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Increasing the depth of the exploration profession

Author
Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#1 - 2014-06-13 20:09:55 UTC
TL;DR: Make several tiers of exploration sites, with increasing risk/reward, to allow for progression within the profession of exploration.

With the previous two expansions CCP has done an excellent job making exploration an activity obtainable to the masses. Scanning with probes has been dramatically simplified; the once laborious task of positioning probes is much quicker and less tedious. The new Sisters of EVE ships and mid-slot scanning modules has allowed for exploration to evolve beyond the confines of covert ops frigates.

Unfortunately the activities associated with exploration have only expanded minimally, and the profession of being an explorer is still quite limited. I would like to see a range of exploration sites, with a range of risk/reward, to fill-in the middle ground between Data/Relic and DED sites.

Ideas for new exploration sites:

  • Found using probes and scanning. Some may be visible using the ship’s onboard scanner (like Data/Relic sites are now), but higher tier sites should require the use of scan probes for discovery (would not be detected using the onboard scanner or displayed as “cosmic signature” until scanned by a probe).

  • Higher tier sites are more difficult to scan, requiring better skills and/or increasingly specialized ships. Highest tier sites should challenge even the most skills characters, requiring a specialized scanning ship and/or character (aka. implants).

  • Higher tier sites are more difficult to complete, requiring multiple people and/or increasingly specialized ships and skills.

  • With increased risks, come increased rewards.

  • New loot, similar to the overseer effects in DED sites, with an NPC seeded market that is independent from salvage/invention materials (and the associated production/markets). This loot would allow for the adjusting of rewards based on risk without impacting other aspects of the game by increasing/decreasing supply. This could also be handled by something similar to the newly released Guristas Data Sequences, allowing for another tier of risk/rewards for an adventurous explorer. Note: Rewards below are based on Null site difficulties for each tier, as that’s what I’m most familiar with now.


Tier 1 Exploration Sites:

  • Found in all areas of space; risk/reward scaled based on true sec.
  • No combat readiness required to complete site (e.g. current Data/Relic sites).
  • All loot acquired via hacking of cans.

  • Reward: 10-20m ISK of salvage/invention materials per site and 10-20m ISK of “other loot” depending on intra-tier difficulty.


Tier 2 Exploration Sites:

  • Found in all areas of space; risk/reward scaled based on true sec.
  • Minimal level of combat readiness required (e.g. Ghost Sites or old Radar/Mag sites).
  • All loot acquired via hacking of cans.

  • Reward:10-20m ISK of salvage/invention materials per site and 30-50m ISK of “other loot” depending on intra-tier difficulty.


Tier 3 Exploration Sites:

  • Found in Low, Null, and WH areas of space; Risk/reward scaled based on true sec.
  • Scan probes required for discovery, not displayed using onboard ship scanner.
  • Medium level of combat readiness required (e.g. single room from 4/10 DED level).
  • All loot acquired via hacking of cans, but requires that “defending” rats have been eliminated before cans can be looted.

  • Reward:20m ISK of salvage/invention materials per site and 40-60m ISK of “other loot” depending on intra-tier difficulty. Extremely small chance for faction module/BPC drops (similar value to equivalent DED level).


Tier 4 Exploration Sites:

  • Found in Null and WH areas of space.
  • Scan probes required for discovery, not displayed using onboard ship scanner.
  • High level of combat readiness required (e.g. single room from 6/10 DED level).
  • Most loot acquired via hacking of cans, but requires that “defending” rats have been eliminated before cans can be looted. Chance for faction drops found on faction rat spawned (with very small chance) after successfully hacking all cans in the site.

  • Reward: 20m ISK of salvage/invention materials per site and 50-80m ISK of “other loot” depending on intra-tier difficulty. Small chance for faction module/BPC drops (similar value to equivalent DED level).


Tier 5 Exploration Sites:

  • Found in WH areas of space.
  • Scan probes required for discovery, not displayed using onboard ship scanner.
  • High level of combat readiness required (e.g. single room from 8/10 DED level).
  • Most loot acquired via hacking of cans, but requires that “defending” rats have been eliminated before cans can be looted. Chance for faction drops found on faction rat spawned (with small chance) after successfully hacking all cans in the site.

  • Reward: I have no experience with loot values from sites in wormhole space, so will not give numbers for Tier 5 sites, but would guess they would be 125% the current data/relic site reward on the high side of the range. There would also be a greater chance for a faction (or sleeper equivalent) spawn to drop more valuable loot.
Mr Doctor
Sex Machineguns
#2 - 2014-06-13 20:23:44 UTC
Stealth "bring back rats to relics".
Alundil
Rolled Out
#3 - 2014-06-13 20:48:58 UTC
There should, randomly, be rats in some of them. Scaled/faction appropriately across all of k-space.

I'm right behind you

Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#4 - 2014-06-13 23:50:05 UTC
Mr Doctor wrote:
Stealth "bring back rats to relics".

No stealth about it... bring them back, but still have a lower tier of sites without them for those new to the profession. People have been asking for increased loot value in data/relic sites, but without rats (or some other "risk") there is no reason for higher rewards.

Alundil wrote:
There should, randomly, be rats in some of them. Scaled/faction appropriately across all of k-space.

Random is good. I think it would also be nice if rats spawned when a hacking attempt is failed... give a greater reason to train-up the associated skills and not fail. It would also place some choice on the pilot... fly the frig and don't fail a hack, or risk something a bit beefer.
Ohhhh Feely Nice
Feely Good Logistics
#5 - 2014-06-14 04:12:48 UTC
Yes.

I'll add: They should make the higher tier sites more difficult to scan down by making them appear much further away from the orbital planes. If they simply make it hard to get a lock on it, it just becomes a matter of skill training, which is pretty bleh
Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#6 - 2014-06-14 05:18:28 UTC
Ohhhh Feely Nice wrote:
I'll add: They should make the higher tier sites more difficult to scan down by making them appear much further away from the orbital planes. If they simply make it hard to get a lock on it, it just becomes a matter of skill training, which is pretty bleh

I think that would be a good idea, but I fear that people might complain too much about people making deep safes from old sites. I agree that it's a bit too easy just to drop probes next to planets.
Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#7 - 2014-06-17 19:38:18 UTC
While responding to another thread about data/relic sites, it occurred to me that there might be a benefit to having loot with larger volumes (m3). While I prefer relic sites due to the smaller salvage materials... as it allows me to hit multiple sites before having to unload... larger items (like some of the materials found in the current data sites) would reward those who are doing exploration closer to home.

Idea: What if higher tier sites (Tier 2 and 3?) had other sorts of rewards, but to get maximum reward would require moving larger volumes of materials? The loot would be of sufficient value to warrant risking a larger ship, but of volume that it couldn't be moved efficiently with a frig/cruiser. A good analogy would be the occasional Hauler spawns when belt ratting, but in this case a hacking can that would unlock a large volume cargo of loot.

This would another dynamic to the, often solo, profession... I know I'd need to phone a friend for help. It could also give a benefit for those who utilize the space they live in for production, rather than importing/exporting, depending on the type of loot (materials, parts, etc.) that would make-up the loot.
Bohneik Itohn
Ministry of War
Amarr Empire
#8 - 2014-06-17 22:28:28 UTC
Toddfish wrote:
While responding to another thread about data/relic sites, it occurred to me that there might be a benefit to having loot with larger volumes (m3). While I prefer relic sites due to the smaller salvage materials... as it allows me to hit multiple sites before having to unload... larger items (like some of the materials found in the current data sites) would reward those who are doing exploration closer to home.

Idea: What if higher tier sites (Tier 2 and 3?) had other sorts of rewards, but to get maximum reward would require moving larger volumes of materials? The loot would be of sufficient value to warrant risking a larger ship, but of volume that it couldn't be moved efficiently with a frig/cruiser. A good analogy would be the occasional Hauler spawns when belt ratting, but in this case a hacking can that would unlock a large volume cargo of loot.

This would another dynamic to the, often solo, profession... I know I'd need to phone a friend for help. It could also give a benefit for those who utilize the space they live in for production, rather than importing/exporting, depending on the type of loot (materials, parts, etc.) that would make-up the loot.



The volume to isk reward ratio is self-defeating to try to scale up, because more volume also means more time must be invested to change the loot into isk, and the value of time scales exponentially, not linearly.

Exploration needs fixing. I just made a post not long ago on how the recent changes to the loot spew/loot tables have made data sites a waste of time and that there is no risk (and thus entertainment) to running sites, for example, but I'd like to explore other options besides bringing rats back into the sites. Why? Because ratting is f*cking boring and one of the reasons I started doing exploration in null. I would rather focus on the mental challenge of planning my route for the most likely areas I can make a profit, adapting that route based upon changing situations, dealing with hostile locals if necessary, competing with other site runners, etc.... Having to sit in a site and kill rats just seems like a great way to smear runny diarrhea over that entire process, and there has to be a better way to make exploration more engaging and interesting than putting in something that I stopped doing because after the 1000th time it lost it's panache.

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epicurus ataraxia
Illusion of Solitude.
Illusion of Solitude
#9 - 2014-06-19 18:34:44 UTC  |  Edited by: epicurus ataraxia
Exploration sites added that require exploration and scanning to find are a good idea.
There really is no need to add rats and things shooting you or blowing things up in your face for them to be interesting though.
A simple scanning and discovery mechanic, with a further exploration challange, ie "the second site is in a system adjoining pimbeka" go there find it scan it down and explore that chain of referrals.

A treasure hunt if you will.

Shooting stuff is not every explorers dream. And for god's sake don't escalate them into different security systems ie hs>> ls>>null.
If people wanted to explore null they would be there already.

You can lead a horse to water, shoot it in the kneecaps,tie it down and force it's head in the river and it still will not drink........

There is one EvE. Many people. Many lifestyles. WE are EvE

Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#10 - 2014-06-19 19:39:19 UTC  |  Edited by: Toddfish
Bohneik Itohn wrote:
The volume to isk reward ratio is self-defeating to try to scale up, because more volume also means more time must be invested to change the loot into isk, and the value of time scales exponentially, not linearly.

I was thinking of the larger volume items being a “bonus” to those who choose to utilize them. Similar to loot/salvage when running anomalies. Many (most?) might not take advantage of the items, but those who put in the time (and risk ships) would see the benefits.

Bohneik Itohn wrote:
I'd like to explore other options besides bringing rats back into the sites. Why? Because ratting is f*cking boring and one of the reasons I started doing exploration in null. I would rather focus on the mental challenge of planning my route for the most likely areas I can make a profit, adapting that route based upon changing situations, dealing with hostile locals if necessary, competing with other site runners, etc.... Having to sit in a site and kill rats just seems like a great way to smear runny diarrhea over that entire process, and there has to be a better way to make exploration more engaging and interesting than putting in something that I stopped doing because after the 1000th time it lost it's panache.


epicurus ataraxia wrote:
There really is no need to add rats and things shooting you or blowing things up in your face for them to be interesting though.


Right now, with the current “no rats” mechanic, there is minimal risk while running sites. Yes, there is risk associated with the logistics if in lo/null, but I don’t feel that alone is enough to justify having additional sites with increased rewards. There needs to be at least some risk/reward balance.

My feeling is that Tier 2 sites that have a couple rats, or timers with exploding cans, whatever would create additional depth/challenge (aka risk) to warrant increased rewards. Ghost Sites are a good example of this, you can’t do them in an un-tanked frig or cov ops (unless you get in/out fast and without failure). A couple rats, and it doesn’t need to be like running wave after wave in anoms, would have a similar effect. I believe this minimal barrier would be enough... explorers would have to decide between taking a frig/cov ops versus a cruiser/T3. Choosing to fly something larger, risking more to the logistics of lo/null, would be rewarded by being able to run the higher tier sites.

Ideally, I'd love to see other forms of challenge (more complicated hacking, multi-level rewards, etc.), but those sorts of things are likely more difficult to build into the game. Creating another tier of sites (identical in most other ways) but with a couple rats seems "easy" to implement.

epicurus ataraxia wrote:
A simple scanning and discovery mechanic, with a further exploration challange, ie "the second site is in a system adjoining pimbeka" go there find it scan it down and explore that chain of referrals.

A treasure hunt if you will.

I suggested something similar a year ago... I really like this idea. Having to scan down a sig (only visible to you?) might be more difficult to integrate, but I love the idea of not knowing exactly where the next site will be.

epicurus ataraxia wrote:
And for god's sake don't escalate them into different security systems ie hs>> ls>>null.
If people wanted to explore null they would be there already.

I think they should lead all over... leave it up to the explorer if they want to follow it or not. I think it should go both ways though... make those from null venture into lo and hi sec too. The chains should also send people across faction boundaries as well.
Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#11 - 2014-06-20 19:19:33 UTC
It was pointed out in another thread that there are already some higher tier hacking sites available in game.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve ran a H-PA Crew Blue Pill Production Facility and it was fun, despite watching an active/speed tanked Tengu melt in minutes to neuting towers and web/scram/jamming rats.

I felt the amount and difficulty of the rats would be on-par for a null sec Tier 3 site (or maybe Tier 4 with the perfect storm of neut/web/scram/jam). The hacking difficulty was similar to data/relic sites, but being able to fail many times made it a much easier (cans didn’t exploded after two failures).

So, maybe use these sites as the model for Tier 3 sites... removing one of the four obstacles (neut/web/scram/jam) and making failed hacking more a factor (two fails = boom).
Bohneik Itohn
Ministry of War
Amarr Empire
#12 - 2014-06-20 23:00:16 UTC
I used to do exploration in an entirely different manner, flying a ship that was fit for running both combat and data and relic sites. It was interesting for a while, and I made some really good isk, and then I got bored with drones and never touched that ship again.

Because drone boats will really be the only option when ratting in these sites. CCP is going to put e-war in them just like any other site that has pirate or empire rats and if you know a ship that can suck up some e-war from pretty much any pirate faction, hack sites, deal good DPS and travel through red territory reliably that doesn't use drones please tell me what it is. I've been scratching my head over this one for a while and I can find several ships that get by everything except the e-war, which is a pretty big issue that can't be ignored.

So then the question becomes "would this reduce my ship choices to drone boats?" because if it eventually does, you've reduced the variety of ships that can currently be used for exploration instead of increasing them.

Next comes the question of balancing the time to reward again. Extra important now because as mentioned, data sites are kind of lousy right now. How would exploration sites have to change to make the extra time players now invest in them ratting worth the players' time? The only reason that multitasking ship I used to fly did so well making isk was because of the faction drops from combat sites. Data and relic sites were the scrapings of the bottom of the barrel compared to the combat site income. If the value of data and relic sites doesn't increase in accordance with ALL FACTORS of the extra ratting time, the extra risk taken ratting, and the extra risk taken flying between sites in a Frankenstein-fit ship that can't do anything but die in a blaze of glory if another player points it, then what happens to exploration?

I want a complete rework of the data and relic sites to make them more desirable, to make players more vulnerable, and to make them more engaging. We all do. Rats are a step back, they only partially succeed at one of these goals while hindering the progress of the other two.

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Toddfish
Multiplex Gaming
The Bastion
#13 - 2014-06-21 00:42:07 UTC
Bohneik Itohn wrote:
if you know a ship that can suck up some e-war from pretty much any pirate faction, hack sites, deal good DPS and travel through red territory reliably that doesn't use drones please tell me what it is.

With the introduction of mobile depots the need for an all-in-one Frankenstein-fit ship have become far lower. I run sites in a Tengu... scan, hack, and combat... zero drones. Yes, I only have to deal with Guristas (so doesn't necessarily fit the "handles any faction" request), but I'm sure a fit could be produced with the various T3 combinations available. The SOE cruiser might also be a good choice, but I've not looked into it too much (I prefer to have the option of switching subsystems on a T3).


Bohneik Itohn wrote:
Next comes the question of balancing the time to reward again. Extra important now because as mentioned, data sites are kind of lousy right now. How would exploration sites have to change to make the extra time players now invest in them ratting worth the players' time?

I think the rats, even only a few, creates a situation where people have to fly something combat capable. That small change would require explorers risk ships larger than a basic frigate or cov ops... and that alone would be enough to create a second tier of sites that would have higher rewards. But they shouldn't replace all the sites... there should still be a first tier of sites like the ones that currently exist. This is something that has already been incorporated into the Ghost Sites, and I like it.

My hope being that explorers would have to make a choice... fly a frig and only be able to do tier 1 sites, or risk more to get more ISK in tier 2 sites (and above). The time required to kill the rats for tier 2 sites would be trivial in the time/reward ratio. It just creates an "activation energy" that dictates what is required for the increased rewards.

Bohneik Itohn wrote:
I want a complete rework of the data and relic sites to make them more desirable, to make players more vulnerable, and to make them more engaging. We all do. Rats are a step back, they only partially succeed at one of these goals while hindering the progress of the other two.

I would love additional ways to do what you describe. I agree fully that just adding more and more rats at each tier is not the answer. I think the addition of something combat related (rats, exploding cans, etc.) is a good first step. Personally I really like the exploding cans in Ghost Sites (5k dmg on a single failed hacking attempt) as it still allows someone to attempt the site in a frig/cov ops, but they better get it right... or else pop.

I guess my main goal is to have levels/progression to data/relic sites. Each level has additional risk and reward. How those levels are implemented (what risk? what reward?) is secondary. Rats are one option, but as you say... other things would be great too.
Saisin
Chao3's Rogue Operatives Corp
Chao3 Alliance
#14 - 2014-06-21 01:06:05 UTC
Anything to make exploration even better is good, as it will draw more ships in all type of spaces...

For WH though, I would say that any exploration focused site should always have a jump gate.

Most of the WH will be occupied, and they will have silent watchers. An explorer is forced to launch probes and will trigger the silent watchers alarms. In short, the WH inhabitants will muster. If you jump to the exploration site, they will very likely have scanned it already and will be on you with very little risks for them, and maximum risk for the explorer.

WH amongst all space should be balanced toward explorers that actively look for good stuff to do...

A jump gate would be at least a small amount of protection in favor of the courageous WH explorers...

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Bohneik Itohn
Ministry of War
Amarr Empire
#15 - 2014-06-21 05:27:00 UTC
First let me just say.... No acceleration gate on WH sites... You should've run your own intel before running sites in a WH and determined if the locals were active or not. You also should not be in those sites without paying constant attention to whether the locals wake up or not. Pay attention to D-scan and the grid and you won't get killed.

But anyways...

Legion is my current ship of choice and I used to use the Stratios. The Legion gets shut down hard by TD so Blood and Sansha sites become impossible. The Stratios doesn't have the EHP to do 0.0 combat sites without some epic kiting, in my opinion. Possible to do some of them, but not all of them, and it takes forever. Fantastic ship for low sec and high sec though.

Almost every ship I have has a mobile depot and some alternative equipment, with the exception of some like my Slicers which simply don't have the cargo space for them.

I won't act like I know what I'm talking about because I don't fly one, but I imagine the amount of sensor damps Serpentis use in their DED sites and some of the anomalies would brick the Tengu just as badly as TD does the Legion. You'd be still be able to kill stuff, it'd just take 3 to 4 times as long because you'd be damped down to about 6 or 7km range the entire time.

Always loved CCP's logic of putting E-war on damn near every rat in these sites, so that you can't just focus them down and move on with your life. Let's try not to give them a reason to put that crap in data and relic sites also.

I'd like to see some interesting things done with hacking, starting with getting rid of the lousy maze mini-game in place of something more interesting like hacking that requires the acquisition of quality scripts, the use of specific scripts for different situations and or levels of skill, a matching game that moves continually so that you have to take your attention away from D-scan, the ability to drop cloak and immediately activate a hacking module near a ship that is already hacking to hostile-hack their ship and attempt to shut down crucial systems in a head-to-head match in the first few seconds of PvP while making yourself vulnerable to the same attack, etc....

There are dozens of things CCP could do to make hacking better. There have been superb hacking mechanics that're fun and engaging in video games since the 80's. We'll never see them in Eve Online though. I could lay details down for half a dozen different sets of mechanics, but I'd just be wasting my time because CCP is in no way motivated to make a big change to the system when there are so many people farming exploration sites that don't want anything changed because they'd rather not have to think about what they're doing.

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