The development of our new assignment system is approaching its final phase, so I wanted to give you an update and list a lot of things that the previous blogs missed. To recap, the first one explained the basic mechanics behind the new assignment template system, and the second one talked about the new assignment categories and the island reworks connected to the new system.
This one will be about the little things that make it all work together, but most importantly we’ll also have a look at how squad assignments work in the new system.
I’m happy to report that one of the larger features of this patch, field terminals are finally alive and working. When you get in range to them on the terrain the 3 buttons for storage, assignments, and equipping will show up.
A field terminal storage works pretty much like a private storage in a terminal - it permanently stores your items and only you can access them. The only difference is that this can be accessed from the terrain.
You can of course also request assignments from the terminal, which will hopefully drastically reduce the time you used to spend moving to and from terminals between assignments.
Finally, it allows you to equip your robot right there on the terrain. It uses the same equip window that you are used to, and you can equip items from both your cargo or the field terminal’s own storage too. There are of course certain limits to when you’re allowed to do this - having a PvP flag, being in combat, or having an activated module will all block usage.
When we wanted you to kill something in the old system, we could only set the exact type of NPCs and the quantity that you had to destroy... anywhere. This had the consequence that we had to create artificial objective radiuses to make sure that you destroyed the NPCs at the location we wanted you to do it, and not 2 meters next to the assignment request location where it’s the most convenient. Ultimately this created a lot of problems when the NPCs wandered out of the objective area, and when you killed them outside, the objective wasn’t triggered.
The new system works very differently:
- We don’t use the fixed NPC spawns anymore - NPCs are spawned by the assignment when you get there, basically as a hidden "reach position" objective.
- It also allows us to spawn an NPC group that isn’t necessarily made up of a uniform type of robots.
This in turn made it necessary to explicitly mark the NPCs that are the targets of an objective. So now they conveniently have the objective letters on them, and similarly in the landmarks list as well. This way you’ll know exactly which ones are involved in your assignment even if there are other similar NPCs around.
We have also made the same improvement for building objectives, like item dispensers and switches. Hopefully this solves the occasional newbie confusion about clicking the objective letters which do nothing.
There is also a brand new assignment summary panel when you successfully complete one, listing all the rewards in detail. The picture of this panel indicates a few other changes which I’ll explain below.
The return teleport
As mentioned in the first blog, we’ll provide a return teleport option when completing an assignment with the aim of loading off your loot at a terminal or generally finishing an assignment-running session, without the need for boring walks.
The current plan is that the teleport option will be available for 5 minutes after successfully completing an assignment, for all members of your squad, and it will place you near a main terminal or outpost of your choice, on the same island. You won’t be able to select an outpost that you are not allowed to dock in, standard no-combat/no-PvP teleport usage limits apply, and furthermore you’ll also lose the option when you leave the island where you got it (which includes docking).
This is a very delicate issue because we neither want it to compete with mobile teleports, nor have an impact on beta island PvP, so extensive testing is needed here.
Improved objective mechanics
We have a new objective type which is basically a rework of the old and rightfully hated “scan this enemy with your chassis scanner”-task. The new mechanic doesn’t involve any modules - you simply need to complete a target lock on an NPC, which will "scan" it, and drop an intel item into a container that you can pick up. This is further improved by the objective marking feature that I mentioned above, so in the case of multiple scan objectives, once you "scanned" a target the objective letter will disappear, letting you easily keep track.
Kill objectives will track the actual destruction of the target, not the kill. This makes sure that even if someone else kills your assignment target for you, your objective will still progress. Assignment-related NPCs are also tagged upon spawning, so loot will always drop for the assignment owner.
All assignment-related items will now drop into a special container indicated with a blue icon, so you’ll easily find the required items even during a massacre. More importantly, since the NPCs will be specifically spawned by the assignment itself, you won’t see assignment-related items in random loot anymore.
Production objective mechanics have undergone a massive overhaul in order to make them work in random assignments. Mass production objectives and CTs used as an objective target will all scan through the whole assignment and properly include the items that you gather during the assignment as actual production components. Assignment CTs in the factory will wear off after the objective is completed and the production line will be automatically cleared, so you won’t have to extract the CT and deliver that too, which caused a lot of confusion in the old system.
Item dispensers are more intelligent now too: in the case of multiple items they will now try to give you as much as possible and hold on to the rest, instead of simply telling you that the whole batch won’t fit your cargo. This is important for higher level assignments where item quantities scale up to increase difficulty. There you’re supposed to use robots with large cargo holds, but it’s also possible to complete the transports in an Arkhe, if you’re willing to do multiple rounds between the supply and the delivery location. It’s even more important that this way multiple players in a squad can complete the objective in cooperation.
Assignments in squads
Doing assignments in a squad has always been gimmicky at best, sometimes even detrimental. The new system allowed us to make some long overdue upgrades, hopefully to the point where you will want to do all of them with your friends.
- No more “Request for squad” button. If you are in a squad, any assignment that you request will also show up for all your squadmates.
- If an assignment is provided by another squad member, it will say so right before the assignment name, complete with the provider’s name.
- Only the assignment provider can abort an assignment.
- The assignment owner/provider has to be online and present in order to do it. Otherwise the assignment will be put on hold and no objectives can be completed as long as this is the case.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: everyone present and in the squad can contribute to any objective and complete any assignment that is shared through the squad. Objectives that require multiple kills or multiple items can be cooperated on freely.
- We will have separate assignment categories that are designed to be done in a squad. (Though you will be able to solo them if you have the patience or need the challenge.)
- NIC and relation rewards will be shared among any squad members present, but all item rewards will go to the assignment provider (this includes tokens).
We would like to create a proper way of progression through assignment levels, since currently there isn’t much difference between going from level 1 to 2 or level 4 to 5. This is mainly due to the fixed way of giving out relation rewards, but in the new system it’s much easier to create reward scaling based on assignment levels.
As a result, your relation toward a particular megacorporation will progress faster on low assignment levels, but will gradually slow down as you go through the higher levels.
We’ll also re-introduce relation penalties towards a competing NPC megacorporation when doing assignments. This will happen in a rock-paper-scissors method, so the 3 megacorporations will be paired up and an assignment will provide positive relations for one and negative relations for another. Due to this, the “Diplomacy” extension will return to provide a way to reduce negative relation hits.
As a final bullet point, I’d like to tell you that we do have plans on improving the offers in Syndicate Supplies along with the new assignment system.
One of the plans includes an iteration of the lovely boxes you got to know as AIDs. The new items are called Requisition slips, they would be purchased with faction tokens, and in principle they would work the same way like AIDs, but limited to certain item tiers and categories, in order to not make it all that random. Say, a "T3 Pelistal weapon requisition slip", which would give you a randomly chosen pelistal weapon from tiers 1 to 3. Or an "ICS Officer requisition slip" which would include T4+ items, but the purchase of which would also be tied to a minimum relation towards ICS.
Well this post got a lot longer than I thought, but I hope you can see that we worked on a lot of stuff. Unfortunately some things that need to be done only come up once you’re in the middle of doing the features, even when you laid down the concept and designs beforehand. And then you think "we need this to make it right", while trying to avoid a serious feature-creep. So this might delay things a bit into April, but we really want to make this as good as we can, as it will be a pivotal part of the PvE experience.