Beyond: Focused Feedback – Powerplay

At 12:58pm on the 15th May 2018 Frontier opened up the feedback forum to possible changes to Power Play. You can see Sandro Sammarco’s suggestions below and contribute to the discussions here. These suggestions will be reflected on the The Future? “It’s on the list….” page in due course.

“Hello Commanders!

“As well as having a good old chew on Squadrons, we’re loading up a side order for the Focused Feedback Forum, because, frankly, we want to get more feedback! Importantly, this is an additional topic and does not replace the line-up announced earlier for Squadrons, Mining and Exploration.

“We’re considering a package of tweaks to Powerplay and we’d like your thoughts on them. Note that this is not a fait accompli, just something we’re investigating.

“The concept behind these changes is not to completely change Powerplay, but address a few important issues as efficiently and nicely as possible. Some of these changes are subtle, others very significant. The idea is that as a whole they form a rounded update that provides improvements to the core experience of Powerplay.

“As a flash topic, this will be the only thread, so all relevant replies can live in it. Please use the headings listed below with your replies to make it easier for us to process the thread, and of course, please remember the golden rule: your replies should be to us only. Feel free to debate with each other in non-sticky threads.

“What we’re looking for are your thoughts as to the ramifications of these changes based on the way you involve yourself in Powerplay, both positive and negative.

“With that in mind:

POWER PLAY PROPOSAL

Preparation Cycle Split

The first half of the cycle is available for preparation
• The second half of the cycle locks the current preparation values and enables voting

Vote to veto preparation

• Each player can vote to veto or support each preparation
• If a preparation ends the cycle with more veto votes than support votes it is removed from preparation
• Voting requires minimum, rolling time spent pledged and active for a power, somewhere into rank 2

Reasoning: these two changes in tandem are meant to make it easier to prevent bad systems from being prepared with minimal effort. Rather than use consolidation, which must be chosen blind in terms of both the final preparation for systems and the final resting place for the consolidation marker, here Commanders are voting on a fixed list and can choose precisely which systems they want to attempt to veto.

Vote to withdraw from system

• Each cycle players can vote on the 5 least profitable systems, to withdraw or support
• At the end of a cycle if a system has more withdraw votes than support votes it is removed from the power’s control
• Voting requires minimum, rolling time spent pledged and active for a power, somewhere into rank 2

Reasoning: currently there is no way to lose a bad control system other than hoping or colluding with opposing powers that it will end up being forced into turmoil. We think this vote is a legible and relatively safe way of allowing powers to shed chaff, as only systems that at a base level would be unprofitable would be eligible for withdrawal.


Profitability modifier applied to votes and preparation successes

• A system’s base profitability modifies preparation votes, withdraw votes and preparation successes
• Votes and successes for profitable systems are increased by a factor of 10

Reasoning: we think this modifier acts as another barrier against internal sabotage, forcing the saboteurs to work many more times harder to get the same effect as a Commander who has the power’s interests at heart.

Guaranteed undermine if 100% more than fortification

• A control system that is undermined by 100% more than the fortification value will be undermined even if the fortification trigger has been successfully met

Reasoning: We feel that Powerplay rules tend towards stagnation and status quo, which is not something we intended. Despite all the effort in the world, a power that fortifies enough, against values set by the game rather than in opposition to attack, can remain safe. This change allows sheer force of effort (or numbers) to guarantee systems end up being undermined, making deficit more likely. And to stop this happening, a power must directly compete against its enemies.

Overhead removal and slight increase to distance cost modifier

• Overhead upkeep costs are removed making a system’s base profitability static
• Distance modifier to upkeep is increased to maintain some sense of expansion “gravity”

Reasoning: Overheads are a way to prevent rampant expansion of powers. However, the cost is very high, as they cause an unavoidable amount of uncertainty when calculating CC at the cycle change, as well as just being another level of complexity. We think it would be better to remove them, increase the distance modifier to upkeep a bit, and live with powers that can expand more, as with the other changes in this package we hope that the result will be much more direct attack and dynamism caused by powers fighting each other.

Ethos Override 

• Ethos is only checked for the control system and the power
• If the power and controlling faction share the same superpower the power is always strong against the faction

Reasoning: this is a fairly straight forward override to ensure that – for example – Federal powers are always strong against federal factions. The other part of this change, to focus ethos on the control system only, is to make the process legible and focus Commanders in the same place, increasing the chance of conflict.

Missions give Powerplay successes

• Missions for factions in a system that share a power’s superpower award a number of Powerplay successes when completed
• The mission type determines how many successes are given
• Successes can be applied to expansion, opposition, fortification and undermining

Reasoning: one of the complaints of Powerplay is the limited actions available to support your power. We think that liking, in a very simple manner, missions for aligned factions and Powerplay successes allows Commanders increased variety in an efficient manner. The idea is not to replace the standard Powerplay activities, but to compliment them.

Open only

For clarity: Open only is being considered for Powerplay. Not anything else. Also, Open only would still be limited to platform, so no instanced crossplay.

• Powerplay contacts are only available to players in open
• Powerplay vouchers and commodities are destroyed if a player enters solo or private groups

Reasoning: We’ve saved the biggest change for last, as making Powerplay Open only goes way beyond the remit of a tweak. We’ve seen this topic discussed many times and we think it’s time we addressed it directly to get as much quality feedback as possible.

Powerplay is fundamentally about consensual player versus player conflict. We think that pretty much all of the systems and rules would benefit from being played out in Open only, as it would dramatically increase the chance of meeting other pledged players and being able to directly affect the outcomes of power struggles.”

Squadrons: Live Stream Summary

Thanks to all round good egg Stuart GT on Reddit, here is a summary of the details taken from last night’s live stream with Adam Bourke-Waite.  A summarised version of this information will appear in due course on the Beyond: Chapter 4 page. Please note: This is just the first part of the discussion on Squadrons, more will follow in due course.

  • Squadrons ≃ “guilds”, and a multiplayer organisation tool, to enhance and organise existing gameplay
  • Not being designed around Solo CMDRs, being designed around groups of CMDRs
  • Leaders/Officers will not gain benefits (credits, resources)
  • Minimum requirement for creating a Squadron = 1 CMDR
  • Minimum requirement for many Squadron features (e.g. getting a Carrier) = “a number of CMDRs”
  • Squadron names can be reserved for existing player groups, to prevent name-sniping
  • Squadron name will be permanent upon its creation, and must be unique
  • Will a deleted-Squadron’s name be available again = don’t know, will check with server, gameplay teams
  • Will rank be a requirement for Squadron creation = no
  • Custom decals/logos for Squadrons = not at the moment
  • Squadron-creation fee hasn’t been set yet – want to prevent Squadron-creation spam yet still allow smalls groups to create them
  • Invitations can be disabled, i.e. “this Squadron is not accepting new members”
  • Squadron page will be accessible in-cockpit, and similarly sized to Starport Services
  • While creating a Squadron costs a credit fee, joining one is free
  • 250 cap increase being discussed amongst the devs (design, server, gameplay teams)
  • Squadron alliances/connections being discussed amongst the devs (design, server, gameplay teams)
  • Potential for both the cap increase and alliances/connections to be added
  • Minor faction and Powerplay allegiances/ties not being talked about yet, but aren’t a no
  • Squadron bank is not being discussed now (will be during main Carrier feedback)
  • Wings will stay the same
  • Plenty of Squadron selectable “tags” available to help filtering/searching (e.g. search & rescue, PvP, timezones, Conlonia) and want more suggestions
  • Each Squadron will have a 4 character ID to appear *somewhere* with CMDR names for identification
  • Instancing will not be changed to allow 250+ CMDRs in same instance, but…
  • …will be easier for members to join the same instance as they’ll have high matchmaking priority
  • Squadrons and notoriety? Will be discussed at a later point
  • Will Squadron chat have a back history, to read when you go online = no
  • Squadron “rank” count (3 so far – Leader, Officers, Pilots) increase being discussed amongst the devs (design, server, gameplay teams)
  • Officers privileges are fully-customisable anyway, so different officers in same Squadron can have different roles
  • Those ranks will not be renamable
  • Carrier is a very large ship that members can dock with
  • Carrier can jump if a large enough amount of a “resource” is collected
  • Carrier movement not restricted to weekly server tick, can jump whenever enough “resource” is collected
  • Can have a Squadron without a Carrier
  • Squadron “beacon” for pointing members to a place/meetup is being discussed amongst the devs (design, server, gameplay teams)
  • Stickied Squadron chat message-of-the-day can contain instructions/details/whatever
  • Squadron comms will be text
  • Squadrons and their comms are not cross-platform
  • Non-members can visit and see another Squadron’s Carrier, visibly identify its upgrades, but cannot dock at it
  • Nobody can create more than one Squadron
  • Edge-cases of Squadron leadership (inactive, wiped save, etc) being discussed by the devteam
  • Squadron-created missions = no
  • Squadron comms might be cross-gamemode, i.e. messaging across Open/Group/Solo
  • Will Squadron members be visible on the Galaxy map, cross-gamemode = being discussed amongst the devteam
  • Squadron page will contain statistics, roster, Carrier details, info & chat feeds, etc
  • Can you hide your Squadron ID = don’t know, will discuss amongst the devteam
  • More information on Carriers in the future
  • Will it be possible to walk around in the Carrier = no, it will not be introducing SpaceLegs
  • Carriers can be customised, details to be announced in future
  • Carriers are of Megaship scale, and cost will be paid for by the Squadron, not specifically the Leader
  • Edward Lewis keeps sabotaging the stream: first no audio, and the lights keep switching off
  • Will Squadrons be able to have a description = no (initially), hoping the tagging system will be enough
  • Will the feed contain news for bragging rights, PvP kills, etc = give your feedback on what you want in the feed

Focused Feedback: Live Stream

Frontier have announced a Live stream for this evening (Thursday 10th May 2018) to discuss the first part of the feedback for the Squadrons feature which is coming in quarter 4. You can follow it from 6pm BST with Senior Designer Adam Bourke-Waite here.

Focused Feedback: Squadrons

On Tuesday 8th May Frontier announced the opening of the Focused Feedback Forum for first part of Squadrons discussion. You can find the forum here. If you’ve not read or participated in the Focused feedback before, maybe take a look at the Golden Rule thread first! Below is a rundown of the first part of the discussion on Squadrons.

What is a Squadron?

A Squadron is a group of Commanders who want to band together and organise themselves in-game. This might be to play together, or to focus on certain types of gameplay such as bounty hunting, Community Goals, or perhaps rescuing Commanders who find themselves out of fuel.

The idea of Squadrons is to provide a series of features that support multiplayer organisation and gameplay. In this Focused Feedback forum, we’ll be covering the creation and management of Squadrons.

How do I create a Squadron?

Once Squadrons are introduced they will have their own full screen GUI page. When opening this without having joined a Squadron you will have the option to search for a Squadron to join or to create your own. Creating your own Squadron will involve paying a credit fee (amount to be decided) and then setting the following values.

Squadron name: This has to be a unique name that cannot be changed once the Squadron is created.
Squadron ID: A short ID or tag.
Language: The primary language the Squadron will communicate in.
Attitude: Choose from a pre-set list of attitudes. The list is currently – Relaxed, Family, and Devoted.
Tags: Each Squadron will be able to select a few tags from a wider list. This list includes elements such as “PvP”, “Bounty Hunting” and timezones such as “UTC+3”.
Superpower: Choose one of the following: Empire, Federation, Alliance or Independent.

Our list of tags is a work in progress, what tags would you be keen to see?

Once all of these values have been set and the Commander is happy, the credit fee is paid and the Squadron is created. The Commander who creates the Squadron will be automatically assigned as the Squadron leader.

How do I find/join a Squadron?

As I mentioned previously, if a Commander accesses the Squadron page and is not currently part of Squadron, they will have the option to search for one to join. Using the same fields as listed above the Commander can search by whatever is important to them and will receive a list of Squadrons based on that criteria.

The Commander will be able to look a set of Squadron statistics and use this to decide which Squadron they want to apply to.

Once the Commander finds a Squadron they like, they can send an application. This application will include a small amount of text that, by default, will include some information on the Commander (highest Elite rank, for example) but can also be edited if required.

The Squadron Leader (and Officers) will be able to see a list of all Commander applicants and, at this point, can send the applicants an invite. Both the invitee and inviter must be online at the same time for the invitation to be sent and accepted. This option to invite will also be available on other areas of the HUD where Commanders can select other Commanders, for example a Commander’s friend list.

We are currently considering capping Squadron membership at 250 Commanders, but we’re interested to hear your feedback on the matter.

Can I leave a Squadron?

Commanders can leave a Squadron at any time. If a leader chooses to leave a Squadron then they must pass the leadership mantle onto another Commander. If all members leave a Squadron then it will be disbanded and any assets the Squadron holds will also be lost.

The only time the leader can leave and not pass on the mantle of leader is when they are the last member to leave (and the Squadron is disbanded).

The Squadron hierarchy and privileges.

You may have noticed above that I have referred to both the Squadron Leader and Officers.

There are three classes of Squadron member and these are:

Leader: The Squadron Leader has all privileges and can set which privileges officers have.
Officer: The Officers have whatever privileges the leader has set for them.
Pilot: This is the standard level, and the majority of Squadron members will be pilots. They have whatever privileges the leader has set for them.

What privileges can the leader set?

The Squadron leader can set the following privileges:

  • Officers can invite Commanders into the Squadron (yes/no) (greyed out if new members cannot join)
  • Officers can kick Pilots from the Squadron (yes/no)
  • Officers can plot a jump for a Fleet Carrier (yes/no)
  • Officers can select purchase upgrades for a Fleet Carrier (yes/no)
  • Officers can set the ‘Message of the Day’ (yes/no)

This is the current list of privileges but we expect to add more as development progresses and we discover the need for them!

Squadron communication

One of the most important features that Squadrons adds is the ability for groups of Commanders to communicate with each other. Squadron facilitates this with the following features:

Group Comms – A new feature that will be used by Squadrons is group comms, this will add channels and other functionality to the chat panel. When a Squadron is created, the Squadron channel and the Squadron officer channel (which is only available to Officers and the Leader) are automatically created and any Squadron members are added to the relevant channels. This allows Squadron members to communicate regardless of where they are in the galaxy.

The Feed – The Squadron overview page (which becomes available once a Commander joins a Squadron) will have a list of automated posts that are added to a feed. This feed will provide essential feedback on the Squadron, the fleet carrier and their activities. For example when a player joins the Squadron a message will automatically be added to the feed. The feed is limited to a certain amount of posts (amount TBD). Those members with the correct privileges will also be able to add a message of the day to the feed, the latest message will always remain stickied to the top of the feed. This provides a place for Officers to provides orders for the rest of the Squadron.

We are investigating the possibility of an external Squadrons website. We would love to hear what functionality you would like to see on a Squadrons website.

The Fleet Carrier

As you might have noticed above, it will be possible for Squadrons to possess a Fleet Carrier. We will be devoting an entire Focused Feedback thread to Squadron Fleet Carriers, so please refrain from discussing it at this time.

Squadrons and factions

We are aware that some groups will want to align their Squadron with a faction. We are currently looking at how we can make this work and allow Squadrons to ‘fly the flag’ of a faction. This is something we will be discussing during a latter Focused Feedback thread, so please avoid discussing this for now.

If you don’t know the drill, this is where you come in!

You will see a few more threads regarding Squadrons in the near future.

To keep things sane, we want you to post specific issues that you think of in the issues thread and suggestions in the suggestions and support thread. This is also the place to comment if you feel the feature is in general, an improvement.

If you can think of specific details that are not described but that you think are important, pop these requests in the detail requests thread!

We’ll let this topic stew here for a while, at least a week, but it will very much depend on the feedback.

 

Focused Feedback: The Engineers

On the 30th November Sandro Sammarco outlined some likely but not confirmed changes to the way Engineering works in the game. These can be seen below and in the Beyond: Core Gameplay Improvements thread. A feedback thread on the forum can be found here.


Issues with the current system

“There are a few of areas that we’d like to improve, in no small way influenced by player feedback”

  • Potential for Failure – Whilst it’s cool to have pros and cons in an upgrade system, the statistical level of variety in many blueprints ends up meaning that there is a chance of an upgrade being wrecked entirely, and basically not an upgrade, which undermines the whole process
  • Too much Random – There are multiple points where the player is left at the mercy of chance. Whilst some amount of randomness is not a bad thing, and can lead to interesting variety, in our crafting process we have three: the likelihood of correct materials being generated during associated activities, the range of known statistical options, and a final hidden set of statistical options. It can been argued that this is simply too much and makes everything unnecessarily complicated
  • Too Long – Elite Dangerous is a game where scale is very important, and very cool. It also means that processes tend to take longer. This includes the engineering loop. The grand scale acts to exacerbate when the results aren’t great and even when they are it can be argued that it’s just too slow a process.

Suggested Improvements to Engineering

“With this in mind, we’re looking to overhaul the system to try to achieve the following goals”

  • Guaranteed improvement – We want to make sure that when you upgrade a module the end result is always better. There’s a significant time/resource investment in engineering so we want to make sure that you feel it’s worthwhile before you even begin, so you can make informed decisions on whether to take part or not.
  • Increase efficiency – There’s always going to be a significant time cost to upgrading your ship, but we want to look at ways of sometimes mitigating where we think it’s appropriate.

These are the changes that we’re currently investigating.

  • We are removing all hidden statistical variables from the upgrade process. Whilst there is still a range of success when you craft, you will be able to see the range before you commit
  • One cool thing that secondary hidden statistical pros and cons did was ensure variety. Because we are losing this, we will try to ensure that each module has a set of experimental effects that allow you to tweak your module in a variety of ways, hopefully ensuring that there are a number of different options to aim for
  • We are removing any potential for the crafting process to result in an upgrade that is worse than what is currently fitted. Every time you pay for an upgrade, an upgrade is what you will get
  • All penalties in blueprints are fixed and only applied once per rank
  • You will need to maximize benefits from an upgrade before you can start applying higher rank versions to a module. We still want to reward the process of upgrading modules
  • You will be able to craft pinned blueprints at any starport that has outfitting. You won’t be able to gain reputation with the Engineer for doing this, and you won’t be able to fit experimental effects at this point, but it can considerably reduce the upgrading crafting loop
  • Experimental effects will no longer have a chance to occur during the upgrade process. Instead, each experimental effect will simply have a materials cost that you can pay to have it fitted to an appropriate module
  • This means that there is no way you can lose reputation ranks with an Engineer
  • We will institute a materials trader at specific starports. These contacts will allow you to trade (at loss) materials within the same class, allowing you to convert unwanted materials into useful ones
  • We will introduce a per material storage cap, probably around the 100 mark, to remove inventory shuffling
  • We’ll add quality and quantity indicators for materials in the game world, so you’ll be able to see at a glance how much you have of a material without having to check your inventory
  • We’ll add an ignore function for materials (and commodities, incidentally), allowing you to mine and collect more efficiently by preventing collector limpets from picking up ignored items and auto-venting refineries.

Grandfathering

“A lot of you will already have engineered items. We will “grandfather” these. This means you can still use them, their statistics and effects won’t be changed.

“However, if you want to apply further upgrades to them, they will have to be converted. Conversion will place them at the top of the previous rank (so a rank 4 upgrade would become maxed rank 3 upgrade) and would change all statistics and effects to represent the new blueprint.”

“In general, we will try to make sure that the new blueprints can max out slightly better than the old system (we want to encourage conversion).”

Beyond : Focused Feedback – The Engineers

As announced by Ed Lewis on the 30th November, the next subject for feedback will be The Engineers. Updated information will appear on the Beyond: Core Game Improvements thread.

“Hi everyone,

“Lead Designer Sandro Sammarco and I will be streaming tonight. We’ll be saying a quick thank you for the feedback from the last Focused Feedback topic and we’ll be introducing some of the ideas for the new topic: Engineers.

“This livestream is to do with the Beyond Series of updates and how we’re looking for your feedback and help with the direction of some elements of the game.

“We’ll be going live at 7PM GMT.

Link to Live Stream