By now you should know that we have three updates planned before we can somewhat confidently launch on Steam: the revamp of the research system, the first stage of the assignment system revamp, and the reworking of the tutorial/new player stage. The research revamp has been successfully deployed in July and you don’t really complain about it a lot, which usually means it’s awesome.

Since then we’ve been working on the assignment system, which has now arrived at a state where we can share the details with you.

What’s wrong with the current assignment system?

Well, most of it. The current system was put into the game way before sentient robotic beings have evolved and Nia was still ruled by pink rainbow-puking ponies. So it’s old, really old. It was basically put in to have missions in some way, any way.

The player is presented with a long and stale list of a gazillion missions which just gets longer and longer the higher he gets on the relation ladder. With time he finds out which missions provide the most rewards for the least effort, and then he does those over and over, degrading the whole assignment system into a glorified grindfest.

Assignment levels and categories

So instead of presenting you a long list of assignments, they will be gathered under clickable boxes which are arranged by level and category, as it is visible on the picture below. Categories currently mean combat, industrial, transport, and training assignments, but this may be expanded in the future. The level system is pretty much the same here too, ranging from 0 to 6 as of now.

New assignments interface

In this first stage of the assignment system revamp, we are using our existing assignments, and gather them under the boxes so the system can randomly select one upon request. For the most part this is doable, but there are a few location/level/type combinations where we need to push some assignments up or down a level to have enough assignments in the random pool to choose from. This also means that some locations won’t have some levels that they do have now. This is a transitory solution until we do stage 2 of the revamp, which will introduce true random assignments.

Requesting an assignment

By clicking on a box, the system will then give you a random assignment with the appropriate category and level of that particular box.

Doing so will bring up an assignment information just like now, but with one important change: there is no accept option after you click on a box - the assignment is already active by then. This is necessary to prevent players from cherry-picking from the random assignments. Aborting is of course possible, with a penalty (see below).

Once you have requested an assignment from a box, you cannot request a new one from the same box until you either complete or abort it (or let it expire). In other words, you can only have one active assignment from a particular location, level, and category combination.

Parallel assignments

Due to the above, we will remove and reimburse the Parallel assignments extension from the game as it will lose its usefulness. However, you will be able to freely request an assignment from every box at every location at once if that’s what you desire.

The new panel on the right of the assignments window will help you keep track of your active assignments all over Nia, as it will sort them by the locations where you have requested them.

Remote assignment discovery

The current "all assignments" tab which lists available assignments in remote terminals will be removed as it wouldn’t work in the new system. Instead we’ll include the available levels and assignment types in terminal and outpost information windows which can be opened for example through the world map (and which are already used for facility infos too).

Chained bonuses and penalties

A brand new feature coming with this system is the concept of reward multipliers and penalties.

You can get a positive bonus by successfully completing assignments one after another without failing. The bonus means an increasing multiplier to the NIC and relation rewards of the assignments, so with every successful assignment, you’ll get increasingly larger rewards for your next assignments than you would normally get. However, if you fail to do just one assignment and break the chain (by aborting it or letting it expire), the multiplier will immediately fall back to zero.

Likewise, you can also get a negative bonus. If you keep aborting assignments one after the other, you’ll get an ever increasing negative multiplier to the rewards of your next assignment. Like in the case of the positive bonus, it is enough to complete just one assignment to get the reward multiplier back to normal. (After you get your reduced reward for that one of course.)

These bonuses are not global: every location, level, and category combo (so simply said: a box) has its own bonus tracker. Both positive and negative bonuses will have an expiration time, so they will slowly crawl back to the zero point if you don’t touch that box for some time (technically after their last bonus update).

Relation changes

We’ll make things more simple and straightforward here by abandoning relation gains toward subsidiary NPC corporations and instead you’ll only gather relation points toward the three big megacorporations: Truhold-Markson, ICS, and Asintec. As you can see on the above picture, these will be now shown on the top of the window for easy tracking. We’ll retain the current NPC corporations in the game, but they will only serve a lore function as the contractors of the assignments.

This change has the consequence that we will have to convert all your current NPC corporation relation points to a single value per megacorporation, and this will happen by averaging the subsidiary corporation relation points within a megacorporation. For those who have only gathered relations toward one particular assignment type contractor (e.g. combat assignments), this might result in that you won’t be able to do the same level assignments like now, because the zero relations will drag down the average. However, we think this is the right way to make this change fair for everyone.

Level relation limits

Currently the relation points necessary to unlock a particular level of assignments are all over the place. We’d also like to make this more straightforward by simply assigning relation 0.00 to level 0, relation 1.00 to level 1, and so on. Some relation reward balance changes will be necessary here in order to lessen the grind between some levels (level 0 to 1 in particular).

Testing and release

We’re still right in the middle of implementing all of this, but we’ll have a short testing period for the new assignment system on the public test server as soon as we are done with it. The deployment to the live server will probably happen somewhere in the beginning of October.

The next blog will talk about the final major stage before the Steam launch, the tutorial revamp.