Low-security PvE is not PvE


Council of Stellar Management candidate Mynxee (of Life in Low Sec fame, much more famous than me) is everywhere. She has been displaying an amazing capacity to reach out to players in all facets of EVE. She’s held focus groups, asked for feedback on her blog and even posted numerous threads across the EVE online forums. One of these threads sought feedback about missions in low-security space.

Missions don’t appeal to everybody; but regardless of whether you like them or not, everybody has done missions. There are myriad reasons a pilot might run missions, but chief among these reasons is to secure funds — either to buy the stuff required to shoot other players or to buy the stuff required to shoot more computer generated bad guys.

In their current incarnation, missions in low-security space are not conducive to actually earning ISK because of the inherent risk. I’m not only talking about the risk of losing a ship, but the additional losses incurred if a mission is failed.

The odds are stacked against a mission runner in low-security space for these (non-comprehensive list) reasons:

  • A ship fit for running missions is configured vastly differently from a ship fit for fighting off other players. Missions require a ship to endure a large amount of damage for a very long time with less emphasis on the amount of damage output; they also do not require electronic warfare modules such as stasis webifiers and warp scramblers.
  • A mission, once started, must be completed or the mission runner will receive a standings hit from the agent who offered the mission. If the mission site is probed by criminals, the mission runner must leave the site for safety and cannot resume the mission until the criminals have left the area — which may not happen during a play session.
  • Even if a mission runner has escaped and is able to resume the mission, it is possible that required mission loot has been pilfered by the criminals during their incursion, ensuring that the mission runner either fails the mission or is extorted into paying outrageous sums for the return of the required item.
  • If a mission runner is caught in a mission, the rats will continue to fire, aiding the criminals in the destruction of the mission runner’s vessel. Even if the mission runner should gain the upper hand during this stacked conflict, he will likely not have the electronic warfare modules required to win (introduce the criminal’s escape pod to open space).
  • High level missions require a slow-moving battlecruiser or battleship which is an easy target for opportunistic criminals on a star gate. Because of the differences between deadspace and normal space, mission-fit ships will not often have a microwarp drive which might enable escape from a gate camp. These ships are also easy to probe due to their size.

This boils down to mission runners being in a cumbersome ship without the appropriate tools to combat criminal incursions who are, at best, forced to sit idle for periods of time or, at worst, lose their ship; these factors often mean an ISK loss rather than an ISK gain. For all of these risks, there is a small percentage increase in the monetary and loyalty point reward, the rat bounties are slightly higher and the loot tends to be of better quality — if you have the capability to retrieve it while dodging criminals.

Add to all of this that the low-security systems with a decent number of good quality agents are easily found by all EVE players (especially with tools like the EVE-Online Agent Finder) and the result is that the decent places are crammed with criminals who prey on the mission runners who decide to take a chance in low-security space; the overabundance of predators tends to make the prey extinct.

There is no single change that will bring mission running pilots to low-security space; it will take a number of changes and a good helping of time for these changes to be absorbed by the EVE community. Here is a (non-comprehensive) list of basic tenets that might change how ISK-earners might view low-security space:

  • Increase the population of law-abiding pilots in low-security space; this is a classic case of the chicken and egg problem. If law-abiding pilots don’t live in low-security space, law-abiding pilots won’t move to low-security space — something has to draw them there in the first place and this pressure will equalize.
  • Decrease the amount of time necessary to spend in space for a low-security mission; this drastically decreases the possibility that the mission site will be probed and the mission failed. It also increases the number of missions which ban be run which will decrease the pain of failure.
  • Change missions and the rats in such a way that PvP fits are required or at least viable for mission completion. Instead of a vast armada of battleships and support craft, make the missions target an individual or small group where they may flee the battle if not properly tackled. This will also make small, specialized ships such as assault frigates, which are much more viable in low-security space, an option for these missions.
  • Use the sleeper AI for low-security missions so that when a Falcon warps on top of our hero, the rats see a juicy target instead of continuing to pound on the hero’s relentless tank — or when the hero falls, the Falcon is targeted and warp scrambled.
  • Spread out the quality agents. Many low-security dwellers can pack their gear into a ship and strike off to a new constellation if their current home becomes a more hostile than they are willing to accept. New entrants to low-security space are likely to take up this lifestyle if it leads to more reward.
  • Keep low-security missions out of deadspace so that microwarp drives are useful to mission runners.

If this was my feature to design, I would add a new ‘bounty hunter’ agent type to low-security constellations; these agents would be accessible from space (assign and allow completion of missions without requiring a player to dock) and would provide missions in random locations throughout the constellation. Missions assigned by these agents would target a single high-value rat or a very small gang at a randomly generated ‘dungeon’ in space (as missions are now).

These missions ought to be long enough for an active criminal gang to successfully probe, but short enough that several gangs shouldn’t stumble through the system while the same mission is in progress. This would ensure that the likely event of a periodic failure wouldn’t cause irreparable damage to the pilot’s reputation; it would have the interesting side effect of making travel between systems or to stations would happen more often and increase the likelihood of pilots actually meeting in space.

I would also tie these agents to a new bounty hunting system. Make these missions available in various levels with very low-end content in high-security space as a gateway to the higher-end content only available in low-security space.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the only change I think low-security space should see, but it’s one of many that I think will bring new pilots into a place where PvP is common and do so ensuring these new pilots are equipped with the appropriate tools to handle the dangers lurking there.

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~ by paritybit on 2010/05/20.

12 Responses to “Low-security PvE is not PvE”

  1. First off, some nice screen shots!

    I think the idea of ‘hidden’ agents is a good one, even better if they’re not static but operate in the same fashion as exploration sites do currently.

    True players do not need EWar to defeat NPCs, but then if they do not fit EWar for self defence are they not penalising themselves? Yes you can ‘optimise your fit for missions’ by removing EWar mods, thus making the mission easier – so the question is should Low Sec missions be easier, or their reward greater?

    The trouble in increasing the density of ‘law abiding citizens’ to low sec is that it no longer becomes low sec, just an extension of high sec. What I would prefer to see are missions that appeal to, and are used by the criminal fraternity on an ad hoc basis.

    C.

  2. Thanks. I’m not sure they really add a lot to the entry, but everybody has been saying, “use more pictures!” So I did. I’m not terribly at home in photoshop, I’ve always been more comfortable behind the camera — so I just take screenshots like I’m a combat photographer.

    So, you took one of concerns I have about low-security missions (which I do run all the time, by the way) and examined it alone. The problem is that I don’t think you can just look at that one issue without considering all the others — it’s not my primary complaint, it’s just a small portion of my primary complaint.

    Often, fitting the appropriate electronic warfare modules to your ship will make it unable to complete a level 4 mission; you won’t be able to tank enough or you won’t be able to damage fast enough — So, you’ll lose your ship, you’ll take longer or you’ll have to bring a friend. Options 2 and 3 are okay, but the rewards don’t add up to nearly enough for either of the options to make low-security space worth the other risks (or even as profitable as high-security space).

    And you still have to worry about being tackled by a player and tanking both the rats and players at the same time. And even if you fight them off against overwhelming odds, now they know where you are and can come right back in ships designed just for you. And you were probably lucky to have gotten there in the first place in your lumbering battleship.

    And if they win, you can’t go back. You’ve likely lost the mission (or have to start all over again) and will lose standing with your agent and have no compensation.

    I don’t think we’ll ever see the numbers of pilots in low-sec that we have in high-sec — and I don’t want to. But I’d like some people to see low-sec as an option for making money, and I think that will drive more PvP — especially if the missions are more like PvP. More targets means each target is less likely to be chosen, spreading out the pain of a PvP loss. If there were a couple of people running missions in every system you came across instead of one person every three systems, risk goes down for the individual targets kills by pirates stay relatively constant.

    Low-sec is not low-sec because criminals hang out there. It’s low-sec because CONCORD doesn’t shoot you for shooting other people. And, I think, the type of missions I’m suggesting would be more appealing to criminals who could do them in their PvP ships while they waited for targets to appear (and more targets will appear because low-sec would have a decent profit to risk ration.

    I’m not suggesting that we get rid of regular missions either. Too many people are so set in those ways that it would just be a bad idea.

    So I suppose I should have just written another blog entry …

  3. I think you covered most of what is required for low-sec missioning, although I think something should also be done to make gate camps less common.

    In addition, I think that more needs to be fixed in low-sec than just missioning. What about mining? If low-sec missions are too dangerous, then low-sec mining is suicide. What about industry? If I have to run back to high-sec to resupply all the time, I may as well just stay there.

    Finally, I think that low-sec really needs something to differentiate it from just being “high-sec but with pirates”. FW could maybe have been this, if it was better implemented, but it wasn’t. Really, there needs to be a profitable carebear activity that is only viable in low-sec.

  4. The only thing I slightly disagree with is the Bounty Hunter idea as stated.

    I want to be a bounty hunter actually, so this is why I am making my statement. As things are, one still takes a sec hit when engaging in PvP unprovoked in low-sec. The game mechanics track this. Somebody needs to attach an ISK amount to that. A fine from say, $10,000 – $50,000 depending on the dip of security status.

    That would be one way to increase low sec population because it would be potentially profitable to hunt pirates. I can’t see pirates themselves not liking this idea – they all want to be wanted. And to be honest, this could be a part of your Bounty Hunter revamp that includes NPC content.

    Low-sec does need some profitable activity specific ONLY to low-sec to really help increase traffic. I am just now beginning to read some good ideas.

    • I didn’t actually state anything about a bounty hunter idea other than these agents might be called bounty hunter agents and feed into some new mechanic about bounty hunting — maybe that new mechanic is your idea.

      It’s an interesting idea; but I don’t think I’d make it a fine (which implies that the pirate pays it), rather I’d make it a bounty that an “approved bounty hunter” could partially collect with the partial amount based on the base value of the ship the criminal loses. Basing it on the ships value would help cut down on ability to cheat the system. As long as some monetary amount remained to be collected, bounty hunters could keep collecting.

      I think there needs to be a lot more to it, but that could be interesting. Then a ‘bounty’ really would be a measure of how dangerous the criminal is — and it would provide an incentive to come to low-sec and go after the criminal.

      • ….wait that’s it. An “approved” bounty hunter would maybe have to hunt a few NPC pirates before being approved bringing the missioning part into it. I haven’t thought about it hard enough for specific details, but even talking about it in a simple matter I find myself surprised that the bounty system is how it is in-game.

        I kinda like the idea of making it a fine just for the reasons you said on one hand. Kind of like a speeding or parking ticket. If you were say a pirate for a while but didn’t like it, there would be a possible way out from underneath the fines. That would have to be done a certain way though to help prevent manipulation of the system, but could work. Pirates are criminals by definition and would never pay it anyway.

        I am just trying to mirror real life to a degree – it seems there are always fines attached to violations of laws. Governments hustle for cash too.

        But in the end, yes just like you said Parity, that the bounty would, on a real level, be a judge of how dangerous the pirate was and be an incentive to create a role truly antagonistic to a pirates’.

  5. This post (and it’s responses) make me really excited about the potential of low-sec. There are some fantastic ideas here and also on Mynxee’s forum thread. I hope you both get seats on the CSM and get the opportunity to champion a low-sec revamp.

    My corp operates in low-sec and, although PvP is a necessity (or the active evasion thereof), we also partipate in various ‘carebear’ activities with varying degrees of success.

    Part of the fun of low-sec is the organic nature of things. Conducting industrial pursuits in high-sec is probably far more profitable, mainly because nobody can stand in the way of your progress. But where’s the fun in that?

    Lately, we’ve been getting a bit of a hammering as most of our allies have left the region and have been replaced by aggressive and hostile groups. This has meant we’ve had to rethink our haulage situation in order to adapt and overcome.

    But this doesn’t mean that we’re not enjoying it. I would dearly love to see more folk in low-sec. If there were enough industrialists, miners and missioners, we’d essentially be the land-owners with roving bands of brigands to be tolerated or driven off with a display of unity.

    I hope they do tweak things to draw more folk into low-sec.

    Build it and they will come.

  6. […] Victims are only interested in making money. They aren’t interested, or are only lightly interested in player-versus-player conflict. Only the promise of quick cash will steer these players to low-security space. And flying very expensive, vulnerable battleships into an area where they are easily probed down and ganked or stopped short of their goals conflicts sharply with making fast cash. These cupcakes must be persuaded to fly combat-worthy ships into missions where the opportunity to gank them is shorter but failure is an option that won’t destroy their faction reputation. We need something new. […]

  7. Let your isk making endeavours remain in high sec – and if you have the determination or the inkling to change your game to some pvp – then venture in a low sec pocket and take your chances.

    No need to change game mechanics too much as low sec is already hard enough to get ganked in if you THINK only a little and not aspire to any Darwinian temptations.

    • It’s not about “not getting ganked”, it’s about making the PvE in low-sec interesting. Most people feel they can make as much in high-sec as they can in low-sec (which isn’t entirely true most of the time) so why would low-sec PvE even exist? Why would anybody do it?

      I make my isk entirely out of high-sec, primarily in low-sec. I know it can be done and it’s very safe, but what all of this means in the end is that pirates have three types of prey: 1) themselves, 2) idiots (most of whom will eventually learn not to fly there) and 3) experienced low-sec pilots who won’t be caught. Doesn’t that sound boring? 2 and 3 should be merged; 2 won’t learn as fast (because the lessons aren’t expensive) and 3 won’t be so wary because it isn’t as big a deal. The result is more targets in low-security space.

  8. […] Change low-security pve. Exploration is fine because there’s already some thought to this, but missions in low-security space are a joke. Either you can do them with no problem because you’re experienced in low-security space and you know what to watch for (or have made your ship unscannable) or you are brand new to low-security space and you’re dead before you even warp to the acceleration gate. Either way, the risk of losing your ship, the need to pay more attention and the potential to fail your mission if it is compromised add up to the risk often not being worth the minor increase in reward. An Ishtar silently continues its patrol of a Gurista data center. […]

  9. Nice blog. I agree, something needs to change in lowsec. I think ccp set up lowsec as a buffer between high and null, but in all actuality it is more dangerous than null. I’m not sure either of how to fix this, but larger rewards for missions and/or rat bounty would certainly help. As it is I can’t logically move to low or null to and also have enough isk to play eve. Inevitably I would lose more than I made. I think ccp sees this issue finally too. They now allow microwarp drives in deadspace and that helps a lot. Perhaps if they make rats suseptable to Ewar? I don’t know.

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