Welcome to the first Entropy Design Preview. In these posts we'll be presenting outlines of the game design for upcoming features and revisions to Entropy, so that you can let us know what you think about them and how they could be improved as we work on them.
A few important notes about Design Previews:
- Tell us what you think! Design Previews are a way we can all collaborate on the design of the game and incorporate your ideas and suggestions as we're working on a new feature or game system, or on revising and expanding an existing one
- Because of this, the features and systems outlined in Design Previews are all subject to change, both before the feature or system is initially implemented and afterwards, as we revise and improve it
- At the current stage of development, our main focus is on implementing the basic 'core' of a new feature first, and then balancing, improving and expanding it over time
- As such, we welcome all ideas and suggestions, but we may need to save more complex or elaborate ones for later revisions to a game feature, rather than implementing them in the initial version
We thought it would be fun to start with something big, so for this first instalment we're going to be discussing one of the biggest new features we're planning to introduce to the game in Early Access, the Faction Conflict system.
We've actually been working on this 'in the background' for quite a while now, and we have a basic framework that we think should work well. We wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what we have in mind and get your thoughts, opinions and suggestions for improvements.
WHAT IS FACTION CONFLICT?
The Faction Conflict system will allow players who have contracted with one of the 'Big Three' megacorporations - Renon, Transgate and Shoten - to play a direct role in the ongoing competition between them for control of the Confederation's frontier.
Although the Confederation is still nominally led by an elected Council, since the Shutdown the bulk of the actual work of governing has been contracted out to the private sector. The Big Three megacorporations have grown rich and powerful from Council contracts, and over the last two centuries have expanded and diversified to the point where they now compete with each other for the rights to administer entire star systems.
The megacorp contracted to administer a star system on behalf of the Council is responsible for ensuring the safety, security and economic prosperity of the local population. If it fails to do so, the system's Council members can petition to have the administration contract reassigned to another megacorp. These checks and balances were intended to encourage the Big Three to focus their efforts on providing the best services and keep them 'honest'. They have instead led to ongoing campaigns by each of the megacorps to exploit the system by embarrassing and discrediting their rivals.
Typically, this involves contracting Pilots and Cartels as 'security consultants' or something similar, then using these deniable assets to disrupt their rival's shipping and stir up trouble in the star systems they administer. If these operations can cause enough chaos in a star system or just undermine the population's faith in the current administrator, it can be used to pressure the Council to reassign the system's contract. With control of the majority of the mainstream media, it's relatively easy for the Big Three to blame any unpleasantness that comes to light on clashes between independent Cartels that got out of control, pirate gangs, anti-Confederation terrorist actions or whatever else their highly skilled PR divisions come up with.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF FACTION CONFLICT?
Faction Conflict is intended to encourage both small and large scale PvP between Corporate players, to provide opportunities for tactical and strategic gameplay, and to allow player actions to have a direct and meaningful impact on the game world.
These factors are also intended to help stimulate and drive the economy once the Crafting system has been introduced, which we'll be looking at in more depth in a future Design Preview.
HOW WILL FACTION CONFLICT WORK?
The Faction Conflict system will allow Corporate players to compete for the control of Frontier ('yellow') star systems in two stages. First, a megacorp must destabilise a rival's system by generating enough Tension to trigger a Crisis in the system. Then they must demonstrate the controlling megacorp's failure to protect the system by crippling its Station before the end of the Crisis.
- Each Frontier star system will have a Stability rating
- Each Frontier star system will have two Tension ratings, one for each of the current controller's rival factions (for example, a Renon system will have Transgate Tension and Shoten Tension)
- Players of the rival factions can earn Tension Points for their faction by performing a variety of actions in the system, its sectors and Station
- Players of the controlling faction can reduce the Tension Points of their rivals by performing a variety of actions in the system, its sectors and Station
- If a rival faction increases its Tension rating to equal or exceed the Stability rating of the system, it triggers a Crisis in the system
- During a Crisis, players of the controlling faction (the 'defenders') and the rival faction that triggered the Crisis (the 'attackers') fight for control of the system
- A Crisis has a duration, and player actions in the system can affect this duration
- During a Crisis, PvP is enabled in the Station Sector of the system, which serves as the focus for the battle for control of the star system
- If the attackers manage to achieve certain objectives in the Station Sector of the system, crippling the Station, the attacking faction wins control of the system
- If the defenders manage to prevent the attackers from crippling the Station within the duration of the Crisis, the defending faction retains control of the star system
- After a Crisis, there is a 'cease fire' period during which no Tension can be earned in the system
The Stability rating of each Frontier system will depend on how many Frontier systems each megacorporation controls - the more systems a single faction controls, the more thinly its resources are spread, and the lower the Stability of its systems.
The current Stability of each Frontier system will be visible in a variety of places, including the Galaxy Map.TENSION
Corporate players can create or reduce Tension in Frontier systems in a number of ways:
- PvP Combat - defeating rival Corporate players and Pirate players will create or reduce Tension
- PvE Combat - defeating rival Corporate NPCs and Hostile NPCs will create or reduce Tension
- Trade - meeting the supply and demand needs of a system's Station by fulfilling the Station's Buy and Sell Orders will create or reduce Tension
- Missions - delivering corporate freight and passengers to a system's Station will create or reduce Tension
Whether Tension is created or reduced, and for which faction, depends on the factions of the player and the system where the action is performed. For example, if a Renon player wants to increase Renon Tension in a Frontier system controlled by Shoten, they can do so by defeating Shoten players and NPCs in the system, defeating Pirate players and Hostile NPCs in the system, meeting the Station's supply and demand through trade, or by delivering corporate freight and passengers to the Station.On the other hand, if the Renon player wants to reduce Transgate Tension in a Frontier system already controlled by Renon, they can do so by defeating Transgate players and NPCs in the system, defeating Pirate players and Hostile NPCs in the system, meeting the Station's supply and demand through trade, or by delivering corporate freight and passengers to the Station.
The current Tension ratings of each Frontier system will be visible in a variety of places, including the Galaxy Map.CRISES
If Corporate players manage to increase their faction's Tension rating in a rival faction's Frontier system to equal or exceed the system's Stability, they succeed in destabilising the system and trigger a Crisis.
A Crisis has a duration, and while the Crisis is in effect several special rules come into play:
- PvP becomes enabled in the system's Station Sector and the 'attacking' faction (the one that triggered the Crisis) can attempt to take control of the system by crippling the Station's defences
- The 'defending' faction (the one that currently controls the system) has to try to prevent the attackers from crippling the Station before the Crisis ends
- Only players of the attacking and defending factions are able to enter the Station Sector in a system in Crisis
- Only players of the defending faction are able to respawn at the Station in a system in Crisis
- The number of attacking and defending players allowed in the Station Sector at the same time will be limited in order to maintain playable client performance for players fighting over the Station
- If a player tries to enter the Station Sector once it is 'full' for their side, they will be placed in a queue
- The queuing system will use the total number of Tension Points a player created or reduced in the system before the Crisis started and the length of time a player has been in the queue to determine who gets invited when a spot opens up
- Players in the queue can continue to play as normal and will be sent an invite when a spot opens up for them
- While a Crisis is in effect, attacking faction players can extend its duration by defeating defending players in the system outside the Station Sector, and defending players can reduce its duration by defeating attacking players in the system outside the Station Sector
Systems in Crisis, and the remaining Crisis Duration, will be visible in a variety of places, including the Galaxy Map.STATION BATTLES
To cripple a Station during a Crisis and win control of the star system for their megacorp, the attackers must disable the Station's power core.
Stations will have a number of defensive 'emplacements' protecting them, as well as various secondary structures. Initially, these emplacements and structures will make direct attacks on the Station's core almost suicidal, and the core itself will be protected by extremely strong shields. By disabling a Station's emplacements and other structures, though, the attackers will be able to weaken the defences and open up the core to attack.ENDING A CRISIS
A Crisis ends when the attackers succeed in crippling the system's Station, or when the Crisis duration runs out. If the attackers were successful, their megacorporation takes over administration of the star system and its Station. If the defenders managed to hold out, their megacorporation retains control.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
This is where you, our Early Access players come in. What do you think of the proposed Faction Conflict system? What do you like and what don't you like? How could the system be improved, or is there a much better way to handle the competition between the 'Big Three' megacorporations?
If anything about the design outline is unclear, please let us know and we'll be happy to clarify any details or explain how the current system is intended to work.
The Entropy Development Team