I'll give you the obligatory warning first: "This is a long post, so make some time for reading it".
Since over a year ago Cyrodiil has had immense problems with performance and ZOS has tried a few things here and there to solve them, but never had any success. It has been proven times and again that having many players in one spot spamming AOE skills is causing the problems, but what is causing players to do this?
In my opinion, alliance points (AP) are to blame for this behavior. ZOS can throw out skill changes and siege buffs as long and often as they want, but if they don't do anything about AP, they will never make "ball groups" and "zergs" go away. The problem that I see with AP, is that they encourage a fundamentally different gameplay than the campaign scoring - which AvA should actually be about.
Most players go more for AP than for their factions campaign points as there is almost no reason to care for them.
- AP are needed to get a high leader board position and with that a better reward at the end of the campaign
- AP are needed to buy certain things at vendors in Cyrodiil
- AP are needed to gain ranks which give skill points and achievements
- AP are needed to become Emperor
- Campaign points decide the winning alliance which increases the amount of gold rewarded at the end of the campaign
This makes it hard for a faction to play together, because most players only care about their own AP gain instead of the success of the whole alliance.
It also does not help that killing other players is the main source for AP in the current game. This is why players band together and try to farm other players as hard as they do. In order to rectify this issue I propose the following change:
Remove direct AP rewards completely.
Especially AP for kills and AP for defending ("deftick") or capturing an objective are a problem. In AvA kills should be a means to an end - not the main attraction.
Whenever there is going to be a big defensive tick, you can watch as all players who know what will happen stay at the objective instead of attacking or doing something useful for their alliance.
Instead closely tie AP to the campaign points.
Each player should get an amount of AP at the end of a scoring period based on their alliances performance and their individual performance.
The AP reward is a base amount of AP plus bonus AP multiplied by the percentage of campaign score) scaled by the time spent playing during that scoring period and a population modifier. The base AP give players something to buy siege equipment with, even when their alliance is loosing. Bonus AP are awarded for doing certain things that help the war effort and are described below. They are scaled by the amount of campaign score that is obtained compared to the theoretical maximum by having control over all objectives. Low population bonus and underdog bonus also count towards it and can give a boost to alliances that are falling behind, making it much more interesting for players to play on underpopulated campaigns. The scaling by amount of time is to also reward players that leave before the scoring time and to prevent players from gaining AP when they are idle. Last but not least the population modifier is to give some control over how many AP are awarded on low population campaigns and to prevent players from gaining too many AP just by staying online during the night.
The bonus AP consist of a base bonus plus the sum of all AP in the bonus categories - where each category is capped at a certain amount to prevent farming - multiplied by a modifier that depends on how many medals a player has. Medals are awarded for having the most AP in a certain category. The AP limit for the bonus AP does not apply for this check. Some ideas for categories for these medals and boni are:
- Players killed. Counts how many players received a death blow. Medal is awarded for most players killed. Could be awarded separately for Cyrodiil and IC.
- Walls repaired. Counts the number of walls that have been repaired. Medal is awarded for most repairs.
- Healing done. Counts the amount of HP healed. Medal for most HP healed. (Cyrodiil/IC)
- Siege damage against walls. Counts how much damage to walls has been done. Medal for most siege damage.
- Regular damage. Counts the overall damage caused by basic attacks and skills (no siege damage). Medal for most damage. (Cyrodiil/IC)
- Objectives flipped. Counts how often a player has been standing at a flag when the objective flipped. Medal for most captures.
- NPCs killed. Counts how many NPCs at a keep or resource a player killed, while it was flagged as sieged. Medal for most NPC kills.
- Players resurrected. Counts how many soul gems a player expended to resurrect others. Medal for most resurrections.
- AvA quests done. Counts how many AvA quest objectives a player obtained. Medal for most AvA quests done.
- Distance covered with a scroll. Counts how long a player ran near an Elder Scroll. Medal for most "scroll time"*.
- Tel Var stones gained from players. Counts amount of stones gained by killing players. Medal for most stones stolen.
- IC Arena kills. Counts how many players have been killed in the IC arena. Medal for arena champion.
*This is a bit more complicated as the others as it should
- reward everyone running with the scroll (not only the carrier) and
- make running extra miles useless.
The easiest way I can think of is to count the time a player stayed with the scroll and how long the scroll was carried to the target location to obtain a "percentage covered" and then calculate the shortest distance between the point where the scroll was taken and where it was placed and scale it to that percentage. That way it is independent of the actual covered distance and who carried the scroll while still giving the scroll carrier an advantage because he automatically covers 100% of the way.
These medals are also publicly visible on the score board and the player with the most medals will become the emperor once all emperor keeps are captured. A player can receive medals in different categories and multiple players can gain the same medal for having the same AP score in a category. The AP bonus modifier for getting a medal is valid during the next scoring period where the player is online and playing. Emperors are exempt from getting metals as it is way too easy for them to gain them, instead they have a special emperor bonus which is equivalent to a number of medals and permanently active during their reign. In order for the medals to be awarded, there should be at least a certain numbers of players online to prevent farming these on empty campaigns.
The AvA quests should also be stripped of their AP reward and give a gold reward instead. They should also be modified to give better goals that are actually useful to the alliance. The system should be aware where the current focus of the war is and hand out quests based on that information. If the situation changes, the quests need to fail and players should go get a new quest.
are either attack a keep or defend a keep depending on the situation. If multiple keeps are under attack, they should be handed out based on certain criteria:
- your current group (location of most players and which quest other members already have)
- biggest impact on the campaign scoring, alliance buffs and fast travel network
When no keeps are under attack, they instead turn into attack quests that focus the effort of the pact on one location. The quest fails if the keep is lost, or the attack fails after having it under siege and all battles are over (same timing as the defticks have right now).
should be turned into real scouting. They allow players to report enemy movements and show them on the map for the whole alliance to see.
The player gets offered to use the scout report action like in the current quest as soon as he tab targets an enemy player or siege, which makes him go out of stealth and write the report. It should also be possible to write reports near an enemy keep or inside an owned keep, which will show the state of all walls in that location to the alliance. Other players can kill the scout in that time, otherwise the whole alliance sees a map marker that indicates how many players/sieges have been spotted in that location.
in their current form are useless and should be changed in order to be more useful and dynamic. Instead of requiring killing players anywhere they should be specific to a certain location and time. For example when a keep is under attack, the kill quest requires players to kill enemies that are in a certain distance to the keep (not too close and not too far).
should be also changed to make players systematically attack important resources near the battlefield. For example when a keep is cut off, the quests directs players to recapture that resource, or when an enemy keep is to be attacked by the alliance, the resource quests lead players to the resources of said keep.
should also be updated so that the warlords don't hand out scroll quests randomly and the scroll quest should also be offered as a world event (like with the quests at trials) to make it easier for players running with the scroll to get them.
- When a scroll is picked up by a different alliance, they should offer a quest to intercept it.
- When a gate is opened by the own alliance, the appropriate scroll quest for that gate should be handed out.
- When a scroll is stolen, the quest to get it back should be permanently be available until it is secured again.
It should also be allowed to have more than one scroll quest at a time and the scroll quest should fail when the objective is not met.
Some improvements that I think this will bring are:
- It becomes more important to think about "how can I increase the campaign score" instead of just killing the player in front of me
- The emperor is not exclusively decided by who has the better equipment and more time at hand, but instead by who does more for the alliance
- Emperors that have obtained the throne are out of the race for the duration of their reign, which gives other players the chance to catch up
- Quests will guide random and inexperienced players to where they need to be when there is no leader available to control them
- Different play styles that do not involve playing against players become viable (e.g. scouting) which allows for more variety
- Players do not have a reason to pile up in the same spot anymore, because everyone will get AP based on a team effort
- Individual performance is still rewarded through medals
Dangers that need to be considered when balancing this system are:
- The AP rewards need to be balanced in a way that does not favor PvD gameplay where player do not play against other player but NPCs instead, or just keep damaging and repairing keeps etc.
- The individual boni should outweight the base boni to encourage players to continue giving their best
- The maximum AP should not be higher than what can be obtained in the current system.
- AvA quest gold rewards should be small enough to prevent farming (especially scout quests).
There are probably a lot of other points that I am missing but it should outline what needs to be considered.
TL;DR: Don't reward players for killing each other as fast as possible, instead reward them for playing the AvA game.