My Agent EVE mailed me and wants to offer... WHAT?!?!?

For some reason, my brain has had the inclination to focus on designs today. As a result, we've been discussing agents and how to utilize the new functionality in the Exploration system that was added in Revelations.

We're also overhauling the top 70 mission encounters in the first Need for Speed agent initiative. It might not sound as much, but if you think that 1 encounter might have itself spawned 5000 times over a day, there's considerable "bang for the bucks" in making them more fun, challenging and perform better on the server and client.

Yay, more about messing with my stuff and nothing new, huh?

Actually, that's one of the reasons I'm writing this blog. We've noticed that our blog focus has been in more general terms and the details have been more on general systems, warfare, combat and such and not very much about agents and "PvE" in general.

It's important to understand that EVE is a "PvP" focused game, but in a broader sense of the word. This is also why both terms are in quotes. Imagine me with a beer making 'air quotes' (think Doctor Evil but without the attitude) when I say PvP and PvE.

We consider almost every activity in EVE to be "PvP". We've touched on this before, the basic example always used is that, you as a pilot doing a mission for an agent ties into a lot of elements where you are competing with other players. "PvP" isn't only direct person to person combat, it can be very indirect. Selling an item on the market which somebody buys from you is resulting in another guy not getting a sale. You're competing in price and supply.

Great, a philosophy lecture

Sorry about that, wasn't my intention, but I felt it important define the context before continuing. All EVE players experience different playstyles, you can take long term tours of duty in certain areas of the game or you're more into the jack of all trades. The environment plays a big part but EVE is a "PvP" game. Look at the previous context before determing that we're only talking about fleet battles.

We're adding more Agent levels

There, I said it. Let's get it all into the open so we can start focusing on the finer points of it. This is part of a bigger strategy of the colonization of EVE, attempting to tie the higher levels of gameplay into the various aspects of EVE. The key points we feel are important here are:

  • Level 4 will become closer to Level 3 in difficulty, the jump up will not be as drastic as it is now.
  • Level 5 will be the new level, consisting partly of the most difficult Level 4 missions, but mainly new missions.
  • New missions in Levels 4 and up will focus on the escalating warfare between the Empires and factions. This incidentally enables you to engage Dreadnoughts, Carriers and Motherships.
  • Levels 5 and up are all in 0.4 security and below.
  • Level 6 will be a brand new Agent Level,
  • Levels 5 and 6 will be open to certain capital ship classes (possibly all, including those moved from 4 to 5),
  • Level 7 is still a possible addition, also a brand new agent Level,
  • Level 7 would be open to all ship classes, except Titans.

Furthermore,

  • The majority of these new missions will not have ISK bounties on NPCs, they will be Loyalty Point focused or Mini-Profession based. You earn your ISK by selling to other pilots. We're very aware of ISK inflation and this is a step in preventing that.
  • The Loyalty Point system will be turned into a more store-type mechanism, almost how many envision a black market (and in essence it is), thus creating a high-level ISK sink.
  • You would now earn Loyalty Points on the corporate level, allowing you to move easier to other agents in the same corporation.
  • New missions can utilize "Escalating Paths", where you have multiple encounters. These can be optional encounters, encounters required to complete the mission, and random bonus encounters that may not be given or require an unknown prerequisite be met.
  • "Escalating Paths" also allow for more interesting Courier and other hybrid missions on all Agent Levels.
  • New missions will utilize Exploration and Mini-professions to further expand reward abilities.
  • There will be new Agents to be distributed by hand, for better load distribution. This help thin the crowded agent hotspots.
  • New missions will be focused on fewer NPCs, utilizing the big ships and structures as focal points to provide better server and client performance.
  • Mission rewards can be split among a group.
  • Encourages colonization of low security, the higher population providing pirates with more, but tougher (capital-ship-driving-group-flying) pilots.
  • Said capital-ship-driving-group-flying pilots probably remember said pirates from when pirate took pilot out the last time and capital-ship-driving-group-flying pilot will stop if he sees said pirate criminal flagged at a gate.
  • Slowly involves the "PvE" player in more "PvP" EVE activity.

And this is pretty much delivered all at the same time.

But when??!?!?

That's the remaining question. Earlier we didn't want to mention these specific details, simply because they aren't finalized, but this is what we feel need to be implemented, pretty much all at the same time for it to really work. It's really a question of the programming time we get, but in general we'd like to see this happening in Revelations 2, this summer.

Before we commit to this though, we'd appreciate your feedback on this proposed package of changes. We want to emphasize the scope of work we're looking at for "PvE" and show better what we're thinking, our goals and what we see as positives about this.