PvPvE and the Knowledge Economy
In my mind I see two main economies in Worlds Adrift: Knowledge and Materials. A good economy should have niches for farmers, raiders, and a few good sinks to put them into. Most of these niches come down to fluidity. The material economy is good as it is, with a lot of good sinks in the form of ship and item building. Farmers can spend a lot of time mining and looting, in addition to salvaging broken ships. Raiders can of course raid ships and have a lot of options to do so. The knowledge side though, is kind of lacking. There are two good ways to gain knowledge, and those are to camp loot spawns and explore for databanks. Databanks are good since they encourage a playstyle that most players will do, in that traveling is something that naturally occurs in game. Loot spawns for either salvaging blueprints or finding journal entries are fine, but they don’t feel like they give the player agency. You have to rely on rng to get worthwhile salvage and unlearned journal pieces. In addition, it’s not fluid, as player often don’t carry knowledge items or spare blueprints on ships, so knowledge isn’t very tradable or raidable. This is where PvPvE could come in, with a new npc enemy type and new way to gain knowledge.
My thought for this is a creature called the Dragonfly, a semi-intelligent bug/bird that loves to pick up nice things. The idea is something between a dragon that likes to hoard treasure and a crow that likes to pick up shiny things. These would appear sparingly in the expanse, somewhat commonly in the remnants, and on par with the normal fauna in badlands. Putting them in wilderness might be too early since you want to establish the idea of exploration and looting as the stable ways to progress. These little guys have a penchant for technology, wanting to find interesting pieces of advanced scrap to take back to their flocks. I’d imagine they’d also have a loose social structure, with a stronger, more loot-laden alpha that leads flocks as they travel from island to island. It would also be nice to give them a little ecology animation like the manta egg laying, having them land on and pick at a scrap pile exposed to the surface.
Overall, these new enemies wouldn’t pose much of a threat, presenting a medium challenge, more than mantas/beetles but less than the auto turrets (those things hurt and I’m glad they can’t move). They would act more like game, things to be hunted but that will put up a fight when aggravated. I’d imagine they’d have a proximity aggro, first warning the player to give them a chance to leave then going into full on attack mode. They’d have some kind of weak projectile attack rather than the manta/beetle headbutt. Players could take up the role of hunter and farm these creatures to gain new functional items, items that would require a special activity to be put into effect, making it so that people often carry them on their ships, and thus can be fluid. In a nutshell I’m talking a new kind of itemized knowledge.
Because of their penchant for technological scrap, Dragonflies have a knack for finding still-intact encrypted drives. Killing Dragonflies from different zones yields drives of varying degrees of corruption, with lower levels being more corrupted and having less data able to be extracted from them. Unlike other knowledge that are plain to read/scan, these would require decryption. Taking them to a data bank would give half the knowledge stored in it, as data banks are old and worn out and not really efficient at that kind of things. There would be a few places in each zone however, that would have more complete decryption algorithms that could gain all of the knowledge from it. As a world event, a particularly powerful computer could boot up, that would give 2x knowledge from drives, able to extract a large amount of meta-data and analyze it for easy understanding by the player. It would be dangerous to venture into these events, as people would surely try to kill you and take your knowledge to decrpyt themselves, but for those that could either sneak in or brute force it, they would be rewarded handsomely.
Your points are well-made and insightful. I rather like these ideas! I think we need more things to bridge the gap between PvP activities and PvE activities.
To add on to the computer idea, maybe players have to boot up the old computers with batteries, which they have to find and bring to the computers. Then the battery is consumed and the computer stays on for thirty minutes or an hour. I’m not sure how you would broadcast the fact that a computer is online and where it is to an entire region, though. Maybe as part of another system/mechanic that doesn’t yet exist.
Maybe there are multiple computers on a computer-bearing island and turning one on turns on all of them, so people who are waiting to mug you when you approach a computer need to watch multiple computers.
Or maybe dragonflies or some other beastie sometimes like to hang out near activated computers and give you a bad time. Then you make noise by trying to fight them off, alerting other players.
The idea of swarming Dragonflies on computers is nice, and I feel like batteries for booting up computers is good for the 1x knowledge computers, maybe the Dragonflies drop parts for battery cells that can be used to boot them up. Also maybe it takes a bit for the data to decrypt at the 1x computers, requiring you to defend your drives or risk them being swiped by the Dragonflies. As an expansion as well, decrypyting the drives would turn them into decryted drive items rather than gifting straight knowledge, meaning that a crew could be killed and have their now consumable drives stolen. Observant pirates could note the odd influx of Dragonflies that would foreshadow potential loot. Doing a fast decryption at any data bank is faster and safer, since going to a hidden one will ensure safety, but again only giving half the knowledge possible in the drive.
As for the 2x knowledge computer event, I’d imagine something like floating bunkers, now defunct research stations with a large radio tower on it. They don’t have much loot and hardly any to literally no data banks. They’d be scattered through the world and pretty visible to anyone passing by them. When the world event occurs, it’d occur for a good few hours, activating 3 of bunkers, one in each zone (one in the higher wilderness/expanse/remnants zone, one in the lower, and one in the badlands). A massive understorm would power the bunkers, thundering and booming and just drawing attention in general, giving them the massive energy requirement the’d need for a relatively short time. The radio tower would light up and emit a sound in about a 2 island radius from it. People who happen to be passing by would be extremely lucky and get to deposit any carried knowledge without competition. Once word starts spreading though, pirates would start to flock to set up ambushes for those wanting to deposit. A side effect of this as well is that smaller crews who don’t care about the big payout will be able to deposit at the 1x computers in relative peace, since the big boys would be aiming for the 2x computer.
I think this is a really good foundation for something bigger. While I know that any specified piece of information here is simply arbitrary for the sake of example, I would say that offering double knowledge points for successfully evading or fighting off that much competition is simply not enough reward to outweigh the risk to your ship and hours of hard work.
My initial thought would be to increase the reward to triple or more, but then I realized that I, as a player, would probably still rather bank my normal(x1) reward and work three times as hard/long than risk everything for the triple. Why not offer something else alongside the double/triple reward that is pretty cool? It could be a rare crafting component or a couple schematics that are a tier higher than they should be for that region. That way, tier-two, tier-three, and tier-four players don’t have particular incentive to prey upon tier-one players trying to get their hard-earned goodies.
I came up with an idea for a special kind of schematic item that I will add in a big technology-oriented post later, but I’ll mention it here because I think it’s cool and appropriate: a remodulating schematic that allows the player to “reroll” it up to two or three times before deciding to learn/consume it. The player will have have to decide if they want the current result or if they will abandon it for the chance of a better one. The results are always the same rarity, tier, and type (e.g. “gold, tier 4, engine”), but the parameters/attributes of the schematic will be randomized once more. Salvaging the schematic always grants the same amount of knowledge, regardless of how many rerolls are left. This is so players will actually reroll the thing instead of just eating it straight away.
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