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The Return of Max Influence

Bob
You make several good points, Flari. We're very limited in what we can work on, particularly while Cole's time is monopolized by the cloud and Unity upgrades. We wouldn't even be looking at this if we didn't think it was both important and relatively quick.

Your point that this sounds like we're back to pushing players toward more chore-like behavior is well taken. I focused a bit too much on some of those aspects when I should have made clearer upfront that our goal is for the vast majority players to find that their current activity levels are just fine. We mostly want companies to feel this is a factor they should take into account when deciding how far to expand, that it's best not to take on too much territory without good reason.

That's basically the main driver in looking at a change like this. There's currently very little strategic disadvantage to expanding as much as possible, and without mechanics that make it easier to maintain a shrinking amount of territory and harder to maintain expanding territory, any entity that starts expanding will simply keep expanding indefinitely. This wasn't happening until now because everyone was still too busy using what influence they earned just building up to support their settlements, but now all that earned influence has nowhere to go but toward expansion.

We'd meant for Spreading Escalations to act as the first brake on indefinite expansion, but that will take far too much time for us to tackle right now. Even with that, we were going to have to adjust things so that it didn't feel like we were turning escalation clearing into too much of a chore, more something that just naturally got taken care of as long as you were minimally active and didn't overextend. Adding a brake through Max Influence is much quicker, but again it's clear that we need to adjust things so it mostly feels like something that just gets taken care of if you're minimally active and don't overextend.

One possibility I'm considering is increasing the rate that influence is generated just enough to balance out the added daily influence cost for typical characters controlling a not-outlandish amount of territory. That should keep this from feeling like an added chore, while still adding a mild incentive not to overextend.

Many of the improvements you listed are things we'd love to tackle, but unfortunately most would either take too much of Cole's time at the moment or would require an actual artist, not my simple copy/paste/tweak art skills. Tutorials are an exception, at least if they don't call for new code/art, and I'll be getting to the Combat Alchemist tutorial soon. Even there, that single tutorial will require far more of my time than this will, so they're not really competing. This is honestly one of the quickest changes we could make outside of basic bug fixes, since we're leveraging so much existing code.
Azure_Zero
Bob there is an even easier and better answer to your perceived problem then putting in that freaking activity Tax
Just change the Influence Max from 1,000,000 to say 20,0000. Done.
Don't put in code people hate to fix a problem, and create a new problem in the process, put in a answer that works.
Flari-Merchant
Thank you for explaining your concerns about Influence accumulation, Bob. It is more clear when detailed like that. I can understand your concerns about future issues in that area. What I do not think we will agree on is where the effort to improve the general "fun" of the PFO play experience might be focused for better results. Even though other issues (bug fixes like banking i.e.,) would require a deeper dive and more time than this Influence fix, I feel it would have more immediate impact.

Simply advice at this point. I can see with the mountain of work piled in front of you, how it could be easy to get distracted.

Just seems the focus has long ago fallen away from "what can be done FIRST to make hour by hour play fun for our customers" to "what can I tweak that is more quick and easy than those pesky bugs or graphics?" Yes, some needed fun factors will take longer than quick fixes. The results will probably pay off better in the long run though.

Concerns about perfectly balanced mechanics and smooth higher echelon functions can be tweaked any time. You need fun having players now though. Unless I am wrong and "fun having players" is a low priority which I can see scenarios where that might be a tactical outlook, but sheesh!

As Azure points out, there are other, easier options that could be used to curb that future potential problem.

It is a shame that Influence has so few uses in game. Would be cool if it could be spent on in numberless interesting settlement/kingdom boons or decorations or special structures i.e.

Not that it is the specifics of my examples that are important. It is the overall tactical approach to the strategic goal of the general operation.

Finally, you do deserve some "Hurrah!"'s for the recent thingy events like choose your Own Escalation" and other events. So I do see that you are not totally ignoring these things. Bravo! smile

As I stated, I don't really deserve much say in a game that I no longer play. I just find it hard to give up on the dream that I will be able to look forward to "wanting to play" this game again within a reasonable span of time.

Ahh, nostalgia and it's cursed pull on the heart!
Bob
Azure_Zero
Just change the Influence Max from 1,000,000 to say 20,0000.

We considered that, and it is just a spreadsheet change, but unfortunately it's too easy to work around by just forming new companies whenever the limit is hit. To get a similar effect that's not gameable, we'd probably need to return to something more like the original Max Influence, where it's determined by company membership (with the numbers adjusted to reflect current player levels), and add in a requirement that the characters be active to avoid all the problems we had the first time around. Adding in that requirement probably gets us back to at least the same level of work, if not more, and we'd hoped to take into account levels of activity rather than just being a technically active character.

On a related note, we'd also considered a system more akin to Max DI, where the number is determined by looking at influence generation over the past 30 or so days. Such a system would be less obviously a tax, but the funny thing is that the effect would be virtually identical while requiring a lot more work to implement.
Azure_Zero
I get that you could make a new company as a work around, but even a new company adds work.
If a settlement has only one company with holdings and that company is full of casual (or in the military) players, it'll be a problem as they'll be losing their stuff when they all take a break for a bit due to RL, then you'll permanently lose them as paying players as when they get back the system will have nuked their stuff they worked hard at and then lost.

I will say a more realistic influence cap would be around 10,000 as that'll be enough for single company settlement to attempt running at about level 19 with nothing but +4 and +5 buildings pending on how they setup the holdings.

Right now the game CAN NOT afford to lose any paying casual players from forcing a chores on players.
Instead we should be looking at removing chores from the game to make it more fun.
Flari-Merchant
Seems like as with any complex design, the more things that you can generate or "build" with the system (in an unchecked way) the more out of control it can get.

That goes from everything from generating "coin/treasure" and Influence to Charter Companies to Holdings. It just gets out of control if there are no built in checks.

I get that and it makes sense.
Bob
Flari-Merchant
I can understand your concerns about future issues in that area.
Sadly, this is no longer just a concern for the future, but something that's already causing problems in certain parts of the world. It's just not affecting everyone quite yet. We'd really hoped to have Spreading Escalations in time to slow it down just enough, but now have to find something simpler. On the positive side, everyone just being aware that we're looking at some limits and ways to implement them soon will probably help, since it nudges everyone to start thinking about whether or not they're overextended.

Flari-Merchant
Even though other issues (bug fixes like banking i.e.,) would require a deeper dive and more time than this Influence fix, I feel it would have more immediate impact.
We generally look at things in terms of "bang for the buck." If a 2-day task will make the game 1% more fun, and a different 10-day task will make the game 10% more fun, then we'll choose the 10-day task. Of course, we're trying to spread those improvements across different segments of players, so some features that make the game more fun for one segment of players can have little impact on others. Of course, making the game fun is also dependent on keeping the game running, which is why the cloud and Unity upgrades rose to the top of the list recently. Until those are done, the vast majority of game updates will need to be things that require no code changes. We'll make exceptions when they're important enough and/or when Cole could use a short break from those tasks, but those exceptions will be rare. This particular proposal is just barely important enough and easy enough to be worth considering as one of those exceptions.

Flari-Merchant
It is a shame that Influence has so few uses in game. Would be cool if it could be spent on in numberless interesting settlement/kingdom boons or decorations or special structures i.e.
More options would certainly be interesting, and worth considering at some point.

Flari-Merchant
Finally, you do deserve some "Hurrah!"'s for the recent thingy events like choose your Own Escalation" and other events. So I do see that you are not totally ignoring these things. Bravo! smile
Thank you very much. Wer'e hoping to be able to do more of that kind of thing in coming months.

Flari-Merchant
As I stated, I don't really deserve much say in a game that I no longer play. I just find it hard to give up on the dream that I will be able to look forward to "wanting to play" this game again within a reasonable span of time.
We're happy to get constructive criticism from any source, and the perspective of a formerly active player is always helpful. Really, thanks to all of you who keep an eye on us and remain part of the community, even if not in-game.
Bob
Flari-Merchant
Seems like as with any complex design, the more things that you can generate or "build" with the system (in an unchecked way) the more out of control it can get.
Keeps my job interesting, that's for sure.
Bob
Azure_Zero
I get that you could make a new company as a work around, but even a new company adds work.
True, there's a bit of work involved, but not very much if you're already generating all the bulk resources you need from your existing holdings/outposts. If Max Influence is static, any new influence earned is thrown out after the limit is reached, so you may as well start another company and build up influence there, and then you way as well start feuding and taking more territory. You can always bounce to whichever company gets feuded as needed, and any new territory will largely run itself as long as you don't mind getting raided/invaded occasionally.

Azure_Zero
If a settlement has only one company with holdings and that company is full of casual (or in the military) players, it'll be a problem as they'll be losing their stuff when they all take a break for a bit due to RL, then you'll permanently lose them as paying players as when they get back the system will have nuked their stuff they worked hard at and then lost.
Generally speaking, as long as the settlement still has one reasonably active character, this proposal (with the proper numbers) would let them hold on to enough territory to keep the settlement running at a decent level, though it might call for some temporary downgrades, which can be reversed at basically no cost when more players return. Some holdings might get lost, but anything in those vaults would still be protected. Might not have access to them without reclaiming the hexes, but everything would still be there.

Also, without effective limits on influence of some kind, that territory will become more and more likely to get taken over, which has the same result. We're not looking to completely prevent that, successful PvP should be rewarded after all, just to make the decision to expand beyond one's needs more meaningful.
Bob
Azure_Zero
If a settlement has only one company with holdings and that company is full of casual (or in the military) players
I should mention that this kind of example situation is perfect to point out so we can take it into consideration. Fortunately, this was actually one of the situations we considered. While we do want the ability to hold territory to somewhat reflect current activity levels, our current plan would at least let companies like this plan ahead for periods of less active play. As long as the daily Max Influence reduction is kept predictable, then companies can maintain a buffer that will cover them until players are likely to return in larger numbers, and each company can decide on the buffer appropriate to their own play styles.

This would also mean that unspent influence is always serving a purpose by acting as that buffer, and isn't something that may as well be banked in a new holding and outposts unless they're worth the effort. Yet another aspect that makes expansion a more meaningful choice.

Of course, if companies are already having trouble getting enough influence to meet their basic requirements, then the need to build up those buffers fairly quickly would be another argument for increasing the current influence generation rates.
 
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