Well, it seems I can dare to say “all” but that isn’t the case when it comes to developers working on Dust 514 as opposed to the Eve Online winter expansion. We now know the winter expansion for Eve Online is named Retribution and includes fixes to the bounty and crime watch systems within Eve Online as well as the ship rebalancing and new Destroyers already mentioned. I still maintain that Dust 514 is CCP’s winter Jesus Feature, but Eve Online is not a bastard stepchild yet. Hooray!
Of all three things announced in Retribution, the one that intrigued me most and made me ask, “what are they going to do?” is the Bounty System change. It may be difficult to believe and I don’t want to strain your brains, but when I was first setting up Mabrick I wanted to be a Bounty Hunter. The idea of bringing “bad guys” to justice in a game that is most like a Hollywood fantasy version of the 19th century American west appealed to me. Then, as I read up on the game and got introduced to the meta game, which I was reading about quite some time before I actually started playing, I realized it just wasn’t a viable game play style. I was saddened by this so I became an industrialist. Yeah, I don’t always get it either but that’s the way it worked out.
So now the question I have is could I become the Bounty Hunter now that I originally wanted to be back then? Evehermit has already expressed some misgivings about the new Bounty System. Given the fact that Goonswarm has already shown a propensity for abusing the new War Declaration System to try and silence meta game opposition, I can say from personal experience that Evehermit’s concern is valid. Unfortunately it’s hard to draw any conclusions for lack of official details.
The official Retribution web site is completely devoid of anything resembling details. There are no dev blogs on the subject – yet. I’m sure there will be one soon – right Hans? So I went looking for other sources of information. Luckily I found one. I found this article over on MMORPG.com. The information comes from the Retribution press conference. I find it interesting the limited details went to the press before a dev blog told the paying players, but these are strange times for CCP, what with Dust 514 launching this month.
BTW, has anyone seen a denial from CCP on that? I haven’t. In fact, I read this over on Dust514.org:
[CCP]CmdrWang: Q: Can you confirm or deny Jack Trettons statement about Dust 514 launching in october?
[CCP]Hellmar: We are doing a lot of exciting things with Sony. This month, DUST is bundled with the new PS3 hardware, with access and some cool items
That is by no interpretation possible a denial. Nor is it confirmation. Hmmm, that’s very interesting but I digress. Let’s get back to Eve Online and Retribution.
So let’s try and address Evehermit’s concern about a large wealthy alliance setting bounties on anyone who dares disagree with them. Is there any mention of a mechanism to prevent this? In short order, no, there is not. There is no mention of any sort of limitation on who can place bounties on whom. What it does say is those with bounties should be able to see who is hunting them. This indicates to me that only those who sign up to pursue a bounty will collect on the bounty. That is somewhat of a limiting factor but I’d really like to see CCP set some very specific limits. I think they will. They’d better. I hope one of them is something like, “you can’t place a bounty on someone who hasn’t done x, y or z to your character/corporation/alliance.” That ties the bounty to in game actions versus meta game actions and that is very important. It will preserve the scope and depth of the Eve Online community and protect them from overzealous actions by those who have trouble distinguishing RL from Eve Online.
And speaking about the overzealous, what about preventing the gaming of the Bounty System like happened with the new War Declaration system? I have some serious reservations about CCP’s thinking (according to the article) on that score. CCP seems to think that only paying a fraction of the bounty per ship destroyed will stop the current abuse of having friends take you out for the whole tamale. Well, yes, that will probably stop the abuse as it stands today. However, it plays right into the hands of those who would use the Bounty System to grief others. By requiring a Bounty Hunter to obtain multiple kills on a target to collect the full bounty, they are setting up some poor schmuck (like me) for the rinse, lather, repeat gaming experience. What will prevent Bounty Hunters from station camping a character and repeatedly blowing him up? What’s to prevent a gang of Bounty Hunters from doing this? It sure as hell isn’t going to be partial payouts. Come on CCP, you have to do better than that sort of thinking. Please don’t dwell on fixing what’s been wrong about it and not even think about what will be wrong with it. That’s what always gets you into trouble. You don’t always think these things through. Bring out your evil twins and say, “Ok, game it to death! What would Goonswarm do… or any other alliance with an axe to grind.”
Finally, at the bottom of the section on the the new Bounty System, there was one additional detail that really made me do the double eyebrow push up. To quote,
“Down the line, CCP is looking to also add the ability for players to place bounties on particular structures, too.”
Does that mean the Bounty System will go hand in hand with the Merc System? That would make a lot of sense. Bounty Hunters are in a sense mercenaries. The only real difference is whether they get paid half up front or not. It also makes me wonder how this is all going to play into the new War Declaration System. I can’t help but think they are all interrelated to one degree or another. It would only make sense to run them in similar fashions. Don’t you agree?