Friday Feature 12/1/2017: Political Power

Disclaimer: All systems described here are subject to change during development and testing.

“Chancellor, is this really the time to call for new elections? The very people that may lose office are those who have risked everything for the Rebel Alliance!”

Mon Mothma, Chancellor of the New Republic and longtime figurehead of the Rebel Alliance, rubbed her eyes wearily. Night had long since fallen on Chandrila, but the government never really slept. “I understand your military sensibilities, Crix, but this is the realm of politics.”

“We dealt the Empire a crippling blow at Endor, and they are on the back foot as their forces have splintered. But changing leadership now could still cost us the war. The Imperial military is just as capable of crushing us now as they were a year ago, should we wage war poorly. This is still a military issue.”

Mon Mothma offered a small smile. “We must be a Republic in fact as well as name. To call for elections now is to show the galaxy that we are not just another domineering force in the galaxy. These actions may persuade more worlds to our cause than Admiral Ackbar’s navy could liberate in a decade!”

The Galactic Civil War is a core design for Empire in Flames – it is one of the earliest systems the team designed, though development of it was pushed back to post-launch due to the scope of changes the EiF team has wrought.

Especially of concern was ensuring combat was in a better place than SWGEmu – and, given the most recent balance pass, it definitely is. While we will continue to make tweaks going forward, we have a stable foundation to build upon, with relatively balanced combat skills, a fully-functioning core crafting system covering all weapons and armor, and a housing system encouraging player cities.

The design elements for the GCW included, in broad strokes, three major goals:

  1. A system that encouraged large events, rather than a system that discouraged engagement.
  2. A system that encouraged PvP.
  3. A system run by the players.

This Friday Feature is focusing on point #3 – player control.

“You cannot be serious, Admiral Sloane.”

“Grand Admiral Sloane, Moff Maksim. And I am very serious.”

The Moff raised an eyebrow at her. “Return control of the military to the Imperial Senate? The same Senate that the Emperor saw fit to disband nearly five years ago?”

The Admiral shook her head. “Hardly the same Senate – not a Senate at all, in fact.”

“You’re talking about holding elections!”

“Yes, I am. Look around you, Moff. The Imperial navy is shattering. The admiralty has no loyalty to anyone who has tried to claim power in the Empire. The civil service will not pledge fealty to the military High Command. If we do not change course, in another year there will be no Empire.”

“So why aren’t you on Coruscant, making your case there?”

“I will make my way there soon, but without Kuat, there will be no Empire. The shipyards here are critical to the war effort. If I do not have your support – if this proposal loses Kuat to the hands of a warlord or to the so-called New Republic – the Empire is just as doomed.”

The Moff leaned forward, a smile spreading for the first time since Sloane had begun the conversation. “You aren’t entirely foolish, Grand Admiral. Let us discuss your proposal.”

To recap, the Galactic Civil War is based around planetary control. Planetary control is determined by planetary invasions. The big missing chunk is obvious, then: who determines what planet a faction targets?

Ultimately, we wanted control to be in the hands of the players – the best systems in SWG always involve the players as deeply as possible. But what is the best route to take to get to that point?

We could give only high-ranked players a voice – Imperial and New Republic colonels, perhaps? But every player in the game can reach that rank, and it’s not a particularly time-consuming investment to do so.

Guild leaders, then? No, because any player could form a guild just with his own characters to get a voice on military matters.

City mayors, perhaps? Now we’re getting warmer – after all, mayorship requires support from the citizenship…sort of. Two players can found and maintain an outpost with just a little work. But we’re on the right track.

Ultimately, we decided to tie it to the Politician profession. It doesn’t require skillpoints, but it does require support or a lot of time to level. It almost certainly requires support and interaction with the community to do anything with.

With that in mind, we knew the server had to have established itself, with player cities, elections, and citizens before we could roll it out. And now Empire in Flames is established as such.

But what about the nuts and bolts of such a system?

The Chancellor’s voice rang with the clarity of a bell in the New Republic Senate on Chandrila. Her words echoed her discussion with Crix Madine days earlier, and were underpinned with conviction. “The transition from Rebel Alliance to New Republic has not been an easy path. We are no longer concerned only with overthrow of an illegitimate, despotic government, but with governing the worlds within our sphere of influence in a just manner.

“While the Emperor ruled with an iron fist, issuing decrees as he saw fit, we must represent the will of the people. And I believe we have during the years of our government-in-exile. Even while we conducted war, we planned for peace. We offered aid where we could, enforced law when we were capable, and protected the citizens whenever possible.

“But times have changed, and we must change with it. I call on all those who are faithful to the New Republic to prepare for elections. Select statesmen from each world to join this august body as it not only oversees the war effort, but works to build a lasting peace so that our children need not fight again the war we have sacrificed so much to win.”

As with city elections, New Republic Senate and Imperial Council elections will be held regularly via in-game voting to select the leadership for their governments. These elections will soon be available at city voting terminals, and will be rolled out shortly before the GCW hits the live server.

To register to run for high political office, a character must be of the appropriate faction (New Republic or Imperial) and a citizen of the planet where he seeks to run. The character will register at his local city hall, but the character’s name will subsequently show up on all voting terminals on the planet.

To vote, a player must be a citizen of a city. Players who have, for various reasons, citizenship outside city limits will not be able to run for high office, nor will they be able to vote for candidates.

Only politicians are able to run for the Senate or Council.

The New Republic Senate requires the Statesman title – 0040 politician.

The Imperial Council requires the Warmaster title – 0400 politician.

Characters do not have to be a mayor to run for high office.

High office elections are scheduled monthly. Once in office, officials will have votes once per week to determine their faction’s next GCW target. In the event of a tie vote, the body is considered “deadlocked” and the faction will forgo their turn at an offensive assault.

Moff Maksim’s voice was rich and calm, hiding any discomfort so deeply that Rae Sloane couldn’t find trace of it.

“Ashamedly, our great Galactic Empire has fractured with the death of our beloved Emperor. Too many of our military leaders have chosen the path of conquest, turning their guns on fellow soldiers and citizens and declaring themselves rulers of territory.

“Those few members of the Emperor’s court who have chosen to attempt governing have proven inept, losing further support of the both military and citizenship – even driving some worlds into the hands of the Rebels!

“Now is the time to turn this tide of treachery and defection. I call upon the loyal sons and daughters of the Empire to select leaders among yourselves – those who have known both war and peace – to step forward and take up the reins of government of the Empire.

“This new body, this Imperial Council, shall act upon the will of both citizens and soldiers, and will lead the Empire to a final victory over the treacherous dissidents that have caused so much death and pain in the galaxy!”

Friday Feature 9/29/2017: Invasion

Today’s Friday Feature is our first look at the upcoming GCW system. All features are subject to change in testing and due to community feedback.

The Galactic Civil War system in SWG was always a bit of a bust. Due to technical limitations, the SWG team was always nervous about too many people congregating in an area – players from live will recall massive lag and slowdowns in areas when large numbers of players gathered. (Think 100+. Yes, I broke Rori during Pex’s farewell tour. It was hilarious, and I’d do it again.)

The technical limitations imposed limitations on design as well – one of the worst being the Galactic Civil War.

A Civil War Without Battles

“Not all battles are fought with lightsabers. Some battles are fought in back-alleys with vibroblades.”

The GCW went through several iterations over the lifespan of SWG. The original implementation was all based on player bases, acquirable from faction recruiters. Planet control was determined by GCW score, in turn determined by the number and type of player bases owned by each faction.

PvP bases were worth more than PvE bases, with larger bases being more valuable than small ones. (Costs scaled appropriately.) PvE bases were always vulnerable to enemy player attacks; PvP bases only had windows of opportunity.

Out of this system arose a weird cat-and-mouse game, with bases dropped at weird hours to limit their vulnerability windows and skirmishes seldom exceeding 10 v 10 or 20 v 20. Rather than epic battles between opposing armies, the GCW was more akin to backalley fights between gangs.

During the NGE, the dev team implemented “zone control” – active factional players in a zone would slowly “take control” of an area and it would align more strongly with a given faction. Instead of concentrating combat, it spread it out even further, with PvP players looking for fights seldom exceeding 1v1 or 2v2.

Finally, the devs did implement a few control elements that encouraged grouping up – namely, the city invasions. At first, players heavily participated in these invasions, with crafters building up defenses and combatants taking the line to defend or attack. Quickly, though, the charm was lost – with battles running every couple hours, it was impossible for players to keep up with the demand.

 

Player Solutions

“Hand them a problem without directions and they solve it in some strange fashion.”

The player base rose to each challenge, but also wasn’t content with the unfocused approach SOE had provided. Players tried differing ways of providing that focused combat that the player base (or at least the PvPers) wanted.

The most successful and famous approach was one that the EiF devs participated in (and, at various times, planned and led): Starsider’s famous pilot events.

Events were held weekly on Saturday evenings at the same set time every week. Players who weren’t much into piloting still joined up and filled gun turrets on freighters and gunships. Non-PvP pilots would set aside that hour or two for time to group up and engage in team combat. And PvPers planned and prepared for it with strategies that ranged from basically unplanned to intricate details that didn’t survive contact.

An interesting aspect emerged from the space events – the planned PvP events led to more activity during the week. Pilots spent more time planning, practicing, and grinding equipment. General activity in the Deep Space PvP zone climbed as well. The planned events led to a spike of unplanned activity as players spent the week doing support activity to maximize their chances of victory during the planned times.

The Empire in Flames GCW system is heavily based on using old game mechanics in new ways, as well as learning lessons from the past. We can also take advantage of a smaller population to create content that might not be feasible with 1000+ players online and participating.

And with that, we bring you: invasions.

 

Invasions

“Wars are won by boots on the ground.”

Planetary control is always a key element of the GCW system – the difference has always been in how is control determined. As has been traditional, players will determine control of a planet, but passive activities won’t help here – this is all about boots on the ground.

Invasions are regularly-scheduled combat events – an invasion happens every three days, with offense and defense flipped each time. In other words, every six days your faction will be invading an enemy-held world; and every six days, you will be defending one of your worlds from an enemy invasion.

The system is setup to run on US-friendly times (exact kick off times to be determined, but we’re looking at 9 PM EST as very likely). Sorry, European players, but this is designed for when the most players are available.

Controlling given planets will provide various perks to your faction – crafting, combat, travel. Those perks have not yet been implemented on test and the list has not been finalized.

 

Anatomy of an Invasion

“Control the skies, control the world.”

Invasions take place simultaneously at each NPC starport city on a target planet. An invasion of Corellia, for example (which I suspect will be a common offensive target) will have battles taking place in Coronet, Tyrena, Kor Vella, and Doaba Guerful. It will not have combat in Bela Vistal and Vreni Island.

Defending forces will rally inside the cities at the starports. Attackers will have a beachhead camp nearby but outside city limits.

Attacking forces have the objective of advancing to the starport, breaching the defenses there, and performing a base bust on the target starport. If they succeed, the starport flips to the attackers’ faction.

However, those gains are only temporary. To maintain control of the starport at the end of the invasion, the attacking faction must seize all starports on the planet during the invasion window (currently being tested at 60 and 90 minutes). As a result, more heavily traveled planets, like Corellia, are harder to flip than, say, a little-visited world like Dathomir with a mere two outposts to seize.

 

Players Make the Difference

“It’s the tipping point.”

Invasions are designed intentionally with lopsided forces and objectives. Defenders boast turrets, walls, and NPC defenders capable of holding the line against players. They also have the advantage of the clock – if the attackers don’t move fast enough, the defenders win by default.

Invaders have a larger NPC army at their backs to offset the challenges of invasion. In a striaght fight, invading NPCs will eventually overwhelm the defenders, but they will do so slowly, and without player intervention, cannot seize the starports via base busting mechanics. They will also struggle with defensive turrets, which are vulnerable to blast damage but deal out extraordinary firepower.

Invaders also get the unique perk of assault walkers – mobile siege weapons with extraordinary firepower, but only at a player’s command. These mighty weapons will be the subject of their own Friday Feature further down the line.

 

Control the Galaxy

“We’re about evenly gunned, and our people are better-trained and better-motivated.”

While each faction will maintain an un-attackable “fortress world”, a determined faction can seize control of the civilized galaxy with teamwork and superior firepower…and superior strategic decisions. The Galactic Civil War will be player-driven, not just because players are required for invasions to succeed, but because players will select invasion worlds.

How?

We’re not quite ready to pull the cover off those secrets yet. Look for it soon!

Will you fight for the fledgling New Republic? Or will you crush all resistance under your heel as a proud fighting member of the Empire? The fate of the galaxy may very well be in your hands!

 

Patch Notes: Client Patch 8/30/2017

The much anticipated CLIENT PATCH arrives tomorrow! Patch notes follow down below. The brand spanking new EiF Launcher will be available to load up the patch, as well! Instructions will be available. I’m sure you will all be grateful  I didn’t add my *squees* and *happy dances* throughout these notes, you’ll just have to guess at which ones are my favorites!

  • 4 new player races:
    • Devaronian Females
    • IG-100
    • Mirialans
    • Zeltron
  • New creature mounts have been introduced! Note that not all variants of a creature can necessarily be mounted – only the largest, toughest versions of some of these animals can carry a rider.
    • Narglatches
    • Gurrecks
    • Greater Sludge Panthers
    • Tusk Cats
    • Gualamas
    • Bordoks
    • Blurrgs
  • Entertainer Missions have been reworked using the new Fame system, which replaces the old Image Designer line in the Entertainer Profession. Entertainers with more fame can command higher payouts, particularly for gigs that require travel.
    • Fame-enhancing clothing and attachments will be coming at a future time.
    • Fame is not retroactive for already-established entertainers. The SWGEmu code that should force an update does not work, and we are investigating and will patch as soon as we have a solution.
    • Only a single entertainer mission can be taken at a time.
  • Munitions crafting has been re-added to the game. See the next Friday Feature to learn more about the Heavy Weapons revamp.
    • Weaponsmiths now have a number of new cores and components to craft to create heavy weapons.
    • Grenades, mines, and rocket launchers use explosive cores.
    • Flamethrowers and acid rifles use tanks.
    • Heavy beam weapons use capacitors.
    • Light lightning cannons use static cores.
  • Armor slicing has been re-added to the game.
  • Races that previously lacked customization now have basic morphs and palettes available, including:
    • Abyssin
    • Cerean
    • Duros
    • Gungan
    • Iktotchi
    • Kel Dor
    • Kubaz
    • Togruta
  • The first stage of the GCW has been implemented. All planets participating in the GCW now have factional troops present. (See this Friday Feature!) Planetary control scripting is still in process and has not yet been enabled, but is coming soon.
  • Port Jato, an underworld-themed player hub, can now be visited via friendly smugglers who take cash in advance. These smugglers generally don’t like being found anywhere near law enforcement, but can likely be found at the watering hole of criminal-infested hives of scum and villainy.
  • Devaronians and Kel Dor no longer appear headless when wearing hats or hoods.
  • Paintings now have backs.
  • Cats can now swim.
  • Ubese armor jackets now correctly offer chest protection.
  • Two-strap bandoleers now use the correct color palette.
  • Up to six missions can be taken from a standard mission terminal.
  • BER rates on harvesters have been changed from pre-CU BER calculations to NGE BER calculations.

Sandarie
Community Manager

One Happy Twi’lek!

Friday Feature 8/18/2017 – Teaser!

Halyn’s been doing a lot of teasing about the GCW lately. He’s been tossing up pictures on Discord with little explanation of what we are seeing. If you scrutinize them, you might begin to see some of what he’s got planned. One awesome thing is he is having a great time creating the GCW! It’s going to be unique to EiF and loads of fun! Even for us non-PvPers!

Enjoy and see what you can discover with the pics below!

One of the pictures is a tease, but not with the GCW.

Sandarie
Community Manager