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Anthrage

Politics, Strategy and Territory Control

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Given the unintended consequences of my bringing up Shadowbane in a recent post I hesitate to do so again, but when talking about something it is difficult to avoid referencing the best example of it...so let me just encourage everyone to resist the temptation to flood this thread with your opinion on the opinion of others and stick to the primary topic. ;)

 

That topic, as the title suggests, is how Politics, Strategy and Territory Control might manifest in Crowfall. These three things were a significant and indeed signifying part of SB and what made it special, so of course my hope is that we see them represented in CF at a deep level and to a high degree. This would seem to be ACE's hope as well, given that Crowfall has been dubbed a 'Throne War Simulator'...the question is, given what we currently know about the game and it's mechanics, how might these gameplay elements express themselves?

 

The context in which the term Throne War Simulator exists deserves some examination, and comparison between SB & CF, purely from a game design perspective, and only for a moment. SB's worlds, it's servers, were for the most part persistent ones, with the political and physical infrastructure, the relationships within and between guilds and that of it's material assets, in some case developing over years. This enriched and informed gameplay in a consistent and constant way, and was an important part of what SB 'did' well.

 

A throne, by it's nature and design, is something inherently intended to persist. Being on top and staying there, acquiring and maintaining power, is the goal, and as such in order to be truly realized must occur in a context which allows for continuity, competition and consequence. Looking at CF in this area we find what might seem to be a paradoxical structure for a Throne War Simulator in that worlds are not persistent, the throne you occupy is only held for as long as the Campaign you are in lasts, and everything resets when you move on to the next world.

 

That's how it seems at least, at first glance, but CF's system is a bit more complex than such a rudimentary analysis of this gameplay area can meaningfully address. Just as ACE has brilliantly split up the traditional player manifestation of your character into Crow and Vessel, so have they divided the, for lack of a better term, 'realm', between the campaign world and the EK. A crude description of these two gameplay areas has typically painted the CWs as being for those who like to PvP and the EKs as a safe place for RP or PvE folks who like to craft and build things, generally being apart from the conflict. AVE even goes so far as to stress the point that the effects of one of these two gameplay areas will be limited on the other, you don't have to engage in both necessarily.

 

In thinking about politics, strategy and territory control in the context of CF, it occurred to me that these two worlds are not as independent as they might seem, and that together, they could be seen as making up a single realm in the sense of being what the Throne referenced in the tagline is at the head of, rather than the throne being an individual campaign world actively being contested over in a non-persistent season or session.

 

To understand this concept, consider the following scenario - guild A and guild B are composed of equal numbers of players (think Nation in SB terms as opposed to guild), and are at war. They fight in the CW's where guild A, possessing better fighters, generally wins more than they lose. Guild B however develops a stronger homefront presence, a better EK infrastructure, which results in better crafters, better gear and in CF's system, possibly even better quality avatars in the form of Vessels. The fruits of guild A's victories are less impacting in a positive and broader sense than guild B's defeats are in a negative sense in this scenario, since guild A lacks the human and physical resources to make get the maximum benefit from the materials they have secured through their victories on campaign, while guild B's losses in the campaign worlds do not entirely prohibit them from acquiring what is the sole practical benefit of those CW victories, as they can simply purchase raw materials - rare ore, wood etc, or even vessels. Guild A, lacking a developed production infrastructure in the EK's, is actually punished more by the harsher export rules than guild B is. Looking at the EKs and CW's as two halves of a single persistent realm, causes certain consequences of the system to come to light.

 

Indeed, the import/export rules are what ultimately control whether Crowfall has a persistent element or not, and by extension, whether an overall 'realm' exists. With Vessels being physical objects, this also means that your character's potential is equally controlled by this mechanic - a player could win ever fight they every fought, but lacking the appropriate means to improve their Vessel and thus advance their character, be in an inferior position to someone who did not do so well on the ground but was better able to make use of available resources.

 

Import rules in harsher worlds in large part sever this connection between EK and CW, and this is something which I believe will impact the game's longevity for some players if it is not managed well. The building of an empire, the sitting on a true Throne is going to require continuity between campaigns, which being done through the EK's, does mean certain decisions must be made the appropriate way or the Throne War Simulator designation will ring false, and limit the three gameplay areas listed in the topics title considerably.

 

So, after that long-winded set-up...how do we think these areas will manifest, both in the CW's on the frontline, in the EK's at the homefront and overall at the large scale in terms of the realm?

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If Guild A is winning in the campaigns, w/o the better vessels that Guild B possesses, because they lack a good EK infrastructure, I don't think they will be bothered by it or seen as inferior, they are after all the victor.  Now if Guild B uses that better EK organization to eventually topple Guild A's dominance and it proves true that all other things being equal  (number of and competency of players), the guild with the better infrastructure will more likely than not prevail, then EKs become a pivotal part of the game.  But since EKs are safe-zones, they are intentionally insulated from influencing too much power on campaigns, through import restrictions, which the OP struck at in their concluding thoughts.  

 

This is distilled into the question: "Are EKs relevant to campaigns, or are they, should they be completely optional?"  I want to see EKs have more relevance, but they can't be simultaneously important and safe, or the risk-reward paradigm is broken, and the Uncle Bobs will leverage their EK wealth to amass more wins (and since many EK elements are monetized, this opens the door to pay-to-win).  So if EKs remain largely irrelevant to campaigns, then you have no real kingdom building, no permanent throne, just a bunch of would-be pretender kings playing house;  you won't know if that EK is earned through campaign spoils or bought with RL cash, and in the end it's all just for show.

 

EK irrelevance is thought of as a necessary evil to prevent winners from carrying too much power, in the form of resources, into the next campaign (Uncle Bob), but I think it does have its short comings.  Aside from the whole, victory for victory's sake, the only tangible for campaign winners will be their embargo and artifacts, both of which we've been promised will have minimal impact on the consolidation of power.  Most resources that come out of campaigns will stay in EKs, with a small percentage being used to craft finished goods, for low import campaigns.

 

The other thing that the OP hit on are the themes of continuity versus transience.  Will a campaign duration be long enough for politics to effect the outcome, will people have a strong enough investment in or emotional attachment to a stronghold, to make losing it a big deal, as was the case with having a city destroyed in SB.  If some don't care much about EK building, will they care just as much and fight just as hard as those that do, to secure that embargo that they can't put to use?


Luke I am your Uncle... Bob.  What, my sister Padmè never mentioned me?

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These are very good questions. I think it is possible there are answers which we would consider to be good ones, but only if the flexibility that is hinted at by the devs in regards to campaign rules is both significant and serious.

 

Just as there are different flavors of Campaign World mechanics, roughly representing an ascending degree of difficulty, it is possible this could be echoed in the rulesets those CW's will run, and if they are truly brave, this could extend back to the EKs. Current design, to my knowledge at least, consists of the 'rings of contention' as illustrated in these images - these rule variations already relate to the EKs through the import and export restrictions, perhaps this could be extended to eligibility for entry into the worlds themselves.

 

For example, the system currently allows an EK holder to turn a PvP flag on for some or all of their 'home world'. A CW ruleset could exist which only those pledged to a Monarch owning such an EK could gain access to. An import rule over themselves essentially, the vessel they are actually inhabiting. This would provide for a limited application of the consequences of continuity, of risk and reward for EKs, without impacting the playerbase not interested in this type of gameplay. It is much like the rings of contention, with God's Reach, The Infected, The Shadow and The Dregs all available but optional content for all EK owners, for all players. Someone who only plays God's Reach campaigns can't really complain about those who risk the harsher environment of The Shadow campaigns, so to an EK which had their PvP flag always on should be rewarded for their risk.

 

In such a system, larger groups/guilds of the type likely to have an interest in the Throne War, in politics, strategy and territory control of a continuous and non-compartmentalized nature, are also likely to combined resources and efforts into fewer or even a single EK as opposed to each actively maintaining their own at a high level. Campaign Worlds then effectively become proxy wars, analogous to real-world conflicts in places like Vietnam or Afghanistan prior to the turn of the century, where you go to another region to play out your conflict with your enemy, then return home. These individual regional wars are part of an overall political struggle between powers which does not end once the regional conflict ends. The nature of the conflict may change, but the connection is continuous.

 

In short, Campaign Worlds are already opt-in, and buy-in - you must put something on the table in order to play there, be it Loot Rules, Decay Rules, or Import and Export rules. Extending this risk back to the EK is a logical, simple and elegant way to manifest the kind of connection and continuity a Throne War would require. The EK's are literally the seats of the various monarchs, it is almost the precise definition of what the game at it's most fundamental level is supposed to be about.

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A throne, by it's nature and design, is something inherently intended to persist. Being on top and staying there, acquiring and maintaining power, is the goal, and as such in order to be truly realized must occur in a context which allows for continuity, competition and consequence. Looking at CF in this area we find what might seem to be a paradoxical structure for a Throne War Simulator in that worlds are not persistent, the throne you occupy is only held for as long as the Campaign you are in lasts, and everything resets when you move on to the next world.

 

I am hoping that months-long campaigns will be long enough to feel persistent. That exploring a world, taking territory, fighting over POIs, crafting stuff, trading stuff, building strongholds and other assets, destroying them, and even the conclusion of the campaign itself will feel immersive and meaningful.

 

Even the ostensibly permanent Shadowbane servers were similarly episodic, though on longer timescales. Servers got stale and were shut down and new ones would be launched. The first few months of each launch tended to be the most active. Judging from that, people actually seemed to like fresh starts, so I wonder to what extent the illusion of permanence is an important factor.

 

Import rules in harsher worlds in large part sever this connection between EK and CW, and this is something which I believe will impact the game's longevity for some players if it is not managed well. The building of an empire, the sitting on a true Throne is going to require continuity between campaigns, which being done through the EK's, does mean certain decisions must be made the appropriate way or the Throne War Simulator designation will ring false, and limit the three gameplay areas listed in the topics title considerably.

 

Hopefully there are campaigns with relaxed import rules in the harsher worlds to address that issue. J Todd Coleman once said in an AMA on Reddit:

 

If the players WANT dregs rules with some import, then sure, we'll give it to you.

Edited by Jah

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A key concept will be the linkage between the campaigns and the EKs. If ACE don't get this right then CF will feel like two games rather than a single 'throne simulator'.


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Very interesting statements.

 

Just as there are different flavors of Campaign World mechanics, roughly representing an ascending degree of difficulty, it is possible this could be echoed in the rulesets those CW's will run, and if they are truly brave, this could extend back to the EKs. Current design, to my knowledge at least, consists of the 'rings of contention' as illustrated in these images - these rule variations already relate to the EKs through the import and export restrictions, perhaps this could be extended to eligibility for entry into the worlds themselves.

 

EKs have been made independent from CW so as to ensure that there is no pay-to-win mechanic in Crowfall, but it closes a whole part of the game to highlevel-PvPers (the one aiming for the dreggs). Why bother developing a strong EK, since it won't influence anything at all ? As stated above by @Anthrage, rules variations may be the right answer to revamp strategy and territory control (and hence EKs). 

 

- Selective CW pitting Guilds and Kingdoms of similar power (same amount of riches) against each other

- The 5 best Guilds after several campaigns join a battle-royal 

- all-import rules 

- [whatever you can imagine that makes EKs a condition/beneficiary of CW] 

But I do have a question regarding the aforementioned PvP in EKs : Is it only like allowing 1on1 fights but no looting/slaughtering/rampaging, or allowing the entry of an army in your territory, army able to destroy constructions/slaughter players and NPCs in your EK ?

If it is only the first, I red in an other thread someone advocating for raids in EKs. That way the strongholds you build in your EK, that have no interest at all today, become a masterpiece for territory defense that you want to build by collecting materials in CWs. 

It is your choice whether or not to open your EK to raids, but if you do you will be able to raid others and hence enjoy PvP all the more.

Otherwise, the vanilla game "as it is today" won't justify EKs for Dreggs and Shadows players, won't really develop strategy and territory control, and EKs will mostly remain for lower realms (God's reach) where import is allowed and where they can influence a little the game. (And I think the EKs are a very interesting part of the game that should be made important even for high-level realms)
 

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But I do have a question regarding the aforementioned PvP in EKs : Is it only like allowing 1on1 fights but no looting/slaughtering/rampaging, or allowing the entry of an army in your territory, army able to destroy constructions/slaughter players and NPCs in your EK ?

 

As far as I know the only concrete information we have on pvp in EKs is that it can be turned on/off by the owner of the EK. Whether that includes corpse looting, property destruction, etc, hasn't been clarified yet, and probably the devs haven't made decisions on some of those types of things yet.

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We do know that destruction will be included, it is one of the options shown in the parcel interface screenshot. You're quite right though, there is much we do not know, and likely much the devs themselves haven't decided and don't yet know either.

 

As far as I know the only concrete information we have on pvp in EKs is that it can be turned on/off by the owner of the EK. Whether that includes corpse looting, property destruction, etc, hasn't been clarified yet, and probably the devs haven't made decisions on some of those types of things yet.

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As well as the CW import rules there would be some sort of sacrifice that you as an immortal hero would have to give to the gods to enter a campaign. Example: you would have to give 5k gold/iron (or whatever) and sacrifice a vessel.


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As well as the CW import rules there would be some sort of sacrifice that you as an immortal hero would have to give to the gods to enter a campaign. Example: you would have to give 5k gold/iron (or whatever) and sacrifice a vessel.

You could make it like an ante in poker.  A certain buy-in for each campaign that allows for an embargo multiplier for the winner at the expense of the losers.  It wouldn't help you win but would certainly increase the risk-reward of high buy-in campaigns, some people might enjoy the extra stress.

Edited by Gilgamer

Luke I am your Uncle... Bob.  What, my sister Padmè never mentioned me?

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EKs have been made independent from CW so as to ensure that there is no pay-to-win mechanic in Crowfall, but it closes a whole part of the game to highlevel-PvPers (the one aiming for the dreggs). Why bother developing a strong EK, since it won't influence anything at all ? As stated above by @Anthrage, rules variations may be the right answer to revamp strategy and territory control (and hence EKs).

I have thought about the EK/CW interdependence, and I believe there could be another way.  What if goods from the EKs were used as recipes for vanity items, and those vanity item recipes could be imported into the CWs.  This may not solve all of the issues, but it could be a step in the right direction on how to create a way for the dregs to see their winnings put to use.


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I have written about 10 paragraphs in reply to this thread and just deleted it all. I cannot get past the disconnect between the EK and CW. If we allow direct influence between the two with things such as building dependencies, building research, import/export efficiency, and anything else, the EK now becomes persistent, can be made invulnerable, and goes against the whole reset concept. On the other hand, with no influence, they are largely just vanity housing districts with a large amount of development time invested.

 

I know exactly how a CW should play out but that's for another thread.

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I prefer the idea of the EK and CW worlds being mostly disconnected - fits with the "more risk = more reward" concept of CF, and the destructible CWs.

 

Player housing is always popular, and doesn't need any more reason to exist than people like it, it's fun for communities, and it's persistent. And it will be a good source of revenue from cash shop vanity stuff like biomes, architecture styles, furniture, npcs.

 

I wouldn't mind testing some different import/export scenarios though (like a Dregs with a one-time import of gear) and see how that impacts CW play.

 

 

Edit: Also thoughts about the throne war concept - I think of the EKs as like Valhalla, where you go after the battles to rest and feast. The CWs are the real Thrones and that's where you go to fight for glory.

Edited by miraluna

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EKs will be very much like Landmark. Builders and crafters can show of their talents. It will also be used for Guild housing and social hubs.

Edited by Count_Dirkoff

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I'd like to see winning CWs offer some unique rewards as well.  Something persistent for the EK (perhaps along the theme of the CW climate or something).  A "trophy" of sorts, but a buildable one - could be woven into the artifacts and relics system.


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EKs will be very much like Landmark. Builders and crafters can show of their talents. It will also be used for Guild housing and social hubs.

I would agree with this if, CF was going to have a complex tool set for free-form building, but I wouldn't call the placing of prefab buildings and set pieces into an environment that can't be terraformed anything like Landmark.  From what's been shown, it appears the voxel engine is being used for destruction only, not building, and not terraforming, which although I think would be cool, is well beyond the scope of this game.

Edited by Gilgamer

Luke I am your Uncle... Bob.  What, my sister Padmè never mentioned me?

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Well this may be an unpopular idea, going against the current direction the game is heading in (clear separation between EKs and CW), but I believe that we need to have import rules in the shadows/dreggs to make EKs matter even at high-level (and hence favor politic/strategy). This is completely possible considering the way CF works (rules for campaigns) but mostly depends on what the CF-community wants (I'm talking about the most hardcore-PvPers that want nothing to do with EKs).

 

I'm not talking about big import rules  :

shadows import = vessel + resource-harvesting stuff* + armor + weapon

dreggs import = vessel + resource-harvesting stuff*

These little advantages won't break the balance of the dreggs, but justify EKs at all levels without making them mandatory.

 

That way you'd have at least a little interest in gearing up, which equals to better equipment (and that means EK-crafting or Trade) :

- if you're completely AGAINST EKs, you can just use your last campaign rewards to trade and buy this equipment

- but if you like EKs and still aim for higher-level campaigns (where EKs currently have no strategical/logistical interest), you can hit two birds with one stone.

 

resource-harvesting stuff* = the stuff supposed to improve your harvesting (like pickaxe,...). I'd say it's interesting to have them in the dreggs in order to fasten the early game and skirmishes

Edited by KingJack974

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I have written about 10 paragraphs in reply to this thread and just deleted it all. I cannot get past the disconnect between the EK and CW. If we allow direct influence between the two with things such as building dependencies, building research, import/export efficiency, and anything else, the EK now becomes persistent, can be made invulnerable, and goes against the whole reset concept. On the other hand, with no influence, they are largely just vanity housing districts with a large amount of development time invested.

 

I know exactly how a CW should play out but that's for another thread.

I'm not sure I (precisely) understand the complaint.

 

Tracking back in my mind I seem to recall that the EKs were originally intended as, yes indeed, the point of Persistence for players. That it would be their "home base" where goods acquired from the CWs could be brought for use or sale. In this way they were to be the analogy to an open-world MMO's domain of persistence.

 

However, the EKs were not to contain any material resources. Those were all to be found in the CWs. War Campaigns. You fight the fight, you gain or lose goods, then at the end of the War Campaign you bring home what you were able to acquire and hold on to.

 

This implies part of a character's development IS the development of their EK infrastructure. There is supposed to be a "link" between your EK and how you do in a CW, but I consider it a soft-link (sort of) simply embodied in your ability to be more financially viable than someone else, perhaps (to whatever degree this goes, and I hope it's minimal) better gear, or what have you.

 

I've not been tracking things closely, so I'm currently in the dark regarding any recent information about ACE's thoughts in precisely WHERE and how and to what degree the EKs interact, or could influence a player's time in a CW. You've listed some things such as " . . . things such as building dependencies, building research, import/export efficiency, and anything else, . . .".

 

I don't want to second guess what ACE's detailed plans are, because it's just too premature. All they've cracked the can on for the most part is Combat.

 

There's SO MUCH of the game left to finish . . . I'm trying to see where the complaint is today in regards to the EKs. To the best of my knowledge, which may be deficient in relation to recent information released, the EKs are to fill the described role from the beginning of kick starter. (?)


“Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards--and living up to them--is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it." - Seth Godin

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I think the fact that there are some players who want the EK's to impact the CW's, and some who don't, speaks highly of the system and generally suggests it is on the right track. As it happens, the systems they are putting in place suggests it will be possible to satisfy both groups of players without impacting balance or impinging upon playstyle. Rather than debating which of the two realities will be manifest come release, for the sake of discussion let us assume that the aforementioned Universal Happiness Gameplay (UGH!) will be achieved and the EK and CW connection will (for some players at least) but both strong and persistent.

 

In such a case, things get very interesting. Not just in terms of the flow from CW to EK of materials, resources, thralls, vessels and who knows what else, nor from EK to CW of higher quality vessels, weapons and in some cases, goods, but also in terms of opportunity for gameplay, in the areas of politics, influence, territory control and perhaps even access.

 

I will provide one example that should give an idea of what might be possible in a brave and robust system.

 

EK's include, in their options, not just a toggle-able PvP/destruction checkbox, but an Fully Open option. This option permanently sets an EK to be fully PvP, asset destruction and open for travel to all - think of it has D2-style Hardcore mode for your EK. Hugely risky, but with the following rewards:

 

-Resource Nodes of a tier 1-higher than the maximum that can be found in a standard EK become available

-A ruined portal is discovered which can be built up much like the ruins found in CWs, which grants travel to some or all of the CW Ringsets, but with one difference from standard travel, being one or more of the following:

 

--Bypasses travel limitations in terms of leaving or joining a campaign in progress

--No import or export restrictions (100% both ways)

--Allows no-restriction transport to other Fully Open EKs

--Other advantages I can't think of not knowing the system's full details

 

 

The CW Ring in question could even be something entirely new and hidden, or a single persistent campaign world, accessible only through Fully Open EKs. That would be something truly amazing, with EKs then becoming like SB's old Badlands idea, a domain that had to be traveled to when moving from server to server. Heck, you wouldn't even need to do that, if you restricted travel to Fully Open EKs, to that which is to and from other Fully Open EKs, and made those EKs more like CW worlds in terms of resources etc.

 

The system is fully of possibilities for this kind of gameplay, and they can apply it as narrowly or as broadly they want, insulating or involving segments of the playerbase on an opt-in basis. If you think about what could be done, it's really pretty damn amazing.

Edited by Anthrage

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