I've been reading a lot of posts players are making on the new "Marks" system that's been implemented and my personal judgement is that it is not working. From the different ways the marks are obtained and the various ways that the system can be manipulated, it just does not seem to be working out well for the game as a whole. That said, I have come up with a suggestion that might improve things.
The idea that individual players earn rewards as individuals takes away from the fact that they are playing for a Faction (spelled nations or pirates in this case). I feel that is the major issue with the current system. It's too focused on the individual successes and failures, and very little on the Factions as a whole having successes or failures. With that in mind leads to my suggestion, Nation Points or National Marks.
1. National Marks
National Marks would be marks earned for a nation or faction. The more County Capitals your Nation controls, the more marks that are earned by the Nation. The National Capitals also would earn and would set the minimum base of what a Nation earns. These Marks are then awarded to the members of the Nation on a "rank-based" system. I don't mean a player's personal rank that determines their crew limit, but a different rank I call a National Rank that I shall explain later. First I'll explain more on National Marks.
Say a National Capital earns 20 Nation Marks per day. Each County Capital earns 10 Nation Marks per day. So a Nation holds 5 counties, so 70 Nation Marks are earned per day and goes into the "National Pool." This is just an example, not to imply that these should be the numbers used.
2. National Rank
Different than individual rank, this would be a rank based on how much you have contributed to your nation and that rank would set the rate at which you individually earn National Marks that your Nation earns. This rank like others would be an experience based system. To earn that experience there could be quite a few different things players could do. Some ideas are participating in Port Conquests or Defenses; donations of ships, gold, or materials to the Nation; completion of Epic Events for your nation; participating in Epic PvP Battles (these don't exist yet, but they should),
My idea would be that there could be 6 ranks. A rank 0 that earns no National Marks, then Ranks 1 to 5 with the third rank earning twice as many marks as the first, and the 5th rank earning twice as many as the third. Also, over time your National Rank would decay. If you stop helping your Nation, you lose rank. Each level of rank, the greater the rate of decay. As in someone at rank 3 must work more for their Nation just to maintain rank 3 than someone who is rank 1.
How the Nation Marks would be distributed is simple really. Take the pool of marks earned by how much that nation controls, and distribute those marks based on the weighted scale as stated. So all rank 1's earn the same which is half of what the rank 3's earn which is half of what the rank 5's earn. Of course this means the more players who are a part of the nation dipping into this pool of "national funds" so to speak, they could potentially be earning less than a nation that has a lower population controlling fewer counties. This is a good thing. A sort of way to spread the population some between the factions or nations as well as allow the lesser populated Nations a way to earn at a similar rate. If there's 500 rank 1's in a nation controlling 50 counties, each individual player would be earning the same amount as another nation with 50 rank 1's that control 5 counties. So say a new player comes along and decides to join the U.S. because they control a lot of ports, which has 200 players with rank enough to be dipping into the pool. This new player earns enough National Rank to get to 1, but then notices he's only earning 2 National Marks a day. He asks on Global chat, and finds out that the Spanish players of rank 1 are earning 5 National Marks a day, even though they control fewer ports, but that's because they have a smaller population. It is then up to that player to decide if they want to remain part of the U.S. or swap to Spain.
That's the idea so far at least. I know I'm no genius and there's likely things I'm not thinking of or haven't fleshed out yet, but I figured the idea was at a state that I could share it and get a conversation from others and maybe getting the Devs to think about it.