In September 2011, my KOTW was a player named Drake Arson who was selected by CCP to be the first EVE player to be accepted into a pirate faction as a full member. In this case, the faction in question was the Sansha Nation. Drake was a Sansha role-player and was going to be deployed as part of the military. As a going-away-come-back-soon present, CCP presented him with a high-sec super-carrier (sans drones, fighters, or fighter-bombers). He was then allowed to be part of an Incursion Live Event where he could use that super-carrier to attack players with its three high slots in support of an NPC Sansha fleet that was the basis of the event.
EDIT (11/Dec/2012): I heard from Drake Arson this evening. He was very complimentary of the reference above and the post in general, but he did have one correction. Citizen Arson was under dev control, not Drake's control. It was just a character that was named in his honor, not a character he controlled. Thanks for the correction, and glad you're back safe, Drake!
At the time, I welcomed this as both an expansion of CCP's infrequent Live Events and an opportunity to get players involved in pirate factions directly (something that the pirate player base has wanted for a long time). Unfortunately, this turned out to be a blip on both fronts. One data point does not make a trend and all that. Neither experiment has been repeated in the year since that time and game development swung in different directions soon after.
But there's nothing saying it can't swing back.
I'm going to have more to say about this tomorrow, but CCP's strategy for the last year or so has been player retention, rather than attracting new players. It's sorta mostly been working, but CCP's most successful expansions have been the ones that have pushed the envelope a little, not the ones that have been iteration-heavy. I'm all for iteration. But it's a diet of bread, water, and vitamin supplements. It'll keep a person alive for a long while, but it's not particularly nourishing.
Which brings me back to Incursion and how it could have been an awesome PvP expansion. In this context, the answer is fairly obvious: CCP could have opened up the Sansha faction as a playable option the same way the four Empire factions are open today. In terms of game mechanics at that time, it wouldn't have meant a whole lot but it would have been interesting for the Sansha role-players. Maybe the Sansha LP store could have been limited to Sansha faction members, or a few more Sansha items could have been added as Sansha faction LP store exclusives, the same way there are exclusives for faction warfare members.
You know what I can't help noticing, though? The game mechanics are now in place to support pirate faction play.
Think about it. The only things that were really missing to make this possible were:
- the game mechanics to flag players as pirates; and,
- a way for pirate players to both make ISK and be made valid targets for everyone else, the same way pirate rats are today.
The big disadvantage: CONCORD would disavow players that were members of pirate factions. CONCORD wouldn't automatically attack pirate faction players (the same way they ignore pirate rats today), but pirate faction players would no longer receive bounties from CONCORD. No more ratting for pirate faction players, and no more Incursions for pirate faction players.
The big advantage: the pirate faction the player belonged to would pay players bounties instead. What would they pay bounties on? Other capsuleers, of course! The pirate factions should pay based on the security status of the player killed, with a maximum bounty of 1.5 million ISK or so for killing a player with a 5.0 security status, plus a small amount of pirate faction LP given based on value killed. In addition, pirate faction players would get a small bonus for killing players that are part of the four Empire factions. CONCORD would continue to look dimly on attacking other players in high-sec, and the bounties would be small enough that it wouldn't really be worth it there.
But can you imagine the massive buff to low-sec and to null? Pirate faction players would have to "rat" by shooting other players, and the more "carebeary" the player in question being shot, the more they're worth. These players would then have an incentive to place bounties on the pirates, and the circle of life and death in New Eden would get a big new loop.
Kinda fun to think about. And it's not the only proposal I'm writing this week. I'm just in that sort of mood all of a sudden. If this one isn't goofy enough for you, come back on Wednesday. I've got something really off-the-wall to suggest then.
Anything obviously broken in the proposal above? Discuss.