Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Free communications

I decided this year I'm going to try to respond to every one of Freebooted's 2013 Blog Banters.  When I am given fair criticism, one of the common ones is that I don't engage with other parts of the community as much as I should.  So for the blog, banters.  And for myself, I'm going to be a bit more active on Twitter, forums, and listening and responding to pod-casts.  We'll see how I do.

There's a second 2013 blog banter out (yes, I responded to the first one):
The local chat channel provides EVE players with an instant source of intel of who is in the system. With a quick glance you can tell who is in system and what your standings are to them. War targets, hated enemies, friends and corp mates all stand out clearly. Is this right? Should we have access to this intel for free with no work or effort? Should the Local chat channel even exist? Should normal space be more like wormhole space where the Local channel appears empty until someone speaks?
OK, I like that one.  That's an easy one.

A lot of people have varying opinions of "Local."  Most of those criticisms revolve around the idea that Local is an intelligence tool in low-sec and null-sec: you can tell if a system is "safe" or not by who is in Local.  For that reason, some small gang PvPers want Local abolished or delayed (you'd appear in Local 30 or 60 seconds after you actually entered the system).  They want this so they can get ratter or miner ganks.  For the same reason, large null-sec alliances and the like generally want Local to stay how it is.  But other small-gangers and ultra-small-gangers agree with the large null-sec'ers: leave Local alone!  The reason is fairly obvious: how is the ultra small-gang or solo PvPer to know that there are five smart-bombing battleships on the next gate without some warning?  How is the five-man gang to know they're facing another five-man gang, and not the entire Goonswarm fleet?

Speaking as a small-gang PvPer: guys, it's hard enough for me to find targets in null-sec and low-sec as it is.  It already takes an age to find a fleet to fight, see if the engagement terms are worthwhile, try to stage the engagement, and get the fight going.  Trying to do this without Local would be a bit like the second day of the Battle of Midway: two fleets within a few hundred miles of each other but not able to find each other because of environmental conditions.  Fleets would have to send out six or eight scouts to do the same thing that can be done today with one or two.  Realistic?  Sure.  Fun?  Hell no!

I remind you that this is a game.  ;-)

By the same token, delaying Local just means slowing down roaming fleets as they wait for their scout to be able to provide good intel instead of bad intel.  Same same.

Let me jump straight to the conclusion for you: Local is working, so let's not screw with it.  Is it perfect?  No.  But it's a solution that's been working for nigh upon a decade now.  Everyone understands it, everyone's clear on it, and those that want to try something different have the option of heading for W-space to do so, and more power to them.

So that's my basic answer.  But let's say that I wanted to mess with Local.  Let's say that CCP came up to me and said, "we're definitely going to change Local in one way, and you get to pick the way."  If I were going to make one change to how Local operates?

I'd make the people that hold space pay for it.  "CONCORD communications network operating fee," I'd call it, or something like that.  Want Local in a system?  That'll be some amount of ISK.  And the more space you have, the more ISK you pay, on an exponential scale.  I can tell you from experience that maintaining a communications network of a thousand nodes is a lot more than 100 times harder and 100 times more expensive than maintaining a communications network with ten nodes.

It'd create an interesting dynamic: some alliances would pay for Local in every system they own and continue to use it as an intelligence asset... but they'd pay through the nose for that privilege.  Others would only pay for Local in critical systems, leaving gaps in their intelligence network that could be exploited by an enemy.  And still others would go the w-space route.  All in all, it might create an interesting dynamic.

But honestly, even this I think would over-complicate a system that's easy to understand and working.  Let's let CCP concentrate on the things that are horrifyingly broken rather than the things that are not, shall we?

23 comments:

  1. Paying for holding space is retarded, and it will only prevent smaller alliances from holding SOV.
    If a larger alliance want's to keep their space, they are gonna cut back on something else, but keep their space.

    What needs to be fixed is the income part.
    There should be as little "top" income as possible and instead be implemented in a way that gives alliances income based on activity.
    Aka, the grunt that goes ratting, or mining or whatever.

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  2. Well said. The simulation fan in me wants it to be more realistic, which is funny in itself talking about an internet spaceship game, but there are bigger fish to fry in terms of the game.

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  3. As with any military situation intel is key, knowing where you are and when your enemy is are vital to success.

    I think that the problem is a little too free and easy - people use local to find easy targets rather than looking for good fights or falling into well laid traps putting a larger emphasis on scouts and intel.

    The system as it stands tells you when potential targets or threats enter and leave the system and so you have a fairly active prompt to either run away and hide or to start hunting.

    I think taking away local works both ways for the defender and the agressor as it means that the agressor has more of a chance to catch someone out as local won't give them a warning to cloak up or run away while the defender can at least hope that any potential threats will be forced into a manual process of searching for targets rather than simply being told.

    Its an interesting one especially for Null sec alliances as you could see an intel network being an element of 'farms and fields' - its something that alliances would like to maintain as it keeps information flowing freely between held systems and can provide an early warning mechanism. The same is then true for any attackers who would want to blind a potential target alliance would could systematically target these communication nodes and could provide some interesting fights on multiple scales (ie, different sized nodes could allow for a ship size limit so that you can't just blob the crap out of everything).

    Other communication (like private channels, corp or fleet) chat will remain the same (I doubt they could block comms as players would just use external applications for comms instead)

    Personally I am in favor of scrapping local in < 0.4 systems but you can't please everyone :P

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  4. Bravo Sir!! Well said.

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  5. Compare to w-space, NS and LS systems are too big and some of their combat site too far away from planets to work with d-scan 14 AU limit (no passive scan for us). And Removing the 14 AU limit would make it impossible to hide dropping probes.... Current k-space systems haven't be built for no local.

    However, CCP could had a new type of 0.0, that would have a local but without the w-space nomadic life that many pilots don't care for.

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    1. Well many w-space systems are larger than 14.35 AU as well. If you don't have bm of the site, you can still try to gank the target at choking point, i.e. wh.

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    2. Most W-space systems have 1 or 2 planets out of d-scan from the sun. Some are very small (and it's pain since you can't hide dropping your probes). And a few are huge... But it's nothing like k-space.

      ps: I meant that CCP could add a new type of 0.0, a few more regions around EVE, that would have no local but with gate and station and anything else that pilots enjoy in k-space.

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  6. No local/delayed local cannot work in today's k-space, that's for sure. But there are many ways to make k-space more dynamic. The sb low sec mission running FW can be turned into a sizable/noticeable community, why can't the rest of low sec/null sec becomes populated as well? It's very hard for botters living in wh, and it make no sense afk cloaking in wh for most cases(You almost cannot AFK doing anything in wh), don't you want k-space turns into sth like that?

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  7. The issue of covert operations should be addressed though. Sneaking around systems cloaked, deep behind enemy lines, but plain visible in local is a big contradictory.

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  8. What about a local that only delays for when new people enter system.

    For example, lets say you are the scout for a Rote fleet and jump into a system that has a couple of people sitting in station and 1 or 2 guys ratting. They would show up in your local right away since they were already established in system (for more than 30-60 seconds), but you would not show up on their local for 30-60 seconds.

    Now lets say you are in that same system and getting ready to move on. A smart scout never warps to the gate, they warp to a pounce or nearby celestial and dscan the gate, so any fleet that just jumped in shouldn't be a suprise to you even if they aren't showing in local yet.

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  9. Could i provide you with a different suggestion?

    Local exists in high-sec/low-sec/NPC null-sec because the holding empires maintain an FTL relay network there.

    Capsuleer alliances pay CONCORD already to berecognized for their teritory claim on the outer-rim.

    If an alliance wishes to "implement" a local chat service just anchor a FTL relay structure in space (anywhere), with no beacon in overview. It is a structure that can be probed/scanned AND hacked, making local suddenly go "offline".

    That makes it interesting to CONCEAL an incoming fleet if players plan for it.

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    1. I favour "march of technology" solutions like this.
      The ship rebalancing effort sets my teeth on edge because it's a sweeping adjustment of existing assets with nothing but a label change to patch over the glaring in-continuity.
      If hulls fail the deliver they should be left to be slowly retired from service and new models introduced with adjusted slots. I realise that is more work than CCP wants to commit to but If your selling your game on continuity of service lapses on constancy like that stand out.

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    2. [excerpt from my next post on the same topic.. just felt timely to post this here in comment form...]

      To expand on Alain's comment, A Little Background on “Local” as "I" understand it...
      The technology infrastructure for “local” as it exists now is based on (1) the Neocom and (2) Stargates & Stations.

      The "Neocom" is an instantaneous FTL communications system allowing connectivity between Stargates that are able to ‘reach’ each other (IE in ‘range’, meaning the one’s they can send/receive to/from) and all the Stations in a given system. This is the “Local Celestial Link” or, LCL [acronym mine] usually just called “local”.

      As each gate and station crew (the ever affable Docking Manager Scotty) handles Traffic Control and records the Approach; Landing; Fight Plan Transmittal or Docking Request; Request for Jump Clearance; Jump; Jump Landing; Request for Warp Clearance or Undock Clearance and Warpout for EACH and EVERY ship that passes through them, and because LCL allows instantaneous updates of these records to ALL gates in range and ALL Stations inside each system, and because all ships 'have to be connected to the LCL' in order to use the gates and stations, therefore all ships share these updates and hence have ‘prefect intel’ on the ships that enter and leave a given system. The Capsuleers (and NPC Crews) can also use the LCL to communicate with anyone in the system.

      In Anoikis, W-space, just jumping thru a wormhole does not post yer pic and name up for all to see… why? No GATES… Naturally occurring wormholes are not Neocom networked so once you jump through, you are cut off from Empire LCL.

      Now understand there still IS a ‘local’ channel… it does exist but we have what is called ‘delayed local’… as long as you don’t talk, you don’t show up in it. The ships, POSes, POCOs and PI Structures are all Neocom linked and so there is a network, it just doesn’t include the entrances and exits and cannot connect to Empire LCL.

      So, in Empire only, LCL gives us:
      (1) Accurate intel on the number and names of the ‘pilots’ who are insystem and Real Time updates as pilots enter and leave systems; with a pilots name, you can do a quick records search and get detailed info on the pilot, his current and past activities, current and past corps and Alliances, etc.
      (2) And not much else really… huh. Granted it seems that’s enough to cause a Monsoon inna Mug for some…

      From LCL we know WHO (numbers and names) is in a system with us and we get Real Time updates, IE the ever popular “Local Spike!” when a fleet jumps in together and local immediately logs the increased number of pilots, the same occurs in reverse when a fleet jumps out and the faces/names ripple away from local.

      In my corp, when we scan down the static losec hole, the first scout thru holds cloak and FIRST BM’s the return and SECOND checks local… reports #in-local; system name; #of-jumps to Hi and #of-jumps to closest trade hub…

      Then he is ready to break jump cloak and either jump back or cloak up and go scouting or whatever. Normally he will recloak and continue static scouting/data collection… Pull up the Star Map and check the System History for ship/pod kills, jumps, pilots ‘in space’ and pilots ‘docked in station’ looking for patterns indicating ganks, camps, fac war, etc.

      I find it very interesting that NO ONE has brought up the System Statistics available in the OV. The #of ships kills; #of pod kills; #of pilots in space; #of pilots docked; #of jumps, etc., etc. All of which MUST be the historical data collected from all gates & stations as pilots ships jump, travel and assplode (PODs too) all of which is captured by multiple redundant computer systems at each gate & station throughout New Eden (except in Anoikis)...

      I personally live in a hole, so local is meh to me, but I do feel that it should be altered or modified through a set of skills and mods that give US control of local or control of access to it AND a way to counter being visible on it...

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  10. I don't want to write a lot and confuse the idea. I like your idea a lot. You could combine this local chat idea with your sov idea. Maybe make local instant for the Sov holders, but delayed for everyone else. Using your Sov idea, delay local less for the other alliances competing for Sov.

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  11. I agree with Jester. Don't fix what ain't broke! Especially, if it benefits the minority to the detriment of the majority.

    There are much bigger fish to catch, clean and fry in this game.

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  12. A comprehensive list of intel sources and gathering methods in EVE has been on my todo list for a long time. I think it would be instructive to put them all together in one place and evaluate them individually and as a whole. Never had time to do it, though.

    Such a list might include spies, out-of-game comms (irc, jabber, voice), local channel, dscan, combat probing, starmap statistics, eyes-on observation, locator agents, battle reports & killboards, eve-who, scouts, intel channels, dotlan (corp & alliance changes)... and so on and so forth.

    Each should be evaluated for accuracy, immediacy, long or short distance, quantitative vs qualitative, etc.

    I really think a holistic assessment of all sources if intel would be a good thing before embarking on changes to any one of them. For instance, improving d-scan has often been mentioned as a prerequisite for any changes to the local channel.

    Something to think about perhaps.

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  13. "I'd make the people that hold space pay for it. "CONCORD communications network operating fee," I'd call it, or something like that. Want Local in a system? That'll be some amount of ISK. And the more space you have, the more ISK you pay, on an exponential scale. I can tell you from experience that maintaining a communications network of a thousand nodes is a lot more than 100 times harder and 100 times more expensive than maintaining a communications network with ten nodes."

    So... Goonswarm 1 holds Constellation 1, Goonswarm 2 holds Constellation 2, and so on? Sounds like that'll work fine. Unless Local is only given to the sov holder (a laughably broken idea, of course), there is no reason to pay any high exponential fee. Sov holders might also just set aside certain pipe systems where they can do all the baiting they want (with no local, is the Drake ratting or bait for the 30 stealth bombers sitting at their optimal?)


    Anyway, there is one local tweak I would suggest. And that is to delay local by about 5 seconds so that someone jumping in appears in local at the same time the get to see and act on local. Right now, the person in the system gets to know who's coming in before the person coming in gets to know who's there. Fair is fair, and the defender still gets the System Scanner time + Align and warp time to GTFO. It also makes camping ever so slightly more dangerous (not, IMHO, a bad thing).

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  14. its hard enough to mine in low/null as it is. No local would kill it.

    Doesn't take long to scan down an orca.

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  15. CCP isn't going to touch local. They aren't going to delay it by 5 sec, 30 sec, or 30 minutes. They aren't going to make it so that anyone, or everyone, can hide from local. They are not going to make it part of the (broken) sovereignty system. It is going to remain an open and free system, for every player in the game.

    Everyone seems to forget that this is an MMO, and all MMOs need open chat, in order to flourish. Open chat is how strangers meet strangers - how you make online friends. In EVE Online, it is how corps grow into larger corps, into alliances and coalitions. Without local, EVE would never have developed much beyond small groups of friends playing the game together.

    If you remove local from null and/or low sec, then you are pretty much condemning the growth of new players in those areas. I met many Tuskers and Goons in local - I would not have met them, if local had not existed, or was delayed by N secs, or any other nonsense which makes it more annoying/difficult to use for in-game conversation.

    This isn't idle speculation; we actually have proof in game. Look at WH space. With few exceptions, new players don't roam there, and new groups don't form there. No one will talk to new players in WH space.

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  16. One point in regards to low sec you should mention. CCP just changed gate guns in low sec in Crimewatch to allow for faster roams in low sec. From your description of the issue the gathering of intelligence would slow those roams again. While limiting the roaming range of pirate and FW pilots might benefit a carebear like me it seems that goes against the current design direction.

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  17. Taking the question literally and focussing solely on Local I find a bit limited. One of the authors sparking the banter had a much broader perspective which I appreciated, in its broadness : http://interstellarprivateer.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/unbreaking-local/

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  18. RE: null alliances having to pay for "hisec-style" local or face WH-style local as a default, you say we should let CCP fix what's "horribly broken". Well, the economy's not "horribly" broken, but it def does need some more ISK-sinks, and ESPECIALLY given the "ISK-printing" nature of nullsec, that'd be a prime fix for that item that's heading toward "horribly broken". ;-)

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