Elite Dangerous is a huge open sandbox MMO. And with open sandbox this usually means player can kill other players. The consequences very from game to game, and right now Elite Dangerous doesn’t do much to punish player killers. There is no PVE server, so many of us PVE players join up with a private PVE group. The other day I was at the ancient artifact grounds (Visiting the Ancient Ruins in Elite Dangerous), and left, but apparently some griefers were out there killing other players in the private PVE group, and this got me thinking that we need a solution in game. Within the groups Facebook page, there was a discussion about a PVE option, and punishments for players who grief PVE players, and that inspired this blog post.
The problem is there is no punishment for griefing players. A small bounty, but that is paid easy enough. In real life you go to jail, and that is where this gets to.
First the game needs a PVE option. This is on by default when you first start playing until you are two or three ranks up (in any form), then by default goes off and puts you in PVP by default. If you kill another player during that “trial” time, it will warn you, place a bounty on you, but otherwise leave you alone. A second player kill in that trail period will be treated as any other player, which I’ll discuss in a bit (however you start at the first step and it ignores that first trial period kill). If you are in a private PVE group, then it stays on PVE mode all the time. If there are any private PVP groups, then obviously it stays on PVP all the time. If you have open crimes against you in PVP or Open, then those carry over to the PVE group, and you’ll face the stiffer consequences.
Anyhow, in your right panel (or the panel between your legs, where it might make more sense) you get the PVP/PVE option. This changes your radar signature. You can’t switch back and forth willy nilly. There are cooldown times on any switch, how long I’m not sure. You can’t just use PVE to travel between stations, or though known/suspected dangerous areas, then reengage PVP when you are in more friendly areas.
So now your radar shows that the player near you is a PVE flagged player. If you attack them, you are warned, and fined (equal to if not greater than the cost of their repairs). If you kill them, then we get to the real punishment. Now, it is important to note that they can defend themselves after being engaged without consequence to them… unless you do no damage to them after the first, and only the first shot. If you do one shot, are near full health, then they turn and kill you without you engaging them more, then they’ll get a fine, but not the full punishment. This largely relates to players who start the fight against a PVE flagged player and kills them. PVP players are fair game, unless they are in a private PVE group. Killing a PVP player in Open or private PVP groups is always free of anything other than any bounties put on you in the game already.
You have killed a PVE player in Open. The money required for the other player to buy their replacement is taken from your account and given to them. If you don’t have enough, it will be deducted from you account as you earn money, say 25-50% of earning, until the debt is paid. A bounty is placed on you until you are killed in an equal or better ship to the one you killed the player in (so no jumping into a sidewinder, then getting blasted then back to your ship). We might let it go at that for the first time, if not it goes right to the next step.
You kill a PVP player in Open. Again, fined like above for the price of that player’s replacement costs. Bounty placed on your head for when you return to the major bubbles. You are given a strike, more on that in a bit. Now you are moved to a prison bubble. You are stripped of your funds and ships. They are kept in storage at the main bubble…deep in the middle of the main bubble, or on the opposite side of the main bubble from the nearest point the two bubbles have to one another. From this bubble, you initially can’t plot a path out. You are stuck here until you earn enough that you are allowed to plot your way out. This is a mini bubble,
a few thousand light years (as in no less than 5k, most likely 10-20k) from the main human bubbles . This is a fairly decent sized bubble, with plenty of trade and the like within it. Plenty of stuff to earn your way back. Of course that bubble itself has rules and regulations, and bounties on player killers. Those bounties stay on you until you are killed being in a ship equal or better than the one you were in when you killed the other player. There are no ship or module transfers to the prison bubble from the other bubbles. This prison bubble is open PVP all the time. This prison bubble has more hostile NPCs. It’s a harsh place, and the mission rewards and trade rewards are smaller. If you went here in debt, then 100% of all funds are taken until that debt is paid, not the 25-50% in the step above). Now the question is how long do you spend in the prison bubble? Probably has to be based on money, not time. Too many ways to exploit time punishments, stay off server if real time, AFK if in game time. So then how much do you have to earn? Probably based on a number of factors. If you killed somebody in a private PVE group, the penalty gets doubled (perhaps 1.2 to 1.5 times, but double sounds good since you went out of your way to join a specifically PVE group). But let’s say equal to the full, not replacement cost of the player killed ship, times 1.5 for a first strike, 2 or 3 for strike 2 and 4 or 5 for strike 3, then it starts going up double each time for each additional strike. The other player doesn’t get it, this is simply your earning your way out… and if you buy stuff with that money, it doesn’t count until you pay the fee. So you pay the fee, you can continue to stay in the prison bubble, earn more money which you get to keep, or can plot a narrow way out to the main bubble. Again, this prison bubble is only for players who kill other players who are marked PVE, though there should be a way to go there for other crimes if a player wants to experience the prison bubble without having to grief a PVE player. The prison bubble routes only to the main human bubble.
Once in the main bubble, you still have a bounty on your head, and you are still flagged as PVP until you pay that bounty at the main station. There is only one station that will let you pay that fee yourself, and it’s where your ships and any money you had left are. I was thinking Eravate, but you probably want one that isn’t a starting system, but still near the center of the bubble. Once you pickup your ships, pay any bounty if one is left (remember, for it to count to be killed while you have a bounty on your head, you have to be in a ship equal or better than the one you killed the other player in, otherwise the bounty remains), and get your funds back, you are free and clear to go. Now if you engage in another PVE player, you get cycled back into the above step with another strike, meaning it will take that much longer to earn your way out.
I think a prison bubble makes for an exciting experience, and so long as there are ways to get there without having to grief PVE players, I think it’d become a fun hub of activity. Now importing illegal cargo or something isn’t enough to get you sent there, but there should be something that is clear, and you get a couple of warning about before you are sent there, would be cool. The penalty fee you have to pay to get out in such cases is usually much smaller (opening fire and killing an NPC in the stations no fire zone might be close), but the idea would be to let people get there other ways. It also serves as a harsh punishment for players who openly grief players clearly marked PVE. It is also semi realistic. In real life, you don’t get your possessions and money until you are out of prison. Here, you just don’t get it automatically when you get out, you have to go to where they impounded the stuff once free.