Proposed Changes to Crime/Punishment

Reposting this from the official thread to here, because the other thread is not intended for user/user interaction. I'm curious as to peoples thoughts on this. Understand the post is a general concept, but I think it conveys the gist. Apologize about the length.

I have to echo some of the setiments by QuantumPion above (#1 at least). I think the goal needs to be to INCENTIVIZE interaction. I read so many of the comments, and they miss the mark. Lets take a step back:

This SHOULD NOT be about PUNISHING the criminal, it SHOULD be about BALANCING the encounter. Right? How does levying a higher fine, or higher rebuy cost, or whatever against the person committing the crime do? Does that make the victim feel better? No. If your successful, there is less crime. Is that what we want? No...we don't want to eliminate or even reduce these encounters, we want to make them more fun--Right? So, what are some meaningful ways we can actually BALANCE these situations, and make them more ENJOYABLE.

1) Per above : consider experimenting with eliminating the penalty of a lawful commander dying, allowing them to respawn without cost, with their cargo. Rational: see above. The murdered party still has consequences. They lost time (perhaps upwards of an hour game time in certain trade routes). Isn't that enough? As a trader, I have hid in solo for months, because I just couldn't risk it...That's not what we want, we want to ENCOURAGE interaction.

2) In leu of that (or in addition), the following should be an absolute given. Playing in OPEN should give you AT LEAST DOUBLE the reward for any given activity. I don't care if it's trade, pirating, bounty hunting, exploring. Whatever it is, you should be able to make AT LEAST DOUBLE. Why? Because you want, neigh, NEED to INCENTIVIZE people to come to open. Right now 75% or more of your players are hiding in solo / private. Why? They are SCARED. Scared of dying and having to rebuy their ship/losing their cargo. But if they could make twice as much in open, how many people do you think would flock to OPEN? Suddenly PvP would become a real thing. Alternatively, decrease the penalty for death by some measure in the OPEN game mode only.

3) SIGNIFICANTLY increase the reward for bounty hunters. Several legit activites can make you 5-50 million / hour. Make it so that a PvP bounty is a prize to be sought. While a a NPC bounty may be worth 50-200k, make a PvP bounty worth 5-10M. Rational: 1) PvP bounties are very hard to collect. Real players run when they lose shields, and can be neigh impossible to finish off--significantly more complicated than NPC. 2) This would cause players to flock to bounty hunting, which would itself cause such criminal activity to be much harder, and provide it's own punishment.

4) SIGNIFICANTLY BUFF the incentive to provide wing support / protection. Currently escorting a trader makes you what, 5% of their trade profit? So 2 players, that both invest the same amount of time into the game, and one makes 20x less? Like bounties in a wing, trade profits should be shared equally, or perhaps 85% vs 100% (To incentivize the trader, as if it was 1:1 everyone would want to be the escort ship (or maybe that's just me...). This would cause much more of the traders to have an escort, which would make pirating much more DIFFICULT. Again, this would BALANCE the encounter by FACILITATING player INTERACTION.

5) Add a dynamic reporting of criminals of some sort. Make it so that when a criminal commits a crime bounty hunters can begin to sniff him out. While a little complicated, consider this:
Criminal attacks lawful citizen.
Criminal is marked in the system for everyone to see for a brief period (like hearing a car alarm go off in real life. Everyone sort of looks in that direction for a bit)
Victims are marked on the map / station boards.
In addition to responding to the alert above, Bounty hunters can seek out victims. When they find the victims, they can "interview" them. In response to the "interview request" the victim can "Give information, Refuse information, maybe later". Give information: bounty hunter now gets a marker showing the criminals location (even in another star system). Refuse information: dead end lead. Bounty hunter must find a new lead. Victim marker erased "Maybe later". No information now, but victim remains labeled, and can decided to give information later.

6) When a bounty hunter or other player does find a criminal, They should be able to attach a tracer/tracker to the hull. This could only be removed by the criminal (or any player for that matter), by docking at a station and inspecting their ship. This would allow a bounty hunter to track down a criminal, discover their base of operations, etc. The bounty hunter may try to "throw off" the trail by going to a remote system away from "home" then inspecting his ship there, only to return "home" once safe. Likewise, a pirate might use a similar tracker to discover another players trade route, such that they can intercept them at a better point in their route. (If this is not desirable, it could be designed to only be attachable to wanted ships).

7) Criminals should be unable to jump to solo for a full 1-2 minutes after a crime / criminal engagement. Right now, if a player faces the law in the form of a diligent bounty hunter, they just log off to solo. Problem solved. The Criminal should feel like just that, a WANTED CRIMINAL. They should be unable to do this, and in combination with the above suggestions would leave a trail of bread crumbs a observant bounty hunter could follow. When they are being hunted by bounty hunters/cops, they should feel like prey. Jumping, hiding, employing tricks. Running into an astroid field to try to lose their pursuers like Han solo.

Using this, PLAYERS can become the punishment. They can seek out and bring criminals to justice. PLAYERS are incentivized to be in open, incentivized to escort and protect lawful citizens, incentivized to track down and bring criminals to justice, and the encounters and mechanics are BALANCED to allow them to do just that! (with criminals being rewarded HANSOMELY for taking on such risks). As with real life, the criminal lifestyle in ED should be the "darkside" as yoda says, "Easier, more sedductive". Criminals are criminals because they feel they can get rich quick. So provide the opportunity to get rich quick, but then give other players the tools to hunt them down for their short sightedness.

Just implimenting a few of these ideas would already necessitate pirating and other criminal activites to get a big buff in profits (we want to INCENTIVIZE Crime, (because without it we don't have targets), while at the same time we BUFF bounty hunting/Escorting! (which now balances the whole encounter).

This makes BOTH options more viable, more fun, and more interacting. THAT is the point, RIGHT? We are not trying to eliminate crime, or PUNISH PLAYERS, we are trying to balance the interactions. We introduce new and interesting gameplay, such that players can provide checks and balances to EACHOTHER. Creating a system that is based on the game dolling out punishment is not fun, it's dull. What Elite dangerous lacks is interesting player interactions and encounters. Use the need to balance crime as a way to introduce new and exciting GAME MECHANICS. How much more interesting would it be for bounty hunters to be detectives, tracking down their pray across systems, instead of mindless haz-rez robots? Please reconsider your approach to crime and punishment, focusing less on game-directed fines/penalties/restrictions and more on PLAYER-DIRECTED balancing. :)
 
I quite like some of these ideas, but there's a few that I think have serious issues.

1) Per above : consider experimenting with eliminating the penalty of a lawful commander dying, allowing them to respawn without cost, with their cargo. Rational: see above. The murdered party still has consequences. They lost time (perhaps upwards of an hour game time in certain trade routes). Isn't that enough? As a trader, I have hid in solo for months, because I just couldn't risk it...That's not what we want, we want to ENCOURAGE interaction.
I really don't agree with "keep cargo" unless they don't go ahead with the "respawn in nearest station" change, or you'll have traders interdicting the pirates so they can be teleported straight to the docking bay.

(Also: either you don't get to keep cargo which was pirated - in which case, someone out to inconvenience a trader will disable their ship, hatchbreak all the cargo out of it, and then either blow it up or just leave it adrift ... or you do get to keep cargo which was pirated and you have a way to duplicate expensive/rare cargo, which could be exploited in various ways especially if the trader doesn't face a rebuy cost either)

2) In leu of that (or in addition), the following should be an absolute given. Playing in OPEN should give you AT LEAST DOUBLE the reward for any given activity.
As someone who has played in Open - bar a couple of exploration expeditions - consistently from the start, and not been killed by a player outside of planned fights any time in the last 2.5 years ... well, thanks for doubling my bank balance but I'm not sure what I did to earn it.

(In fact, since I've benefited from the coop benefits - better wing payouts, trade vouchers, wing honks, etc. - I think I've actually made more money already from being in Open than I would have in Solo, even accounting for the rebuys from the planned fights...)

It also gives a tracking nightmare - if I buy some cargo in Open, relog to Solo, fly to the station, relog to Open and sell ... do I get the bonus? If I'm out on a long exploration trip and see a sight I want to take a high-res screenshot of, do I lose the Open bonus on all data scanned so far?

This sort of thing would incentivise people playing in Open in the 99.9% of the galaxy which is already completely free from player attacks ... and do virtually nothing to change how many people played in Open at CGs because double nothing is still nothing.

4) SIGNIFICANTLY BUFF the incentive to provide wing support / protection. Currently escorting a trader makes you what, 5% of their trade profit? So 2 players, that both invest the same amount of time into the game, and one makes 20x less? Like bounties in a wing, trade profits should be shared equally, or perhaps 85% vs 100% (To incentivize the trader, as if it was 1:1 everyone would want to be the escort ship (or maybe that's just me...). This would cause much more of the traders to have an escort, which would make pirating much more DIFFICULT. Again, this would BALANCE the encounter by FACILITATING player INTERACTION.
I think there's two issues with this:
1) Don't forget the impact on a wing of four trade ships all flying the same route together - or just winging up on arrival at the station, for a CG. At the moment, they make 115% profit (100% their own + 3*5% their friends) ... boost the trade vouchers to 85% and they make 355% profit.

2) The trader gets slowed down considerably by needing an escort ship, reducing their profit/hour. If they were actually worried about combat they'd just fit a decent shield (giving up some cargo space) and some boosters, and be able to escape any threat on their own.

At the moment piracy is already pretty difficult against even a moderately prepared trader - NPC pirates would need to be much more frequent and dangerous (which is highly unlikely) before traders had a higher net profit with an escort than without.


I like flying escort - I've escorted plenty of explorers for free - but explorers have the ability to request escorts hours in advance and don't usually care about an hour or two delay on arrival. Traders having to wait several hours before they depart will just head off anyway and hope they get lucky.
 
I concede a few points...

1) "Keep cargo" could be exploited to duplicate materials, and that's no good. The overall point I was getting at was decreasing the barriers to entry to OPEN. In light of the other points that I came up with throughout the original post, I would probably just nix it all together. You make valid points and as long as there were other ways to balance it--why do it. Besides, it really argues against my whole point--which is to BALANCE the game using GAME MECHANICS. letting players not pay a rebuy, or not losing cargo is, well, hippocritical for me to propose. All your doing is dumbing things down to a credit balance. Given a credit allowment to the victim is no better than a credit fine to the criminal. So we agree...

2) That is awesome you have been in open since the beginning. I have to say though--most have not. The vast majority play primarily in private/solo. We need to incentivize the OPEN mode, so that people are forced to play with eachother. As it stands, and this isn't up for debate, people log out of OPEN as soon as the going gets tough. Someone interdicting you repeatedly? eh, just mode switch. I have to wonder and ask...what, EXACTLY is the point of Solo? If it were an "offline" mode I would get it. But it's not. You have to be connected either way. All it does is isolate you. Why would ANYONE EVER use solo, and not open? There is only one answer--because they don't want to deal with other players. 9.9/10 times that is due to FEAR. Fear that someone will grief them, kill them, or do something else dastardly. This has to change. It's a fundamental issue with the manner the game is designed. Solo and Private modes (I give a little leeway to private), are like 2 training wheels on a bike that Frontier never took off. I'm including myself in that! I play in solo a lot! But I dont WANT to....I just do. Because it's more predictible. I don't have to worry about some bully...But I'm also aware enough to realize that shouldn't be the way it is, and it shouldn't be the way I play. I play in open when it suites me. Other times, when I'm just running trading missions or whatever, I don't. Why would I? If my goal is just to make money, then why expose myself to the risk for nothing? And that's the problem. Frontier needs to give players like me a nudge. Remove solo, or limit the time you can spend in it. I just don't see why it needs to be there. I'm sure there are thousands of people just like me that would respond just fine to their parent throwing them in the pool to teach them to swim. It'll be ok, help us help ourselves... :)

3) You raise some legit points regarding "tracking" But my answer would be very simple. a) see above. Limit / remove "mode switching" as a thing. Why is it even a thing at all. b) Allow only one way communication between modes.

Let me explain. OPEN communicates freely. Your actions/acheivements/rank/balance/ships/etc. are all "pushed" to "Solo" and "Private". However, if you enter "solo" or "private" these instances are like clones. Anything you acheive, buy, money you aquire, deaths that take place, all of that is no pushed back to your OPEN account. It's an area to play, experiment, engage with friends, but ultimately doesn't effect your perimenant profile. If you make a billion credits and fly to the other side of the galaxy, then log out, log back onto OPEN, you'll be right where you were, with the balance you had when you left open. If you then log back onto Solo, you will be right where you were in open. Effectively it clones your profile from OPEN to SOLO every time you launch it.

So, If your not in the mood to deal with other players, hop onto solo for a bit, but if you want to PROGRESS you need to join OPEN. This would remove all exploits from board hopping/relogging, as well as incentivize people to be in open. Maybe it's too extreme, frontier would need to test the waters. But I think it would solve a lot of problems in one fowl swoop.

4) A simple solution to your Trade wing multiplier problem would be to take (Avg profit + (Avg profit *(100 + (wing number * 5)%). So if there are 2 people, and they both make $100, then avg profit would be 100*2/2 or 100 (obviously). So (100 * (100 + (2*5)%) --> ($100 * (100 + (10)%) --> ($100 * (110%) = $110. If there are 4 people. then the same math (i'll spare you) works out to $140. Just apply the average profit for the whole wing, and multiple that.

So now the group can decide. Do we have 4 traders, no wing, and just risk it? or do we sacrafice 25% profit, and have an escort? Either way, it would be easy to manage that.

5) Regarding your comments on "slowing down". That is another issue altogether Frontier needs to fix. I'm sorry, but the wing navigation is broke. All wing members should be able to fly in the wake of the wing leaders hyperdrive. There should be no "I can make the jump, but you can't" Or mistimed nav lock jumps, etc. That stuff is just rediculous that it doesn't work smoothly. WingLeader guides all jumps. Plain and simple. If the wing leader starts to charge his drive, all slaved wings immediately start charging as well. If they finish charging first (i.e have a fast charging mod of some kind), their hyperdrive waits for the master to go. Once the master jumps, all drives jump instantly with him, in one wake. I.E. the "physics" (for the technical lore junkies), is that all hyperdrives are synced with the wing leader. When his drive jumps, all the rest fall into his wake. (Or you could even make it so they are synergistic, and can INCREASE the group jump range--How about THAT!). Bottom line, no one is left behind. No course changes because a sidewinder joins your wing of anacondas. Everyone travels together, simultanously, everywhere, as long as your in a wing, and nav locked appropriately. Done and Done.

6) as I aluded to, I actually think pirating and criminal activities need to be buffed. Right now people engage in criminal activities as a hobby I feel. You don't really make much money as a pirate, it's just fun. What Frontier is doing is engaging in a system to disuade a activity that is already not that profitable. Instead, they should BUFF the profits to incentivize it, whilst BUFFING and CREATING counters to said activity I aluded to above. You might say, "Wait, what? your saying your going to buff them, then balance it by buffing it's counter? that is a nerf...so your not really doing anything...." But you are. Because the Buffs are acomplishing different things. Buff to Pirates = Incentivize Piracy for LUCRATIVE profits. BUFF to Counters = Give tools to deal with said influx of pirates.

Anyway, just my thoughts.
 
We need to incentivize the OPEN mode, so that people are forced to play with eachother. As it stands, and this isn't up for debate, people log out of OPEN as soon as the going gets tough. Someone interdicting you repeatedly? eh, just mode switch.
That's true, but if they couldn't mode switch, do you think they'd stay in Open? Alternatives include:
- eh, just go to one of the 19900 inhabited systems with no hostiles
- eh, just play something else for a few hours until it's safer
- eh, just play something else indefinitely

I'd like to see more people in Open, because there's a lot of fun to be had either cooperating or competing with other players. But I don't want anyone to feel they're "forced" there. More incentives specifically to cooperate with other players - absolutely, great idea. And those incentives could be both 'carrot' (e.g. the wing bounty multiplier) or 'stick' (e.g. tougher NPC pirates so a wing is needed [1] to fight them)

Extra pay just for being in a mode where you could theoretically instance with another player if there was one online anywhere for 50 LY around? No.

The biggest thing Frontier could theoretically do to increase the population of Open is to implement crossplay between the three platforms so we can all actually see each other; presumably there are significant practical implications which mean they can't do that.

[1] In the sense that a wing is needed to fight Thargoids - I'm sure top players in top ships would take pride in being able to solo them, still.

4) A simple solution to your Trade wing multiplier problem would be to take (Avg profit + (Avg profit *(100 + (wing number * 5)%). So if there are 2 people, and they both make $100, then avg profit would be 100*2/2 or 100 (obviously). So (100 * (100 + (2*5)%) --> ($100 * (100 + (10)%) --> ($100 * (110%) = $110. If there are 4 people. then the same math (i'll spare you) works out to $140. Just apply the average profit for the whole wing, and multiple that.
That would require a change in how wing trade vouchers are allocated. At the moment, you receive them immediately on sale, so the game wouldn't know when it was handing out the vouchers for the first person to sell whether any of the others were going to sell there or for how much profit.

You could in theory change it so it becomes a "wing session" like a "multicrew session" where the vouchers are all given out when you leave the wing - but then you could disband and reform the wing between each trade so each one looks like 1 trader+3 escorts. Also complications where the wing membership is less fixed - e.g. someone joins the wing half-way through, or has to go and gets replaced by someone else later, etc.

5) Regarding your comments on "slowing down".
I agree that I'd prefer a hyperspace model for wings more like the Oolite one where if a ship leads a jump others can follow its wake rather than making their own jump - it would have a wide range of interesting gameplay consequences, for cooperative exploration and in-bubble work.

But that wasn't really what I meant by slowing down, and it wouldn't help in the case of a trade escort mission: for a start, if you're doing an escort mission, you don't want all ships to jump simultaneously.

If you're expecting even the remotest chance that something in the system you're about to jump to is hostile, you want to get one of the escorts into that system first, who can look around and confirm that it's safe - or deal with whatever's making it dangerous - before the ship being escorted arrives. Once it's safe, the fragile trade ship can then make the jump.

Unless you have a Fuel Rats-sized escort organisation, there's also likely to be significant slowdown on the escort ships actually reaching the trader from wherever they're based for them to start the run. (At a trade CG this wouldn't apply, of course - but at that point the "escorts" are probably better just hanging around in supercruise at the CG system and interdicting anyone they don't trust rather than actually winging up with traders)

6) as I aluded to, I actually think pirating and criminal activities need to be buffed.
I would certainly agree that piracy needs to be significantly buffed to be viable at all as a money-making activity against anything other than very stupid NPCs full of diamonds. However, I think the level of buffing needed is so significant it won't happen in Elite Dangerous.
 

Robert Maynard

Volunteer Moderator
Let me explain. OPEN communicates freely. Your actions/acheivements/rank/balance/ships/etc. are all "pushed" to "Solo" and "Private". However, if you enter "solo" or "private" these instances are like clones. Anything you acheive, buy, money you aquire, deaths that take place, all of that is no pushed back to your OPEN account. It's an area to play, experiment, engage with friends, but ultimately doesn't effect your perimenant profile. If you make a billion credits and fly to the other side of the galaxy, then log out, log back onto OPEN, you'll be right where you were, with the balance you had when you left open. If you then log back onto Solo, you will be right where you were in open. Effectively it clones your profile from OPEN to SOLO every time you launch it.

So, If your not in the mood to deal with other players, hop onto solo for a bit, but if you want to PROGRESS you need to join OPEN. This would remove all exploits from board hopping/relogging, as well as incentivize people to be in open. Maybe it's too extreme, frontier would need to test the waters. But I think it would solve a lot of problems in one fowl swoop.
Changes of that magnitude would seem, in my opinion, to be extremely unlikely - given that the three game modes, mode switching and the fact that Frontier's desired user experience is for all players to both experience and affect the same shared galaxy state, regardless of game mode has been part of the published game design for over five years and that Frontier would seem to be well aware that the majority of players don't get involved in PvP.
 
This SHOULD NOT be about PUNISHING the criminal, it SHOULD be about BALANCING the encounter. Right?
Wrong. It should definitely be about punishing criminals. That's what a justice system is designed for.

Since the dawn of time, there have been communities, and people's actions affect said communities. When criminals decided that they didn't care that what they did affected other people's lives, crimes were invented in order to keep the peace.

Good luck with your wish for total anarchy- it's never going to happen.
 
Wrong. It should definitely be about punishing criminals. That's what a justice system is designed for.
Almost all major and minor factions in Elite Dangerous are either militaristic dictatorships, corrupt corporate-led oligarchies, nominal democracies fond of assassinating the opposition party, slave traders, overt criminals, or worse ... existing in a state of near-permanent conflict as various proxy wars and black ops occasionally blow up into open fighting ... what do you think the chances are that their justice system is designed to act in the interest of some scruffy foreign mercenary pilot, except by coincidence?

Considering just how dystopian most Elite Dangerous societies are, a 'realistic' depiction of the justice system would need players to pass appropriate bribes to the system authority vessels on every trip to avoid having their ship destroyed and contraband planted in the wreckage. In the 'nice' systems.
 
Almost all major and minor factions in Elite Dangerous are either militaristic dictatorships, corrupt corporate-led oligarchies, nominal democracies fond of assassinating the opposition party, slave traders, overt criminals, or worse ... existing in a state of near-permanent conflict as various proxy wars and black ops occasionally blow up into open fighting ... what do you think the chances are that their justice system is designed to act in the interest of some scruffy foreign mercenary pilot, except by coincidence?

Considering just how dystopian most Elite Dangerous societies are, a 'realistic' depiction of the justice system would need players to pass appropriate bribes to the system authority vessels on every trip to avoid having their ship destroyed and contraband planted in the wreckage. In the 'nice' systems.
The question wasn't about different types of government in Elite Dangerous. The question was directly regarding Crime and Punishment punishing criminals. I answered that question.

As to your speculation regarding the different flavors of government (or lack thereof) the majority of space is indeed anarchy- because no communities (yet) exist within those systems, however the reason a Crime and Punishment system is called for is because there are indeed MANY populated systems that have a government which protects the people- regardless of the type of government.

Do you really think Imperial systems, for example, would allow their serfs to be wantonly murdered without due cause? The rulers would not allow it- they are THEIR serfs to destroy- and criminals won't be tolerated.
 
Changes of that magnitude would seem, in my opinion, to be extremely unlikely - given that the three game modes, mode switching and the fact that Frontier's desired user experience is for all players to both experience and affect the same shared galaxy state, regardless of game mode has been part of the published game design for over five years and that Frontier would seem to be well aware that the majority of players don't get involved in PvP.
I agree. After getting feedback from the forum as a whole, it seems any changes to that would need to be nixed. I actually have come to think that it isn't necessary anyway.

Focus on creating the game dynamics/mechanics. Then let people go where they will. I initially was of the mind that if more people were in open, it would embolden Frontier to develop game mechanics for more Player/Player interactions. But I see now that is putting the cart before the horse. Instead, Frontier should develop those game mechanics, which will drive people to open to utilize them.
 
lol Sylveria...

I think you misinterpreted my setiments. My point is that your not trying to punish the PERSON, your punishing the character in game. That is, even punishment should not be a drudge. There is a way to have justice, without boring gameplay.

In the extreme. What if we said, "Anyone that commits a crime, has their game log out, and they are immediately banned from playing for an hour, then they can resume". Well, that would be effective. Crime would disappear. Is the game any better? No, it's much...much worse. But there is no crime! Ok, but to what end?

Instead, the focus should be about BALANCING the encounters. Instead of trying to make criminals lives miserable, just make their lives harder; and by "harder" I mean more interesting and engaging.

Your point presumes there is no way to balance crime, and therefore it must be banished by any means necessary. My view is that it should be a tool in the Devs belt, and they should build player mechanics around it to make it entertaining / engaging.
 
lol Sylveria...

I think you misinterpreted my setiments. My point is that your not trying to punish the PERSON, your punishing the character in game. That is, even punishment should not be a drudge. There is a way to have justice, without boring gameplay.

In the extreme. What if we said, "Anyone that commits a crime, has their game log out, and they are immediately banned from playing for an hour, then they can resume". Well, that would be effective. Crime would disappear. Is the game any better? No, it's much...much worse. But there is no crime! Ok, but to what end?

Instead, the focus should be about BALANCING the encounters. Instead of trying to make criminals lives miserable, just make their lives harder; and by "harder" I mean more interesting and engaging.

Your point presumes there is no way to balance crime, and therefore it must be banished by any means necessary. My view is that it should be a tool in the Devs belt, and they should build player mechanics around it to make it entertaining / engaging.
Nope. I didn't "misinterpret" your sentiments... I simply disagree completely. Crime is reprehensible for good reason.

It never "gets rid" of crime... there will always be people out there who will want to take the easy way instead of working their @ss off like everyone else in order to make a credit or two. It's always been true, and will always be true. Would that make the game better? Indeed it would, as the majority do not "prey upon others" as you might think. It's a fact IRL. People just don't go wantonly killing others daily.

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Learn that what you do affects others, and perhaps you'll finally get somewhere instead of being constantly set back to zero and trying to figure out "why?". Societies have long created justice systems because they will not tolerate such behavior from a minority of the species. Maybe one of these days you too, will learn this lesson.
 
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Crime is reprehensible for good reason.
That's true in real life.

Other things which are also generally considered reprehensible (and sometimes even illegal) in real life but are entirely legal and encouraged in game:
- slavery
- starting wars for personal profit
- killing people for traffic violations
- trading arms to dictatorships with poor human rights records
- giving workers performance-enhancing drugs to boost productivity
- adding mood-altering chemicals to the food/water supply
- assassinating political opponents

From a game design perspective [1] it's a complete waste of time to implement the possibility of doing criminal actions if actually doing them doesn't get you anywhere and isn't fun.

there will always be people out there who will want to take the easy way
You can make 50-100 million credits per hour with the right (legal) passenger missions.

On the other hand, piracy - of NPCs carrying pure Diamond holds in Anarchy systems - is unlikely to make more than a few million per hour. Piracy of "normal" cargo NPC ships will make well under a million an hour, especially if you find one mainly carrying Scrap/Biowaste.
Smuggling generally has less profits per tonne than nearby legal trades.
Illegal missions don't pay more than legal ones and often pay a lot less.

In what sense is criminal activity the easy way to make money - it both pays less and has (at the moment, token) additional challenges.

If illegal activity was a top 50-100 MCr/hour earner ... but came with high consequences so you then had to really struggle to avoid paying 50-100 MCr/hour in repair bills, ship replacements, fines, etc. that would be one thing. As it is, the "punishment" for being a criminal is that you earn - gross, not net - at best a tenth of what people can get legally *and* get shot at. Crime is supposed to pay in the short-term even if the consequences catch up with you later, or people wouldn't do it.


[1] Okay - more generally I agree that games aren't required to be fun if there's some other thing they're trying to be, but Elite Dangerous is a reasonably typical mass-market power fantasy, not a morality play or niche arty game, so "fun" is presumably the design goal.
 
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