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The Return of Max Influence

Bob
In the before times, Influence was limited by a company's Max Influence, which in turn was based on the number of members a company had. We decided a while back to temporarily override those limits by setting everyone's Max Influence to 1,000,000 until we had an opportunity to revisit that system, in large part because we wanted Max Influence to be based more on activity levels than just on membership numbers. We've now come up with a plan that should be easy enough to implement that we can probably fit it into one of the upcoming releases.

The basic idea is that Max Influence would increase as a company earns influence, but would decrease a little bit each day during Daily Maintenance. The increase would be equal to the amount of influence earned, meaning that Max Influence would no longer limit a company's ability to earn influence, except when Max falls below Banked (and even then newly earned influence would be pushing Max closer and closer to Banked, so earned influence isn't simply lost).

The daily decrease would be based on the number of holdings a company owns (perhaps .5 per holding), so each company's ability to retain influence banked in holdings would be limited by its ability to earn new influence regularly. Over time, companies would reach a point of equilibrium, earning roughly the same amount of influence each day as is lost from their holdings.

Companies would start out with Max Influence set to Banked Influence plus Available Influence plus a buffer amount (perhaps 25), meaning new companies would start out with Max Influence set to just that buffer amount (since Banked plus Available would equal zero for a new company). There would also be plenty of warning beforehand so that companies can start building up their Available Influence and figuring out where their equilibrium point might be.

Our existing Max Influence code would kick in and start shutting down holdings and outposts whenever a company's Max Influence drops below its Banked Influence, with holdings and their outposts being torn down any time a holding stays shut down for more than 7 days. Companies could correct this by earning more influence, or by unbanking some influence (downgrade or tear down some holdings or outposts, end some feuds).

As our player population increases, we would steadily raise the daily decrease per holding, or might even come up with a formula for scaling that number dynamically. The goal is to set that number such that each company's ability to take and hold territory is at least somewhat reflective of that company's ability to regularly generate influence relative to the same ability in all the other companies, while still recognizing that the ultimate limit is each company's ability to defend their territory against those who would take it from them in territorial PvP.

With that, I open the floor for discussion.
BlackMoria
I predict this is going to be controversial and contentious. There will be supporters and detractors for this. Single character companies are not going to like this at all and there is quite a number of those.
Bob
BlackMoria
I predict this is going to be controversial and contentious. There will be supporters and detractors for this. Single character companies are not going to like this at all and there is quite a number of those.

Hopefully we can figure out the right daily cost numbers, and possibly some other tweaks, to keep this from being too rough on small-but-active companies. A cost of .5 per holding per day is really just a rough guess, and a fairly active character should be able to maintain quite a few holdings at that cost, but I need to do some more number-crunching and get some more feedback to figure out the ideal number.
Azure_Zero
I do get the idea of Max influence needing to be calculated, but I don't think it'll ever work and it'll kill some of the smaller active settlements since they WON'T be able to keep their DI and Bulk Up for the levels their players are used to, or want to have, and we don't ever really seem to retain ANY new players that hop in.

Some settlements only have a few active and dedicated players who are also casual players in a mid to high teens supporting level settlement with a number of buildings running at +2 or better, so congrats, your bring in a broken system and it'll be killing off some actually active settlements and not just the one's in a settlement collectors collection.

also that formula still favors settlement collectors since they only need a holding to keep there absolute minimum of DI and bulk for a settlement running at a low level.

If holdings need to be cleared, why not do a timer on the holdings counting the days since the Holding vault was accessed, if the count exceeds say a year then tear it down.
This game is built on PVP and the rule, "You have What You Hold."
Now I play more casually then I used to, but every week I still watch my PVP window(s), and do the weekly holding management for two settlements, so why are you killing off the dedicated casual player settlements?

We have the PVP system for clearing and claiming hexes, and what this'll do it make feuding even harder to do since the influence you earn for getting a feud ready is now being eaten for holding upkeep,
[sarcasm]what a great idea giving another hit to the feud system that needs more nerfing and butchering[/sarcasm]
Bob
Azure_Zero
Some settlements only have a few active and dedicated players who are also casual players in a mid to high teens supporting level settlement with a number of buildings running at +2 or better, so congrats, your bring in a broken system and it'll be killing off some actually active settlements and not just the one's in a settlement collectors collection.
The goal here is to keep the cost small enough that active settlements can easily generate enough influence to maintain a settlement that's at least somewhat reflective of their activity level. Off the top of my head, I think right now that means something like a few casual characters could keep a +2 settlement going pretty easily, but running a +5 settlement requires either a small number of very active characters or a larger number of less active characters.

Assuming I'm doing all the calculations correctly, a fully developed +2 settlement can generate all the required DI with just 8 +3 holdings (or 7 +4 or 6 +5, though those are significantly more expensive), and with the right infrastructure that could drop even lower (I think it might be as little as 2 holdings, but don't quite trust my math on that). We just need to set the right numbers so that the amount of activity required feels reasonable given the overall activity level throughout the game. A cost of .5 influence per day per holding might be a little high or a little low, but I think it's at least in the ballpark to say that a small, somewhat casual settlement could generate 1-4 influence per day on average.

Azure_Zero
also that formula still favors settlement collectors since they only need a holding to keep there absolute minimum of DI and bulk for a settlement running at a low level.
This certainly doesn't present an overwhelming difficulty for someone who just wants to hold onto a minimalist, but largely unused settlement. However, it does require dedicating some time to earning influence for that company, which in turn means either playing a character with the minimal support offered by that settlement or accepting the DI loss for bouncing a company between settlements (meaning a need for more territory, so a need for more influence, and so on). To some degree, this change falls heavier on a minimalist settlement. They generally have to have at least one holding (there may be an exception for a settlement that's almost entirely composed of infrastructure, can't remember offhand if we dealt with that issue yet, but there's probably a quick fix to require at least one holding), and that single holding is providing far more DI than the settlement is putting to use.

Azure_Zero
If holdings need to be cleared, why not do a timer on the holdings counting the days since the Holding vault was accessed, if the count exceeds say a year then tear it down.
This is less about clearing out literally inactive holdings (though that's a nice side-effect) and more about saying that continuously holding territory should be at least somewhat reflective of continuous activity in the game, just as initially taking territory is at least somewhat reflective of past activity.

Azure_Zero
This game is built on PVP and the rule, "You have What You Hold."
Now I play more casually then I used to, but every week I still watch my PVP window(s), and do the weekly holding management for two settlements, so why are you killing off the dedicated casual player settlements?
PVP is indeed central to taking and holding territory, but the influence system was always intended to provide a base level of tension between the need to interact with the game's other systems (adventuring, gathering, crafting) and purely focusing on PVP. Admittedly there are other factors that make a pure PVP force difficult (it's very hard to steal every single supply required to maintain a PVP fighting force), but influence puts a more formal requirement at the bottom of that. Without the limits provided by Max Influence, the balance swings too far back toward PVP. We could get away with that for a while while companies built up influence, but we always knew we'd eventually need to put some limits back in, and this feels like a good time to do that now that we've figured out a pretty simple implementation, assuming it holds up to scrutiny.

Azure_Zero
We have the PVP system for clearing and claiming hexes, and what this'll do it make feuding even harder to do since the influence you earn for getting a feud ready is now being eaten for holding upkeep,
[sarcasm]what a great idea giving another hit to the feud system that needs more nerfing and butchering[/sarcasm]
This would undoubtedly make it a little more difficult to build up the influence required for feuding, and make influence a more valuable commodity that companies may be less willing to expend on feuds. I think there's some other fiddling that could be done to mitigate that, most of which wouldn't require any code changes (just spreadsheet changes).
Azure_Zero
BOB, you think NOW is the best time for putting that back in, it is the dumbest thing to do right now.

One; Player retention is 0 that means no great influence generation and most active settlements are at the edge of what they are supporting with what few active players they have.

Two; Players who have gotten to a high level and are casual players will leave this game when their settlement can no longer support them and they are one of the forms of cash income Goblinworks has left and some are on the edge of leaving, PFO can't afford that.

Three; You'll be creating more dead settlements then live ones which will give the impression to new players the game is dying or dead, which is really bad for player retention.

Four; During this time that system was not in place, settlements got a chance to grow and that took time and effort and now your going to nuke their work, congrats you've now cheesed off companies and players, some of which will leave making more dead companies, and settlements which is very bad given the game's number of active players (not accounts) is likely less then 40.

This is something that SHOULD ONLY BE THOUGHT ABOUT AFTER; the Engine Upgrade AND the game's active player count (not number of active accounts) is more then say 500.
Until these two conditions are met, doing this is the equivalent of PFO shoting it self in both legs, with a sawed off shotgun in the middle of a desert.
It'll be a guaranteed death for PFO.
Nails
I agree with Azure's points, if this is implemented at this time, it will have a negative impact on the game.
Bob
It all comes down to the exact details of any implementation. For example, we could set the cost per holding per day so low that we're charging the equivalent of killing one mob per day per holding, or showing up once a month and killing 30 mobs per holding. I suspect a cost that low wouldn't give us some of the other benefits we're looking to gain, so the trick is finding the sweet spot where the price isn't really painful for all the groups adding value to the game through their current activity, but is noticeable enough to be worth taking into account when deciding how far to expand.

We have multiple levers to tweak (daily holding cost, influence generation/return rates, feud costs, … ) and definitely don't want the result to be a drastic increase in abandoned settlements. That said, we're also starting to see some of the consequences of unlimited influence arising, just as we expected, and need to put a lid on that soon before it starts to damage the game just as much as a heavy-handed Max Influence could. I think we've done pretty well on that front when adding things like DI and the settlement abandonment rules, and believe we can find the right balance again here. An important part of that is hearing everyone's concerns so that we can take them into account.
Flari-Merchant
Bob,

Not sure how much weight my thoughts amount to as a former player but I'll toss in 2cp worth for you to consider.

You are a team of basically two (I assume Cole is still with you), which limits your speed at getting things done. Obviously, you are going to be super focused on things that need doing and are relatively simple for practicality. Yet, remembering why I have lost interest in playing PFO in its current state, I can't help but be dismayed that your focus looks like it is still on the "dreadful CHORE like play required and mechanics for keeping settlements/holdings/companies operating". These things while fun for some, really are not fun for the average gamer.

Are there MANY highly active settlements right now, such that there is a shortage of land? Are there LOTS of feuds breaking out across the map, making organized conflict too easy to start and onerous on the general pop?

If the answers are no, or even "not really", then why use your valuable time on them now?
Maybe that stuff should be frozen or disconnected.

Is banking with crowded vaults user friendly now or still a frakk show of frustration?
Are there any new monsters out or any new better NPC interactions?
Better monster/NPC AI?
Anything new and intriguing in the cash/Azoth shop?
How is the tutorial coming along?
New armor models? Better or more armor/clothing color options?
Some annoying combat/spell bugs cleaned up?
Some new spell effect animation/sounds implemented?
Etc…

My 2 cp would be to humbly suggest that you try and make the game more fun, with your time, as far as regular play goes. Enhance "Quality of Life". Add depth to everyday play. Freeze bothersome "chore play" and then maybe you won't have to worry about too much accumulation.
Azure_Zero
Flari hits it on the head here, Bob.
Your adding a very mandatory and UN-FUN chore to the game and there is currently enough UN-FUN chores for running settlements that it is currently just at a tolerable level and now you want to add a freaking influence tax.
Currently it is really taxing to claim a settlement and then build it up to around +2 with around level 14 support hence why NO ONE is claiming and building up any settlements.

If there is No Fun, there will be No Players.
And if there are No Players, there will be No Money.

There is a Large Number of other elements that SHOULD be focused on, and this is NOT one of them.
Flari's list but a small list of what should be looked at,
In fact this should NOT be look at all UNTIL AFTER PVP and FEUDs gets properly FIXED, and not before.
 
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