The major Powerplay update for Elite: Dangerous is current set for a May release, and will include some changes to how crime and bounties work.
Said changes and tweaks are summarised in a new developer post from Frontier producer Michael Brookes. It reveals that those who secretly want to play bumper-cars in space may have to curb their activities, as ramming at speed could soon be criminalised.
The ongoing Powerplay beta is set to trial “ramming at speed within no fire zones” as criminal activity. Specifically, travelling at over 100m/s and colliding with another ship will be considered a crime. Elite: Dangerous welcomes careful drivers, and all that. This potential change has apparently generated “vigorous debate” so it may not make it to the actual Powerplay update.
In future, active bounties will only be issued by minor factions (even in systems owned by the big three.) Once you have a bounty on your head, there’s a seven day “cooling off” period before you can simply pay it off. This is presumably to prevent chequebook justice.
Active bounties will (with Powerplay) be resolved in the following ways: “Firstly if a ship detects the bounty and destroys you then the bounty is claimed and removed. Secondly if your ship is destroyed, but the bounty is not detected then the following happens: The bounty becomes dormant and can only be detected by authority scans by agents of that jurisdiction and if detected will become an active bounty with a new seven day timer. If a dormant bounty is not detected within seven days then it is removed. If an active bounty is not claimed or made dormant within seven days then it will be cleared.”
Even when a bounty is removed, it will remain on your Elite: Dangerous record as a ‘legacy fine.’ The recently added bounty caps will remain, but will not apply to fines or legacy fines.
Speaking of fines, these will now take seven days before they ‘mature’ into full on bounties.
Finally, there are changes proposed for friendly fire. This will apparently become a bit more ‘forgiving’ (so no instant fines/bounties for accidentally clipping an NPC police ship with a puny laser, hopefully.) Friendly fire rules will apply to NPC AI and actual players alike.
I know I already wrote ‘finally,’ but there’s actually one more thing unrelated to crimes. Brookes says the Frontier team are investigating improvements to how the game caches shaders, which could resolve some of the frame-stuttering issues players have been seeing.