Been musing with this idea, thought I'd throw it open for comment and flamage
How about allowing players to log in to an "NPC" account, where they could spawn as an NPC faction in a system/ const or region of their choice. They would randomly get a frig or cruiser (or BS in 0.0), and perhaps have very limited fitting options based on their faction.
They'd be clearly labelled as player NPCs, and their bounties would be higher than AI controlled NPCs for obvious reasons.
They wouldn't be allowed to leave the system they are in, and are limited to either being in the belts or on the gates- can't warp anywhere else.
Obviously they'd be no match for half decent players, but fighting a human is always more fun and satisfying. Playing an NPC, imho, would be quite good fun, good practice and a sense of achievement if you kill someone.
There would, naturally, be no persistence of character- when you die there is no pod, you just re-spawn in another NPC ship
- revived interest in ratting
- possibly provide the pull into lowsec that is much needed
- good 'no risk' practice for players who want to play as the NPCs
- good fun for all
- a PvP fix for those who need it
- you can attack people at gates with no sentry fire (like the current NPCs)
- can despawn and respawn afresh in a busier system if no targets
- could be boring if no-one is around
- someone will probably find a way to grief players I am sure
- (I am sure you can find more