It’s no coincidence that the reward track sounds suspiciously like last year’s botched Shadow of the Serpent event, as this event is built on the same event system and even uses the same user interface. The 24 hour refresh on challenges also makes it similar to a daily login reward system, something that CCP trialled last year with Recurring Opportunities but discontinued as it didn’t increase login numbers. Developers do seem to have learned lessons from both of these examples when putting together The Agency, and now I can’t help but wonder if this could be modified into a fantastic daily reward system.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the positive and negative aspects of The Agency and suggest how it could make a great permanent daily reward system with a few tweaks.
What happened with the previous systems?
CCP previously attempted a simple daily login reward with Recurring Opportunities, which gave players 10,000 skill points for their first NPC kill each day. This was equivalent to 1/50th of a skill injector added on top of your normal passive skill gain. That sounds pretty hassle-free and a nice little bonus for logging in each day, and CCP Rise did confirm that a lot of people went out and killed an NPC each day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to convince people to log in if they weren’t going to already and so it ultimately didn’t change login behaviour at all.
The Shadow of the Serpent event was more like a classic daily quest system in other MMOs, giving players rewards for doing certain tasks such as mining ore or killing NPCs. The problem with the event was that it required a massive grind of around 400 event sites to get all of the reward boxes, and the rewards were just not worth the effort. This differed from previous events such as the Crimson Harvest that let players just dip their toes in and complete a few sites to loot small rewards and skins. Many of the challenges were pointless busy-work and you had to either complete them anyway to get them out of the way or wait three days for them to expire.
What makes The Agency different?
The Agency is an event rather than a permanent gameplay system, but it obviously serves as a great test-bed for daily reward gameplay and future events. The good news for those burned by the Shadow of the Serpent is that we don’t have to complete special event sites to participate in this event. The challenges are all minor things such as killing NPCs that fit into a wide range of gameplay, small diversions into particular types of gameplay such as combat sites, or challenges that require you to fly a certain class of ship. The barrier to entry is very low and all of the challenges can be completed in high-security space in a short gaming session. JonnyPew covered the system pretty thoroughly in his video below:
The event does still suffer from some problems, though, such as the rewards being complete tripe: A tiny consumable tanking booster, 5 PLEX now worth a total of around 15 million ISK, and a skin for the Tengu strategic cruiser. Part of the problem here was likely that CCP has to worry about the event dumping too many PLEX on the market, especially as they now have to consider the rapid scalability of farming accounts now in any game design. This is probably why two of the challenges require ships that alpha pilots don’t have access to, which unfortunately ends up being unfair to free-to-play players.
The reward track system is much less grindy than it was in the Shadow of the Serpent event but still isn’t perfect. The initial six challenges provide a total of 48 and then you have to wait 24 hours for new ones, but the top prize requires 380 points so you’ll need around eight days of full participation to get all of the rewards. That’s a lot for a two-week-long event and is pretty hard on people who started the event late, but it wouldn’t be a problem if this were a permanent feature.
How could this become a permanent feature?
While The Agency is a pretty inoffensive event, this type of system has the potential to be a great permanent reward system for casual EVE players and a way to encourage players to test content they haven’t tried before. You could log in one day to find 6 daily or weekly challenges all about flying tech 1 cruisers, some oriented around PvE and others PvP-based. The next set of challenges might be all about making ISK, with challenges ranging from getting a certain amount of NPC bounties or mission payouts to killing ships worth a certain amount or collecting a certain value in loot.
Challenges could even be about playing in certain underused regions of space, travelling through wormholes, completing tasks in Project Discovery, or engaging in different types of industry. When the new NPC AI structures and interaction is rolled out in highsec as part of the Winter expansion, we could even get challenges about interacting with certain factions to encourage players to engage with the new gameplay. This would have the nice side-effect of creating flashpoints for emergent gameplay between players, as everyone would be trying to complete the same challenges.
Guild Wars 2 does something similar with its daily system, and EVE could replicate that model with just a few small changes to The Agency. For example, each challenge could come with its own additional small reward box with loot based on the challenge itself. You could get a blueprint copy or datacores for an industrial challenge, and ISK or pirate ammo for an NPC kill challenge. The reward track also needs to either provide considerably better rewards for participating for a whole week or be considerably easier to complete.
One of the most appealing aspects of Guild Wars 2’s daily reward system was that you could log in every day and pick three of the challenges to do in order to get your Daily Completionist bonus chest and achievement points. That meant you could always choose to ignore the mini-game and PvP based challenges if you don’t like them, or skip the resource farming or PvE ones. The Agency could be modified so that you get points from only your first three challenges per day but you get a large bonus on your third one. You could complete the other challenges for the small reward box but you wouldn’t get any extra points toward the big prizes.
The Agency has turned out to be a pretty fun diversion and I do find myself counting down the hours until I can do another set of challenges even though the rewards are pants. There’s something appealing in that little popup on the screen that tells me I killed 25 NPCs and got some kind of reward for it, but I can’t help thinking that this should be adapted into a permanent feature.
Though I’m sure there are some bitter old players who don’t want dailies or weekly challenges invading their hardcore PvP sandbox, I think some kind of casual reward scheme would be amazing for EVE. If CCP wants to go down this route, it should take note of successful models already in use in games such as Guild Wars 2. Each challenge should give a small immediate reward based on the activity, and the big rewards have to be either worth grinding on a reward track over the course of several days for or far easier to obtain.