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Settlement Warfare is on the March

Bob
In terms of what we do after this update, for which many of the possibilities raised here have been very much on our minds for some time, we want to hold off on discussing that until the agency Lisa mentioned gets back to us with their findings and we have some time to discuss the possibilities with them. Those discussions could significantly affect where we need to focus our resources, so we don't want to have a separate speculative conversation here without all that information. As Lisa said in her blog post, we're hoping that will be happening quite soon.
Duffy Swiftshadow
I'll post some better analysis later, but for now I just wanna say: I'm probably more or less out, this is too misguided to waste anymore play time in the short term. Someone call me if the investors show up.
Bob
Tyncale
Bob, every time you explain why Settlement warfare is a good thing you seem to carefully tread around my argument that this game currently has no players.

Many effects that you describe above like "we are also hoping that settlements will build more structures" and "We also hope to see more Holdings and Outposts around settlements" will not happen because those settlements lack the players to do so.

What you write sounds logical, but you need a population for that. The few settlements that have a few people playing will not be Sieging one another, and they might not even bother with the abandoned settlements. There is no fun to be had because there are no participants.

The small player population is certainly a problem in many ways, and you're right that it limits the ability of many existing settlements to place much by way of defenses. That said, I'm always amazed at what the existing player base can do when it puts its minds to it. For example, I was pleasantly surprised when the penultimate 9 Gatherings were taken down in time. Admittedly, there are some pretty powerful positive incentives just to take down a Gathering in the first place, and I don't expect settlement warfare to cause the sudden flurry of activity that the Gathering challenge did. However, I also know there's a lot of effort being put into the game by multiple players on a daily basis, and even a small portion of that effort getting redirected (combined with some of the stockpiles that effort has already built up) should result in at least some additional holdings and outposts (or just upgrades to them). Maybe the holdings around some vulnerable settlements won't come from the settlements themselves, just from interested parties who don't want to see those settlements fall too easily. Maybe some structures could be provided in return for defensive treaties. The effort for these improvements doesn't necessarily need to come from the settlements most challenged by low population.

Nonetheless, I don't expect holdings and outposts and structures to start popping up like crazy, but I do think it's reasonable to think that some fairly empty settlements and surroundings will see at least some building go on. I also don't expect to see a ton of sieging, but I do believe that more than one settlement is both capable of a siege and will seriously consider one. If nothing else, at least the frustration for some settlements of always feeling like there's absolutely nothing they can do about whatever settlement is bothering them for whatever reason will be gone. Doing something about that settlement won't be a trivial effort, but at least the option will be available.


Flari-Merchant
The Gathering Bonanza was a very good move and a stunning success, in relative measurements, because of a very key factor that is at the very heart of player psychology: Reward. Direct tangible reward for effort. That is why you saw and were surprised that we "Got 'Er Done!" with relative zeal and efficiency.

It doesn't have to be over the top or at a level that is game breaking(too much loot) because that is almost as non beneficial, in the long run, as none or too little reward in the sustainable long run. Reward has to be balanced just like anything else that is core to a balanced game. Need an example? Look at various Theme Park MMOs and the repeated dungeon grind for the newest gear, not to mention the grind to get to that point. Players will run dungeons over and over to get particular rewards. You see it with the higher level(T3 drops) escalations in this game. It is right in front of you as basically one of the only reasons that you have 85%, or more, of the players that you still have active right now.

If you absolutely have to push this end game siege warfare stuff, please do not forget this fundamental winning psychology of gamer mentality. This causing(in a minor way) Bulk Resources to become more important(valued) is probably the best thing that you will get out of this, right now, with such a small population.
Holdings: If you want to encourage Holdings to be built and "plussed up" specifically, you will have to better balance the cost to maintain them with more tangible rewards. It has been proven that PVP tactics can easily overcome a high "plussed" Holding or outpost. Edit: Even with a less than 2 attacker to 1 defender advantage and "tactically" we have not even gotten started. Just not worth the effort/cost otherwise.
Settlement Buildings: While we can roam about and train wherever we please, the high cost/effort to construct more buildings inside more settlements and the low population will be a "lame duck" venture. Every group alliance already has at least one spot that is pretty much maxed out for those training needs.
Incentive: Yes some groups do likely have(no logistical details yet) the capability to conduct a siege, though none most likely have an active player for each siege camp or holding, lol. What is the reward though? A ruined, flat, parking lot and a very pissed off group of players that can return the favor? A group that could, because "sloppy unfinished mechanics" disperse to 10 different settlements for support and still be a focused active group after it all? Seems less than useless measured against the cost and repercussions ingame and metagame. <–Company hopping in less than a few minutes, universal support everywhere as long as a player starved settlement will take you, excessive dead account influence problems here maybe? Build in some immediate tangible rewards for successful sieging. They could be bank looting. They SHOULD be capturing some valuable buildings, at the minimum. They could be a number of things but they have to be there.

Bottom line is that if you do make expensive(materially and effort wise) mechanics that are only as rewarding as creating conflict without reward(and possibly cause rage quitting for lost settlements), then you are only continuing with the same unfortunate, misguided design that got us were we are right now.
Duffy Swiftshadow
Bringslite of Staalgard
The Gathering Bonanza was a very good move and a stunning success, in relative measurements, because of a very key factor that is at the very heart of player psychology: Reward. Direct tangible reward for effort. That is why you saw and were surprised that we "Got 'Er Done!" with relative zeal and efficiency.

It doesn't have to be over the top or at a level that is game breaking(too much loot) because that is almost as non beneficial, in the long run, as none or too little reward in the sustainable long run. Reward has to be balanced just like anything else that is core to a balanced game. Need an example? Look at various Theme Park MMOs and the repeated dungeon grind for the newest gear, not to mention the grind to get to that point. Players will run dungeons over and over to get particular rewards. You see it with the higher level(T3 drops) escalations in this game. It is right in front of you as basically one of the only reasons that you have 85%, or more, of the players that you still have active right now.

If you absolutely have to push this end game siege warfare stuff, please do not forget this fundamental winning psychology of gamer mentality. This causing(in a minor way) Bulk Resources to become more important(valued) is probably the best thing that you will get out of this, right now, with such a small population.
Holdings: If you want to encourage Holdings to be built and "plussed up" specifically, you will have to better balance the cost to maintain them with more tangible rewards. It has been proven that PVP tactics can easily overcome a high "plussed" Holding or outpost. Edit: Even with a less than 2 attacker to 1 defender advantage and "tactically" we have not even gotten started. Just not worth the effort/cost otherwise.
Settlement Buildings: While we can roam about and train wherever we please, the high cost/effort to construct more buildings inside more settlements and the low population will be a "lame duck" venture. Every group alliance already has at least one spot that is pretty much maxed out for those training needs.
Incentive: Yes some groups do likely have(no logistical details yet) the capability to conduct a siege, though none most likely have an active player for each siege camp or holding, lol. What is the reward though? A ruined, flat, parking lot and a very pissed off group of players that can return the favor? A group that could, because "sloppy unfinished mechanics" disperse to 10 different settlements for support and still be a focused active group after it all? Seems less than useless measured against the cost and repercussions ingame and metagame. <–Company hopping in less than a few minutes, universal support everywhere as long as a player starved settlement will take you, excessive dead account influence problems here maybe? Build in some immediate tangible rewards for successful sieging. They could be bank looting. They SHOULD be capturing some valuable buildings, at the minimum. They could be a number of things but they have to be there.

Bottom line is that if you do make expensive(materially and effort wise) mechanics that are only as rewarding as creating conflict without reward(and possibly cause rage quitting for lost settlements), then you are only continuing with the same unfortunate, misguided design that got us were we are right now.

Basically what I was going to say. I would add extra emphasis on how messed up the influence system is and the negative as all hell repercussions it currently has and will continue to have with sieges. Hell, just the how busted it would be in the long run even if we had tons of players needs to be thought about.
Bob
Bringslite of Staalgard
Holdings: If you want to encourage Holdings to be built and "plussed up" specifically, you will have to better balance the cost to maintain them with more tangible rewards. It has been proven that PVP tactics can easily overcome a high "plussed" Holding or outpost. Edit: Even with a less than 2 attacker to 1 defender advantage and "tactically" we have not even gotten started. Just not worth the effort/cost otherwise.

That's an interesting point. I'll take a look at beefing up the guards a bit for holdings as they get upgraded, think I can do something there pretty easily without going overboard.

Bringslite of Staalgard
Settlement Buildings: While we can roam about and train wherever we please, the high cost/effort to construct more buildings inside more settlements and the low population will be a "lame duck" venture. Every group alliance already has at least one spot that is pretty much maxed out for those training needs.

Yeah, my hope here is just to get some settlements that still have open spaces to consider a few additional buildings (including the smallest types) in order to add to the settlement's total defenses against sieges. Every building will increase the amount of structure damage that needs to be done before the settlement falls, and will lower the amount of bulk goods damage done each day during the earlier phase. You may be able to go train somewhere else, but buildings in your allied settlements don't count toward your own defenses. Gives structures a little more value and purpose than they have now, particularly the tiniest structures that are currently just decorative.

Bringslite of Staalgard
Incentive: Yes some groups do likely have(no logistical details yet) the capability to conduct a siege, though none most likely have an active player for each siege camp or holding, lol. What is the reward though? A ruined, flat, parking lot and a very pissed off group of players that can return the favor? A group that could, because "sloppy unfinished mechanics" disperse to 10 different settlements for support and still be a focused active group after it all? Seems less than useless measured against the cost and repercussions ingame and metagame. <–Company hopping in less than a few minutes, universal support everywhere as long as a player starved settlement will take you, excessive dead account influence problems here maybe? Build in some immediate tangible rewards for successful sieging. They could be bank looting. They SHOULD be capturing some valuable buildings, at the minimum. They could be a number of things but they have to be there.

I'm leaning very strongly toward letting a decent percentage of the buildings remain after a siege, or cost a bit of coin to repair/keep, and I'll just generally put some more thought into the whole incentives issue on each side. I do prefer carrots, but there's got to be enough stick involved here to keep settlement warfare from being profitable overall, and therefore gameable.
Duffy Swiftshadow
Bob
Bringslite of Staalgard
Settlement Buildings: While we can roam about and train wherever we please, the high cost/effort to construct more buildings inside more settlements and the low population will be a "lame duck" venture. Every group alliance already has at least one spot that is pretty much maxed out for those training needs.

Yeah, my hope here is just to get some settlements that still have open spaces to consider a few additional buildings (including the smallest types) in order to add to the settlement's total defenses against sieges. Every building will increase the amount of structure damage that needs to be done before the settlement falls, and will lower the amount of bulk goods damage done each day during the earlier phase. You may be able to go train somewhere else, but buildings in your allied settlements don't count toward your own defenses. Gives structures a little more value and purpose than they have now, particularly the tiniest structures that are currently just decorative.

Except buildings you don't need are a waste of resources, especially for defense. If you need the extra defense you've already lost the battle which means either the building you built goes boom or if their is a change to the victory conditions they get a chance to keep the nice building you just made. Since the ability to craft a building requires winning the recipe lottery in large amounts by endlessly farming escalations (ideally low T1 to T2) your encouraging a boring grind just to add defense that doesn't really help you.

If they beat you at up to six holdings and since the defender has the edge due to the guards and the stand in one spot while stealthed advantage they clearly have the superior numbers. Which means they can keep you from taking out their sieges as they would then have a defensive edge plus more players to use defensively. Unless of course your somehow going for victory via boredom by trying to stretch the siege as long as you can. But if they spent the theoretically high amount of resources to siege you they're unlikely to get bored and go home.

Edit:
More problem scenarios:
Even if you beat the initial attack against your holdings the enemy can feud you forever until you get bored or don't defend. Now in case where you have the number advantage enough that you can take a defended hex, you should wait till they setup the siege camps then wipe them out followed by replacing your holdings. If they keep doing it, no big deal.

If you have evenish numbers though, letting them win the holding round cements their victory. Which means indefinite feuding once more becomes the go to strategy when evenly matched.

And sure, allies or reinforcements can turn the battles, yadda yadda yadda. But that doesn't matter to the mechanics, what matters at the end of the day is raw numbers in the scenarios. Who and why they are their is irrelevant and if someone is expected to win that means one of the scenarios above comes to pass.

Edit Edit: In fact, improving the guards makes the imbalance scenario even worse because if they can't beat you with guards but could beat you going head to head the optimal strategy is to infinite feud you until you don't show up which stretches out the agony in a scenario you should clearly lose.

Which all points back to the problem of no way to incrementally gain victory via tactical play during a holding attack, it's you got the numbers or nothing.
Fiery
Honestly bob, I think high-end holdings are strong enough as-is. Yes, we took a +4 watchtower using superior strategy, but I can already imagine how difficult it would have been to take it otherwise. That's a good balancing point - we needed superior strategy in addition to a numbers advantage to take it "easily". I strongly suspect a +5 would all but be insurmountable given current server population, even with superior strategy.
Vakiri
It sounds to me like this is going to get implemented, no matter what is said here about the possible down sides.

I suggest that any changes along these lines be available on the test server first so that the effects can be investigated there before any of the changes are made to the live server. I suggest that include using a back
up copy of the data from the live server on the test server so that any player currently active would have the
same resources, stats, levels, etc.

If that can't be done, then restoring the game from a back up after a severe data or disk loss isn't feasible, so it
would be a good test of that as well.
Paddy Fitzpatrick
Some ideas…

You can have the siege camps have no guards at all and make it so the defenders attack the camps themselves to blow them up before capping it. Now that can be interesting to defend for the siege team and it gives the settlement defenders a fighting chance. If they blow up a camp and do not cap it, the space has to be capped again but the siege camp will have to be rebuilt first. This way some form of harassment can be done to get incremental victories without driving the attackers out completely (and thus the siege can still continue until more camps are blown up and a hex is recaptured).

Also if those extra settlement buildings serve some anti siege function such as reducing siege damage or maybe artillery that can be used before a battle (the latter may be too difficult with current resources, I dunno), then it would be worth it.

Of course, there has to be a way to make the recipes not luck of the draw such as putting them on a specific escalation (usties for tier 2 and revenge of nhur for t3?) and making it a guaranteed boss drop. Also has to be done to the siege camp recipes too I would imagine with a different one (maybe Ogg for tier 2 and gathering for t3?). The problem with using the current system of recipes is it is entirely dependent on someone winning the lottery. If we know which escalations to go for, that encourage some PvP opportunities perhaps to make the grind somewhat more bearable.

I dunno, at this point I feel like I am grasping at straws myself cause there doesn't seem to be any easy or good solution to these problems mentioned. I am happy to hear that buildings will remain at least. Still think the settlement should remain open and vulnerable until all buildings are repaired though so that the previous defenders can then go on the offensive and it shifts the burden to the conquerors to get the settlement back up and running and forces them to invest in it.
Paddy Fitzpatrick - Rí Ruírec of Fianna, roaming bands of noble warriors!
Member of Aragon Alliance and home of bandits, privateers, and anyone looking to get away from the shackles of law.
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