As many of you do not know me and how horrifically bad I am at all forms of PVE you may not realise the irony of me writing about PVE at all. My interest in eve pretty much begins and ends with blowing living things up, occasionally I have toyed with other bits of this wonderful sandbox but never for very long before the call off blowing people up becomes the be all and end all of my eve life again.
But this is not the case in every game I have played and Harks previous post touched on something that struck a chord with me, one of my bug bears with current missions is the monotony of; dock, choose mission, travel to mission, do mission, travel back to dock, receive reward, rinse repeat ad nauseam. From the point of view of a systems analysis a lot of those steps seem redundant especially in some high future with instantaneous communications (even if you read the books the agents rarely meet the pod pilots in person).
To me it makes more sense if, as Hark eluded to, missions ran more like the “heart quests” in Guild Wars 2, however I would like to take this further towards another source of inspiration: Rift. In Rift you would get “Rifts” spawn at random in the game zones and you could then step into them and attempt to close them by defeating waves of enemies. If you did especially well and killed the waves fast enough or met some particular requirement of that rift you would get bonus waves, this could be achieved by doing this content as a group, or to a lesser extent perfecting your character. The bonus stages of course, that got progressively harder, granted progressively better loot.
I wonder if a similar mechanic would not fit well within the eve world, we already have incursions which could roughly compare to “world events” in other MMO’s but I think a riftesque system could work very well in eve working something like this:
Enter new system
Click a hud/Neocom button which sends out a request for jobs in the system. This checks why you have standings with in the system, and if they have any work.
You are contacted by the systems agent with coordinates for a mission (a possibility here to have an attacking factions give counter missions).
You warp to the area and start face-rolling the F keys.
The missing begins spawning waves of enemy each escalating in difficulty, roughly equivalent to the waves number in mission difficulty (wave 1 = lvl 1, wave 2 = lvl2).
Each wave has a count down timer, which if exceeded ends the mission, this means the player skills at choosing targets at correct range, minimising transversal, reaction times, etc are actually important.
If you get to a high stage and the time runs out that wave will attempt to warp out, encouraging PvE players to learn and use PvP skills in PvE content (getting points on valuable targets). On the other hand if the player finds them selves overwhelmed by the mission, they will need to develop the PvP centric skill of getting the fuck out of dodge (e.g. killing points, using range etc). [Hark] further to this, why not give each wave a single faction rat (keeping the overall wave value the same) which attempts to warp away and de-spawn if attacked
Once the mission ends, either by you warping out or by you failing to complete a stage in time, you are given your loyalty point and cash reward based on ships killed and stage attained. If you wish another mission hit the button again and get ready to warp to a new location.
The benefits of this is that the missions themselves will actually scale to the ability of the player, and/or the size of the group, in both difficulty and reward. It also means “afk-ing” missions or botting will not return the rewards that skilled play and groups can, in fact if groups fling more PvP orientated group fits it means they could get to very high stages and, when the mission overwhelm them,
This idea itself can even scale. [Hark] why stop at level 4? if the mission has more than one ship in it, allow it to go up-to 8 waves and give the players a reward for actually working together. If the site could be procedurally generated, why have a hard limit on waves? New players could judge the level of a corporation by their max wave completion level.
It could run the way I just mentioned in high sec, but how about low and null or even faction war?
In low sec you could hit the find mission button and have a mission generated for the faction you have standing for, but if someone has standing for the faction you are against why not have them given the mission to stop you? This may have great application for faction war and lead to more opportunities for solo and small gang warfare PvP.
In null this could be part of the sov mechanic, Ripard teg wrote an interesting post on his blog recently, in it he outlines and idea for PvE missions actually conducted in null to effect sov, well if his idea and mine were put together we could have enemy gangs fighting over these missions sov holders trying to escalate the waves, and attackers trying to kill them, maybe even gangs warping in multiple times to try and interrupt others progression or even wholesale force them out and take over the progression! (I actually used to do this in enemy held areas in Rift, I would sneak in and watch from outside a rift until what I felt was the optimum time to dive in and kill the rift runner and then complete the rift for its rewards myself, it was a hell of a buzz and would regularly lead to me being chased out of areas or corpse camped, but it was, most importantly, fun!
I am sure there are other ways to improve or change this basic idea and I invite other people to comment and add to it, but to me it seems to address a lot of my main issues with PvE. Travel time, monotony, lack of skill reward, lack of reason to group up, lack of training for later potential content etc, botting and AFK’ing missions, etc, what do you think?