MWO: The Shape of Community Warfare

I should state that I mostly skimmed this article before bed, so my comments may be a bit misguided, but:It sounds like an interesting and fun system, albeit the kind of thing I might expect an EVE player to come up with.A few points worth considering: As I understand things (both from canon and from what little PGI has said about CW), the idea is that Merc corps will be contesting for territory on behalf of the Great Houses (factions), not on their own account. They aren't supposed to take and hold any territory they like, they are supposed to take planets for their employers, and hold them in their name. So the corp-vs-corp and empire building described here wouldn't really make sense. You could attack another corp if they were holding a world on behalf of Kurita and Davion paid you to take it from them, but presumably that would lose you Kurita loyalty and gain you Davion loyalty.I'm also not sure about MC being currency used by corps for developing worlds and materiel. I'd only be happy with that if there was no way to transfer paid-for MC into a corp bank - so you can't just buy yourself an awesome corporation. I don't see a problem with the corp paying it's soldiers an "MC Salary" though - it'd be a good way to allow people to buy a suitable "uniform" for their mechs, for one thing.I do like the idea of needing multiple battles to claim a world. One idea I had was to have something a little like repair&rearm for a planet-control fight. Say taking a planet requires three victories in a row, as you described for a fortified world. Then the invading force should be able to bring a certain number of mechs and/or pilots, say up to 24 (or up to 1200 tonnes). If a mech gets damaged or destroyed in the first match, it either has to be replaced with a different mech, or it can be *partially* repaired. By the third match, both teams will likely be fighting in battered mechs (although the defenders would probably have an advantage.) You could develop this more by adding things like supply lines or support personnel/facilities (you could have NPC techs who level up and can repair things more efficiently, perhaps.)
Funny, that map isn't shaped like a pear. I'm sure PGI will take care of that though.
I'm of the opinion that instead of MC, territories should generate a resource that works identically to MC, but puts anything purchased with it into the company locker (henceforth called "corpbux"). Any item that belongs to the corporation can be used by authorized members, and can be repaired with either corpbux or personal money, depending on the policy set by the company about that item. This lets established companies help out their new members by loaning them gear for use in territory fights, and enhances operational flexibility of the established members by letting someone who's purchased only one sort of robit drive a company 'loaner' that's not a horribly-fitted trial mech.The bit about "Clan technology allowance" is interesting, and I hadn't really thought of the concept. I am, however, of the opinion that breaking a piece of Clantech should be 'final'; you have to re-purchase it, rather than repair it. This wouldn't apply to a mech chassis, only the components on said chassis. (Clan chassis should only be able mount Clantech parts without... technical difficulties. I want to see an Inner Sphere PPC strapped to some mewling space furry's Mad Cat explode because the Clans use higher voltages/frequencies for AC power than the IS or some other techno-babble explanation.)As for the article: a well-thought out and surprisingly in-depth narrative showing the possible depth possible for a community warfare model in MWO.
I haven't seen anything from PGI about that, but I don't see how you could maintain the main appeal of CW while also being more 'structured' than either World of Tanks' system or the system laid out here. The whole point of a meta-game is that the 'meta' represents the current state of the system. Imagine if Riot mandated that in every LoL ranked game, all lanes had to be solo lanes, and every team had to run double junglers, because "a no-kill/cs support-type hero in lane unfavorably tips the game in favor of a baby-sat ADC, and this is bad because reasons", or "Noone is allowed to play $TEAMCOMP because reasons", or any other ham-fisted attempt to control the team composition meta via developer fiat. The players would flip their lids! Admittedly, LoL's fanbase is extremely toxic and hates change in any way, but LoL would lose much of the appeal in a champion-pick team game with a mandated team composition.Meta-whatevers emerge in an entirely organic fashion, as dictated by the parent system. Trying to control a meta by building rules to limit it just results in people meta-gaming the meta, and results in unnecessary complexity. (I call this "rules cancer".)
There is a wonderful novel in this and I would gladly purchase the book. But if I wanted to play EVE (Big Stompy Ships) I would play EVE or WOWS (coming). Honestly that layout, intricate and nicely bundled tho it seems, would be a nightmare of implementation. First the players would be rushed into two groups - Elites and Mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed ****). We average players would be simply cannon fodder and farming crops. Second, I agree that there would develop a few Power Merc Units and the rest scrabbling. Third I am somewhat suspicious about mixing any MC in the Metagame CW. Whats wrong with cbills and LPs? Finally, I love MechWarrior (BT genre) and I want to play it but in this layout I do not see what I, as an average MechWarrior, would gain except some reflected glory. Elites (Goonswarm) would rule and the rest be cannon fodder. I am sorry but I cannot endorse this layout. I simply disagree.

A Blank Slate

MWO is in an interesting position.  Its "end game" content, community warfare, is the reason why many people have decided to invest their time and money into the game.  Yet nothing is actually confirmed about community warfare.  For almost a year people have been playing with nothing but promises and a vague description to pin their hopes on.  The developers have been playing their cards close to the vest, with many people - including myself - suspecting that the policy is simply a result of the fact that they don’t know either.  

There’s a lot of reasons to be skeptical as well.  Community warfare is really, really, really hard to implement correctly.  You have to balance out a multitude of factors to get just that perfect mix of elements necessary to achieve greatness.  World of Tanks' Clan Wars system has become the gold standard for team based games, while EVE Online has the gold standard system for the sandbox genre.  Each genre has its own strengths and weaknesses, and MechWarrior Online has promised to try to take the best from each.  The devil, as always, is in the details.  

The Goldilocks Challenge

World of Tanks did a good job providing regular combat every night with clan wars, but years after it was introduced the system remains flat and limited.  You can’t develop your land, you can’t trade with neighbors, you can’t do any diplomacy in game, and you can’t hire mercenaries. Meanwhile, EVE Online has the best metagame of anything out there, and while improving markedly in recent years it still has a weak point of not being friendly to casual players and not making it easy to find actual combat.

When you are looking at the highest levels of competition in community warfare, it can be rather awe-inspiring.  People dedicate their time, talent, and treasure to build something with hundreds or thousands of others.  I shudder to think what cost it would take to replicate something like Goonswarm if some hypothetical government organization was given a budget and told to copy everything, from the forum infrastructure to leadership decisions to hiring people to fly in fleets.  

When you have so many people working together against similar groups, they are going to do whatever is most effective to win.  Given a chance, people will (and have) develop mega alliances that choke out all challengers, despite how bad that is for providing fun for members.  Then, victims of their own success, players of the mega alliance will rightfully move on as they no longer have a reason to play. This is just one of the challenges facing the development of any community warfare system worthy of the name.  It has to be balanced so that the optimal way is still fun.

A Sample System

Let me paint a picture of what my version of MechWarrior Online Community Warfare system might look like.  I’m not going to take the time to go through the exact specifications of everything needed, as this is meant for entertaining and not intended as a technical document.  That said, PGI: If you like what you see, hit me up and I’ll have my people talk to your people.   

First, we have to look at what they have already said. The first developer blog has been the source of most information on community warfare. Basically, they are going to use a star map and have a system sort of like highsec, lowsec and nullsec in EVE.  Highsec will be the core worlds, and nothing will really affect them.  Low sec will be faction wars, where loyalty points that have been earned by players pledged to a faction are used to determine which factions take planets in a war of attrition.  Nullsec will be Border Worlds where planets are won by mercenary corps bidding on contracts.  Loyalty points are earned by actions benefitting your faction, so the only example given is earning points for killing enemy faction players in matchmaking.

Now this is a good starting point, but large questions remain unanswered.

  • How do the contracts get awarded for planetary occupation?
  • What mechanics will be used to determine attacking and defending?
  • What rewards will be given?
  • To what degree will you be able to develop your planets?
  • What mechanics if any will be in place to support diplomacy?
  • Where do new corporations start off?
  • Will different sections of space provide different levels of rewards?
  • How will the times of fights be determined?

I think the best way to show how I would implement it would be to do the walkthrough from the view of a new corp freshly made entering community warfare several months post-D-Day.  I won’t be able to cover all of the topics, but it should give you a good sense of how it should all fit together.

This should be considered a thought experiment on what community warfare might look like a few years from now fully developed.  PGI might decide to go in an entire other direction, and Community Warfare will probably be light on features to start.

I'm a former Goonswarm Intelligence Director, before leaving to play WOT first as a DC in CONDI then as a DC in SGLE. Currently I'm involved in Word of Lowtax in Mechwarrior Online as well as trying to make sure PGI doesn't ruin MWO Community Warfare