CUOP Mechanics utilisation analysis

Rollout


We achieved rollout of CUOP via the following steps:

  1. Plant a single colony on the target planet
  2. Plant LM and PWH if not already present
  3. Transfer materials for CM to other operatives via LM and PWH
  4. Plant additional CMs as required
  5. Plant ADM thereby initiating election period
  6. Secure election

We took this approach in order to minimise logistics requirements. Some target planets required more than 1 shipment. I think LH-786b required 3 shipments to bring materials for 1) additional storage, and 2) materials for a total CUOP CM capacity of 10.

This approach is referred to as a “CM Bomb” as a single CM can quickly explode to many.


Defence


Countering opposition CM Bombs was achieved via the following steps:

  1. Raise fees on PWH slots and LM trading in order to drive off other rentals
  2. Have 17 friendlies rent all 50 slots of the PWH
  3. Lower PWH rental fees on planets where all 50 slots are controlled by CUOP

This also increased the logistics complexity of our opposition as each new colony required the player to take their own ship, rather than rely on third-party haulers. This relegated established players to the roll of financial backing of opposition operatives if their ships were already occupied.

Countering opposition CM planting was achieved via:

  1. Storing materials for additional CMs at already established colonies
  2. Planting CUOP friendly operatives in opposition circles
  3. Distributing additional CM materials at CX planets in order to reinforce planets in danger of being overwhelmed

Observations


It was far to easy to gain complete control of the PWH. 17 players can completely remove this as an option for a counter-attack.

Logistics is a massive driver of defence capabilities. On a planet like LH-786b, CUOP control of the PWH caused a logistics multiplier of around 4-5 times for the counter-attack. That is, we used 2-3 trips, but opposition operatives needed 8-15 trips. Where shipping is tight, or the cartel has a large number of members, this becomes prohibitive very quickly.

The main community reaction centred around social retribution for the bulk of the period. If CUOP were composed of malicious actors, social retribution would have been met with mockery rather than concern. Social retribution is only an effective measure against operatives having more ties to the affected community than the hostile actors.

All CUO deposits were located outside of faction space. This allowed us to immediately increase fees to a very high level. There was also a very low number of CUO deposits (9) which meant that we only needed to provision materials for 40-60 CMs in order to achieve an effective rollout.

CUOP operatives initially ran for election whilst 1) in original corporations, or 2) in no corporations. During the election process, CUOP operatives left their original corporations and joined the CUOP corporation. Thus, their ties to each other were left hidden from the public.

CUOP launched rollout at a time when most members on the server were asleep or otherwise occupied. This allowed us some extra time in the crucial first days while the election was underway.

Once elected, players have no way of escaping or otherwise hindering a governor in achieving domination of the planet.

Rollout of CUOP was completely un-noticed by the community. I personally felt that I would notice a malicious entity attempting a rollout. I was genuinely surprised that it was not noticed.

Insufficient attention was drawn to an active election by the game.

PWH slots are not automatically freed if there are insufficient funds to pay for rental. They are simply suspended.

Overall, there is a drastic lack of capability for players to fight back against a large, organised group.


Resolutions

PWH should be expandable to allow for more slot capacity.

Players without a colony on the planet should be able to contribute to planetary projects. This will allow for opposition operatives to expand the PWH in order to make use of additional free slots.

There needs to be mechanics to

  1. Challenge the absolute power of the governor, or
  2. Remove the effect of fees, or
  3. Force reduction of fees

The total number of deposits for each resource should be greatly increased. Resources are abundant in space, there is no need to have so few exploitable deposits.

Each material should have at least 1 deposit located within faction space. This does not need to be a substantial deposit, it just should be there.

The election information screen should show up-to-date information on governorship candidates.

Initial election period should be increased to the standard election period. I know this was changed to allow for faster rollout of ADM when they were first introduced as a mechanic, but I think the argument for a longer period carries a little more weight now.

Fee changes should be limited to incremental growth. We should not be able to jump straight to maximum fees. They should be limited to increments of say 500 or 1k.

More attention should be drawn to ongoing elections. Notifications should be sent if the player is eligible to vote in an election but has yet to vote. Perhaps at 5 days, 3 days, and 1 day remaining.

A BFR listing all ADM facilities or showing ongoing elections should be provided.

PWH slots should be auto-cancelled if they are not used for a certain length of time.

PWH slots should not be suspended when rental payments are not met. They should be cancelled.

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Thanks for the analysis. I agree with almost all of the items you listed here.

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This analysis is both interesting and informative. Yet it is also not without its flaws, biases, and hindsight. I disagree with few of the overall conclusions though, just to be clear and I think this is overall a nice piece to take some positives for a dark chapter in the PrUn community.

Observations


One of the positives that can be taken from CUOP is that we can broadly dismiss this kind of attack happening from the hypothetical ‘highly organised, motivated, and maleficent outside group’. It would need a minimum estimate of 10 players with considerable cash reserves or purchasing power. So much so that it would probably need this group of 10 to have an average account age of 200. This is obviously only a rough estimate and guide but we can safely write off the chance of this hypothetical bogeyman doing anything in a month of joining.
Especially if one then consider the knowledge and understanding needed to target a similar instance as well as when factoring in the universes evolving and developing nature especially over a time span of 100-200 days.

Since the attack was perpetrated within the community, and almost certainly any following attack would also come from within, the social aspect is both logical as well as highly effective. Neccessary for both advertising and rallying support. Many small-mid players would not have known of the issue if not for the considerable awareness raising. Perhaps cynically one cannot deny that the social defence played the largest role in ending CUOP before it would have been possible by other gameplay means. This has to be the biggest test of any gameplay mechanic and shows the blurred edge created by any multiplayer game of where the game ends when chats and forums make up such an integral part of the game.
It is also worth considering that if for some reason a player had become emotionless when deriving an emotion filled attack the social aspect would likely have served to be even more effective in galvinising the community without needing to resort to bitterness as there’d have been no counter-information obscuring the issues at hand for the community.

In this regard, Poe’s law reigns supreme. It was, would be, and still is impossible to tell the difference between a genuine attempt to attack the community then obscure such an attack to dampen opposition than a genuine attempt to pretend to do this with a real attempt to explain such actions from a positive view. Along this line it also is apparent that the concept of ‘testing gameplay mechanics’ proves popular with large aspects of the community and there is a huge potential for this to be used in bad faith.
This here belies one tiny edge case in which a small very driven new group could instigate such an attack. Through the use of propaganda and deceit it would be conceivable that a evil actor could convince a group of other genuine players to become true believers and assist unknowingly in a plan to attack the universe under the guise of a different plan around ‘testing gameplay features’. This would echo many recent real life examples of bots stirring up genuine real people to create a culture war. The community is vulnerable to this and it would likely prove community ending, but the reality of this happening seems slim.

Faction space is currently near meaningless and represents a considerable lack of dynamism. This has some really interesting possibilties.

Overall, the ability for players to fight back is entirely subjective based on perceptions of time.


Resolutions

A clearer understanding of what is gameplay and what isn’t should be more widely discussed and understood. The game clearly continues into the global chats with discussions of trade, and corporations leaching far into other websites. Reputation also has a near tangible quality in game.

There should be a tighter understanding of what is acceptable testing. Should players be allowed to test as they please even if it directly/negatively effects others? This is a divide in the communities understanding of the game currently and should be resolved. I believe first-access ending may well provide this solution with hopefully a more formalised understanding of ‘test server’.

A clearer understanding of how players air grievances with other players behaviour would also benefit. Might the addition of community moderators be positive as the player base grows?

Faction space should be made more dynamic and drastically larger such that playing outside of it becomes a clear choice rather than a neccessity.

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I think the real problem is that a single person with a few extractors could almost make enough CU to supply all of the CU connected consumables for the galaxy. This lead to only a few people like me sitting on items like copper because there’s really not enough demand to support more than a couple of bases on a copper planet. The pattern is similar for a lot of materials on the off CX-worlds. Some mechanics to support off CX growth or a different governance system for low base count worlds would be helpful I think. More people would have been on BE-796c or these other planets if there was more to do there.

The whole layout of the resources in the game really favors mercantilism. Where you are setting up colonies to get raw materials to send back to a CX planet or a processing planet running a specific COGC bonus. The shipping bottleneck is the only thing that prevented this from being the case for pretty much all resources. It was worth it to do some processing or production on a remote planet if it resulted in a huge mass or volume reduction that eased the shipping concerns. With new ships with larger cargos I think the mercantile model will just expand and any developed remote planets that aren’t acting as the COGC bonus processing center will just revert to pioneer only resource taps.

The more resources per planet suggestion might be a good one. If you had some secondary resources with very low concentrations then it might be favorable to set up some secondary activities on remote planets to support the planet’s primary resource (ex: copper at BE-796c) which could lead to more activity per planet.

I also like the adding more warehouse levels thing. They should for sure do that.

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