This is going to be part of a series of suggestions that I'm going to post. They are meant to be a realistic look at what can be done within the current engine with viewed existing resources. If there is something that is not currently known to be possible in the game, I will state it as such. Also, I'm not a programmer so I reiterate the word "viewed", and I accept that I can be wrong.
Many of the ideas come from the good people of the Elite:Lore discord. Meaning that these posts will be a culmination of the ideas that we all brainstormed on the discord. I will not and do not claim that these ideas are all mine. If you wish to join, please ask. I may post the link or RM it to you.
I fully encourage everyone to chime in on these posts to add ideas, or to add to the conversation! Thanks! - Jubei Himura (Jubs)
EDIT: Yeah, I fully realize that I fudged the title... next post will be "Elite:Lore Improvement Suggestions, Part 2: HoloMe"
PART 1: Arena
Arena was, and can still be, a very fun aspect of ED. The fast paced fighter combat was something similar to what you would find in a Star Wars battle at the end of Return of the Jedi. Players loved the competitive aspect that many thought ED was lacking. However, it became apparent that there were issues with the execution of such a feature.
1.1 The issues
First, was how to access the Arena: through the game menu only. There was no way to log on to the Arena gameplay without exiting the main game. It sucked having to exit to main menu, and for some it broke immersion.
Second, was the lack of in game rewards. Sure, there was rank, and yeah… there was a payout. However, rank meant almost nothing in the main game and the payout was pitiful at best.
Third, is the mass wait time to find a lobby. However, we do know that this is an issue that resulted from the lack of players.
So what can be done? Should we simply drop it and count it as a failed experiment? Hell no.
1.2 The fixes
Let’s start with the access. No one wants to go back to the main menu to do anything. So, allow stations to have an option to connect to the Arena Network. Have it be its own advert, an actual clickable picture advertisement. The process could work like this:
click on advertisement
-> Station Services exit
-> visual animation (VR headset comes down onto player face, or helmet visually deploys)
-> fade to black
-> loading screen animates on (much like a Stations Services screen) with Arena loading screen that mocks connecting to the Arena Network.
-> main Arena screen comes on.
Do the reverse for going back to the main ED game, but with a “Disconnecting from Arena Network” screen.
Now let’s talk about the rewards. Sure, keep the ranking, it’s good for progress and intimidation. Heck, even keep the system unlock for getting prestige. But let's get serious. We want good cash rewards.
Upping the cash prize would not only satisfy the players who are all about making those sweet sweet credits, but also make it a thing new players can sink their teeth into to upgrade the starting sidey.
I'm not saying make it a flat reward for everyone. Make the rewards reflect the highest rank they have in the Pilot's Federation, regardless of role. That way new players don't get fast tracked, but veterans get a satisfying reward.
Additionally you can get special rewards for high score, no deaths, and such in the form of materials or data. Again, scaled, but still a g2 or higher. Hell, have unlockable paintjobs for the fighters as a reward!
Finally… for the the mass wait times. Put NPC (bots) into the game so that people can play while waiting for a lobby. Heck, this can even amount into improving a player’s skill-set for Arena. Don’t have enough players logged in/ready? Bots. Look at what Rocket League does. Drive around the stadium while waiting for a lobby, adds bots in a game when there isn’t a full set of players. It’s not perfect, but it works and keeps the action going.
1.3 Opportunities and benefits
As soon as traffic is increased in Arena, start community events in the form of tournaments. With the winner rewarded well with credits, mats, and even a special paint job.
Speaking of which, make specialized paint jobs for players to buy. Ones that look awesome and fierce, but have a variable in the main portion that can change for the colour of the team. These paintjobs should sell for $1.50-$2.50 US (£1.00-£2.00). Later on, if Arena catches on, you can even release premium paintjobs for $4.00 (£3.00) Like gold, chrome, and coloured metals. People love customizations.