Hey guys, and welcome to another Dev Blog from Team True Grit. We’ve talked about changes to Factional battles some time ago but never gave a date on when they would be released. Well, I am happy to report that with Uprising 1.7 we have some major changes coming to Factional Contracts. Let’s kick off this Dev Blog with a short summary.
- Factional Contract matches will have friendly fire enabled
- Factional Contract matches will not reward any ISK
- Factional Contract matches will reward loyalty points to the players for the corporation they are fighting for
- Factional Contract matches will reward standings between the player and the corporation they fight for
- Players will lose standings towards corporations if they abuse friendly fire
- Higher standings with a corporation will increase the loyalty points players gain from that corporation
- The market has a new section specifically for spending loyalty points on faction specific items
- Factional Contract matches will no longer have Warbarge strikes available (They will still be available in Planetary Conquest)
- EVE Orbital Strikes in Factional Contract matches and Planetary Conquest matches must now be earned in EVE
- Salvage in Factional Contract matches will be based on what the other team uses
- A new tab displays on the end of match screen for Factional Contract matches
That is a heck of a list of changes, but should cover almost everything at a high level. If you have any questions on these points, I highly recommend reading their respective sections. But before we go in to specifics, let’s take a look at why we chose to iterate on Factional Contracts and what our goals were.
Why change Factional Contracts?
Unlike Planetary Conquest, which requires involvement with a player corporation and favors an extremely high level of gameplay, Factional Contracts are an area of the game that anyone can participate in. Factional Contracts and their link with Factional Warfare in EVE also serve as one of our best links between the two games. That being said, currently Factional Contracts were not hugely different to public contracts. Our goal with this iteration of Factional Contracts was to make them unique and more challenging while maintaining their accessibility to all players. It is our belief that, at least for now, players should want to play both Public Contracts and Factional Contracts; not one or the other.
First, let’s talk about standings, as many of the forthcoming Factional features revolve around them. At a conceptual level, standings are the relationship between your character and different corporations. In DUST, these standings represent your relationship between the four factions and their respective ground forces in Factional Contracts. Each faction has designated a specific corporation to handle their ground troops within Factional Warfare space and they are as follows:
- Amarr -> Imperial Guard: The personal guard of the ruler of the Amarr Empire are drawn from the finest troops the Imperial military can offer. While its core duties revolve around safeguarding the occupant of the Imperial Throne, the Imperial Guard is a large and very well-equipped body. The Guard can project impressive force across New Eden with fanatical devotion to its orders.
- Caldari -> State Peacekeepers: The Caldari State required little in the way of ground troops until the reconquest of Caldari Prime and the war over Black Rise. Previously, the megacorporations saw to the security and peace of their own ground territories. The emergency conditions of the occupation of Caldari Prime called for the formation of the State Peacekeepers, a force that is now established as an arm of the Caldari military.
- Gallente -> Federal Marines: The Federal Marines have a long, proud history of serving the Gallente Federation in space and on planetary bodies. They are among the elite troops of the Federal military and typically at the forefront when the Gallente Federation goes to the extreme of intervening militarily in planetary conflicts across New Eden.
- Minmatar -> Republic Command: Republic Command is something of an oddity in a new order where the Minmatar tribes wield considerable power. In large part the Minmatar military has become fragmented among the tribes but a rump central command remains. The Republic Command has managed to retain control over those units that reported directly to its military council, and the elite nature of many of these forces has allowed the generals of the Command to retain significant influence.
As a result, this means that if you choose to fight for the Gallente then the corporation that you will earn standings towards and ultimately earn rewards from will be the Federal Marines.
When you win a battle for one of these corporations, two things will simultaneously happen: You will gain 75 points of standing towards the corporation that you fought for, while losing 15 points of standing towards the corporation you fought against. Here’s a nice table of standing levels and the number of wins needed for each level:
And now the same information above in graph format, because who doesn't like graphs?
We’ve also added a new tab to the Character Sheet so that you can quickly see all of your standings in one location.
So, what are Loyalty Points? Loyalty Points are currency held with specific corporations that cannot be traded. Think of Loyalty Points as gift cards for use at specific stores. With Uprising 1.7, Factional Contracts will no longer pay out ISK. Instead they will pay out Loyalty Points for the corporation that is paying you. Along with earning standings with their corporation, the faction that you fight for will pay you from their respective corporation. For example, if you fight for the Gallente then you will gain standings and loyalty points for the Federal Marines.
There are several ways to modify the Loyalty Points you earn from playing:
- The higher your standings level with the respective corporation then the higher your loyalty point payout.
- Don't lose the match. Losing a Factional Contract battle will only pay a fraction of the Loyalty Points. This amount is still determined by your standings level with the corporation.
Have a Faction Booster augmentation active. Faction Boosters are faction specific and ensure that your payout is increased by 25%. These boosters will be available for Aurum from the market, just like all other boosters.
- With the Uprising 1.7 release you can expect to see 4 versions of each faction booster: 1, 3, 7, and 30 day versions.
Here is a quick table showing LP payout based on your standings level:
Now that we will be giving you these new and amazing Loyalty Points, we also thought it would be a cool idea to give you something to spend them on. To that end we have added a new section to the market called the Loyalty Store. In the Loyalty Store you will find four sections, one for each Faction. These four sections combined have a total of 219 items ranging from equipment, weapons and dropsuits through to vehicles and vehicle turrets. While mostly these are unique items, there is some crossover between the stores. For example, all of the stores have CPU and PG upgrades along with Minmatar/Caldari having shield modules and Gallente/Amarr having armor modules.
One of the unique things about the Loyalty Store is that two currencies are required to purchase items, namely ISK and Loyalty Points. EVE shares a similar mechanic, and the rewards are all the more awesome for it.
Great, so we have 219 items in the store, but what are they? Generally, the primary difference between the AUR variations of items and their ISK counterparts has been lower skill requirements. Pay Aurum, get into stuff with less skill points. We have taken many of these items and adapted them to fit their Faction’s store. However, while these existing items are quite nice, we thought it would be awesome to take this opportunity to introduce some new amazing items.
Oh boy, these are fun. When we originally talked about the Loyalty Store, we knew we wanted some really cool new weapons. Something that could be used at the top tier of gameplay that high level players would strive for. So, we went to CCP Remnant and asked for some cool stuff. What we got back could be described as awesome. The basic premise is that we would add a new version of prototype weapons, with the sole difference being they would have lower fitting requirements, but without the additional drawbacks that other specialist weapons currently have. Here is a list of the new weapons we are adding:
- Federation Duvolle Specialist Assault Rifle
- Federation CreoDron Specialist Shotgun
- Federation Allotek Specialist Plasma Cannon
- Republic Boundless Specialist Combat Rifle
- Republic Freedom Specialist Mass Driver
- Imperial Viziam Specialist Laser Rifle
- Imperial Specialist Scrambler Rifle
- State Kaalakiota Specialist Rail Rifle
- State Wiyrkomi Specialist Swarm Launcher
Available only through the Loyalty Store, these items offer the same stats as their normal prototype variant with lower fitting requirements.
That’s not all though. Oh no. Aurum items and Specialist weapons are the two primary types we are adding, but what about equipment and all those Logibros? Well, we have a selection of new equipment that is just... well, all-around better. More armor per second, longer lasting scan results, shorter spawn times and more spawns--things like that. Here is a list of the new equipment items we have added, again available only through the Loyalty Store:
- Imperial Viziam Drop Uplink
- State Ishukone Nanohive
- Federation CreoDron Active Scanner
- State Wiyrkomi Nanite Injector
- Republic Core Repair Tool
This is probably one of the biggest changes that will differentiate factional contract matches from public contract matches. There is not much to discuss about the exact design of friendly fire, other than that it will be enabled. The bigger issue was preventing players from entering these matches with the intent of excessively team killing. We don't want to remove griefing entirely, as a little bit here and there can be a healthy thing, but there does need to be a penalty. We have added two ways for players to be removed from a Factional Contract match: both with the same penalty.
The first way a player can be removed from a Factional Contract match is by being punished for excessive team killing. When you team kill a player, that player will have the option on their kill screen to punish the person who killed them. If you get punished enough in a single match you will be kicked from the battle.
The other way a player can be removed from a Factional Contract match due to friendly fire is by simply dealing substantial damage to teammates or their vehicles. When you damage a friendly in Factional Contracts, the amount of damage you are cause will be tracked. You will get 4 warnings, but upon dealing enough damage you will be removed from the match. Damage done to teammates that forgive you is still counted, so watch your fire!
Now that we’ve covered what will cause you to be kicked from a match, we’ll look in to the repercussions of being kicked. Not that any of you would go around purposely doing anything to get kicked. Nope, not ever in this game. When you are kicked from a Factional Contract match two things will happen. First, you will be unable to join another Factional Contract until after the next downtime. The second consequence is that you will lose standings towards the faction you were fighting for. Since standings directly modify your Loyalty Point payout, this could severely hamper your ability to earn LP.
We also took this opportunity to make a pass on Orbital Strikes. One of the first things we did was rename orbital strikes in both EVE and DUST so that their names made more sense. For DUST this means:
- Starship Strikes have been renamed to Orbital Strikes
- Warbarge - Precision Strikes have been renamed to Warbarge Strikes
For EVE, this means that Orbital Bombardment ammo has been renamed to Orbital Strike ammo. These minor changes ensure that while there is consistency between EVE and DUST, when players from both games talk to each other they have a good understanding of what is being communicated. Along with this we have flattened the Off Map Support menu so that instead of having to go Open menu -> Off Map Support -> Orbital Bombardments -> Orbital/Warbarge Strike you instead just go Open menu -> Off Map Support -> Orbital/Warbarge Strike. Again, another simple change that should make things just better.
Moving on to some bigger changes for Orbital Bombardment, we have removed Warbarge Strikes from Factional Contract matches. That means that in all Factional Contract matches if you would like the use of Orbital Strikes, you will need EVE players in orbit to provide them.
If that wasn't enough we have made it so that EVE based Orbital Strikes are earned in EVE. This change applies to both Factional Contract and Planetary Conquest matches. If you saw the Fanfest 2013 Tournament then you will be familiar with how this works. Above districts with ongoing battles, EVE pilots will be able to view a capturable district satellite. EVE players will need to connect to the district and orbit the satellite for 3 minutes, at which time an Orbital Strike will be earned and squad leaders will be able to call it in. However, just because the strike has been called in doesn’t mean that it has been fulfilled: Other squad leaders will be able to continue calling in the Orbital Strike until the EVE pilot chooses which call to supply. This means that if your squad in particular is in contact with the EVE pilot, then you can ensure he supplies your Orbital Strike requests.
When an EVE pilot connects to a district they will also now be added to the team text chat and can join the team voice chat if they wish allowing for better communication between EVE and DUST players. Pilots performing strikes that are in Factional Contracts will also earn loyalty points in EVE to encourage them to engage in strikes.
One final note: We are introducing killmails for EVE pilots that perform Orbital Strikes. The killmails will include everything fit to your dropsuits, and EVE pilots will get one killmail for every person they kill. There are, however, a few limitations. For example, we don't give killmails for players in the seats of vehicles. Really though, these few minor points pale in comparison to the awesomeness that is receiving killmails for Orbital Strikes!
Although this is one of the simpler changes being made to Factional Contracts, there will still be a fairly large impact on your rewards. Public Contracts currently use a system where items are randomly generated and handed out to players. Similarly, Planetary Conquest uses a system where 50% of the items used in the match are given back to the players on the opposing team. We are taking the system used in Planetary Conquest and applying it to Factional Contracts, albeit with a 25% drop rate.
Factional Warfare End-of-Match Screen
One of the primary issues with Factional Contracts currently is that there is no indication of how the battle you have just fought in has affected the universe. Many people don’t realize just how big an impact DUST has on EVE's factional warfare. To help visually demonstrate the effect you have had on both EVE and DUST, we are adding a new tab to the end of match screen for factional contract matches.
Here is what we are trying to convey with the new end of match screen:
- What just happened in the battle? Did you defend the district? Conquer it?
- What effect did this battle have on the overall ownership of the planet for DUST? The solar system for DUST? The entire warzone for DUST?
- What has the history of the solar system and warzone been like for DUST?
- How active is this solar system and how close is the solar system to being captured? The pilot stats section will show information including the jumps in the last hour, the ships destroyed in the last hour and other statistics about EVE players in the solar system.
Just over a month ago we put out several posts in the Feedback section of the Forums asking for feedback on some ideas we had for changes to Factional Contracts. I want to close by saying thank you so very much for all of your feedback. We didn't have time to respond extensively to those threads, but we did read almost every post and have been working very hard on getting as many of your suggested changes as possible into Uprising 1.7, now deploying on December 10th. So once again, thank you very much for all of your feedback across all channels: on IRC, Twitter, via EVE Mail and of course the CPM for all of their thoughts.
We hope you enjoy the new Factional Contracts and Uprising 1.7!
CCP FoxFour, on behalf of Team True Grit