I’ll cut to the chase. First I’ll look at scenarios.
The current ones, to put it bluntly, a bit long. Additionally, the manner of their difficulty is effectively something that is overcome by everyone using frigates capable of powering through enemy health while camping out inside cover provided by one of the large vessels present.
One other idea for scenarios in general: Optional objectives. Completing an optional objective would allow you to find one more guarenteed piece of rare loot.
With regards to ideas for new ones:
1. Assault Recon.
The map would be a couple of friendly small capital ships with the usual weak flak turrets and some asteroids. 4 or so waves of enemies would come. You destroy them. After all 4 waves, a 5h “boss wave” comes.
The boss wave would comprise of a large tank frigate, a frigate that heals nearby damaged enemies, a fighter which has a tendency to fire missiles at a player every 5-10 seconds, and an interceptor with some annoying modules like target system disruption and the like. (so effectively, you either want to kill the healer first, or lure the interceptor far enough away from it to prevent it from getting healed so you can kill it first and then the healer)
The “Mission buffs” would include something like a 500% increase in duration for player debuff modules like stasis generators and such. This would give a reason for someone to fly an interceptor or fighter in such missions. It would go without saying that the boss wave would in fact be suseptible to any player modules as well.
2. Base Assault.
Part 1: Players along with several friendly elites face off against enemy waves that are also composed only of veterans and elites. In open space, with little cover. The number of ships on each side would be about the same for any given wave. The enemies would gain an advantage in numbers only if a player or friendly elite dies, but each wave would have some better enemy ships. An optional objective for this part could be to survive with no player dying.
Part 2: Players and several friendly elites attack an asteroid station which is defended by a few enemy elite fighters and interceptors, which respawn a set time after they die. The friendly elites would be high-HP, low damage fighters and interceptors, and would attack enemy defending ships only. The mission is won when all targets on the hull of the asteroid station are dead, which would include a bunch of turrets, and maybe a couple hangars that spawn non-elite fighters every 20 seconds or so.
One “mission buff” would be something like 100% increase to missile explosion radius, 200% increase to missile damage, and something like an 80-90% reduction to friendly fire damage from missiles, torpedoes, and the like.
In other words, its a mission where the players are supposed to play the role of an attack bomber and destroy the base. Before their escort is killed by defenders and turn their full attention on the players (an optional objective could be to destroy the base with limited losses of friendly forces).
3. Trader Ambush.
Players face off against waves of poorly armed frigates that fly in a straight line. Said frigates have reasonable armor, and jump out of the system maybe 2 minutes after they jump in. Frigates jump in in pairs. Each pair is accompanied by a number of elite fighter/interceptors equal to the “wave number”, and 2x the wave number in normal fighters. The fighters do not jump out. Mission goal is to destroy X number of frigates before you all die. If you complete this, you can keep killing them, and will get additional rewards depending on how many frigates you manage to take down before you are all dead (higher numbers of frigates destroyed could be set as optional objectives, in other words). The mission ends either when everyone dies, or when 3 waves of frigates jump without any losses. As long as you take out the required number of transport frigates, you win though.
The enemy elites would be lower health then normal elites, but would have slightly stronger weapons. The map would be one-half cluttered with asteroids and one half open space (the frigates flying along a line just outside the asteroid area). A new wave of frigates and escorts would jump in every minute. Effectively, players need to balance destroying enemy fighters with attacking frigates. Too much attacking the frigates and enemy fighters from multiple waves will be alive at once. Too much attacking fighters and you will miss some frigates, and eventually lose from not destroying either one for 3 pairs.
Next, lets look at PvP. While more game modes and such could be good here, that is not my primary focus. The issue is simply that there should be some that don’t require 10 players to a side, partly for queue reasons. And because it would be nice to have some smaller battles from time to time as well.
That is not to say I have no ideas for PvP modes though.
1. An FFA sort of thing. Where 4-8 players all start out in different places in a small map, and are all enemies of each other. They have a set time limit to fight each other, and rewards would be determined for each pilot based on their general performance.
2. A team battle (without a captain). Two teams would fight for 10 minutes, winner is the one with more kills. Each team would have a relatively small number of players, maybe 6.
3. A sort of hybrid PvP scenario. 3 small teams of players attack pirate elite NPCs that spawn throughout a mid-sized map. And each other if they desire. After 10-15 minutes, each team recieves rewards based on how many of the pirates (and each other) they killed. Players are allowed to respawn like any other PvP.
There is one more idea I have, but it is something that at best would be far off. Effectively, it would be a “free flight” area. All three sides would have a heavily defended station a good distance away from each other (50km or so). NPC enemies like pirates would spawn now and then in clutter and asteroid fields scattered around between the stations. You would also be able to queue for other stuff while actually IN this area, using the currently selected ships. You could get some rep and money through fighting NPC enemies or pilots of one of the other two factions, but it would not be as much as doing PvP queues or scenarios (i.e. half as much at best). Said rep and money would be calculated and added in real-time (unlike a usual mission), since it is a base area that you can queue up for missions in. Loot would either be nonexistent or only from occasional elites that spawn from time to time. Perhaps some strong enemy groups could patrol the edges of the map too.
Getting into this “free flight mode” would not be based on a queue. All players can enter and exit it at will. It would serve as a good hub for hanging out between real missions, and for better social interaction (i.e. allowing players to just group up willy-nilly to mess around with setups, or for two players to fly to a point so they can have a duel or something). It would also allow for something to do while waiting for a queue.