CCP has released a string of developer news recently teasing at new directions for some long ignored mechanics. The latest such announcement is the Dynamic Bounty System (DBS), which will redistribute ratting bounties on the fly in accordance with player activity. The system is live now on the test server, and is due to be deployed to Tranquility in November.
So what does the system do exactly?
It reconfigures bounty payouts in response to player action, increasing and decreasing a per-system multiplier depending on how many players are feeding on the rats. Ratting bounties will decrease in heavily ratted areas, stabilize in lightly ratted areas, and increase in areas with large amounts of player combat. CCP insists the system will not cause bounties to swing wildly back and forth, but rather, the bounties will slowly blend from high to low over the course of days or weeks. As players rat in an area under the firm control of a player alliance, ratting bounties will decrease, while more dangerous, less controlled areas will see a bounty increase. Finally, CCP will also be reworking the Encounter Surveillance System (ESS), though they will be discussing those changes separately next week.
The goal of this system is to put further strain on the resources of large player alliances that hold sovereign territory. CCP’s desire is to see ratters who live under the protection of defense umbrellas venturing out into less utilized space to hunt down higher paydays. CCP believes that the necessity to stray further from home will increase player death and improve dynamism and engagement with the game. Further, CCP thinks this dynamic environment will make it easier to detect botting activities by making suspicious actions more obvious.
A secondary goal is to level the playing field between large and small groups by providing opportunities for small operations to potentially enjoy much higher reward-to-effort ratios compared to their highly centralized counterparts. These kinds of dynamic environmental systems seem to be a theme with CCP lately, and the Dev Blog implies that more dynamic systems will be introduced in the future in order to keep EVE healthy into its third decade.
Whether this particular change will have the desired result remains to be seen. Citadel mechanics can provide a level of player safety that simply wasn’t present back in the “good ole days” when people used to rat in asteroid belts. Whether the increased rewards that come from ratting in dangerous territory will be worth the risk is going to be the single biggest factor. If the math on these numbers is too low, it will see players continue their current behavior and simply accept a lower pay out. If the rewards are too high, intrepid players will no doubt game the system to create temporary ratting meccas for greatly increased payouts.