If you go way back in the archives of this blog, I’ve been pretty against the idea of instancing in open world games vs keeping content out in the world. When WoW first started using phasing (personal instances, basically), I mocked it, and still feel its a pretty terribly way to execute content.
So I’m a bit torn on Instanced Battles (IB) in Life is Feudal. Or rather, I’m torn because I think they work exceptionally well in LiF, and I wonder if a similar approach wouldn’t solve one of the ongoing problems in EVE as well. But before I get to EVE, lets first talk about why IB are great in LiF.
The first and biggest advantage is performance; in an IB not only is the number of people limited, but you also don’t load all of the world and its related teraforming. Its just a clean, small section of the map where the IB was dropped, with the 100 or 200 (IB come in 50v50 and 100v100 flavors) players who are all here to fight it out. Performance is especially important in LiF because the combat system is somewhat nuanced; it relies heavily on correct timing to block, counter, and execute combos. When you have lag or lower FPS, all of that goes out the window. Yes, in an ideal world the game would run great at all times, but in an MMO things are never ideal, and if a game runs well for 100 players, 110 will show up (more on that later).
IB also have clear win/loss conditions, both for the actual battle itself, and the outcome. The losing side of an IB has their realm claim decrease in size, and enough loses can downgrade your guild monument. The downgrade process is how, currently, you can actually fully remove a guild claim from the world. In the actual battle, the winner is the side who controls the capture point, which is a very clear objective that can’t be argued against. It also makes clear who is the attacked and who is the defender, and this influences strategy for both sides.
IB can only happen during a set time (currently this is set to around 9pm EST on Telmun). This means the important battles can’t be scheduled for off hours, or ‘timezone tanked’. The 24 hour or so period between the drop of an IB and the actual battle also gives both sides a bit of time to gather numbers, so again you aren’t dealing with panic-response situations.
Finally, just because LiF has IB, doesn’t mean that world PvP doesn’t happen. Judgment Hours encourage open-world fighting, and plenty of random, ‘natural’ roaming PvP happens as well.
If you look at the above, it solves a lot of problems EVE has when massive battles occur. Even though CCP is miles ahead of everyone in terms of technology, in a game that allows thousands of players to fight, those players always bring n+1 to a battle, resulting in soul-crushing TiDi (servers slow down time, so 1 minute in-game is actually 10 minutes real-time). Imagine if the timers around a citadel were fought in an IB?
Because it’s EVE, lets say a Keepstar battle would be a 1000v1000 situation, while smaller citadels would be limited to fewer pilots. EVE can easily handle 1000v1000, especially instanced, so performance would be near-perfect. From a strategy perspective, what ships do people bring? 1000 titans is the ‘well of course’ answer, but would that really happen? 1000 titans can’t hit small ships, and even if that side won the battle but lost 100 titan in exchange for much smaller/cheaper ships, would it still be a victory? Plus smaller citadels aren’t worth nearly as much as a Keepstar, so would alliances still risk such ships? If the answer is ‘no’, what ships do you bring? Supercarriers can be defanged, dreads aren’t effective vs sub-caps, and once you go lower than that, the meta could be all over the place.
IB in EVE would also result in clear winners/loser in terms of the objective. No more citadels repairing because of TiDi, no more posturing for a massive battle only to have neither side engage. No more running away the moment a battle looks risky. In an IB, whatever pilots and ships go in, they fight until one side wins. And just like in LiF, IB wouldn’t kill open-world PvP, especially because citadels would still need to be reinforced initially to start such a contest.
I’m sure there are many pros and cons I’m not covering here, both for LiF and especially for EVE, but I think the idea is at least an interesting conversation.