Exploration, exploration, exploration

This was very nearly a “hi, I’m a new designer” blog, but then Chronotis beat me to it, so instead it’s going to be about exploration. I was reading the forums this morning while preparing some more updates for the In Development page, and realised that there were a few questions floating around that we now have answers to but haven’t shared with you yet. So, without further ado...

Escalation Sites...

...are not rewarding enough. You slog through approximately a zillion NPCs and get a basic cargo expander for your troubles. Not cool. Sure, there’s a chance you might get to the final escalation and make a big pile of cash, but on the whole the rewards aren’t in line with the risks, particularly in lower security systems.

To rectify this, we’re adding a chance of getting commander spawns (your Arch Angels, Dark Bloods and so on) to the end of all escalation sites, as well as reviewing and occasionally revising the difficulty of certain sites. Hopefully this should make them a little more worthwhile. If you want some easier exploration combat, though, you may be interested in

Encounters...

...which are new exploration sites that we’re adding in. They’ll be similar to escalation sites but without the escalation – lots of shooting, chance of a good reward, but less difficult and significantly more numerous and easier to find. Which leads nicely into the

Onboard Scanner...

...which will be used for finding Encounters. This will, when it arrives, be a built-in scanning device, present on all ships, that will let you search for exploration sites without any additional equipment. It won’t be particularly powerful, and it won’t let you scan for anything other than cosmic signatures, but it will be enough to find common sites like Encounters. It’ll also be needed before we can

Remove Asteroid Belts...

...and replace them with exploration content. This is a big deal and will not be happening in the immediate future. We know it’s a big, sweeping change that will affect most of you in one way or another, but we think it’s a good idea if it’s done properly.

What we’re currently considering is removing all belts and seeding a whole load of new mining exploration sites. The “common” ones will be easy to find with the Onboard Scanner, so you won’t need any special kit to find them. The rarer ones will still rely on hard-to-find exploration sites, although what counts as “common” or “rare” obviously depends on the security status. The frequency of Encounters will be increased too, and faction/officer spawns added into them to give similar profit potentials to hunting NPCs under the current system.

This will reduce server load (far fewer items being tracked), make mining and belt ratting a tiny bit more interesting, and give us the ability to make both these activities more interesting still by adding cool but non-intrusive triggers to the relevant exploration sites. It will also run the risk of making NPCers and miners far less vulnerable to those wishing them harm, which from some perspectives at least is a bad thing, and something we’ll be considering carefully before implementing anything. Finally, it may also add some much-needed challenge to the “macro miner” mini-profession. (Warning: irony detected.)

And all this talk of moving things to exploration leads us nicely to

Static to Exploration...

...which is of course the long-discussed move of existing static complexes into the exploration system, eliminating the majority of fixed-position complexes from the game.

This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but we’ve been holding off doing so until we were sure that the exploration tools were ready for such a big change. That time has now come, so we’re releasing the brakes and setting things in motion.

For Revelations 2, we’ll be removing all “normal” deadspace complexes from static spawns and adding them to exploration distributions. This means everything from 1/10 to 10/10, but does not include any COSMOS complexes for now.

Complexes will be distributed all across space. High Sec will have 1/10-4/10, Low Sec will have 3/10-7/10 and Null Sec will have 6/10-10/10. In addition to this, we’re well aware that a lot of investment in territory and infrastructure has been driven by high-end complexes. As a result, all constellations which currently have a complex of difficulty 7/10 and above in them will have a special distribution. This will give a very high chance that a hidden complex, of the type or types already present, will spawn somewhere within that constellation.

And for now,

That’s all, folks...

...and I hope that this has been of some use to somebody, and that nobody bursts a blood vessel reading it. I’ll be watching the comments thread closely for suggestions and potential issues with the current plan – nothing’s set in stone yet, so if you have anything to contribute please go right ahead and share it!