There is a lot of talk within the community lately about War Decs. The possibility that something may be or may not be done with them has stirred up discussions around town. The recent CSM minutes are to blame. But there is another culprit, one much more serious and impactful. It is becoming rather obvious that War Mechanics in Eve are actually driving players out of the game. This possibility has been debated for years, but it looks like we finally have actual data to back it up. Indeed, players do disengage from Eve when under War and (even more importantly) afterwards. They don't always come back.
The critical issue here is engagement. The more engaged players become the more likely they are to stay players. And sadly, War Decs as they exist in Eve are anti-engagement. There is literally nothing you can do about them. Except log off, stay in station, stop doing anything, avoid them, and other non-engagement activities. For most Eve players these are the options. Back when I lived in High Sec at the beginning of my Eve career a War Dec meant a jump-clone into our Null Sec base. But not all players have that option.
I'll leave it to others to complain, because I have a simple solution - get rid of them. Completely.
Scrap the whole thing. Don't keep iterating on a system that is horribly broken. Instead, wipe the slate clean so that it can be replaced for a new system built from the ground up. I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers here, but I do know what a new Engagement System should look like. Here are a few of the basic tenants:
• Goal Based - Both sides in an engagement should have goals that can be completed to achieve victory conditions. These victory conditions need to be meaningful for both sides. This can easily become a very complicated and intricate system, but I would prefer it stay as simple as possible. Goals could be tied to missions, or other pve content, or based on activity levels. Getting out of a War Dec should be easy for an active, engaged group of players. We want to encourage activity. Not penalize it. Maybe some goals are in Low Sec, Null or in a WH?
• Bribery - This wouldn't be Eve without risks and underhanded mechanics. I suggest building it into the system. You should be able to bribe Concord to gain advantages or to combat advantages. I'd like someone to bribe Concord to let me into HS for a war mission (Yeah, War Missions!) for a few hours. Or for a victim corp to pay off one of their goals and reduce the timers. The options here are numerous. Cross pollination is the goal here, let's get players jumping into systems and experiencing new parts of space.
Right now there is nothing an Alliance like mine can do against a War Dec. Our HS arms simply move around it and HS activity is avoided. But our main combat arm, Stay Frosty, is 100% useless when it comes to HS Wars. Us scum-sucking Pirates can't do anything to help. At least not reasonably. I suggest that during a War Concord grants temporary sec status to all combatants. So I could fly into HS to search out and freely engage War Targets. Obviously, if I abused that access by attacking anyone else, my status would be removed. But to other members of HS I'd appear just like a regular joe. Maybe with a special icon or something so they could avoid me. More engagement.
People who declare War need to have skin in the game as well. I'm not trying to take anyone's play style away from them. I'd also want these systems to engage them as well. But they should have something to lose. And something to gain.
And then we need to eliminate the ability to engage other players in HS. You simply are unable to lock another ship, not under a War Dec, in HS. Any smartbombs on a gate will not damage ships not under a War Dec with your corp/alliance. Let's eliminate ganking completely from Eve. It is horrible game play that only encourages the worst in players. It is borderline abuse and it is time for it to be eliminated. Let HS be for the safety conscious, encourage them to travel, to be engaged, to experience other aspects of the game. HS shouldn't be that great. Players should want to move to Low and Null and Wormholes. If they don't, then something is wrong.
But that only works if we can more easily travel between those sections of the game. It only works if I can travel into HS to engage War Targets. It only works if HS Wars require visits to Low, Null or WHs. And that's why we need a new system.
In my opinion.