This is not to say that the low-key playstyle of mining has no place in Eve. Some players genuinely enjoy it, and replacing it with a mandatory activity that forced more engagement would not benefit the game. However this does not mean that there is no room for improvement. Mining currently lacks any real incentive for gameplay more complex than this when a red hits local. Instead a secondary mining mechanic should be added above and beyond “point barge at rock, wait a while” to give a role to other types of ships and players.
To accomplish this CCP should introduce of something that, for lack of a better name, could be called rock chips. Chips would be small, high value, low volume bits of concentrated ore that have a chance to shoot out of asteroids as they are mined. Chips would be ejected on a random vector and at high speeds, ranging from “afterburning cruiser” to “MWD Interceptor.” To give credit where credit is due, this idea was inspired by the mining system in Elite Dangerous.
The only way to collect chips would be to fly within 2500m and scoop to cargo. If they were not scooped into a cargo hold in a fairly short time they would evaporate. Chips would work like cargo cans for highsec and lowsec aggression mechanics; they would be tagged as belonging to whoever spawned them but stealing one would only give a suspect timer instead of a full CONCORD response.
The intent is to give a limited number of pilots in combat capable ships a reason to loiter near mining operations. In nullsec and lowsec the impact of this change would most likely be fairly limited. Right now, very low skill point players tend to salvage the wrecks left from anomalies for their income; this would certainly give them a new avenue to make money. Bigger mining fleets might produce enough chips to get some combat pilots interested, but having the numbers on hand to engage a twenty man roam is simply not a realistic goal. Instead the real game changer would be seen in highsec.
Currently highsec mining is one of the lowest payout, lowest risk activities in the game. Ganks, miner bumping, and can flipping (stealing from the jettisoned ore cans of miners to try and provoke them into opening fire and losing their CONCORD protection) are the only real ways to engage in conflict in a highsec asteroid belt. All of these give no incentive to interact with miners for anyone besides a dedicated few who love to collect miner tears. Nor do they provide any engaging content for the miners themselves, unless you count this as interaction (NSFW: mildly disturbing content and strong language).
If, instead of resembling paint drying, an active mining operation shot off little money balls that anyone could scoop up this would change. Miners would be incentivized to have non-mining ships in their fleet to recover rock chips that would otherwise be lost. Players more interested in PvP would have every reason to hang out around mining operations; they could either make Isk off scooping chips or get in fights with the owners/thieves.
Even a week old player in a Velator with a MWD would, if daring enough, have a chance to score chips worth many times what they could make at any other activity. A bigger mining operation would mean more chips, more players, and more chances for conflict and interaction. Even multi-boxed mining fleets would be a draw; the barges might take no part in the brawl going on around them but they would provide the impetus. Highsec mining would transform from something utterly passive into a major driver of social player behavior.
Implementing this would only be a small step towards making Eve PvE more interesting, but it would put a widely accessible new conflict driver into highsec. Since highsec currently has very few such drivers, and many of those are not new player friendly at all, this could only serve to improve the game.
Note: As an editorial this article reflects the opinion of the author and not TMC as a whole.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by FearlessLittleToaster.