky resource wise to capture something someone else built. Therefore in a siege you are wagering your resources against your opponent's resources via a PvP battle. If the attacker wins they capture the settlement via investing a significant portions of the settlement’s value in resources, they are not getting ‘expensive’ buildings just for being aggressive. If the defender wins they obviously retain their settlement. Since everything used in the siege is consumed it should take some time before the attacking settlement can build up the reserves and try again.

Company Changes
Company influence mechanics operate as they do today. However, this idea of moving the current concept of holdings to the settlement requires a swath of non-holding/outpost style buildings that benefit the company and only the company that can be placed throughout a hex whether it has a holding or not. These buildings require upkeep but they must use regular resources, not bulk resources, and cost influence to place. This will help keep the company activity separate from settlement activities and allows feuds to stay localized between companies instead of spreading into larger group conflicts. Depending on other systems it could even allow competing companies within a settlement or faction to fight each other for positioning; if they are so inclined and such things are not frowned upon by their particular organization(s) of course.

If an settlement holding is present these company buildings get a PvP window that can be set at the company level and only during this window can they be destroyed. If placed without the protection of an settlement holding these company buildings are always vulnerable to an active feud. This allows design space for a large swath of building types from temporary to semi-permanent structures for various use cases at the company level. Technically the war camps mentioned above in the settlement warfare section could fall under these rules and would often be used without the protection of a friendly holding, as would say bandit hideouts, or perhaps even gusher related structures.

If the allied holding is captured the protective PvP window will no longer apply and the company buildings can be destroyed immediately via a feud. Thus while a company is not necessarily responsible directly for the holding via ownership the company still has an invested interest in protecting it.

Some companies will of course choose to not join a settlement and will instead join a faction to gain their level 9 to 20 support. These companies will have a shot at territory control, but on a much smaller scale than a settlement. By joining a Faction the company gains a Logistics Point cap with enough points to build up or attack a single hex (granted via the Faction). As a Faction member they will also gain the ability to place a Faction Holding, for now we will call these Faction Forts to differentiate throughout this example.

Placing the initial Fort is just like constructing a holding, and capturing an existing faction fort/holding is the same War mechanic outlined above, which means failure does result in a cooldown effect before the company can try again. This also means that settlement holdings and faction forts can be captured by the other type of group, but doing so results in very different mechanical gains for each group.

These Faction Forts are distinct from the Settlement style holdings as they do not create bulk resources or contribute towards settlement level mechanics. For upkeep purposes they consume normal gathered resources. These forts do offer two major perks just like settlement holdings: Trainers and a company level PvP window for all company influence based buildings in the same hex. By building a Faction Fort and deploying company buildings a company can increase its Logistics Point cap much like settlement, albeit on a much smaller scale. Their maximum cap should be balanced around a few hexes, ideally less than a handful.

The goal here is to offer an alternate political option than settlements, but allow some of the similar behavior by substituting in the defined faction relationships instead of the mercurial meta politics of settlements. Because settlements are restricted in their territory growth there should be ample room on the ‘frontier’ for faction only companies to claim and fight over territory. There should be some bonuses or cost reductions for opposing factions to feud/war on each other’s buildings/Faction Forts.

Companies attached to a settlement can also belong to a faction and this Faction Fort concept can live right alongside the settlement territory control. The Faction Fort controlled hexes of a company offer no incentives to the settlement itself and do not interact with the settlement’s PvP window or resources in any manner. This allows them to be an additional option and viable feud target without drawing the greater settlement political entity's attention.

Conclusions
With this example or a system like it many problems with settlement and company membership could be fixed:
  • Company hopping can be restricted as it will no longer be needed for settlement asset defense.
  • Feuds can now serve a company level purpose that avoids drawing their settlements into the conflict while still allowing a territory control War mechanic for settlement assets and even companies.
  • A distinction between Company and Settlement level buildings removes some of the oddities of stand alone companies and the fact that the currently existing company holdings only really exist to serve Settlements and slightly supplement a company’s training access.
  • This does not preclude the potential ‘work’ system that allows settlement members to assign their characters to work and supply effort to Settlement buildings and holdings/outposts.
  • Company Identity will be much easier to maintain and build as they are not the primary asset holder for the settlement which decreases the settlement’s desire to control them or manipulate the system to do so.
  • Alternate but similar stakes territory system for Faction only companies.
  • Removes the possibility of all territory being eaten up by ever expanding settlements. While the ‘frontier’ space can be fully claimed by Faction Forts the frontier is likely to be more chaotic and lower stakes than settlement expansion.
  • Influence can still serve uses for other systems like banditry, assassinations, bounty hunting, etc… without competing with the settlement or company’s desire for territory control.
  • Reduces passive power projection of large settlement blobs via an ever growing amount of available influence.

Edit: Fixed an inconsistency concerning bulk resources from an earlier draft.
Edam
I will leave commenting on this until I have time to it down and go through the suggestions properly smile
Decius
Right now there aren't any active power blocs that have enough active players to form two companies. Of course everything is going to be treated as top-level, at least until there's a second level of organization to deal with.
Thorgrim Foegrinder
I love this idea. There needs to be something the company provides the settlement, but the way holdings and bulk resources currently work is not ideal. Making it so that holdings are settlement based, but allow for companies within the settlement to have secondary structures in the hex, would ensure that those companies help provide defense for the holding, which benefits the settlement as a whole.

It may also be good to give a bonus to members of a company who has secondary structures in a hex when they assign their character to work on the holding or outposts. That would further encourage companies to establish their own territory within just a couple of hexes rather than spreading out more, which would in turn create more motivation to defend those hexes.

What about if holdings become settlement managed, but outposts remain company managed? That way there is even further dependence on companies contributing to the settlement, but the holdings themselves still represent settlement level interest.
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Duffy Swiftshadow
Companies contribute to the settlement in several ways: their resources and crafters build it, their workers grant 'effort' to holdings/outposts/buildings, their bodies defend it when its attacked, and they of course move the resources and goods around associated with all those things. A settlement is it's companies, without them a settlement is nothing.

The ability for a settlement to let companies 'manage' a holding/outposts is not removed by this system, a nice robust security system will account for that. As a settlement grows more and more members of it's companies will need to be involved in the logistics to keep the lights on, much less growing.

But the important key is that mechanical ownership of the settlement benefiting assets needs to be the settlement itself to facilitate a war mechanic and avoid the situation we see today with feuds, and to avoid the situations we can easily see happening in the future as the potential number of companies and available influence grow unchecked. The benefits aren't really to the settlement itself, but to the companies themselves by freeing resources that were being used purely on behalf of the settlement aspect (influence) and removing the need to company hop or worry about company membership levels, which frees companies to actually build and maintain an identity.
Wolf of Rathglen
I love the parts where company members have more involvement with their facilities. I want to point out a presumption that has been beaten into the lens we view the game through and why that presumption is bad. This starts from the very beginning so it will make sense at the end.

1) War of Towers was always meant to be a temporary condition to provide some pvp action until the designed systems could be programmed and implemented.

2) No one says War of Towers was fun.

3) In War of Towers, a single company claims a distinct landmark inside a hex to claim that hex for its chartering settlement, increasing training levels and size of the pvp window. The settlement then sets what time of day the pvp window will be. ONLY that single company can defend that landmark and the resources it brings on behalf of the entire settlement.

4) Everyone exclaimed how lame War of Towers is and we want holdings instead (based on the early blog and forum posts of holding design) so GW rolled out the recipes and art resources for holdings and outposts.

5) In War of Towers holdings, a single company claims a distinct landmark inside a hex to claim that hex for its chartering settlement, increasing training levels and size of the pvp window. The settlement then sets what time of day the pvp window will be. ONLY that single company can defend that landmark and the resources it brings on behalf of the entire settlement.

(Yeah yeah GW added a mechanic of buffering tower holding capture by one more day through outposts and added an extra step of hauling bulk goods to a settlement instead of automatic support, neither add-on changes the fundamental scheme or the company-hopping perma-Influence Foreverwar problems the band-aid system allows).

CONCLUSION: this entire presumption of settlement support from its companies individually maintaining holdings in different hexes goes against all original designs for company and settlement gameplay, the support cycle between the two of them, and most importantly the pvp each generates. It is merely an artifact of a temporary system barely out of alpha.

If one more second is spent developing companies or their holdings it should be away from that lame artifact no one thinks is fun and towards some contemporary version of the original design.

We have no settlement mechanics to speak of, and I support postponing those until at least company mechanics get fully fleshed out and we can spend Influence on more than one thing.

Because think about it, if we leave behind the ad hoc rushed-out-the-door-to-quell-the-masses band-aids so that holdings generate Influence that fuels all the company activities (pvp, pve, or production) players do when they log in each day, they work to build and improve the structure, then someone feuds your company to take it away, THAT is pvp the player is invested in. It is the epitome of meaningful. It would be almost as if PFO was a territory based pvp game.
Hammerfall: Like a waterfall, but tougher.
Duffy Swiftshadow
In such a system is their any relationship between holdings and the settlement? Does either of them feed the other in any way? Whats the criteria to claim/attack territory in the first place if they grant influence themselves? (Eventually the map will be full so you can't count on the ability to place somewhere as a starting point for new companies) Are their any limitations on spreading more holdings?

The only reason holdings don't mean much today is the ridiculous stockpiles of resources we have and that they don't feed into any other system. Combined with the ability to endlessly fight over a holding until it's destroyed or one side gets bored diminishes the value of any particular battle or even the asset being fought over, it can be dealt with later. Has anyone actually captured a holding to hold onto it as an expansion of territory or has it all been with the purpose of destruction? Even when they are judged to matter the Settlement responds, not just the company, because the settlement suffers if they are lost and because if they don't the company feels betrayed. Whats the point of a meta grouping of companies if it doesn't help you protect your assets that benefit it? If holdings generated influence to do things, then losing them cripples or removes companies from the bigger picture. That is more likely to empower blobs than to hinder them and puts even more pressure on the company to get help from the settlement.

I'll have to go back and read the old design blogs, but I was under the impression that the holding mechanics while incomplete came out close enough to how it was planned. Yes the multi company stuff and the effort system isn't there, but the core ownership and what they do is. Clearly, as we've demonstrated even at our small scale throughout the system's limited existence, it doesn't work very well and creates a bunch of sociological and mechanical issues. Any replacement needs to find answers to those issues.
Wolf of Rathglen
I'm going to start using "local buildings" to umbrella holdings and outposts but differentiated from the municipal buildings inside settlements. Ok.

Remember in the old blogs when a company assaults a feuded holding they have the choice to raid it for its supplies or raze it to the ground? We have neither of those; all we get is transferring the ability to increase training level to a different settlement, functionally identical to War of Towers with an aesthetic change.

That we don't have remotely what was imagined and instead the art resources were plastered over a green tower is a fundamental part of my thesis what we have is War of Towers That You Can Make Look Different, and every second of future development should ignore the WoT mechanic and go back the the idea of locals as a central hub of daily company activity.

In such a system is their any relationship between holdings and the settlement? Does either of them feed the other in any way? - Nope none at all. Each local could be held by a different company hypothetically each chartered by a different settlement. Golly I wonder if that might occasionally result territory based pvp.

Each local gets its own vault which might be raided during a feud. Outposts feeding into holdings was a band-aid fix to everyone complaining how boring it is to mule bulk around. And the "only a single company controls all locals in a hex" thing is just a continuation of a single company controlling a dumb looking tower, but with different art you can choose from now. When switching to holdings GW couldn't allow more than the single company to control locals within a hex because that would be separating from the WoT mechanic which we don't have the development for. We've been stuck at that stage over a year, doesn't mean this is the only thing local buildings can or should do.

Whats the criteria to claim/attack territory in the first place if they grant influence themselves? - Locals generating influence is my twist, not from the old blogs, because I think it achieves our company interaction and pvp goals MUCH better. Having property that produces things is not an expense that saps your influence in the area, it is a bigtime asset that grants influence and reflecting that in game mechanics is closer to the old blogs. As far as I can tell the only reason locals currently cost Influence is because there's nothing else "meaningful" to do with it.

When development resumes, making locals generate Influence and longer pvp windows for their company gives players a multitude of options at the company level to reflect the different goals of companies; somewhere I made a long list of ways Influence could be spent on pvp, pve, and production activities a company wants to do. The longer windows are a soft cap on how many locals a single company can hold if challenged. When you work with your company mates to get it built, set improvement goals then work and achieve those, meet there for company events, and take care of the place that fuels the in-game projects of your company, defending it from being raided destroyed or captured and your company left Influence-impaired or homeless is very meaningful pvp. That also has built-in win conditions (finally).

Combined with the ability to endlessly fight over a holding until it's destroyed or one side gets bored diminishes the value of any particular battle or even the asset being fought over…Has anyone actually captured a holding to hold onto it as an expansion of territory or has it all been with the purpose of destruction? - Oh, just dealt with that.

Even when they are judged to matter the Settlement responds, not just the company - yup because the pile of pixels in that hex affects the entire settlement like Towers do, not like a company asset.

Whats the point of a meta grouping of companies if it doesn't help you protect your assets that benefit it? - One, the design is that they are of benefit to the company, not the settlement. Remember when bulk goods were to build municipal buildings through the work of Stonecutters, Carpenters, and other Experts, which were removed from the UI to not remind us of that? Settlements run on DI, not bulk.

Two, locals producing ONLY bulk goods as the sole way to feed settlements is an artifice of needing them to mirror the function of Towers. When we develop more to get free of the WoT mechanic there's nothing to say they can't produce a wide variety of other things useful to the company that runs it which the chartering settlement has no interest in. It keeps them company focused, settlements have their whole other system.

If holdings generated influence to do things, then losing them cripples or removes companies from the bigger picture. That is more likely to empower blobs than to hinder them and puts even more pressure on the company to get help from the settlement. - I'll assert that is a statement from the perspective of current conditions, not what the situation would be after development. Losing a local doesn't lose available Influence, it lowers the rate of Influence generation from that point. I'll assert the opposite of you, that the ever growing windows make it more likely blobs with dozens of properties can't hang on to most of them (if challenged) because few players can defend 24 plots for 6 or 9 hours, however it's balanced. But yes, where and how many local buildings they can defend is one of the meaningful decisions a company needs to make.

The attacking company has a choice of differing Influence-cost options to raid the vault, capture, or destroy (probably that order of increasing Influence cost and difficulty to achieve). Improved structures are obviously commensurately harder to conquer. Some time period like the server up after 24/48 hours after capture until beginning to receive Influence means conquerors need to keep captured locals through several windows (huge windows in your foreverblob scenario) and feuding to capture things you can't keep is unsustainable, razing is so expensive it needs to be strategic, raiding seems like the pvp for fun and profit. 24-hour lead time when messing with local buildings because there are other versions of feuding with shorter lead time for non property-related skirmishes. Every company has the same base influence cap limiting blob's actions (slowly raised through active veterans to disincentivize company-hopping and incentivize loyalty and not loading up on unplayed alts). Allied companies in feuds (mercs or friends) at Influence cost to them are a feature we've long since needed and never got.

Locals have narrow functions only if you imagine narrowly.
Hammerfall: Like a waterfall, but tougher.
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Well see, from what I grt from the OP, all thid was meant to separate all these different types of local hex buildings into settlement vs. non settlement ones depending on if the company was part of a settlement or not. If you dont have that kind of mechanical separation, the problem is non settlement systems like factions then become too closely tied to the settlement system and hence we are back to the problem of this game currently. Toons cannot exist outside of settlements and companies who would rsther be in a faction or whose playstyle would be better suited for one will still be forced into an unnatural state. It would be a major failure if one system became dependent or too closely coupled with the other.

Another issue I see is if as was said above that influence is generated by holdings and the influence cap still dependent on number of toons (eveb if it is just active ones), then we will go back to another problem of the current state of the game. How are new groups going to build up? If holdings are what generates influence then far from being balanced it could lead to a runaway snowball effect. People who build more and more hokdings have more and more influence to build mmore holdings and better holdings and since a high cap is needed only big groups will have tue ability to snowball and small to mid size groups wont stand much of a chanve. Without a proper balance in game as a check everything gets filled up by large pre-existing alliances and once again no new groups can rise up unless an existing one tskes them in.

In territorial sandboxes the ability for any group to actually die no matter how large is crucial, as is the ability for new groups or a new form of an old group to rise up and build themselves up. If a group can become "immortal" then it breaks this one precept, and that is the main problem right now. Everyone is immortal and none of us can do anythimg short of griefing folks out of the gsme to do any real damage.

Now having hexes allowing buildings owned by more than one company is a neat idea, but that too has to have some kind of limit. Otherwise everyone owns buildings in thst hex without anythingbelse and then instead of trivial fights over individual hexes the problem has simply been scaled down to trivial fighting over a single building ina hex. If there is no mechanical benefit for one company having complete uncontested control, then what would be there to fight over?
Paddy Fitzpatrick - Rí Ruírec of Fianna, roaming bands of noble warriors!
Member of the Kathalpas Coalition and home of bandits, privateers, and anyone looking to get away from the shackles of law.
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Wolf of Rathglen
@Paddy Thank you for taking the time to read my wall of text and give a reply. I gave my two cents about the OP so to avoid derailing it I made a post about some specifics at that link.

While ending the literal existence of a company probably means driving people out of the game, it's political power could be greatly diminished by unfortunate management of its assets in my hypothetical system (for example overfeuding without enough spoils or provoking allies to the other side), or gain power from wise use of its assets and politics. I've been in small and large groups in different games and my design goals lean just one tick uneven in favor of small companies; both for new groups starting out and to regain lost glory. I want a group staying at the top to be consistently earning it.

You make a good case for a mechanical benefit to full hex ownership. Like if it was a small bonus to Influence generation that's a double reason to improve the bejeezus out of all those buildings and defend every one with vigor during feuds. First reaction I'd want there to be a different benefit to spreading out/having neighbors to create a choice for each company to make. First impression is your idea is worth more consideration.
Hammerfall: Like a waterfall, but tougher.
 
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