WantToTrade: Tags for Security Status

By CCP Masterplan
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Hi there. I hope that everyone enjoyed Fanfest last week as much as we did. This dev blog is a follow-up to the Fanfest presentation where I introduced Team Five 0's 'Tags for Security Status' feature coming in Odyssey. If you were present for the talk, or watched it on the live-stream, then you'll have some idea of what you're about to read. If you missed it [Why would you miss it?] then read on to find out what is coming to a low-sec system near you soon.

For those who don't like scrolling, here's the five-line summary:

  • We are adding some new pirate NPCs (non-player characters)
  • These NPCs will only appear in asteroid belts in low-security space
  • When killed, these new NPCs will drop a new type of pirate tag
  • These new pirate tags can be taken to a CONCORD station (in low-sec space) and turned in at the new 'Security Office' station service
  • Turning in one of these tags will raise the security status of your character

Now let's take a more detailed look at these changes:

To begin with, I'm going to list some of the goals that we had when starting this project. Some of these came from the high-level goals for the Odyssey expansion itself.
  • Give players a reason to be out in space. In particular, to be out in low-sec space.
    • Add something unique to low-sec that gives residents and visitors a resource worth fighting over 
  • Add an alternative method of raising security status via the proven market mechanics
    • Provide an alternative way to get back in to high-sec for 'reformed' outlaw players. We have had players that would rather stop playing altogether than grind their way back up by killing NPCs
    • But we still need to respect the sandbox!
  • Reflect the DUST 514 storyline progression
    • The new NPCs represent the pirate factions seeing profit and/or power by supporting the clone mercenaries of DUST 514. This support has caused local CONCORD officials to offer special rewards to capsuleers who keep this new menace at bay.

New NPCs

We're adding four new classes of NPC to each of the five pirate factions that populate low-sec areas: Sansha, Guristas, Angels, Serpentis and Blood Raiders. Each faction will be getting the following new NPCs:
  • [FACTION] Clone Soldier Trainer: In charge of funds, equipment and locales used in the preparation and deployment of clone soldiers loyal to the faction.
  • [FACTION] Clone Soldier Recruiter: In charge of scouting vulnerable areas - remote planets, isolated outposts, interstellar colonies and other places that hold human life - with the aim of bringing in new recruits for the pirates' clone soldier programs.
  • [FACTION] Clone Soldier Transporter: Responsible for the swift conveyance of clone soldiers to their intended destination.
  • [FACTION] Clone Soldier Negotiator: A fixer who establishes contracts between pirate-trained clone soldiers and those who might employ their services.
These NPCs will be found according to the regular faction distributions, but only in asteroid belts in low security space. The different classes will vary in difficulty and rarity. They will be more common than office/faction spawns, but less common than the regular pirate NPCs that you see in the belts. They will put up a reasonable fight (including using warp-scrambling effects) so come prepared!
Once you've found one of the new pirates and killed it, you should go and check the wreck. In addition to some random loot, each NPC will always drop one tag.

New tags

There are four tag types (one for each class of NPC) and all faction versions of a given class will drop the same type of tag. The tags can be freely bought and sold on the market like most other commodities.
If you're interested in raising your security status, the first step is to acquire a collection of tags (via whatever means you find appropriate). The quantities and types you need will depend on your current security status, and on how high you are looking to raise it. Each tag type only works for a specific band of the security status spectrum, so if you wish to go all the way up from -10, you're going to need some of each. Here is a chart showing the boundaries at which each tag can be used, and how many tags are required to bridge each section:
Tags can only be used to raise a security status between -10 and 0. If you want to get higher than zero, you need to do that the old-fashioned way.
Each tag is worth 0.5 points of security status, so that's 20 tags between -10 and 0.
We fully expect certain tag types to be more in-demand than others.
Each tag has an associated ISK fee. This 'processing fee' is paid to CONCORD along with the tag when you turn it in. [This value is still in balancing, and is likely to change before release]

New station service

Once you have your tags, you need a place to turn them in. Fortunately, we've got that covered! To incentivize capsuleers to hunt down and kill the new pirates, CONCORD and DED stations in low-security space have opened a new service - the Security Office.
These Security Offices are scattered across 45 low-security stations. Like all station facilities, their locations can be highlighted on your star map:
Take your tags to one of these stations, drop them in to your hangar, and the Security Office will be available:
Here you can drag the slider to the right according to how much of a security status gain you need. The tag requirement and ISK cost will update, as will the text describing the consequences of the resulting status. Once you’re happy with the deal, click Exchange Tags to complete the transaction. The tags and ISK will be handed over to CONCORD, and your security status will be updated in return.

So does this mean I can now buy CONCORD standing?

Good question! Before I answer that, let’s talk about the links between Security Status and CONCORD standing:
Both of these attributes are tracked in the EVE database by the same single value. That is, if one is modified, the other one implicitly changes as well. This is limits what we can do in terms of hanging features on this value – for example CONCORD agents would read/write your security status when you run missions for them. Committing a crime that lowers your security status could then cut off access to certain agents, or even certain areas of space (such as the Sanctum constellation).
In Odyssey, we are tackling this issue in the following way. We are making Security Status in to a new per-character attribute, which will be completely independent of the standing system.
During the downtime on release day, the following process will run:
  • Each character gets a new Security Status attribute in the DB
  • The (unmodified) CONCORD->character standing is copied in to the new Security Status attribute
  • All CONCORD->character standings will be wiped
We will then switch over all gameplay logic (such as outlaw status, NPC kill rewards, police response etc) to use the new attribute. The Security Status attribute will maintain the familiar -10 to +10 range, and will be unaffected by the various Social/Connections skills (other than Fast Talk, which will continue to improve Security Status gains from killing 'Wanted' NPCs by 5% per level).
So, to answer the original question: Does this mean I can now buy CONCORD standing? No. You will be able to buy an increased Security Status with tags+ISK, but not standings.

Changes to ‘cycle-ratting’

The standings system is designed to track relationships that don’t change extremely rapidly. As such, it uses fairly heavy caching - typically changes can be around 15-20 minutes old before they get applied, and each solar system has its own cache. One consequence of this is that changes to CONCORD standing received by killing pirate NPCs are heavily delayed. Only the largest kill per tick would apply (where a tick is the total time that a change takes to works its way through the cache layers). Furthermore because the cache is per solar system, it is possible for a character to have multiple ticks in the pipeline if he is killing rats across multiple systems. Hence ‘cycle ratting’ is a way to use limitations of the standing system to accelerate the rate of security status gains. 
In moving the security status attribute out of the standing system, this behavior will go away. The pending change will follow the character around as he jumps between locations. In effect, the tick will become per character, not per solar system. There will no longer be a way to have multiple ticks in parallel across different solar systems. The tick will now be an explicit 5-minute interval, starting with the first NPC kill that a character makes. We are also rebalancing the security status gains given by some NPCs as part of this change, so you might notice slightly different gains per tick.

When can I try this out?

We will soon be updating a public test server with these (and many more) Odyssey changes. Please give us your feedback - we're very interested to hear it in the comments thread for this blog.

And finally, some graphs

During my Fanfest talk, I presented some graphs showing how Retribution impacted PVP, particularly in low-sec space. For anyone that missed the talk, here are those graphs again. I recommend checking the recording of the talk for some discussions/interpretations of this data, and also some annotations highlighting particular points of interest.