The EVE theme park

Sugar Kyle raised an oft repeated, heated and hijacked topic – what sort of development would people like to see in Hi-Sec.

I’ve seen discussions on this deteriorate into two very loud, hostile extremes – one side wanting their version of utopia, the other side wanting to burn it all to the ground. I expect the majority of Hi-Sec players would be frustrated by that. I saw in Sugar’s blog post a challenge for them to come out with some serious ideas.

While it is not possible to neatly pigeonhole everyone, I am going to start off with my assumptions. Plenty of people do not want to play EVE out of Hi-Sec. Attempts to force them to do so will result in many leaving the game instead. My ideas relate to what I think are two large Hi-Sec groups who can play a more theme park version of EVE – Miners and PVE Content Runners.

I think they are commonly motivated by aspirations to level up. Miners start off in Frigates, then Barges, then Exhumers, they work on efficient hauling, boosts from Orcas, implants, refining rates – with the long term goal of achieving the highest possible yield. PVE Content Runners work up from simple Belt ratting through to a selection of Exploration, Level 1 to 4, COSMOS, Epic Arc, Incursion and Drifter sites and missions. All the while they are upgrading their skills, equipment and hulls.

There is plausibly a couple years of content available for people with such motivations, slowed by having to complete against other players, and stretched further if they have good social interactions.

These groups have value to the game – both financially through their subscriptions, and because when they undock they are still part of our MMO and available to interact with.

Interestingly within the context Sugar provided, was a warning not just looking at creating more theme park content. I am basically however going to suggest just that – but hopefully in ways that won’t require so much development time.

So my first suggestion is give these people something to further aspire to. We have capital ship rebalancing coming next year. Adjust the Rorqual and let it move through Hi-Sec via Gates. Allow Hi-Sec Miners to use it to compress ore at the Belt and provide a very small boost to yield over the Orca. By doing this you give such players an extra year of goals in skill training and acquiring and fitting one. Add Level 5 missions to Hi-Sec – but with only a minimal increase in LP rewards over Level 4 missions. Give the Mission runners a further challenge. I emphasis both should only provide a small incremental increase in ISK generation, but will expand the levelling options in Hi-Sec using existing game assets.

My next suggestion is to quickly add content – there needs to be more variety. As I discussed in my recent Blog Banter – .. start spreading NPC factions around. Have a small percentage of cosmic anomaly sites in a region be for different Factions. You can come across a Guristas or Serpentis or Blood Raider site in Sansha space for example. Give the players a reason to swap modules on their ships and adjust their tactics. The same could be done in the pools of missions available for an agent. Have the occasional one thrown in against an unexpected pirate faction. This might fit in with when Faction Warfare becomes a four way battle – have the pirates also spreading their wings. Again it uses existing game assets.

I think CCP should review all their theme park content and see what they might plausibly add to Hi-Sec from other areas of the game. Gimp or tax it to ensure it doesn’t became a particularly rewarding process, but give the Hi-Sec players a chance to experience it.

I am already hopeful that some of the existing work CCP is doing will have a positive impact on Hi-Sec. The NPC AI changes might shake things up a little. Having NPCs target drones for example made a notable difference in how many players had to approach their PVE content. Could you imagine if Faction Rats try to warp off once they drop below 50% EHP?  Pilots would need to change their fit to include a warp disruptor if they wanted to hunt those spawns.  Further changes could be good for keeping players interested. Some of CCP’s balance changes have also impacted Hi-Sec a lot – such as the Hauler and Mining Hull tiericide updates. Giving players a choice between yield, tank, speed and capacity changed the face of the Hi-Sec belts and space lanes.

If CCP has a little Development time to spare, I would like them to add lots of simple and small exploration sites. I already outlined my ideas in my blog banter –upsized rats (a couple battle cruisers or one battleship), out of place rats (wrong faction for the region), entirely out of place rats (a handful of sleepers or incursion rats) or out of place resources (1-3 rare small asteroids). It would also be nice if there were solo low reward options in Incursions, such as clearing incursion rats off gates or belts, just so everyone can play a small part.

As I said in my previous post – this is not to homogenise space or making Hi-Sec so interesting that you won’t want to move. The rewards from these sites should be low, and the frequency they can be found balanced. They should also be scaled up and placed out of Hi-Sec. The idea is to increase the variety in the theme park with hopefully somewhat limited development effort.

There are two further areas I would suggest be looked at, but which will probably involve a lot more development work.

First – if new missions are to be created, think about making them a little more dynamic, and possibly look at some of what is done well in COSMOS missions. Your agent sends you to speak to someone in space who gives you four tasks, of which you need to complete two in any order. One might require you to scan down a site to run, another to fly through the neighbouring systems to find your mission beacon, or another to visit an open / shared DED complex for something, much like some COSMOS missions.

Second – try to have most of the traditional out of Hi-Sec mechanism available in Hi-Sec. Have exploration sites containing a Pirate NPC Moon mining operation. Let players use Syphon units on them for minimal ISK across a few days or a week, or give the players the option to try and destroy them instead for drops and bounty. Find hidden Pirate Citadels, and get a Concord bounty and some loot for going through the process of capturing / destroying them. Similarly find Pirate Structures that require Entosis links to be used on them. I would prefer if different players can complete in various ways over these, and for the NPCs to defend them. For some players it will be enough to train up the required skills and purchase different hulls so as to do something different, for other players it will be a stepping stone to moving out of Hi-Sec and using their new learnt skills against other players.

So, in case I’ve rambled on too much, a summary. I think there are a noteworthy number of EVE players who at the core play a levelling up theme park version of EVE.  They still add value to the game.  I think with smart use of existing game assets, CCP can relatively simply and quickly expand their game play options and experiences. This might add a year or two more content to the “average” life of such a Hi-Sec player.  Also work to expose them to as many mechanisms of the game as possible, to make it easier to transition to different Space if they happen to change their minds.

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