The other major factor when considering how the game should be balanced is that you want to reduce the amount of moderation necessary.
The “Meta” Behaviors you are stating are needed are, in fact, against the rules… but for many players, it’s become a grey area, so it goes unreported. Even if it IS reported, it’s something Moderators have to investigate and by the time they step in and do something about it, a lot of damage has been done.
However, I’m arguing that they need a different system for handling this. Too many people aren’t clear on what exploitative game behaviors are or simply lack the ability to distinguish between intentional abuse and coincidental circumstance. It’s not as cut and dry as when someone is cheating or using an external modifier… (and even that isn’t always cut and dry for certain players who will accuse anyone under the sun of cheating.)
What FunCom should aim for is a system that maintains it’s own equilibrium such that they don’t have to pay staff to personally intervene as much. If corny behaviors resulted in gameplay consequences, players would self moderate.
Let’s talk about Meta. When players don’t have steady consequences for bad behavior, then it creates a lot of confusion. People who are really committed to (And actually capable) of stirring up trouble aren’t afraid of being reported… because they are playing the bigger Meta Game, which includes the Moderators. Anyone who intends to report them for bad behavior is likely to engage them in chat first with an accusation. This allows them to attempt to suppress the player in the game legitimately, but also try to stoke fires until the would-be reporter says something in chat they shouldn’t have. If they can pre-emptively file a report of harassment then they can often avoid real scrutiny unless they get mass reported. All they have to do is never admit anything in chat and continually accuse their vocal objectors of anything under the sun.
But then we get to the Meta Meta… which is that even players who aren’t abusive are adopting these “Meta” tactics. If you build a bunch of Foundation spam and have a giant stack built fortress that’s lagging the server, you can’t report people who are doing it as well. Even if you only did one of those things, you won’t report people who do them, because you can’t afford scrutiny or you aren’t sure they are even against the rules.
The problem is this stuff is still happening despite the fact that anyone who has the energy to investigate it knows it’s wrong. The Consequence of a ban or being thrown off a server is harsh enough, but it’s not consistent enough. That’s why I’m hoping they can make the game detect it and respond accordingly. Maybe you can’t stop it, but if you can make it so the people doing it have to carefully consider how far they want to take it… then the situation on Official Servers will improve so much.