Bounties are fundamentally broken and every pilot in New Eden knows it. Well, most pilots know it. Some pilots enjoy the attention and relish a having bounty on their pod for the “I’m a bad-ass” mystique surrounding it; but the current incarnation of the bounty system really only serves as a measure of how many wealthy, emo rookies a pilot has killed, scammed or otherwise offended.
In theory it’s great: place a bounty on a pilot who did you wrong and it provides incentive (in the form of isk) for other pilots to blow up his ship and pod. In reality, it’s ridiculously easy to game the system and collect the bounty yourself. It’s also very difficult to blow up a pod unless you’re in null-security space.
A bounty should tell you how dangerous a criminal is. A really high bounty should tell you that you’re messing with the wrong dude. A bounty should be an instant bad-ass-o-meter. And I think, in order to make it a danger measurement, changes should be made to the way bounties are accrued and paid out.
I think bounty accrual can be fixed by putting CONCORD in charge of applying bounties. Or, at least, partially applying the bounties. I propose that any act of aggression that causes a global criminal countdown and results in the target’s explosion should cause CONCORD to add a bounty to each aggressor; it should be in the amount of the true value for the vessel destroyed and split equally among the aggressors. Optionally, CONCORD could allow the pilot of the destroyed vessel to match the bounty amount if desired.
Bounty payout is the real problem; to solve this we’ll need to reduce the amount from a full payout to a partial payout based on value of the criminal’s ship or cost of medical clone. The trick is to ensure there’s no isk to be made by gaming the system and having a friend collect the bounty.
In the case of a pod, a payout equal to the cost of the medical clone is a no-brainer. There’s no incentive to have a friend pod you if you’re not earning any isk.
In the case of a ship, the payout should be equal to the true value of the ship plus the cost of insurance less the insurance payout; roughly, this equates to the isk loss the criminal has sustained from losing the ship (not accounting for modules, which are a more difficult issue). In a perfect world, I’d add in the cost for modules, but I’m not sure we have a perfect world to work with.
So, with this system the bounty goes up when you criminally kill another player and down when you get killed. It really is a danger meter; or at least, a better incarnation than what we have today.
Now, I think it would add a lot of sparkle to this idea to pair it with my low-security space bounty hunter mission idea. I expect that anybody who kills the criminal could collect the partial bounty as proposed, but bounty hunters would have a few advantages. Working for a bounty hunter agent would increase your standings with that agent, and when the standings were high enough, the mission runner could start hunting real bounties.
With the appropriate standings, the bounty hunter agent would offer a special locater service by picking a criminal currently online and somewhere in the constellation (preferable) or region at random and providing the location and last known ship type. The bounty hunter agent might also increase bounty payout by a small percentage (equal to standings perhaps) for these special targets.
For people who are willing to brave low-security space for this new type of mission agent, NPC bounty hunting could be a gateway action on the road to PvP via real bounty hunting; the goal would be to provide similar situations in the NPC missions as a pilot might face in real PvP (with better odds, of course; everybody wants feel like a hero).