...Should You Choose to Accept It
Some of you might have heard about a new mission system that is coming in Apocrypha. Whether you're part of the mission-running PVE fanbase or a diehard PVPer, you may have some questions. What exactly does this "new mission system" mean to you, the player?
Pretty much all of the changes to the mission system resulted from our work on the "Epic Mission System" toolset. Two sprint teams in our Atlanta office have worked concurrently on Epic Missions for months now: One team consisted entirely of programmers, the other of content developers.
While that fact may not seem significant at first, it does say something about the way we do things here at CCP. Among the tons of other features that other teams have been working on for Apocrypha - Tech 3 ships, better NPC AI, amazing new graphics, etc. - we've been racing to finish the new wormhole and mission content. But not only have we been pushing our trusty old mission system through the paces, we've been overhauling its transmission, tuning it up, and yeah, even putting new wheels on the dear thing.
So, what's the difference between "normal" missions and "Epic Missions"? Well, normal missions are the ones you already know, the ones you get from typical agents in stations as long as you have sufficient standing. Once you finish a mission, you get another one offered, but they're all just the same old missions selected randomly from an agent's available pool of missions. These missions are oft-repeated and generally have very little development (or investment) in a storyline.
Epic Arcs, on the other hand, will be available only from unique agents (or strings of agents); they are linked together in an ongoing story that unfolds over the course of many missions. These missions also incorporate a new branching system, providing players with choices in the path through an Epic Arc. Finally, while the rewards for Epic Missions won't be vastly greater than those for normal missions, they will tend to give out cool new toys (or at least exceptional rewards) at the ends of chapters and, of course, at the end of each complete arc.
For Apocrypha, though, we're only introducing one Epic Arc, and it's geared toward new players. (That's not to say that only new players can do the arc, but the missions' challenges range only from level 1 to level 2 missions.) Despite the fact that we - that is, the two Atlanta-based teams I mentioned earlier - have been developing the toolset for the Epic Arcs in addition to the new content for wormhole sites and new exploration sites in Empire, low-sec, and null-sec space (all at the same time), we consider this single new Epic Arc to be our greatest victory for the release. Shortly after Apocrypha, now that our new tools and development processes are in good working order, you can expect lots of new Epic Arcs for various factions and security levels to appear on a regular basis.
So, you may be wondering, what does the Epic Mission System actually look like? Well, we've made some enhancements to the way missions work in general. Some folks who've been playing on Sisi recently have noticed our new mission/agent dialogue windows. That's just one of the many features that come as a result of the Epic Mission system, and it will affect existing agent missions. Additionally, we've introduced the ability to complete and accept missions remotely, rather than forcing players to fly all the way back to their agent's station to report in. (I mean, this is a setting that relies on FTL communications, right? Yet I can't call my agent? Well, no longer.) Keep in mind, though, that this is not a default setting, but an option we can choose when we create missions; most existing agent missions won't allow remote completion. At least, not yet.
So, the current status is this: Epic Arcs are here, and they're going to change the way missions in EVE are run, but we're just on the threshold of that change. The single new arc releasing with Apocrypha will give a taste, albeit a small one, of our new mission system's capability. But keep your eyes on the patch notes with each subsequent update or release - lots more cool stuff is on its way.