Designing Features Part III

Continuing on my self appointed task of designing a feature for EVE Online I now have a good mental impression of what Bounty Hunting and Smuggling mean (to me at least). Considering these as two separate but related ‘mini-professions’ I have created a list of general concepts that could impact the game play element of the feature.

When I say ‘game play’ perhaps I should explain a little further.  Im specifically talking about in game mechanics that best relate to these mini-professions: i.e something tangible.  Anyone can of course load up a blockade runner and become a ‘smuggler’ in their imaginations at least – the ‘game’ is the implementation of rules and effects within the universe.

Smuggler Concepts:

Drugs runner – running, fleeing, evasive, pursued, contraband, criminal, off grid, fencing.

Bounty Hunter Concepts:

Hunters, scent, bounty, piracy(?), pursuers, freelance, hunts fugitives, warrants.

Ok, so what does this mean in game play terms?  First off Smugglers. Clearly the mechanics need to provide for the ability to evade discovery for the Smuggler, so someone also needs to be actively searching for them.  The evasion element might be skill based, but that’s quite close to the current (broken) system so Im thinking it should be more closely aligned to player skill – selecting the correct route, and opportunity in time to collect or make a drop off?  Perhaps knowledge of routes or ‘smugglers coves’ come into play here?

Also smugglers, quite obviously, need something to smuggle and a destination.  Tyannis offers an interesting new element in terms of the PI Customs Office (which even has a list of contraband items, including rather oddly: walnuts) – interesting!

Bounty Hunters are searching for fugitives so clearly we have a need for some form of mechanism to allow them to seek out their prey, perhaps with limited information initially which they can build through investigation.  Id rather get away from the current system of ‘oh look theres a criminal! pew pew!’ which doesn’t incorporate that sense of ‘hunting’ a target down.

These guys also expect to be rewarded, theyre not doing it out of just a love for the job, which has its own inherent problems.  The ‘warrant’ concept suggests that Bounty Hunters are at least partially regulated: they need some form of approval to do their task. Finally I have the legacy system to consider: most EVE players expect Bounty Hunters to pursue Pirates – in fact any criminal.

Some draft game play mechanics then:

Hunting & Evasion – a mechanism for both hunter and target visually see how close / high their target or threat is.

Deception – concealing the transport and delivery of contraband goods

Warrants – Possibly issued? Permission levels to kill/capture a criminal or fugitive

Penal System – Repercussions / consequences for being caught

There is also a fairly clear “time line” of events that need to be incorporated:

Player commits criminal act(s) —> Player is ‘revealed’ as a criminal/fugitive —> Warrent is issued —> Bounty Hunter pursues fugitive /  fugitive evades BH —> Fugitive Escapes OR Fugitive is ‘caught’ —> Fugitive is penalised AND BH is rewarded.

All pretty easy so far.  Next up though I need to go into the hard to solve details…..

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