Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bounty Hunting - Will It Ever Be Worthwhile in Eve?

There was a bit of a discussion on the #tweetfleet this week about bounty hunting in Eve Online along with a blog post from @Rotosequence here.

I think we all agree the bounty system in Eve Online is not fit for purpose currently. If someone places a big enough bounty on your head, what happens?

Do lots of elite PvP bounty hunter types come hunting for your head?

Or do you just jump in a blank clone with no implants, ensure your medical clone is up to date and then have an alt or a corp mate pod you and collect the bounty for yourself.

I think it was somewhere in the region of 3bn ISK that someone once put on the head of someone I know. Did some l33t bounty hunter collect that? No, because as soon as it was noticed he did as described above and arranged to be podded by a corp mate. Even if he had a lot of skill points, the medical clone wouldn't have cost more than 30m ISK probably. Yet 3bn ISK was received in bounty payments. A profit of 2,970,000,000 for the guy the bounty was supposed to "punish". If only Han Solo could have done this!

So how do we make bounty hunting worthwhile. How do we make it into an activity in Eve Online that players can choose as a profitable "career".

This is not easy. How do you make it so that a decent bounty is not "claimable" by the person you want to punish?

Percentage Payouts on Clone Value
One suggestion is to make the bounty a pool of money and each time you pod the person you get a sum from the pool equal to the value of the destroyed clone and implants. This immediately stops people from podding themselves for the reward as it would lose them money if the payout was just under the value of the destroyed pod. However, a "good" payout on just the clone of 30,000,000 ISK (if your target was 100-120m ish SP) is not going to entice anyone to put a lot of effort into hunting your target down. The only way to make cost of clone based bounties viable would be to also base the payout on destroyed implant value. Still, that's never going to be a great amount unless they have a high-grade set in. Then there is the issue of you never know what clone the target might be in at the time. You might waste a lot of time and get minimal reward as they were in their 0.0 clone at the time. In the end it would come down to luck. I personally have four clones, if you pod me the chances are it'll be a 120m implant clone (+4's and a PG4).... that's if you can catch my pod in low-sec. In bounty terms I'm never going to be really worth coming after.

Just looking at our own Kill Board, the values in ISK of our last ten capsule kills are 0, 0, 0, 109m, 0, 0, 72m, 0, 19m and 36m. So the average value of a pod in Black Rise (low-sec) on that somewhat overly simple calculation is 23,600,000 ISK. With a clone grade of Tau (120 million SP kept) which costs 30m ISK you'll on average get around 55m for killing bitter vets with a bounty on their head in Black Rise. With all the hassle of hunting your target, laying in wait, etc etc is the career choice of Bounty Hunter worthwhile? No.

Percentage of Payouts on Ship Insurance
One idea I had was to make bounties a percentage of the insurance payout of the hull you destroyed. Therefore if you pop your target and he's in an Abaddon you'll get 130,000,000 ISK from the bounty pot (at current ish rates). However thinking about that, along with his own insurance he could get corp mates to pop unfitted ships to make money (His insurance payout plus bounty = mucho ISK compared to loss). So that idea doesn't work at all as it would be just the same as now with people getting alts and corp mates to pop them to claim the "reward". So my idea is utterly crap.

In fact, almost any payout that is of a sufficient value for people to care about is open to abuse. Once you have rewards that are worth claiming and thus making Bounty Hunting a viable Eve "career", the value will be more than that of the ship or the blank clone of the target and therefore makes it worthwhile for the target to get a corp mate to pop him.

I don't have an answer to this. In fact I'm not sure there is an answer. Can the bounty system be changed so that it is worthwhile yet doesn't hand free ISK to the person you wanted to "punish"?

Do we accept that "Bounty Hunter" will never be a worthwhile career in Eve Online and the best we can hope for from the bounty system is to give someone a minor reward for killing someone (who they would have killed anyway) that you don't like.

Anyone else got any ideas? How do we "sex up" bounty hunting. Oh.... wait......

P.S. Who put a 10m ISK bounty on Drackarn's head? Seriously, who is going to come after me for that!

P.P.S. For those who are wondering if the previous blogs planned Valentine's dinner went OK. Yes, yes it did! Was quite proud of myself, especially the lobster!


  1. Easy fix: when you get a bounty on your head, you get locked on that clone till bounty is collected.

    1. Woah! Easy way to grief people. Go around sticking 5,000 ISK bounties on all your WT's. No clone jumping. Major PITA for anyone you want to grief.

  2. I personally have thought that a good idea would be to allow corporations or private parties to have personal bounties much like the contract system.

    If you are a member of a corporation, you could set up a corporation wide bounty against a possible enemy / threat of the corporation and any member of your corporation could collect the bounty at the moment of that that member podded the target. The target would have no clue that they were a bounty target unless a spy in your corporation told the target that they were bountied.

    You could also set up personal bounties from player to player much like a contract. And if the target is podded, then the bounty hunter in the private bounty contract could collect.

    This could lead to the formation of legite bounty hunter corporations. You have an outside party contract the bounty hunter corporation for a set price. The corporation then could set up an in house contract to it's members (for slightly less than the original ammount).

    When the target was killed, the corporation could collect the bounty from the private party and then the corp could pay the member(s) who killed the target.

    Just food for thought.

  3. Lobster and beef ... OH BOY ! I think most cook just threw up in their mouth ...

    Great blog and article though

  4. Bounties have been broke for a long time and fixing them would add a cool new profession for EVE making PVP for profit possible for more people.

    What I would like to see though is sec status changes based not just on system sec, but also on player sec.

    So if you kill a -10 guy anywhere you get a big boost to sec. A -2 guys would be a small boost and if you kill a +5.0 guy you lose alot.

    That would make anti-piracy viable as well.

  5. The "pool of money" thing seems like the place to start. Beyond that it's just details.

    On the "Percentage of Payouts on Ship Insurance" idea, I think you've got it almost right, but backwards. The payout should be based on the amount the enemy _loses_. So if they had full insurance on their (T1) ship, then you only get money for the destroyed modules. If they had no insurance, then you get 60% of the ship's value (the non-paid-out amount) plus modules. This would add up in a hurry for T2/T3/Faction ships, obviously. So ganking someone in their high-sec mission-running or incursion ship would often be the best way to get a billion-ISK bounty.


    1. Interesting, could need a bit of coding but 80% of the "Jita value" of the loss minus insurance payout might work.

      However if that was me with the bounty, I'd flood the market in Jita with a certain type of low/med/high T1 module at a silly price. Jump into a frigate and load up with those modules. If I've pushed up the Jita average enough, I could become very rich from the bounty on my head.

  6. I'd bounty hunt if it was worth it as you point out. But you're correct, it isn't worth it currently. I'm not certain it's the bounty system that's broken though. It seems to be the bounty collection system that needs the work. The first thing that needs to happen is for real risk to be put into having a bounty on your head. How about for every 100 ISK of bounty you lose 1 SP up to 50% of your total SP? That 10 million ISK bounty on you would translate to a 10,000 SP loss. A 3 billion ISK bounty would result in a loss of 30 million SP! What "bad guy" would trade 30 million SP for the bounty ISK? I wouldn't. Would you? That would be a good first step. As it is now, there is no down side to having a bounty on one's head.

    1. I don't like you Mabrick, I took something really to heart you put on your blog and it made me mad. Given your date of birth I'd guess you have 65m ish SP? I'm ISK rich so therefore I'll put a 4bn bounty on your head. Next time you are podded, you're down to 32.5m SP!


      Now if that was true, would you be happy? Some random person does that to you for no real reason. We need to be careful the bounty system doesn't become a license to grief.

  7. Why not have it that as concord pays for you to kill rats in high sec you get bounty rewards for killing those with low sec status in low sec, or in high sec even, based on their sec status or whatever

  8. I'm late to the party, I know, but a viable solution might be to let the player(s) that issued the bounty decide if the bounty should be paid.

    When the pirate gets podded, every player who placed a bounty on them receives a hyperlinked killmail, with the option to pay or not - and tips on how to check the kill's veracity. If they ok it, the bounty gets paid as normal, if they decline, the bounty they assigned gets re-issued, minus say 10%. So players can get rid of bounties on themselves by being podded repeatedly by a friend, but it takes more work to get any money from it - a completely unaffiliated alt.

    Getting the decrease right would be the difficult part - enough to discourage players from gaming the system to get an enemy killed repeatedly for no extra cost, but not so much that it's easy for a friend to "erode" a bounty.

  9. Make bounty hunting subject to in-game, built-in, judicial review where payout occurs in x number of days. If it's found that the kill is legit--pay the ISK.

    Also, for large bounties allow no large gifts (in both frequency,size, and value) in any form to be given to other players in the game from bounty hunter for 90 days (or x days depending on the bounty size).

    Judicial review via EVE software:

    --killed by a team mate for the money? uh no bounty and (make it a corporate penalty for all corp players and make it hurt)
    --create an alt with a free trial account and have him mysteriously kill your main while in a shuttle(for example)? (no ISK reward and 25% penalty from all your assets)
    --offer reward for revealing and proving bounty crime to any player (i.e. free 30 days, etc)

    **repeated attempts within a certain time period = account ban

  10. Bountys only collectible for people in Corps Designated for Bounty Hunting, or with Concord standing purchased license to kill.

  11. you know, alot of these suggestions wont do anything but remove bounty hunting all together, to much risk of being "punished" mistakenly.

    a simple fix would be to do what the guy above me said, have it be somthing to ( sign up for ) not somthing you can just do. however even in doing that it would make mission runing almost not worth doing since most of your income comes from npc bounties.

    its not as easy to fix as you may think in terms of changing game machanics in un-intended ways.

  12. Easy fix to this... What they loose is what you get. So if they are flying around in a 500 mill ship to include implants and items inside the haul and get killed. Id get slightly under base market from those items. So if I placed 1 billion on DRjackass and he was flying around and was killed in a base value of 500 million isk ship then 500 million of the 1billion bounty would get paid. If it happened again then 500 million more would be paid then bounty would end.

  13. The way I see it, is that once the player is podded, then they have then been caught. The bounty hunter gets the payment (for greater amounts if they are more friendly with the placer's corp), The player that is caught is fined for the amount of the bounty (perhaps minus ship losses). If they cannot pay, then their next clone will receive a certain number of negative skill points.

    Bounties should expire over time (a month maybe), or be nullified if the bounty kills the placer (or maybe even if the placer dies at all). If the bounty expires a certain percentage is returned to the placer. If the placer is killed by the bounty then they receive a portion of the bounty and the bounty is lifted.

    To make this work, a maximum bounty placement per player (probably based on skill points) would be needed so that it would take multiple player bounty contracts to force a player to take a skill point hit.

    A poor reputation with Concord would be needed in order to have a bounty placed on a person

  14. when the guy with the bounty is killed, 75% worth of the ship that is destroyed is given to the person that killed the guy with the bounty