I am making this thread in the hope of actually hammering this home to the Dev team, and possibly saving this game before the damage is irreversible.
This is a thread about bringing squad play back to PvP, but I am approaching it by looking at and addressing the impact on the larger game, especially its community and end game.
It is no accident that the time when corporations were most dominant in all levels of play was also the time when squadding had no restrictions. When a 4 man ESB killteam was put against 4 randoms, players formed Corps as much for their own survival as anything. Yet this is actually a good thing for the game.
Because weaker, solo players needed the support and protection of organised squads, they were forced to adapt. The most common adaption was simply to become a squad player themselves. Not everyone played over teamspeak or routinely practiced to form a killsquad, but because the norm was to find group of like-minded players and play together, players were organically pushed to be more squad focused, and more team focused than the current free-for-all format.
This heavy focus on corps naturally bred competition, leading to the rise of “elite” Corps that would be the primary audience for Sector Conquest, and the modern tournaments and leagues. But what has been totally lost from the glory days of the closed beta are the training Corps - groups of people who banded together specifically to teach new players how to succeed in Star Conflict. These Corps were destroyed by changes to the matchmaking that prevented experienced players and rookies flying together, something the mentor system was supposed to fix but never did.
The heavily corporate-orientated versions of Star Conflict also helped form a sense of community. They offer an additional circle of association; if none of your friends are online, just play with a corp mate or two! This helps creates bonds that encourage people to stay in the game, bonds which simply do not exist anymore outside of the players who formed them in the old systems.
Corporations also give a sense of communal achievement. It creates a meta-game of working with others to accomplish a goal that no one player can achieve on their own. Players can take pride when their Corp holds a Sector, or wins a League, even if they themselves didn’t play a part. It also encourages players to try new things; to volunteer for tournaments or events in order to try and help the Corp where, as a lone player, they may simply not bother due to feeling inadequate.
The devs insist that the only people who want squads in regular PvP are veterans who want to farm new players, but this is far from the truth. In reality, the “solo players” they seek to protect are the ones that want squads most of all. They just don’t know it yet because they’ve never experienced the game in a community-focused fashion. They see Star Conflict as a single player game because that’s what the Devs push by banning squads and funnelling everyone into Open Space. But the people who are most dedicated to the game, its most die-hard fans, are all people who came into the game when it was all about teamwork in PvP and when there was no place for the lone wolf.
Yes, some players will have it rough. This is true of every game. My second match of Hawken was a 40-4 massacre in the enemy’s favour that didn’t do anything to make me want to stick with it. But for every brutally one-sided match against me, there are matches where I get the veterans on my side and we curb stomp. And when both teams are strong, the game shines. This is true of Hawken, this is true of Star Conflict, this is true of every multiplayer game.
But what Corps can do that lone players cannot is get up and try again. When you have a five game losing streak on Star Conflict today, there’s no incentive not to just ragequit, uninstall and find a better game. Back in the day, you’d have the Corp at your back. You’d have more experienced players you could ask to come give you a hand, or at the very least a group of people who would share your grief with you and make light of your bad luck.
Squad play is essential to the survival of Corps, and Corps are essential to the survival of Star Conflict. Leagues and Tournaments are dead content, and many Corps that were once the backbone of our community are now dead or dying because they can’t find and train new members. It won’t be long before there’s nobody left playing the “end game” content, and as the end game dies the word will trickle back. “Don’t waste your time on Star Conflict, the endgame is dead.” Pretty soon, that will lead to people dropping out altogether because if there’s no endgame, why bother with the mid game?
This also kills the game’s income, because if you never intent to go beyond the early game, why bother investing? People who sink money into ships and licences and customisation are people in it for the long haul, which means there has to be an actual end to work toward!
Star Conflict as it stands is surviving in spite of the development team, not because of it. The game needs squads back. It needs teamwork. It needs community. It needs to regain and rebuild the focus on corporations, and it needs to stop being pushed as a single player experience.
So please, don’t pretend that by shielding T3 from squads you’re doing anyone a favour. The people who ragequit at the mere sight of ESB, WPK or NASA are the players who were never going to spend money or stick around anyway. What you want and need is to return to a time when people saw corp tags not as something to run away from, but as something to work toward. The game needs squads back, and it needs them now.