I have been playing the game off and on over the last 12ish years and have always been disappointing in the bounty hunting system it has either been full of exploits or just not very immersive. Below are some of the changes I suggest that may make this a viable profession for those that share the same passion for bounty hunting:
- Any bounty placed on a pilot would place that bounty into a pool controlled by an NPC agent.
- Bounties would have a minimum value of 10m ISK and increase in 10m ISK equivalents. This would stop people from getting a bounty worth next to nothing and a waste of time.
- Like every other profession in eve they require skills so why not do the same for Bounty hunting.
Make it so that they have special locator agents that help track your target through space as a live update on the in game map. These agents will tell you if they are in a station, what system they are in and what target they are warping too. They will not show you if they are in a safe spot but will let you know that they are at a safe spot by saying something like your target is warping to an unknown location or something. Also these agents would have a cost associated with them and the cost could be increased depending on how long they are used. You could either pay for a set time for the agent or set it to a live payment where every 15m or hour or whatever time has passed money is taken from your wallet. If you do not have enough ISK then the agent drops the special tracking.
Another skill could be to increase the maximum amount of bounties you can hold at a time (with a max of say 9 (1 as a default and 2 per lvl increase on the skill),
You could be to increase the number of contracts you could live track at the same time. So lvl 1 you could live track 1 bounty from your contract list and 1 additional live tracking per skill level,
Another skill could increase the total time you have to hunt your target. This is important as it stops people from holding onto the contract forever and really abusing the system.
- Finally perhaps another skill to decrease the time to turn down contracts for a new one. Similar to how you can decline missions from agents.
Also for me bounty hunting is a solo profession kind of like Jango Fett from star wars so you should not be allowed to be in a fleet when tracking your targets and if anybody else interferes by helping you kill the target then the contract is voided and no bounty will be given. If in highsec and somebody decides to help then only the person without the contract will be Concorded. Obviously while owning a contract no part of space is off limits to complete your contract and Concord will not interfere in HS.
So with all that in place here is how it would work. A player goes to a mission agent and gets a random contract from the pool of bounties. They can either decline or accept however many contracts they want (based on the skills they have invested in). The random part is important since it stops people from cherry picking specific targets. Once you have the bounty or bounties you have a set amount of time to complete the contract (based on skill level) and the ability to activate the special locator agent … the time to complete is also important as it stops people from tracking you down and holding your contract forever. If the contract fails then it goes back into the pool of available contracts for somebody else to randomly get.
I know its not a perfect system and some of it may seem OP or need some balancing but I really do believe this would be a good starting point to making this a more interesting and immersive path for the bounty hunting profession.