(Apologies for the length of post. Don't read if you don't care!)
(NB: Edits have been made to this post (and are marked) based on feedback.)
New Suggestion - "Blips" Mechanic Improvement.
My opinion is that the radar blips, constantly identifying player positions on the map and mini-map, is the primary cause of player conflict in GTA Online free-roam. The blips encourage players to head towards each other to interact and this interaction is mostly going to be violent.
This suits some players but does not suit others that wish to sometimes remain anonymous and do other things than survive relentless assaults or continuously attack others.
One suggestion would be to turn off the blips completely. This would make some very interesting changes (random encounters, hide and seek style car/foot chases, surprise attacks, stalking players, proper assassinations) but it might also result in an empty feeling map, where online players rarely notice other online players.
I've been considering changes that would not be too dramatic or impractical, requiring Rockstar to completely overhaul the game mechanics and code, and upseting players that are settled with the current system.
I'd suggest an improved system to the radar blips would be to have them locality and noise based.
This means that firstly, you can only see blips within your locality (i.e. say, a half square mile of your character.) So if you are driving around Los Santos, you cannot see players driving around the Alamo Sea.
Secondly, of these blips within your locality, some will still not be shown. These are players that are keeping anonymous. To do this, they need to behave "quietly". Those shopping, walking, checking their phone,
driving slowly or cashing money at an ATM (for example) will be anonymous.
However, players that perform "loud" actions will show on the local map for a period of time. Loud actions would include firing your gun,
driving fast (either over a fixed speed limit, or obeying current road speed limits), flying a helicopter (even wider range of detection, 1sq mile perhaps), crashing your car and being visible in a police "cone of vision". Basically any "loud" noise would be detectable while the noise is happening and for ten seconds extra, before the blip on the radar fades slowly out to invisible once again.
The result of this is that the mini-map (and main map) will reveal player locations only when they are being noisy and only to those within their vicinity. This will allow some players to cruise around the city, not firing their gun or getting a wanted level, and decrease the chance of them being slaughtered. Alternatively, it gives those looking for player vs player action (in free roam) an actual challenge to track and attack players, plus a reason to do so. Noisy players will be those escaping police, shooting citizens or robbing banks - all noisy actions.
Suddenly it would be a thrill to know that players you cannot see may be aware of your loudness. Remember, someone coming to thwart your "loud" bank robbery might be keeping anonymous themselves and sneak up on you but adversely in a resulting car chase, you could actually lose them through nifty driving and then hide out in an alley by keeping quiet. These are the kind of GTA experiences I was personally hoping for in online. The lack of constant blips would actually make the city seem so much more alive.
To finalise my system I would suggest Line of Sight also allows players to see their quarry on the mini-map. Only that player can see the blip whilst they remain in their view, and for a short while after (say 10 seconds) before vanishing.
Final exceptions: Players can manually choose to override the anonymous blip, should they want to stay visible at all times and simply fight allcomers. It would be the equivilent of them waging war on the city and everyone in it. And crew members blips show to other crew members at all times, as they are in constant contact. This gives crews another advantage, but that makes sense.
So the system would be as follows:
- Some actions, such as
fast driving firing your gun and flying a helicopter, result in noise. Noisy actions result in your blip being identified to those within range.
- Police chases are loud actions. Your blip appears while you are within a cone of detection and "seen" by police. (Suggestion by Chev, below, and others.)
- Car crashes are a noisy action (kudos to Chaos-Elite.) Bumps and nicks don't show but major crashes, spin outs will display your blip during the event and for ten seconds.
- Players within the local vicinity can see the "noise" blip during the entire noise event and for ten seconds afterwards, before it fades to invisible.
- A player in your line of sight always shows as a blip, even if they aren't being "noisy".
- If you lose sight of a player they remain shown as a blip for ten seconds before vanishing out of sight (unless you see them again.)
- Walking, not firing your gun or making loud noise, results in your blip being invisible to all others, unless they have you in Line of Sight.
- Loud noises go undetected when no-one is within your local noise range.
- Players can choose to have their blip constantly shown by choosing to wage war on the city. This allows them to effectively start or join a free-roam death match, as current.
- Crew members blips always show to other crew members.
Personally, if R* considered making these changes, I'd see myself potentially playing the game for 3 or 4 years (which is what they want) but as it stands, I can't see me playing for more than a month, and always frustrated by the free-roam.
What are your thoughts on this system, and any flaws that mean it won't work (or be a better system than it currently is.)