Bounty System Enhancements & Overhauls

JokerGuy 2018-10-31

This article is a collaboration piece between JokerGuy and Zander Exvirus. Header Art by AnuranonthecoucH.

Bounties, a system of “justice” when the law, or in EVE’s case, the game rules can’t provide it. The idea is simple: another player wrongs you; you place a reward as an incentive for another pilot to right the scales. Sounds perfect for the space sand-box game EVE Online, right? Well, there are some vocal community leaders questioning if the system can be removed, and while their personal motives have some broad range improvements at heart, we ask, “Why not just fix the Bounty System?”

Why Talk About Bounties, Again?

The CSM (Council of Stellar Management) is a collection of EVE pilots; most have deep ties to NullSec. As one could guess, they tend to push for systems, features and balance changes that would have a greater effect on NullSec life. However, after reading the CSM13 Winter Summit Minutes it was noted that the Bounty System ranked 4th on their list of issues. While the topic and heated discussion of what to do over bounties is nothing new, the CSM gave it high priority during early summit meetings.

Even with it being high on the CSM’s hit list, there wasn’t a direct discussion of the Bounty System during the CSM13 Winter Summit, or at least not one documented within the minutes. The title “Bounty System” sounds like something a sand-box should have. Then why would CSM members ask if it could be scrapped? Sort Dragon asked if the system could be removed. The short answer is that the current system is broken and under-used.

Present Faults

The current bounty system in EVE Online doesn’t work, as anyone who has placed one or gotten one knows. Currently, a player can place a bounty on another pilot at anytime, anywhere, for any reason. Should the bountied player be killed, a small portion (20% of the killmail value) of their bounty is released. The system is not very complex and allows no incentive for a player to actually go hunt another player.

 The system was designed so that solo players, or small groups, would go out and hunt high value targets. The main way bounties are being released means that during large fleet battles, which do not reward you for hunting a specific player, you might just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Bounty payouts are then split among fleet members, resulting in each pilot only getting a few thousand ISK. These splits  add to the server’s load during fights. If mass amounts of players suddenly die, say from a titan death, then all of those bounties have to be calculated, and payed out. Bounty hunting in EVE, while advertised as such, isn’t a profession. The current system is just sitting there: a boring, nearly forgotten feature of a great game. To add insult to this problem, pilots can just farm their own bounty if they desire, which a lot of people tend to do if they have a high enough bounty.

Bounty System Repair Team

Few great ideas have a single mind behind them and to that effect Zander Exvirus and JokerGuy have teamed up to brainstorm through some possible enhancements, and maybe an overhaul, of the current forgettable system.

Bounty System Repair Team: We both feel that the Bounty System is a required component for EVE’s type of sand-box. Another player wrongs you, but the game rules weren’t violated? Place a money incentive for another pilot to right the scales.

Zander Exvirus: During INN’s own review of the CSM13 Winter Summit Minutes, the Bounty System took center stage. Minor changes were talked about, such as simply moving bounty payouts to downtime, or having bounties only paid out at a Bounty Office.

JokerGuy: As noted by another voice during INN’s internal discussion, CCP has been reducing down time and would like to see it removed. Therefore, the idea regarding pilots collecting their bounties at a new Bounty Office seems to be a winner. Killmail generation wouldn’t have the artificial load of calculating bounty and dividing it out to pilots.

Zander Exvirus: Start by making bounty placement on a capsuleer mean something. Have bounties require a pilot to set a bounty at a Bounty Office. Make it so that either one person or a corporation can accept to hunt another player and then claim the bounty. Bounties would need to be made and claimed in systems with bounty offices, which would open up PVP opportunities, as Joker will explain next.

JokerGuy: CCP talks a ton about play and counter-play, which I truly believe allows features and mechanics to feel balanced. Having a few Bounty Offices per region would draw players into the bounty profession, as players would begin to see familiar faces in local. Having centralized Bounty Offices would make them systems for new players looking to “get in” and find in-game help.

Zander Exvirus: Barring CCP releasing some stats, the community seems to believe that gaming the Bounty System is too easy. Bounties being 20% of the killmail value was intended to minimize this. It still happens, as people use an alt with a need to pad a killboard. One solution to that problem is to have the ship killed be worth more than or equal to the bounty itself, which would make it impossible to profit by killing yourself, and farming alts would also be pointless. However, this fix makes the system game-able in a different way. A pilot with a bounty above the cost of any ship they would normally fly basically exempts themselves from being hunted.

JokerGuy: Every system with rules can be “gamed.” The idea is to prevent “easy” methods. Another author here at INN, Humanis wrote a good review of the EVE’s Forgotten Profession and brings out a great point: “When placing a bounty, would you rather pay for a bit of scrap metal, or your target’s head?”

System Enhancements & Overhauls

CCP Habakuk mentions the experiment done in a recent fleet fight where the bounty system was turned off. The bounty system is processed on a different node and would not affect the fleet fight node directly, however, the bounty service was disabled due to proxy load which would result in an “experience” of lag on the client side.
– CSM13 Winter Summit Minutes

CCP has been experimenting with different ways to address the “experience” of lag caused by the Bounty System during larger engagements. Therefore, after discussing the current system and things we would like to see in update, we have refined our thoughts into a pair of lists.  The first list is focused on enhancements designed to reduce the server load. The second list is more of an outline for a possible overhaul of the system. The lists be combined or only a single idea used.

Enhancements: 

  • Bounties paid at down time
    • Reduces server load, especially in larger fights
    • CCP wants to remove DT, making this a temporary upgrade.
  • Bounties paid only at a Bounty Office
    • If Regions only had a small number of offices it could create a dense community of like-minded pilots and possible friction points
    • At the time of KillMail creation, the Bounty wouldn’t have to be calculated and paid out, reducing server load, especially in large fights

Overhaul Ideas:

  • Have a CONCORD +% bonus for LowSec Bounty Hunting;  maybe double reward for FW systems when the bountied pilot is of another faction.
  • LP could be used to move a pilot to “Most Wanted” Status and a portion of the LP would be awarded along with ISK
  • Make Bounty Hunting like a War Dec
    • Bounty Hunting Permit would last say 3 days
    • Bounty Hunting Permit would grant -50% Locator Agent cost and -80% cycle time (Numbers to be tweaked; the idea is to allow more ISK to be spent with much faster results)
      • CCP is looking for more ISK sinks that don’t feel like sinks. This method would be players trading ISK for intel.
      • Locator Agents would become relative to a large pool of players.
    • Grant Bounty Hunters a +100% payout reward during this time (If a ship kill would have paid 366k, it would pay out 736k or the cap of the bounty).
  •  Utilize the idea of small Upwells and have a Mobile Bounty Enforcement structure (MBE).
    • 24 hours after a pilot’s bounty has reached “Most Wanted” status a hunter can anchor an MBE and after 5 minutes of anchoring locks the target pilot in the system for a limited amount of time.
    • Under the effects of MBE CONCORD wouldn’t take action against the hunter.
    • Times are to layout in such a way as to minimize use against haulers and non-large bounty targets.
    • Small Upwells would get more use and would provide a place to balance counter-play
  • Split the Bounties into “Anything” and “Biomass”
    • Anything – would pay out for killmails or podding (as long as the corpse was delivered).
    • Biomass – would only payout on delivery of a corpse to a Bounty Office.
  • Players with a bounty on their heads would have to visit a Bounty Office to find the amount of bounty on their hide.
    • Bounty Agents could allow (for a fee) bountied players to see the last 3-5 players that took an interest in their collection
    • More counter-play as intel would place hunters and pilots closer together.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if CSM13 wanted the Bounty System discussed as a way to remove a source of lag for large NullSec fights. It is something that needs to happen. CCP too often presents us with half-baked features. Updating the Bounty System is a chance to attract a whole group of possible players, old and new. How many people wouldn’t jump at the chance to play as a “White Knight,” correcting the wrongs of others, or others looking for the thrill of the hunt? Let’s be vocal about having a hard discussion about the Bounty System and make it a core feature in a future release.

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Comments

  • Punky260

    “pilots can just farm their own bounty if they desire, which a lot of people tend to do if they have a high enough bounty.”
    No you can’t, as it would cost you more then it will pay out. So anyone doing that on purpose is just plain stupid.

    October 31, 2018 at 9:05 am
    • Delusionist Punky260

      There are instances where it makes sense, such as when insurance frauding.

      October 31, 2018 at 11:55 am
    • Carvj94 Punky260

      With platinum insurance and some smart module picks you can break even while padding your killboard.

      November 4, 2018 at 7:36 pm
  • Iris P

    For a moment I taught I was reading an eve-o forum post.

    October 31, 2018 at 9:11 am
  • Guilford Australis

    One of my alts had a bounty placed by someone in a lowsec system I entered. He hoped, apparently, that his buddies gate-camping the exit with smart-bombing Machariels would kill me and get the payoff. That didn’t happen, so now he adds to my bounty at random intervals – about every week or so. We don’t know each other and haven’t had any contact in the game.

    The current system is frivolous and serves no useful purpose.

    October 31, 2018 at 3:34 pm
    • Considering there’s trillions of isk currently tied up in the bounty system with no reasonable way to be rewarded with any I completely agree with you.

      November 4, 2018 at 7:29 pm
  • František Filandr

    This is way too complex, unneccesarily. Also, bounties would still be way too low. Wingspan TT already made very very very good suggestion for Bounty system rework, much better than this article proposes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rftmAQdq_bg

    Basically a pool of randomized targets with bounty on them given to bounty hunters at bounty offices with free killright trigger, bounties payed IN FULL, because you can not exploit them when target selection is random, so you can award properly. Much larger minimum bounty (tens of milions of ISK). Now this is a system where bounty on you means there are people actively hunting you and you dont know who it is until they are on you. This way, you can also actively make ISK, because the payout will actually mean something.

    This article here is just a bunch of modifications, that will not change the system much. It needs a much bigger rework.

    October 31, 2018 at 4:10 pm
    • JohnnyCrowe František Filandr

      So much this. I would literally quit my space job if this was the system.

      November 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm
    • I like the idea. Would ask your opinion on one thing though.

      Do you think it’s problematic that docile, pve centric players could (through normal or exploitative means) get these sorts of targeted marks on them.

      Don’t mind any answer, would just like your view.

      November 1, 2018 at 1:48 pm
      • Faruzen Alot

        There could be a limit at how often you can put a bounty on someone and this limit could be account wide. Minimum of 50-100 milion ISK, only once a day or a week. Someone with deep pocket should be able to make a whole high-sec mining corporation prime target for bounty hunters everywhere, but it must not be easy or cheap. Also, cheap bounties may not be attractive to bounty hunters, if there are bigger targets to be hunted 🙂

        November 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm
      • Carvj94 Alot

        I definitely think there should be a fairly high minimum bounty for that. Hell back when I first started the game some moron gave me a 20 mil bounty for mining his rocks. Also think one result should always be the highest value target that’s not currently being hunted. But yea, Wingspan came up with a good one there.

        November 4, 2018 at 7:26 pm
        • Alot Carvj94

          The issue i have with bounties is they not tied to any actual wrong doing. While there is nothing wrong with someone placing a 20 million bounty on you for mining a rock, it means that enhancements to bounties need to remain neutral in their enhancements – as opposed to incentivising people to chase them down.

          Lets say that stations in highsec had bounty offices which had a list of the most recent sightings of nearby bounty targets (by npc ships) and their worth. I think that would be a cool way to make tracking down gankers with bounties more appealing by making it a more consistent profession. On the other hand i feel this sort of directional marker for bounties would be bad for the game if it directed hunters towards passive miners. I mean imagine if you like mining and stations are actively telling hunters that they can make a profit by suiciding small ships into you :/

          November 4, 2018 at 8:39 pm
          • Carvj94 Alot

            Possibly make it so that you have to be killed by a person to place a bounty on them as well?

            November 5, 2018 at 5:56 am
          • Alot Carvj94

            Pretty sure it already works that way. It’s just too easy to trick people into culpability – even if it’s just reminding after you exploded.

            November 5, 2018 at 6:09 am
          • Faruzen Alot

            When someone falls for a trick, its his problem. Do not limit sandbox too much, or you will have World of Warcraft instead. Making the game into Hello Kitty where no danger is present is just plain stupid. And generally, I think you should be able to simply hurt someone because you want to and make bounty hunters hunt them just because you want to, but it must be limited to not be abused too much.

            November 5, 2018 at 10:30 am
          • Alot Faruzen

            You started your post by saying it’s a sandbox so usage of bounties should not be confined then ended your post by saying you don’t want people to abuse it -.-

            November 5, 2018 at 11:46 am
          • Faruzen Alot

            Sandbox doesnt mean everyting possible should be permitted, just as confining doesnt mean not alowing anything at all. It must be balanced, which I believe is not unreasonable thing to do?

            November 5, 2018 at 11:52 am
          • Alot Faruzen

            Exactly -.-

            November 5, 2018 at 12:05 pm
          • Carvj94 Alot

            Your thinking kill rights, and that actually makes me think that merging kill rights and bounties would be best. With improvements of course so the aggressors can’t exploit the system.

            November 5, 2018 at 10:36 pm
  • Alot

    I remember one of my earliest encounters in eve was in a system just out of the starter zone. Got blown up, checked the bounty tab and he had a higher bounty on himself then I think I made in my entire eve run. I doubt adding a few isk to his tally would have changed anything.

    I feel this all comes down to whether you can make the repercussions of crime in highsec inconvenient enough to make people seriously consider the benefits of doing so. And seeing how insanely profitable it is and the fact the meagre repercussions are confined to the character doing it (not the account nor the actual player) I so no way to resolve this issue.

    November 1, 2018 at 10:05 am
    • Carvj94 Alot

      I’d go as far as to say that putting a bounty on someone has the opposite effect. There are plenty of people who like having a bounty on them and see it as a point of pride.

      November 4, 2018 at 7:35 pm