I was hoping once the PvP game play has been established in a such way most PvP'ers are satisfied, the developers would turn their attention to the PvE server and its community. Though it is small compared to the PvP's, I strongly believe it will increase and retain a lot of players if improved and marketed appropriately, maybe more as an Age of sail MMO trade and combat Sim with Cooperative battles and interactive player driven economy.
Most of the ideas here are from other players that have posted in this forum, my only contribution is limited and mostly consist of my personal take of other contributors' ideas.
This is what I would suggest to improve the PvE server. Most of what is listed is already in place or was in place at some point in the past. I'm hoping this will start a good discussion on how to make the PvE server viable past the 12-18 months life span advanced by the devs during the server merger discussion a few months ago.
I have already discussed the potential of the PvE server thanks to its particular community and it's different game play, see post below:
So, here we go! Please discuss and provide constructive feedback and suggestions that would make the PvE server more attractive to non PvP game play focused players.
Trader: cargo hold bonus, shipping fees discounts, less combat perks availability Navy Officer: combat XP bonus, crew bonus, more combat perks availability Crafter: resource/crafting mats discounts, LH/Craft XP bonus, less combat perks availability
Other suggestions welcome.
Piracy: Attacking nations other than the ones you are at war with turns you into a pirate.
Privateering: If spain is at war with Britain, get a privateering licence from Spain, then attack British ships as a privateer and earn Reputation with Spain, this will not turn you into a pirate since you had a license/Letter of Mark against Britain.
Trading: Only with nations at peace, Neutrals, Free Ports.
Smuggling: No longer risk free, enemy warships will "randomly" attack you near enemy ports (AI aggressiveness). If you see an enemy ship alter it's course and heads towards you, you know it spotted/recognized you as a smuggler.
Run away, when distance between enemy ship reaches a certain value, enemy ship abandons chase. Enemy Nation's "Customs ships" remain within a certain distance/radius from ports, if entering "customs zone" doesn't attract enemy warship then you are safe to smuggle goods in/out that port.
If enemy ships starts chasing you, sail away till you leave the "customs zone", then chase is dropped. So players are not indefinitely chased down by AI ships. No need for circles like in PB's though, you know you got out of the zone, when enemy ship gives up chase.
Out Posts: In any National, Neutral and Free Ports. Also in Nation at peace. If you have an OP in a friendly nation, then war breaks out, you won't lose it but can't use it either until peace returns.
1- Hot Spots or aggressive AI zones: Depending on state of war with other nations, hot spots may spawn randomly for a limited amount of time in different areas and those zones will show up on the Map. They will consist of AI enemy privateers/Fleets cruising in those zones and attacking unescorted/poorly escorted Players' trade ships or warships depending on a BR scale to be determined. Obviously an AI Pickle or Privateer is not going to attack a player's Constitution. Traders/Crafters may elect to avoid those areas or escort their trade ships for protection.
2- "Notorious pirate spotted in this region" Mission: AI pirates in good quality ships will cruise in limited areas for a limited time, attacking player's unescorted trade ships posing a threat to players trade routes. Taking on the mission to go and hunt down that notorious pirate will provide good XP/gold (depending on player's BR) and Marks, upgrades, books or whatnot.
3- Customs zones listed above will also be part of the more aggressive AI to spice up the game play.
More Challenging OW combat:
Escorts for AI traders: t-cutter with 1 or 2 7th rates, t-snow with 1-2 6th rates, t-brigs with 2-3 6th rates. Occasional Indiaman with really valuable goods, but escorted with tougher squadron. Making capping/looting traders worthwhile.
Encourage player crafted ships:
Limit capturable AI ships to poor quality (fir warships, slow traders).
Better AI ships should be lootable only, but not capturable in order to encourage "better" player-built ships on the market.
Instead of "TelePorting", which is more like a Startrek thing than an age of sail, we may implement a way of transporting goods through "shipping" instead.
Shipping may be limited/restricted to increase the challenge, maybe 1-2 shipments per server day/reset. Also make it so it takes more or less (see below) the same amount of time a player would take to sail from port A to port B.
If it takes 1.5 RL hours to go from Cton to Habana, then the shipment should take about the same time.
1- Shipping goods through third party traders (25-30% faster than player sailing his/her own ships):
1.1- From friendly (not at war) port with or without OP to own OP: maybe up to 4,000 tons (an Indiaman): $10-15/ton.
1.2- From friendly (not at war) port with or without OP to another player's OP: up to 2,000 tons at $20-25/ton.
1.3- No shipping from hostile ports.
To make Free ports maybe more interesting, they could ship for less. Other suggestions are welcome.
2- Shipping goods through player's own ships: a player can use a single trader (up to an indiaman) to "ship" his goods from OP to OP only.
Once selected, the ship and the goods will travel "in the background", while the player is free to craft, do combat missions, hunt other ships in the OW or sail another trader/fleet on a trade run.
During the shipping, the player won't have access to the ship/goods until they arrive to destination. This is free, but not as fast as through third party shipping.
Instead of the current static diplomatic situation, where everyone is at war with everyone (except free towns and neutrals), we may try a variable/changing diplomatic status. Nations randomly create alliances and wars that last a few RL days.
Players will refer to "Diplomacy tab" to find out what the status is: Peace (self explanatory), Tension (war is about to break out within 1-2 or 2-3 RL days), War (self explanatory).
According to one's prestige with a particular nation, a player can build an OP in that nation if his/her nation is at peace with it. If a nation is at war with the player's nation, the OP remains, but player can not access it until peace returns.
During the "Tension" phase, a player has to prepare and take care of business in his OP before the war breaks out, otherwise, he/she has to wait it out.
Trade goods redistribution:
Currently, most profitable goods are in National capitals. Most profitable routes are from national capitals to other national capitals with a few exceptions. Goods bought in Charleston can not be sold in any other US port with any substantial profit and vice versa.
In order to diversify the trade routes and help new players make some profits early one, maybe change the price gradient to correspond to the distance traveled.
Maybe give ports certain roles/specializations:
Nation Capitals (Industrial center): allowed buildings: Workshop, Shipyard.
Regional Capitals (Labor center): allowed buildings: Extra Labor Office.
Dependent ports (Resource center): allowed buildings: Mines, Forests...etc
National Trade Goods:
Spawning in regional ports (not Capitals). Transporting them to player's national/regional capitals on short trade runs with early traders (trade cutter) will provide some profit margin to get started and build up early cash capital to purchase bigger traders, warships...etc.
Transporting goods farther to foreign nation capitals should obviously provide better profit margins/returns depending on distance traveled and/or port consumption.
Any resource required for crafting should be player produced only. This will encourage player driven economy. No resource or crafted goods should be produced by AI (maybe only in AI ships to be looted!).
Woods such as Live Oak, Sabicu, Caguairan...etc, should also be produced by players (I think they are already in the crafting Menu). These "premium" ship building materials should be distributed in such a way to encourage international trade during peace time and smuggling in war time.
Guns (aka cannons):
Only Basic (free) and medium 4 pders are available in Shops. Everything else is either looted from AI ships or player produced in players' workshops.
Should provide some craft XP to CRAFTERS. Crafting materials that require another crafted material and/or more than one resource should provide craft XP. Not much, but not zero like it is now.
EDIT 1: Taxes (from Patch 11.0) and Smuggling:
Most of us PvE'ers have been railing about these taxes which have been cutting 20% into our profits. However, one of the reasons smuggling existed was that people did not want to pay them. So, this is what I thought about the new Smuggling system: if successful, players smuggling into hostile, neutral or friendly ports will not pay Taxes on traded goods. This adds an incentive and a usefulness to smuggle goods in and out of ports. Remember, smuggling is no longer the passive/safe activity we have been conducting till now (see Smuggling, Customs Zones above).
This is how new smuggling is envisioned:
1- Smuggling is activated/deactivated while on a ship, not in port so it is not on all the time when checked in a home port. Reasoning: if the smuggler flag is on all the time, then a ship sailing through a Customs Zone, but not necessarily trying to enter that port will be attacked by the Customs Patrol Ship. A ship with smuggler flag on coming back to a home port will also be attacked by the Customs Patrol Ship of the player's own nation. So smuggling is activated when a player plans to enter a Hostile/Friendly port to deliver/acquire goods and avoid paying taxes for a larger profit.
2- A player activates the smuggler flag when approaching a port, if the Customs Patrol does not bear on his ship or if his ship is not drawn into a shore battle instance where his ship is pounded by shore artillery , then the player is safe to continue on into the port and all transactions (buy/sell) are tax free. If the player is spotted as a smuggler and chased down by the customs patrol or shot at by the shore batteries, then the player sails out of the Customs area, and deactivates the smuggler flag and tries again. Obviously, the player will not be able to enter a hostile port without the smuggler flag, but will enter friendly ports and conduct trade and pay Taxes.
For Customs Zones: the same "Areas Protected By..." can be used as Customs Zones where there will be Customs Patrol Ships that will be triggered by Enemy Trade ships or Friendly traders with the Smuggling flag activated:
Smuggling should be a feature of the Merchant/Trader career path. Navy Officer and Crafter can not smuggle goods, they will have other features/benefits. Also, the trader will have at his disposal a Perk that decreases the likelihood of being discovered and can be used as one of the 5 perks...something like "Corrupt Customs Officer".
More Ideas to come...