Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One Wish

Fighting a case of really nice weather here after a pretty crummy February.  It's pretty hard for me to stay focused on the PC when the sun is out and the birds are chirping and it's finally warm enough to venture outside minus the parka.  What a difference a few days make - not awful long ago I was layered up in my Carhartt's plowing snow.

As I mentioned, I have given a little bit of thought to what I would change if I could fix one thing in PVE.  Fanfest is around the corner, so I'll publish this (no doubt will be way off the mark) and see what unfolds.

Here's my wish:  I'd gut the lvl4 system and chuck it in the bin.  Then I'd burn its corpse and dance on the ashes.

That's probably an odd thing to say for someone who's basically a mission runner full time.

I think the game DOES need an agent mission system.  I think it's vital, actually.

I do want a little more depth, and maybe agents that force you to move around a bit.  On the other hand, I do not want "quests" in the way that the SOE arc and the old COSMOS system sent you on.

My replacement system would be a dial-a-difficulty dynamic agent provider.

Example:  If I want to do Battleship Combat, I click on the agent, ask for work.  Agent sees that I have a tech2 equipped Golem active and generates two missions for me to choose from - Silence the Informant and Worlds Collide.  I choose one and run.  (Said another way: No real change to current lvl4 mechanics for those that like humping around in Golems and Tengus and saving the Damsel)

Example:  If I want to do Frigate Combat, I click on the agent, ask for work.  Agent sees that I'm in a Kestrel with low meta modules.  Agent generates a few starter missions with appropriate difficulty and payout.

Example:  I pimp out a tech1 cruiser, and decide I want a challenge.  I ask the agent for 'hard' work and it kicks me over to expert mode and tries to kick my ass.

Example:  If I want to run a courier mission, I fit a Bestower and click on the agent, ask for work.  Agent sees that I have the Bestower and offers a reasonably large-cargo courier.  I could, however, ask for Courier work in my Crow and get a smaller cargo haul of perhaps more hops.

At the core of this system would be a parametric encounter generator that would generate the enemy ships and triggers somewhat randomly.  I say 'somewhat' because the same encounter accepted as a Maller would by necessity be scaled down from the version I would accept in a Bhaal.  And likewise if I continue to run with the Maller, repeat visits to save the Damsel would result in a slightly different kill list, spawn points/distances, mix of target types and sizes, and perhaps a chance at a few named guys.

I don't claim that this would eliminate the grindy grind that missions are.  No way that's possible.  But by fostering a system where more ships are more viable in PVE, we can at least open the flood gates to new fits, new metas, rewarding risktakers doing expert mode missions, and the ability to fly a ship because it looks cool and not because "it's the best."


  1. I agree. A more granular mission system is something I've wanted to see for a while. If an agent gave a handful of variations on a mission, that alone would help ease the monotony.

    Obviously the tough part would be introducing a system where the variation doesn't just boil down to "do the mission with the biggest reward" or "sit in the ship that spawns the best mission". I think an Elite mission idea is interesting, with the possibility of expanding the Burner missions or include versions with elite frigs/cruisers and possible faction spawns. Unfortunately with how Burners were released, it seems CCP is wary of releasing higher risk higher reward missions without sitting them behind a time wall because players will simply optimize the missions that give the best reward. I understand the concern but they're going to have to do something a little more inventive than toss a new mission type into the L4 pool to have a positive impact on PvE.

  2. Agree, and thanks for the insightful comment.

    Blogger just ate a more elaborate comment I had written. It was chock full of witty dialog, and amusing anecdotes, and was quite the masterpiece, trust me. :)

    I do agree that CCP appears to be a little scared of PVE content and the reaction from the vocal masses. And I understand their goal is probably to make the PVE experience as much a part of the rest of EVE as possible - lvl4's in particular are a little too much like running an instanced dungeon compared to being part of the living breathing world. Extending that system comes at its own price in terms of social interaction.

    There are likely ways (and I'm ignorant enough on exploration to try to list them here) to make the lines between Exploration and Missions a little more blurry. Or for that matter, Incursions, Exploration, and Missions.

    And to be clear, I'm not looking for increased payout from agents. I'm looking for more options to do more content with different ships for same or similar payout.

  3. I also had a post eaten. I was surprised at how different my two replies about the same topic were, even written back to back.

    In terms of blending exploration and missioning, I could see a mission pocket being a site to scan down or even just pop up on the overview. Mission gates could be hackable or have cans with mission items be hackable. I don't particularly love that idea but it is an option. The issue is still that missions would still basically be deadspace pockets spawned solely for the person who received the mission and possibly someone who scans out their ship. The only way I can think to change that would be to have missions occur in complexes/structures on the overview.

    I've written briefly about my experience with COSMOS missions. Although they do send you to areas of space where you can see other players working at similar objectives, it felt too much like a typical fetch quest from any other MMO to really be engaging or immersive. And that type of gameplay is too vulnerable to a situation where a player just camps a complex and kills all the mission frigs with an RLML and denies anyone the mission loot. I'm not opposed to someone doing that, but it would be the sign of a poorly thought out system.

    Thinking about it, it would be interesting to blend a lot of ideas together. Have a complex located in system that would have different sections. For example, a dead station in the center with a pack of npc frigs at one end of a wide grid and a mix of BC/cruisers and dessies on the other. Agents would spawn deadspace gates that a player would warp to and the deadspace gate throws them on the correct pack of npcs at the complex for their 'mission level'. So there would be a level 1 mission runner on the same grid as a guy running a level 3. I'm sure there are holes in that rough idea but if missions are to be less isolated and instanced that's one way to go about it.


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