In a dev blog post, CCP provided a glimpse of the new hacking and archeology exploration sites to be provided in the Odyssey expansion. Unlike the current system, which requires activating an Analyzer or Codebreaker module on some wreckage, and letting it cycle until it is opened, the new system will require pilots to win a "mini-game" before the hacked container opens.
Based on the brief description in the dev blog, the mini-game sounds potentially engaging and challenging, and could also introduce a whole new set of hacking-related items into the New Eden economy.
Essentially, the mini-game's objective is to trace a path along connected nodes in order to reach and destroy the "core". The contents of nodes are revealed as you trace your path, and they can contain items that can help or hinder your efforts along the way. You do not have an unlimited amount of time to complete your task, and overcoming the challenges along your path will require intelligent choices in overcoming the "coherence" (hit points) of defensive obstacles. If you fail, the container self-destructs.
If you succeed, then the container opens and spews items into space. This encourages pilots to bring colleagues along with them, so they can quickly scoop up all of the scattered items before they dissipate.
Unfortunately, only one player will be able to work the hacking puzzle - no cooperative hacking play will be possible, at least for the first iteration of the system - so any fleetmates will have to stand by patiently for the hacker to either succeed or fail.
Based on what has been revealed so far, I like this mini-game approach a great deal.
- It should make hacking and archeology sites genuinely interesting and fun, if the mini-game is as engaging as it sounds. I wonder how skills will affect the likelihood of success. At top skill levels, does the mini-game become semi-automatic, or will there always be a significant risk of failure, regardless? If the mini-game becomes too easy, then the challenge fades and becomes boring again.
- I also want to know more about the utility subsystems and how they work - do they provide some interesting new items to buy and sell in the markets?
- Finally, if CCP is trying to encourage teams of players flying together into exploration sites, I think they should provide some mechanism for cooperative play in the mini-game, eventually. How easy this could be provided for depends on the design on the solo mini-game, of course, but I hope it becomes possible - that would give exploration sites a whole new dimension of playability.
In short, at first glance, it all looks potentially very cool - I can't wait to try it, once it is released officially. On the test server, the current version of the mini-game does not yet work completely, but you can get an idea of how it will function. Based on what I see so far, I'm hopeful.
Fly safe! o7