Albion Online has already nixed plan to cap alliances, hopes to balance with penalties instead

    
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Last week, we covered Albion Online’s big plans to overhaul its alliance system, citing both developer and player unhappiness with how dominant large alliances are in the game – the player poll even showed 80% of actual players wanted alliances deleted altogether. Sandbox Interactive’s plan wasn’t that drastic; it merely planned to run a test to reduce the alliance cap to 300 people starting next week.

Apparently, that was still too drastic for players (or at least for the 20% that didn’t want alliances nuked outright?). Last night, the studio walked back some of its plans, apologizing for its “approach to the communication and handling of this matter.”

“The reason we’re now announcing an adjustment to the test is that a hard cap on alliances size would trigger a ‘purge’ of a lot of players from their existing guilds and alliances, cutting them off from their in-game friends and destroying their daily gameplay routines. A cap of 300 would not only have hit the top 4 power blocks, but also a very large number of more casual guilds and alliances. The resulting purge would have affected gatherers, traders and more casual players the most and would have done permanent damage to the game. At the same time, we cannot allow large groups of players to dominate the gameplay experience of many others. Many players feel they have to join a large Alliance to be successful in Albion Online, and that there are too few opportunities for smaller groups to participate in meaningful gameplay outside of the influence of these large Alliances.”

Instead of implementing a cap on alliance membership, Sandbox now says it’ll be adding income penalties and significant upkeep on territory control that scales upward depending on how much territory an alliance is hogging. There will also be new cooldowns for leaving and joining guilds and buffed Disarray (the balancing effect for imbalanced fights) for medium-size battles. These changes go in “around February 26th.”

Players seem torn on the changes still, but Sandbox warns it’s not done. “On their own, these measures will not suffice. We will need to take an additional look at Alliances living in cities, especially the situation around portals, and into introducing more opportunities for small scale groups to succeed in Albion. We do hope, however, to already be able to measure a significant impact of these limitations during the next Invasion day.”

In other words, it’s a territory PvP MMORPG, dealing with the problem all PvP MMORPGs eventually must confront and most likely can never solve.

In other Albion news, the team’s dropped a new dev diary on the Avalonians – they constitute the NPC faction that’s being used as the catalyst for the new continent and dungeon content in the Queen expansion.

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Armsbend

Probably smart – although disappointing from a gameplay perspective. Becoming Eve is not ideal.

But the game seems to be gaining momentum. You don’t want to mess that up.

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Arktouros

In other words, it’s a territory PvP MMORPG, dealing with the problem all PvP MMORPGs eventually must confront and most likely can never solve.

This problem is solvable.

The primary issue is they basically ignored this issue at game release when we told them and even showed them it would be an issue. You had huge power blocs owning most of the maps during testing and smaller groups would get devoured and leave the game and/or join the big blocs. Now they’re invested into a system that people have adapted to and any significant changes, such as alliance caps, will cause severe disruption to the way people have learned to play Albion. They can disrupt that, but then they risk upsetting the way people play the game and an option for those people is always to quit (and 20% is still 20%).

The main way you handle scaled forces is by scaling logistics costs. So in real life scenarios the larger your empire/dominion grows the more logistics it takes to maintain that dominion. You conquer a new nation, you have to feed the people and spread out your forces to properly control your wide spanning empire. Having a huge army requires a huge amount of effort to feed, equip and train said army.

The issue with this is that none of that exists in these kinds of games so you have to come up with inventive ways to create systems that mimic or replicate the strain of a wide stretched out empire. Most games simply don’t do this in any capacity or throw token half measures at it that don’t actually do anything.

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laelgon

If you penalize official alliances, people will just maintain their alliances unofficially. Same thing happens when these games put a cap on players in a guild, then people just form an alt guild. There’s no limit to the lengths people will go to in order to avoid competition in a PvP MMO.

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Arktouros

I 100% agree, caps are still one of the better solutions out there.

If there’s one thing I can say about PvPers is that they will never fail to let their egos get the better of them. If you break up an alliance of 1500 people into 5 alliances of 300 people the chances that there isn’t at least one betrayal out of those 5 groups is pretty low given my experiences in PvP environments. A few “ooopsie” we just AOE’d our allies incidents or “ooopsie” we my loot disappeared around my supposed allies incidents and people will turn on each other real quick. I also can’t think of a single multi-guild alliance “NAP” where there isn’t a pecking order of guilds such as the “main” guild.

This is not to say it’s impossible of course, but it’s a lot harder to keep cohesive when the game allows you to mindlessly ignore allies by design.