Powerplay PowerPlay and the state of the Journal.

Warning - rant.

Some of you know this, many do not. To organize PowerPlay you have to do an enormous amount of data entry. Manual data entry. Manual data entry that is stupefyingly, mind-numbingly stupid, because the data needed isn't available without transcribing the information from the game screen.

There are currently 659 control systems (and 11 headquarters that aren't relevant for this), each of which has nine data points:
Upkeep from last cycles (can change once a week)
Default upkeep cost (never changes)
Cost if fortified (is ALWAYS 0)
Cost if undermined (can change once a week)
Base income (can change once a week)
Fortify total (can change hundreds of times a week)
Fortify trigger (can change once a week)
Undermining total (can change hundreds of times a week)
Undermining trigger (can change once a week)
Once a week, every power that wants to properly manage themselves need to go through every single control system to check and update six data points. That's currently 3,954 data points that have to be manually entered into a spreadsheet or databases. There's no copy-pasting, because the journal doesn't have useful information for this.

Additionally they'll want to update their fortification and undermining totals several times a week as well. If it's just once per day, that's currently 9,226 data points.

If powers want to run an organized offensive campaign, they'll also need to keep track of these things for their target. On the top end, that means each power currently enters 13,180 data points manually every single week. Across 11 powers that's 144,980 data points. If we assume it takes 1 second to enter each data point (lowballing significantly here) that's more than 40 hours wasted on this every single week.

Oh, but it gets better.

There IS PowerPlay data in the journal - but it's borderline useless.

Let's go through some of them.

{ "timestamp": "2016-06-10T14:32:03Z", "event": "PowerplayCollect", "Power": "Li Yong-Rui", "Type": "siriusfranchisepackage", "Count": 10 }

Okay, so CMDR Vectron has picked up 10 fortification merits. So far so good.

{ "timestamp": "2016-06-10T14:32:03Z", "event": "PowerplayDeliver", "Power": "Li Yong-Rui", "Type": "siriusfranchisepackage", "Count": 10 }

And CMDR Vectron has delivered 10 fortification merits. Where? Where did Vectron drop off these merits? Li Yong-Rui picks up merits in their HQ and delivers them to a control system. All we know from this is that Vectron dropped off 10 merits somewhere. We don't know what system, nor do we know the progress for the system.

We can do a bit of snooping and check where Vectron last docked, but that only tells us that Vectron dropped off 10 merits in Dinda. What is the current state for Dinda? Is it 10 merits? 100? 1,000? 10,000?

Oh, but it gets worse.

What if Vectron is pledged to a different power. What if he's pledged to Edmund Mahon? Why does that matter? Because Edmund Mahon picks up fortification merits in the control system and drops them off at the HQ. We can, of course, link the pick-up with where he was docked, but that is a massive pain to do.

There's one more thing in the journal: FSD Jump.
If the player is pledged to a Power in Powerplay, and the star system is involved in powerplay,

Powers: a json array with the names of any powers contesting the system, or the name of the controlling power PowerplayState: the system state – one of ("InPrepareRadius", "Prepared", "Exploited", "Contested", "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem")

Now imagine being EDDB, Inara or anyone else trying to keep track of the state of the galaxy. What should you do when a system keeps alternating between having and not having PowerPlay information attached to it, and you get hundreds of updates to it an hour? The sane thing is to ignore the information altogether, which is what both EDDB and Inara does (I'm not even sure if it's in the EDDN feed).

"But Vectron!" I hear you cry. "I just checked EDDB and Inara and they both have PowerPlay information for control systems. How can that be when you just told me they ignore it?"

I know they ignore it, because I'm the one who sends EDDB and Inara the PowerPlay information they use. I am the trusted source for that information, because the game CANNOT be trusted to give them the proper information. And I do this every week, and I've been doing it for almost FIVE YEARS! The first time I sent the data to Inara was the 12th of January 2017. TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE WEEKS of manually gathered and entered data provided to the community because Frontier doesn't care about PowerPlay. I started doing it back in 2016 for EDDB, and EDDB even set up an API for me to do it back in September of 2016.

That is my proof. For more than 249 weeks a community member has had to take more than an hour out of their schedule to ensure that the community has useful and correct data for PowerPlay, because Frontier hasn't updated the journal to include USEFUL PowerPlay data. They "owe" me at least 250 hours of pay for my services, and I will happily take my payment in the form of an updated journal that means I and no one else needs to constantly manually update their databases and spreadsheets. I'd also like a brand new gaming computer, but I suspect getting either is about equally likely.

Back when the journal was introduced, I was VERY quick to suggest JSON arrays that would be great to have (though it could have been better), but nothing ever came of it. That was on the 20th of July 2016. That's MORE than five years ago. Two months later I started talking with EDDB on how to keep it properly updated with PowerPlay data.

There are dozens of ways to improve the journal for PowerPlay, and Frontier has chosen to do none of them. Again, I don't know why - all I can say is that they've done nothing except promise that they'd put a focus on improving PowerPlay "later" and "soon" for more than five years.

Five years of the PowerPlay community asking, begging and pleading with Frontier to just give us the tiniest of table scraps. Five years of Frontier looking the PowerPlay community in the eyes saying "we'll have something nice for you soon" as they dump their leftovers into the dumpster. Five years of the PowerPlay community dumpster diving for the scraps that Frontier threw out, while trying to put together something that even resembles a meal. Yes, that metaphor is now overused.

I'm tired. I can feel it in my bones. I feel like butter spread over far too much bread.

What's the solution? Better journal entries is my main hope. Or just kill the whole thing altogether, as I've publicly suggested multiple times, both on this forum and on reddit.

PowerplayDeliver needs a few updates to cover expansions, expansion opposition, fortification and undermining.

{ "timestamp": "2016-06-10T14:32:03Z", "event": "PowerplayDeliver", "Power": "Li Yong-Rui", "Type": "siriusfranchisepackage", "Count": 10, "System": "Dinda", "Defence": {200, 2588} "Offence": {0, 30850} }

This works for almost all types of merits. Something else is needed for preparations:

{ "timestamp": "2016-06-10T14:32:03Z", "event": "PowerplayPreparation", "Power": "Zemina Torval", "Count": 10, "System": "CD-62 234", "PotentialValue": 1, "Cost": 128, "Totals": {{"Arissa Lavigny-Duval",9700},{"Zemina Torval", 80}} }

The location, FSDJump, CarrierJump and other such events needs updating to be better for PowerPlay as well. Basically, if it includes BGS information, it should include PowerPlay information. Instead of the current mess it should always be present and include something like

"PowerplayState": one of ("Preparing", "Expanding", "InExpansionRadius", "Exploited", "Contested", "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem", "None"), "Powers": a json array with the names of any powers contesting the system, or the name of the controlling power, "ExploitedBy": a json array with the control system exploiting it (multiple control systems can be within 15 light years, but only one of them receives the exploited system's CC). When multiple powers contest a system, this should be empty, "ContestedBy": a json array with the control systems that are within 15 light years of the system. When only one power has control systems within 15 light years, this should be empty, "BlockedBy": a json array with the expansion systems that are within 15 light years of the system. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "InExpansionRadius", "Upkeep": an integer value of the current upkeep for the system. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem". "DefaultUpkeep": an integer value. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Expanding", "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem". "CostIfUndermined": an integer value. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem". "BaseIncome": an integer value. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Preparing", "Expanding", "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem". "Defence": an integer value array that is either fortification or expansion value {total, trigger}. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Expanding", "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem". "Offence": an integer value array that is either undermining or opposition value {total, trigger}. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Expanding", "Controlled", "Turmoil", "HomeSystem".HomeSystem". "Preparations": An array of arrays as seen in PowerplayPreparation above {{"Power", merits}} Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Preparing" "Cost": an integer value for preparation cost. Only used when "PowerplayState" is "Preparing" "ExploitationValue": an integer value. Only used when PowerplayState is not "None" or "Preparing". This is the CC generated by an individual system.

There may be a few more things needed, but this is most of it.

Some may argue that this is a lot of data to dump into the journal. My argument is "so what"? We're already dumping a LOT of data into the journal. This little expansion is nothing considering how much easier it will make things.
All of this is admirable effort.

However, I suspect it will fall on deaf ears as usual.

Continuing with powerplay is daft. Probably best to not bother with an unsupported part of the game.
This issue is probably down to how FD initially saw Powerplay, in that it was a massively decentralized system that averaged out good and bad moves through (the perception of) players always wanting to do 'right' (whatever that was since we were not told!). In such a scenario there is no need for an overview because that (i.e. collation of data) presumes organised groups (which were inevitable really).

If FD massively expanded the information in the autogenerated Powerplay news and / or UI I think that would be enough- the fine line is making a system that requires outside tools to a system that collates it for you in game.
Fdev just didn't foresee the amount of organizing players would do in this game. I think you were supposed to be the lone spacer occasionally meeting other players. Instead we started creating PMFs, organize BGS and PowerPlay.
Fdev just didn't foresee the amount of organizing players would do in this game. I think you were supposed to be the lone spacer occasionally meeting other players. Instead we started creating PMFs, organize BGS and PowerPlay.
Yes, pretty much. Once it was obvious the massive decentralized idea was dead and small groups popped up the need to switch to providing more info should have been clear.
I fully agree with the points laid out here by Vectron. I have also spent many hours manually copying data from the screen several times a week, sometimes several times a day. If the information was easy to parse, this information could be valuable to the community of powerplayers that loyally plays the game, generates free content for others, and buys a lot of cosmetic packs for the ARKs. We love this game, and we would love it more if we didn’t have to wreck our eyes every cycle to copy data.
The powerplay community is active and there are groups for every power both small and large. It is time we get some updates and its time for the data gathering we as groups have to do to be implemented in the game in one way or the other. I can't say how because while i've been FLC leadership it was with the PvP department but im sure the fort, expansion, prep and BGS guys could give a suggestion or two.

Edit: fixed grammar
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I always wondered how sites like Inara and EDDB kept their PP data updated since it was clearly not automatic. And there we have it, a single person doing everything in the background for years. Just like the 5C and crippling loss-making systems are a constant drag that burdens down powers with constant maintenance.

Please Frontier, consider OP's ideas. I can't imagine the burden on power leaderships but I truly admire the folks who run PP communities. These are the ones who keep the mode alive since PP rarely receives dev time. This journal equivalent to the BGS side would let us help them so much, so that they play the game more instead of collecting simple data.
One thing I will add, from the excellent Ian Doncaster squadron stats- Powerplay may not be the biggest thing in ED, but its a feature that has kept a steady level of activity. If nothing else it shows FD there is a reason to invest time in Powerplay.
Yeah I've been playing regularly for over a year, and powerplay has been the major forcus of my time in ED for the overwhelming majority of that time. The FUC (the group I fly with) has given me some great friends and kept me sane and connected during the pandemic. Powerplay needs more love, cause even in it's half busted state it's been the best part of Elite for me.
Any Frontier's Dev to answer ??
Snarky answer: of course not. Fdev don't do anything with powerplay.

On a more serious note, I can't speak to any of the OP's points because I'm on PS4 and we don't have any of that stuff available to us AFAIK. That said, I've been doing powerplay for over a year and a half, and I completely understand the OP's frustration. I want to love it, I really do, but bloody hell, it get's absolutely no support and it's so broken. Forget much needed quality of life updates (and I don't mean to diminish the importance of those, as they are incredibly important) there are so many actually bugs in the game mode. There's a long running joke about the UI being untrustworthy and people having to check all of the numbers by hand as a result. A joke which both Federal and Imperial planners have confirmed. We have the powerplay update page at the stations being broken. We have systems not giving the right amount of CC, which even when FDev fixed, they still didn't fix properly, as Foursyth and Tarkus pointed out on the bugfix announcement. Doing powerplay is like being in an abusive relationship; you give it everything, it can't even bother to show up properly half the time, and you still stick with it anyway for some insane reason that, from the outside, you wouldn't buy for a second.

And here we are, with a suggestion that the leaders of Alliance PP, both Federal powers, and Aisling Duval PP are saying is a great idea and would be incredibly helpful and save us all so much time and effort, and there's no response at all.

And to Vectron, I never knew that you were the person responsible for making sure that Inara had up to date powerplay information. You are amazing, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work you have done. You deserve far more and far better than what Fdev has given you and I hope that you find it some day.
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