So yesterday I start my EVE session pretty quietly, especially after being stuck away from the game for so long. My eldest boy now back with his mom and his brother, who finally came out of the hospital on Monday evening, I crack open a bottle of La Fin du Monde (one of the best beers in the history of beer), fit Stinkfoot the Sleipnir with the proper modules and ammo to take on the Mordus Headhunters, and proceed to rape 'em senseless. You can't go more carebear without pointing mining lazors on floating rocks. So with a steady flow of awesome beer and ISK, life is good. I had time to do a couple more missions before corpmate, and newly crowned CEO Havegun logs in and starts looking for trouble in Everyshore Low-sec, a perfect place for solo or very small gang The PvP. It didn't take him too long to find some.
For once, the Mya-Gerper dead-end constellation has people looking for action. Havegun is flying his Ishtar and all of a sudden I look at the alliance chat window and see things like "...something something Cyclone", "...something something Drake", "...something something bait", "yay, got the Cyclone!", "...something something Sleipnir", "...something something 'down'". I answer right away with "Should I be clone-jumping somewhere?". After getting informed of Gun's location I clone-jump to Azer, restart the client to enable my USB headset, get in one of my numerous Rifters (Gun had just re-shipped into an Incursus) and we start a tiny 2-man fleet, with me heading to Gerper at best speed. I barely have time to take a breath on the Gerper gate that Gun gives me the "jump in, WTM" order. One of Gun's previous assaillants had just tackled him again with a Rifter of his own, and I land on both frigates which are locked in a dance of death. The next order I got did make me raise my eyebrows: "Coz, don't put your point on him, keep it for the pod". Hmmm, this dude must have a tasty bounty, but I'm a bit too busy all of a sudden to check the pilot's character sheet. The outlaw's Rifter finally explodes and as this happens I start locking the capsule, which I scram and kill a second later. Just as I had predicted, my mailbox and wallet start blinking:
Sent: 2010.10.27 02:17
For your termination of Unknown Taker we have paid you the bounty that was set to his head: 10,000,000.00 ISK
Of course I give Havegun his half of the bounty, but still, not bad for about 2 minute's work! Later attempts at The PvP only resulted in both our ships' death, but when I logged out I kept thinking about the nice bounty payment. Of all the career paths that one can take in New Eden, the path of Bounty Hunter sure could need some looking into.
As it is right now, outlaws with fat bounties on their heads are almost nothing but flying piggy banks for themselves; they wait for the bounty to get big enough, have themselves podded by an alt or a buddy trustworthy enough to give them back the ISK, and voilà, instant free money. Sure NPC pirate factions have bounties, but mission running or ratting is a far cry from PvP bounty hunting. I'm almost convinced that the addition of a better bounty system, and maybe even the addition of a new class of NPC that would act almost as deathmatch bots do in Quake and other FPS games would help give a new life to Low-sec, giving it its own special flavor. W-space has Sleepers and T3 production, Null-sec has fat 'roids and rats and Sovereignty warfare, and Hi-sec has carebears... Low-sec has pirates and Faction Warfare. It's easy to see that out of four distinct regions of space, one region is the clear loser in ISK making opportunities. "Oh but I have a mission alt", one pilot would say. "I have a mining alt" would say another. Wouldn't it be more fun to be able to make ISK doing something fun instead of making ISK in ways so boring that it feels like a second job? Some players may be into carebearism, but some others, like me, are not.
The way I see it, instead of just plowing ISK on someone's head in the hopes that maybe someone pods him, Bounty Hunting should work more like some kind of miniaturized Wardec, where contracts can be made by players or corporations (not quite sure about alliances... that's stepping into Wardec territory) to put a price on a certain player's head. Just like bounties work right now, a player would need to have a certain amount of negative security status to have a bounty contract applied, and I'm sure that crafty multi-alt players would play this game too; if an outlaw player became aware that someone is willing to pay a bounty to have him podded, he could have an alt take the contract and collect the ISK, but at least it would be a bit more work compared to what is today dead easy. Plus, by the time the outlaw is aware of the price on his head, a true bounty hunter could have already taken the contract to pod him. The bounty hunter would then have a set period of time to complete the contract. When complete, the hunter gets his ISK. If time runs out, the contract dies and the ISK returns to the contractor.
The Bounty Hunter career path would also give some renewed importance to locator agents, which I'm pretty sure do not see as much use as they could. Also, the bounties could also receive some bonuses depending on the ships used in the fight, the system's true security rating (+1.0 to -0.99), distance from the contract's source station, etc.
So that's what a single outlaw kill made me think of. Let's hope I can find more outlaws with fat bounties ready to pop :)
Fly dangerous, which ever side of the fence you are