"With the Winter expansion possibly being named 'Crucible', it certainly is a melting pot of refinements and tweaks aimed at making the EVE experience smoother and more wholesome. If the developers suddenly found themselves some spare resources and approached you for an additional feature to include before release, what single concept would you pitch them and how would you implement it?
For bonus points, the one thing lacking from this 'patchwork' of iterations is a cohesive storyline to package 'The Crucible' together. How could this expansion be marketed to potential new customers?"
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First off, I want to make one distinction to Seismic Stan's blog banter intro above.
Anyway, on with the question. My dream question. Given the power to pitch a feature to devs what would I pick? I have SO MANY ideas! To pick one is hard, especially without any idea how many story points my ideas are worth and how many points the team can take on (can you tell I work in a SCRUM workplace?). So I'm going to cheat and propose three ideas, yes THREE! Take that Stan! One for what I consider a small feature, one for medium feature, and one for a big feature.
Small Feature: Transporting Assembled Ships
Right now if I have a rigged battleship there are three ways to transport it. One, get in and fly it there. Two, put in a capital ship maintenance array and have it jump it there. Or three, courier it to a freighter pilot who then carries it in a freighter to the destination.
The third is the one I like to focus on here. Right now, in order to move a battleship in this method you need two characters, one to do the moving and one to setup the courier contract as you cannot setup the contract yourself. This is asinine. I should be able to wrap a ship for transport myself without requiring the overhead of a second character and contract.
Simply add an option to "Prepare for Transport" an assembled ship (or really anything!) and it will get contained in a package that can be loaded into a freighter, no contract or second char required. Same rules as preparing a courier contract but with less hassle.
Medium Feature : Improvements to Directional Scanner
Anyone who has ever done any PvP knows how to use the directional scanner, but have you ever stopped and thought that it was weird that it had effectively no graphical component to it? You aim using your camera drones and then read off a chart of hits. Then you wiggle back and forth to see what falls on or off the chart as you rescan... but is that hit on the right side or left? How big is a 30 degree cone, does that include the sun? What is 250,000,000 km in AU? What is 4.7 AU in km?
Quite simply, the directional scanner is a piece of shit. Compared to the awesomeness that is the probing functionality, then I consider it an ugly piece of shit.
So here is my proposal: at the very least, allow the user to click a check box to show the current directional scan area on the screen so people can stop guessing. Change the range box from a text box of kilometers to a slider control that changes from km to AU just like the overview does as ranges change.
Then, on the solar system map, show the scan area much like a scan probe. When I'm scanning 90 degrees to 10 au, show that cone on the map so I can quickly assess what celestials are in it. Allow me to click and drag the cone around or even change its range or shape. This would make it feel more like a scifi tool and less like a WWII era submarine sonar.
Large Feature: Deep Space Exploration Ships
My last idea is to add to the inventory of ships. A lot of people do exploration in all parts of space for fun and profit, yet the serious explorers often do it with two ships or two characters: one for the expert probing ship with a cloak, and a second combat ship to come in and do the fighting against the NPCs. Sometimes there can even be a third ship for the hacking, salvaging, or archeology.
So I propose we take the tier II battlecruisers (Drake, Myrmidon, Hurricane, Harbinger) and create tech II versions. They would have stats similar to Command Ships but their bonuses would be:
100% damage to weapons (but only four hardpoints, i.e. like a Marauder class ship)
-99% reduction to CPU usage of Scan Probe Launchers
10% increase to scan probe strength per level of Deep Space Exploration Ship skill
10% increase to range of Analyzer, Code Breaker, and Salvager modules per level of Deep Space Exploration Ship Skill
+ Corresponding damage bonus as per their tech I variant
For slot layout, each of them should have seven high slots: four for weapons, one for scan probe launcher, one for salvager, and one for Improved Cloaking Device (because nobody wants to scan in dangerous space with a cloak on). They should have enough mid slot to fit a code breaker and analyzer module (along with a shield tank for the Drake variant and possibly Hurricane variant).
To keep these ships from being PvP gods, you can always gimp their sensor strength like you did to Marauders.
Note: you could argue that a pretty good all-in-one exploration ship can be made out of a strategic cruiser, but you can't get all the functionality I am envisioning without really gimping offensive or defensive capabilities.