Monday, April 7, 2014

Missioning and Exploration Mixed with Live Events

Today I want to write something that has been sitting in my drafts box for a very long time. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to do this and the time has come. It’s about some things about EVE that I really want to see implemented. I’m gonna throw in some ideas, just like I always do, more precisely regarding Missioning and Exploration.

Missions that Involve PVP and Live Events

In my opinion one of the things in EVE that needs some additions is Mission Running. This may seem strange for most of you. I mean – why would someone ask for such thing when we do have all these PVP interactions that echo through our Universe and make us feel so good? Well, that’s exactly the point. I’m not going to talk about improvements for our regular daily Missioning dose for relaxation. I will just add something new to missions, something that would involve players engaged in missions and PVP at the same time. 

The first steps to achieving that funny thing I’m talking about may be some mechanics and interface tweaks that would encourage groups of people to gather together and do missions that would really have significant impact on storyline. Something that would involve a lot more risk and challenge as well as rewards beyond ISK and Loyalty points. Of course, if I was involved in implementing such changes, I would proceed with extreme caution and great focus on balance.

In my experience when I’m watching people doing missions in EVE I see that lot of them just want to complete the current task, get the credits/LP and don’t bother too much for storyline details, lore or any other major roleplaying activity. I think the main reason for that behavior hides in the fact that by doing missions a player doesn’t really trigger any significant events throughout the sandbox. Personally, when I do missions in EVE, I always enjoy the story involved in them and I’m curious on how it will develop. But when the story is finished, things in the sandbox remain the same. It’s perfectly ok when it comes to classic missioning, but I wonder what would happen if there was some interesting way for adding PVP to it.

I imagine that there might be some Event Triggers spread across the galaxy – something like a one-shot mission, a stage, whatever you name it, that would involve a group of people and depending on their success there should be different consequences that should echo through the sandbox.

It is clear that CCP is successfully doing something very similar – just look at the major events that we were involved in – the Battle for Caldari Prime, then there was “Operation Spectre “ that involved high sec residents and pirates, I was there and it was exciting! You may also want to check the event breakdown for this battle. But what I’m targeting here is something of a lower scale – like the little events that eventually trigger the larger events. What I’m talking about are the “minor” missions or tasks, covert operations, assaults, espionage missions, low or mid-scale battles, and these would be the triggers for the larger outcome, depending on whether the people involved in them fail or succeed.

Storyline Event Missions

Such missions would be divided in distinct categories. For example – “PVE Missons” that would be presented to a group of players, carefully, or not-that-carefully selected by CCP through various criteria. I will just clarify that these missions should use the current missioning interface or have their own. Then the capsuleers would have one shot to complete a certain task – the Game Changer mission, or as I will call it “Storyline Event Mission”, and depending on their success level, the mission would trigger some storyline events that would eventually involve more players into the next distinct category of these new missions – “PVP Missions”.

PVP Mission engagements would vary by scale, there might still be major ones, but they should normally include lower to medium sized battles. The idea here is to involve a smaller group of players, but make them feel like they’re doing something really significant, make them know that their deeds would be the steps for something much larger, something that everyone will be talking about later and put proud smiles on the faces of all that have been involved in one way or another. So in PVP Missions there should generally, just generally, be two teams – each representing the factions or corporations involved in the situation, and they will compete in order to complete their task. The outcome of such clashes would be something that would affect larger groups of players, significantly change the storyline or trigger much larger events that would eventually lead to larger battles, unveil new technologies, reveal corporation or faction secrets that would trigger other events and so on.

Well, someone could say that it would not be fair when CCP decides to pick some pilots out of the crowd instead call upon all interested and let them decide whether to participate or not, but actually things will be still pretty fair. Depending on each pilot activity and behavior there should be some real chance to earn the right to be chosen by CCP for some Storyline Event mission. I mean this will still be in the hands of players – when they are active enough and pursue their goals, do roleplaying stuff and do it well, selecting them for Storyline Event missions would come really naturally. It would all depend on their own achievements so they would even be prepared and expecting the call from the special agents.

Clashes of a Broader Scale

I will insert something here – something that I feel like a very significant part of such adventures. I’m talking about Avatar Gameplay. You know – the things that the guys from Team Avatar are making for us. I hope that you will agree with me when I say that the EVE gameplay is currently very stable, things are running smoothly, bugs and issues get fixed, things are being improved, and most of us are pleased. So I think it’s time to encourage CCP to take some bolder steps in Avatar Gameplay. Keeping in mind that DUST 514 is building power, I am pretty sure that some of the assets can be also used in Avatar gameplay for EVE. This part is significant when it comes to battles of a broader scale. While some capsuleers can be busy fighting in space, other capsuleers may be involved in fighting on space bases, installations and such, and gaining control over them would greatly impact the space battle, making the particular moment spectacular.

I imagine Avatar Gameplay as a seamless part of our adventures in New Eden, be it through Exploration, Factional Warfare, Missions or anything else. I feel that the option to see the world of EVE through the eyes of your own clone, be it first person or third person, would bring things to a new level. Delving into that particular detail, I think it would be essential to have the option to switch between 1st and 3rd person camera in order to have more viewing freedom and adjust it dynamically to our needs.

So Avatar Gameplay is something that I really want to see implemented in EVE. It would really help us enjoy our space realm even more. The Team Avatar guys are talking of zero gravity environments, ruined starbases with treasures hidden in them and probably much more. And when we have that, Walking in Stations might come along “by the way”, completely naturally, though it might require lot of additional tweaking, but I guess when things start happening everyone will be ok with that.

Just imagine a group of capsuleers on their run through low security space and then one of their pilots suddenly gets contacted by an agent that offers him and his buddies to get involved in a Storyline Event Mission. The mission requires a group of pilots that must infiltrate a hidden base of the opposing faction by destroying the ships that guard it and then board the base to extract some very important blueprints from it, eventually eliminating any remaining opposing forces that they encounter inside. So the mission briefing goes on, the goals are set and that group of people is ready to do something memorable. They travel to that base, attack the NPC ships that guard it, then they split - half of the group manages to board the base and proceed to the blueprints, while the other half keeps NPC ship reinforcements at bay. Meanwhile the base NPCs may call upon some other capsuleers to aid their faction and make the life of our lads more interesting! The capsuleer troopers inside the base manage to stop the self-destruct sequence and make their way to their objective through lot of shooting and excitement, knowing that the things they’re doing will make difference in the world.

Then the success of their mission triggers some storyline events, news about the stolen new technology blueprints gets spread across the galaxy and the opposing faction calls upon their fellow capsuleers for a full scale assault against the faction of our heroes here. Enemy intelligence soon manages to track the stolen blueprints into a remote facility and then there goes an epic battle, both in space and on the facility, the outcome of which would affect the balance between both enemy factions.

Of course, there may be lot of variations of this example. There might be more steps, more minor PVE and PVP missions that would eventually lead to something bigger. Also – there might be various ways to get to such missions such as Exploration sites, finding hidden agents and so on.

When agents start picking the right people for a specific Storyline Event Mission, there should be factors that their choice might depend on, like security status, pilot efficiency, some background or anything else that applies. Presumably the empires and factions would want to hire the best of the best for their special tasks. Since our handsome Devs at CCP, you know - the Live Events team, will handle and observe all the Storyline Event Missions, they might want to pick pilots by any sort of criteria, based on the data and knowledge they have. This new interaction between Devs and Players would be very interesting and exciting.

And I’ve covered just the combat part of Missions. Adding similar things to the other Mission categories would provide more variations to this experience.

 And now moving to some Exploration stuff.

I am a passionate explorer. I love Exploration! It is amazing, brilliant, full of light! And I would love to participate in any way that I can to make it richer and more exciting. In my opinion Exploration still needs some more variety, some more and different things to find. More precisely – there should be more natural phenomena that we should be able to discover and interact with. In Exploration there should also be some special Event Triggers or Game Changers – things that would bring brand new tools for interaction among us.

Pieces of the Puzzle – Hidden Lore

Yes, Hidden Lore! Whenever capsuleers go on exploration runs, they should have the chance to find something very significant in terms of storyline. For example some secret piece of lore, hidden in a heavily guarded facility, describing or giving a proof of behind the scenes moves of major factions in New Eden. What would you do if you find such information? Share it with major news corporations? Report to your faction leaders? Keep it for your corporation and use it in the right time and place for the benefits of your friends?  Such things may trigger major storyline events, depending on how they have been handled.

Storyline Discoveries

More of that. An explorer should be able to find hidden sites that may contain some pieces of new technology, information, clue or evidence for past intriguing events, encrypted data chips that need to be deciphered, remnants of strange devices that would need to be reverse engineered – things like that. Something similar to ghost sites, having the power to make a significant change and trigger minor or major Storyline Events that would eventually involve many other people. Yes, like Ghost Sites, but with more variety of the possible outcomes.

Hidden temples of enigmatic factions guarding strange new technologies, ruined facilities with dangerous traps in them, containing valuable blueprints or information, installations in floating asteroids, filled with pirates, containing some lore secrets – there could be lots of things to discover! OK, present itme there are lot of items that we can discover, but I’m talking about things that would trigger some live events and eventually affect the storyline. And again this would be a part of our adventures where Avatar Gameplay should be strongly involved.

Yes, the first steps in this are made. It would be good if we could be able to find or do more things that are memorable and very exciting, even unique, something that would get in the history of EVE. Such Game Changers are here and more of them should be out there, waiting to be discovered.

This is what I imagine. I hope you enjoyed the ideas.

Until next time!

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