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Balancing the Conquest of Planets

Reported by CCP FoxFour | Comments

Introduction

Hello DUSTers and welcome to another page filled with words and a severe lack of graphs from me, CCP FoxFour, and Team True Grit. In May we released to you fine people a feature known as Planetary Conquest (I always wondered how people made things with acronyms they dislike and now I know even we can do that). When we went through the planning and designing for Planetary Conquest we were pretty conservative in a lot of our numbers. This was in order to make sure that when you guys started using it if you found something truly game-breaking, or a way to pull insane amounts of ISK nothing really bad would happen.

Now that we are nearing two months from release we have had the ability to watch how you guys use the system and compare that to how we thought it would be used. Some of our original ideas held up great while at the same time others did not. In a game where we try and give as much control to the players as possible this is bound to happen. The critical thing is how we respond to this information.

For Uprising 1.3 this means giving Planetary Conquest a balancing pass by adjusting numbers such as the price of buying clones, the cost of moving clones, and also adjusting the mechanics around defending/attacking a district. The information below is going to be focused on that along with a couple special treats at the end. :) OK, I lied... I got upset with the lack of graphs and then upset that when I added them they were at the end. I moved all the pretty graphs up higher in the dev blog. If all you want to know is what we are changing, not why or the pretty graphs that go with that, scroll down until you see tables, like the spreadsheets you are maybe used to. ;)

Some information!

Starter packs... this is an interesting one. We named them starter packs because their intention was to be used by corporations wishing to break into Planetary Conquest. We have noticed several really interesting things however about the usage of Genolution starter packs.

The above graph shows the number of clone packs purchased. The spike at the beginning is obviously the release of Planetary Conquest and unfortunately distorts the rest of the graph. Come June over 50% of battles were being initiated with clone starter packs, even though people held districts with clones. We can possibly surmise that the clone attrition cost of moving clones from a district you already own is too high.

The above graph shows the number of times clones were moved. This could be to a friendly district or a hostile district. The point is however that this number has kept a pretty consistent average since the release of Planetary Conquest. Right now 90% of battles are started because of a clone move rather than a clone starter package. There are a lot of conclusions we can draw from these graphs, from the related talk on the forums, and from talking to the CPM. The important thing that we really want to draw from it though is the following:

  • People WANT to fight, even if it means using clone starter packs with which they end up losing money.

Basically it means you guys are bad at math, calculating ROI, estimating risk, those kind of things... OR what it means is you just want to have fun... in a video game... Who knew? When balancing the original numbers we had a number for what we thought people would spend on gear during a battle. You guys blew those numbers out of the water, and kept fighting even though you were losing money. Not surprising really, in the moment to moment gameplay you are not thinking "these suits cost me X, I am going to make Y, is this worth it?" The thought process is more of a "WIN WIN WIN! WE WANNA WIN!" This is great! We just under estimated how much you guys would be willing to spend.

What about the number of clones lost?

The above graph shows the number of battles per day. What does that have to do with the clones lost?

The two above graphs show the number of clones lost per day by attackers and the number of clones lost per day by defenders. Care to guess which is which? Does it matter when they are that similar? These two graphs along with the one showing battles per day were really interesting to compare and see how similar they were.

What I really want is a graph showing the average clones lost per day, however I don't have one right in front of me so I am sharing those instead. While I don't have a graph showing the average number of clones lost per battle, I do have the number. On average 80 clones are lost per battle per side.

ANOTHER GRAPH! This time showing the number of times clones are sold. This could be you guys pressing the sell button, districts auto selling clones, and most distorting when clones from a starter pack are sold because you won the fight. It is hard to draw much information from this graph, but it's another graph and who doesn't like graphs?

We are hugely in favour of being open with you guys about the state of Planetary Conquest. At the same time we do try and be cautious about what information we share as we don't want to get involved in the politics of the system. Hopefully you enjoy this kind of information as much as we do.

OK, so that is a lot of information that kind of bounces all over the place. What are we doing about the information we have learned from it? Well, we are doing the following:

Genolution Starter Pack

First up are two changes to the Genolution starter package. These changes are aimed at making it a bit cheaper to enter Planetary Conquest and also to give those in Planetary Conquest a more financially sound way of having fights.

Attribute
Current Value
New Value
Genolution cost 80,000,000 ISK 30,000,000 ISK
Genolution clones 150

100

The reduction in price makes perfect sense to accomplish that goal but why the reduction in clones? Since the average number of clones lost in a battle is around 80, 100 clones should still be enough for most cases. One of the other things we did was increase the amount of ISK you get from clones lost in combat (biomass) and lowering the number of clones was done to balance against that.

Summary: Genolution packs dramatically down in price, slightly down in clone count.

Clone Sale Price

This is primarily the income corporations get. The ISK from selling a clone back on the market either manually or when their district is full. We are increasing this by 50%.

Attribute
Current Value
New Value
Clone sale 100,000 ISK 150,000 ISK

Summary: Corporations get more ISK for owning a district.

Biomass Price

At the end of a battle the winning side gets an ISK reward based on how many clones were killed in the battle. Two things are happening; we are increasing the reward and we are making it match the value of clones when they are sold. In the end this almost doubles the ISK reward for players participating in Planetary Conquest matches.

Attribute
Current Value
New Value
Biomass sale 80,000 ISK 150,000 ISK

Summary: Players get lots more ISK for participating in Planetary Conquest battles.

Attrition Cost

The attrition cost comes in two pieces: The ISK cost and the clone cost.

After looking at graphs and more importantly talking to you guys on the forums, IRC, and directly with the CPM we came to the conclusion that one of the biggest factors for using the Genolution starter packs was the attrition cost of the clones. The ISK was clearly not an issue as you were spending more on the clone packs. The idea behind the attrition cost is to try and convince you guys to stick closer together with the districts you already hold. While we are not removing the attrition cost entirely we are reducing it dramatically. We will be looking in the future at adding benefits for holding districts closer together, for now however we will see how this change plays out.

Jumps
Current Survival Rate
New Survival Rate
New Survival Rate With Research Lab
Same Planet 100% 100% 100%
Same Solar System 95% 100% 100%
1 Jump 80% 95% 100%
2 Jumps 65% 90% 100%
3 Jumps 50% 85% 100%
4 Jumps 35% 80% 100%
5 Jumps 0% 75% 95%
6 Jumps 0% 70% 90%
7 Jumps 0% 65% 85%
8 Jumps 0% 60% 80%
9 Jumps 0% 55% 75%
10 Jumps 0% 50% 70%
11 Jumps 0% 45% 65%
12 Jumps 0% 40% 60%
13 Jumps 0% 35% 55%
14 Jumps 0% 30% 50%
15 Jumps 0% 25% 45%
16 Jumps 0% 20% 40%
17 Jumps 0% 15% 35%
18 Jumps 0% 10% 30%
19 Jumps 0% 5% 25%
20 Jumps 0% 0% 20%
21 Jumps 0% 0% 15%
22 Jumps 0% 0% 10%
23 Jumps 0% 0% 5%

While the ISK cost was clearly not a limiting factor we are still reducing it by 50%.

Jumps
Current Cost
New Cost
Same Planet 3,000,000 ISK 1,500,000 ISK
Same Solar System 3,500,000 ISK 1,750,000 ISK
1 Jump 4,000,000 ISK 2,000,000 ISK
2 Jumps 4,500,000 ISK 2.250,000 ISK
3 Jumps 5,000,000 ISK 2,500,000 ISK
4 Jumps 5,500,000 ISK 2,750,000 ISK
5 Jumps 6,000,000 ISK 3,000,000 ISK
6 Jumps 6,500,000 ISK 3,250,000 ISK
7 Jumps N/A 3,500,000 ISK
8 Jumps N/A 3,750,000 ISK
9 Jumps N/A 4,000,000 ISK
10 Jumps N/A 4,250,000 ISK
11 Jumps N/A 4,500,000 ISK
12 Jumps N/A 4,750,000 ISK
13 Jumps N/A 5,000,000 ISK
14 Jumps N/A 5,250,000 ISK
15 Jumps N/A 5,500,000 ISK
16 Jumps N/A 5,750,000 ISK
17 Jumps N/A 6,000,000 ISK
18 Jumps N/A 6,250,000 ISK
19 Jumps N/A 6,500,000 ISK
20 Jumps N/A 6,750,000 ISK
21 Jumps N/A 7,000,000 ISK
22 Jumps N/A 7,250,000 ISK
23 Jumps N/A 7,500,000 ISK

Oh yea... and as you can see in those tables we completely scrapped the 6-jump limit and instead just made it a linear increase/decrease in ISK/surviving clones. It makes for some long tables...

Summary: Less ISK required for moving clones. More clones survive moves.

District safe after defence

As it stands if you are defending a district and successfully defeating the attackers they can still attack. This means if someone has the money to burn they can just keep attacking you until the defenders just burn out after having no break. Here is what we are changing in Uprising 1.3:

  • As an attacker you will no longer be able to launch a follow up attack until after a battle ends
  • As an attacker you can only launch a follow up attack after you have won a battle
    • The time frame is still 1 hour from the start of the battle however. So if a battle takes 30 minutes you have 30 minutes after it ends to launch the follow up attack.

What this effectively means is that if the defenders win the earliest the next battle can happen is about 47 hours later, instead of 23 in the current system. This means a break from defending the district and also an extra reinforcement cycle of clones.

The first part of this change (attackers only being able to launch a follow up attack after a battle ends), is live on our  Tranquility server for DUST players right now. The second part, (only being able to re-attack if you have won), is coming with the rest of the changes detailed in this dev blog

Summary: If defenders win a battle the district is safe for an extra day.

Re-attacking a district

If as an attacker at the end of a battle you still have a minimum of 100 unspawned clones another battle will be spawned 5 minutes later. This means that it is possible to take a district with only a few hours of fighting.

Keeping in mind that if the defenders win they get about 48 hours before the next fight.

If the attackers win but do not have 100 clones or more their remaining clones are sent back home and they have their exclusivity period to launch a follow up attack.

This means battles will have the following possible outcomes:

  • The defender wins. Any new attack will follow the normal rules of attack and require a minimum of 24 hours notice before happening.
  • The attacker wins and the defender has 0 clones remaining. The attacker takes control of the district.
  • The attacker wins, still has 100 or more clones, and the defender still has clones. Another battle will begin in 5 minutes,
  • The attacker wins, has less than 100 clones, and the defender still has clones. Attackers clones go home and the attacker has an exclusivity period of 1 hour from the time the final battle began to launch a follow up attack.

There is, however, a lingering question. Does the district still generate clones on the next reinforcement cycle if the defenders lose a battle and then win the second battle? The answer is no. If a battle is lost the district will not generate clones on the next reinforcement cycle.

Summary: Win a battle? Have more than 100 clones? Fight another battle to try and take the district.

When does this get released?

All of these changes will be coming to Tranquility during downtime on July 11th. That is two days from the release of this dev blog. That is assuming no one points out glaring problems with the plan. If that happens we can and will delay the release, for now though, July 11th! :D

Summary: We are insane, these changes are coming soon, what is going on!

A Note on the future

A little while ago CCP Praetorian posted a dev blog describing Uprising 1.2 which you can find here. One of the things you might hear a lot about is how CCP is focusing on the core game systems. While this is true and we fully believe it is the right course of action, it does not mean we are abandoning features or content already out there. Even now while looking back at core features we are looking forward at what is next in store for Planetary Conquest. Before I continue I want to be clear that there is no timeframe or scheduled release for anything I am about to talk about. We just want to give you guys a peek inside of what we are thinking. While there is no release date or schedule for this stuff here are some things we are actively working towards:

  • Separating clones from being the profit maker in Planetary Conquest.
  • Introducing a new "thing" to do that generates resources which EVE players care about.
  • Said thing should be something anyone else can come and interrupt, preventing your generation of resources and taking it for themselves.
  • Separating the battles that conquer planets from the battles that generate resources.
  • Building the EVE link by letting EVE players move resources for DUST players.

Again I cannot stress enough that there is no schedule for the above stuff, no designated order for what will be released first, but those are the things we are talking about and trying to work towards for Planetary Conquest.

I also want to reinforce that we will be continuing to watch how Planetary Conquest goes, continue to monitor graphs, numbers, database stuff, logs, and all the assorted things relating to this feature to help us continue balancing in the future. This is not a balance pass then walk away until new features thing. This is something we will continue to monitor and iterate on.

Summary: The future is awesome!

TL;DR:

  • Lowered barrier of entry
  • Increased rewards
  • Successful defense means at least a days break
  • Successful attack can mean a near immediate re-attack
  • Coming July 11th.
  • Graphs are awesome
  • The future is full of winsauce

Conclusion

Well, this was one heck of a dev blog. It started out with a few tables, had some words added, then some more words, and more words, and then some graphs because who wants a dev blog without graphs, and then some more words to go with the graphs. Wow, that's a lot of words. In the end I hope you guys enjoyed reading this, enjoy the changes that this brings, and will join us in discussing the future of Planetary Conquest and DUST.

Sincerely,

CCP FoxFour and Team True Grit