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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Local Nexus

I blame Rhavas of Interstellar Privateer. With his 100th post, congrats and good job BTW, he fired the first shot at one of the biggest worm cans (WC, also the acronym for water closet - not a coincidence I think) in EVE Online. Since I started nearly five years ago, I haven't met a capsuleer who was satisfied with local - until I moved to wormhole space that is. Most wormholers are wonderfully happy with local. It doesn't exist.

I've read through EVE Hermit's I'm not a local, and Poetic Stanziel's Getting Rid of Local as well as other post's throughout the years. The thing I find objectionable in all three of these fine bloggers' attempt to address the local WC issue is they all make the situation far more complicated than it needs to be. I don't think capsuleers want a more complicated system. I know I don't.

So let's discuss the big problem with local first. The thing about local is that it really has nothing to do with Internet spaceships. Why is it even in EVE Online? Have you ever seen a science fiction movie, or read a science fiction book, where the communications screen showed every pilot in system whether they wanted to be seen or not? In Star Trek every ship had it's own transponder, but how many times did that fail, be faked, or otherwise masked on the covert mission deep into Romulan space? ALL THE TIME.

Local is not a sci-fi phenomena. Local has nothing whatsoever to do with Internet spaceships. It is, in fact, social network contamination of our Internet spaceship game. It is the same damn thing as Facebook Chat, Google Hangouts, Facetime and Skype. I don't want to but I have to say this next thing. I bet if you could force a Freedom of Information subpoena on CCP, you would go through their records and find a proposal where they considered adding video to the local chat channel. OMG, I think I'm going to vomit.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm not a fan of local. I never have been. I can count on one hand the number of times I've chatted in local. There was only one time, ever, where I instigated the chat. I popped out our static one night and Rixx Javix was in local. I just had to say hello.

This is not to say I "hate" local. I've just never been the chatty sort. A private one-on-one conversation is fine, but public blathering is not my style. Still there needs to be some venue for the Jita scammers to use. I wouldn't actually want to eliminate that play style. Local can stay so long as you understand it is an infection of EVE Online by social networking.

Unfortunately we've warped it into an intelligence gathering mechanism. I once said in this blog that capsuleers will game any situation to their benefit. Well, that's what's happened with local. It's become an easy way to tell who's in system and whether you should dock up or not. Frankly, the entire existence of local cheapens the game. It's like those big game hunting vacations. You know the ones. The "tracker" sits the well paying rich dude in a blind, and when the animal that's walked down the trail trail for a drink every night for the past month does it again - BLAM! Yeah, that took a lot of hunting skill and machismo... not really. What a fake!

Okay, maybe I do hate local a bit but, not the idea of a chat channel in EVE Online. I just dislike the idea that people use it to gain information they really shouldn't have. It's a cheat. It's a crutch if you don't like being called a cheat. Whatever term your ego accepts, it isn't right. So what's CCP to do? Not much it turns out.

First of all, make local voluntary through speaking. Put a person's privacy back into their own hands. Isn't that the mantra of today's Internet anyway? Do this EVERYWHERE. Yes, that means all locals would become just like wormhole space. So what, it's a chat channel and if I don't talk why should anyone know I'm even there? That's the way it should have been all along. Capsuleers don't need crutches to find and fight each other. Six months in a wormhole has taught me that repeatedly.

Now, in keeping with the idea of putting the problem into the hands of us capsuleers, CCP should put intelligence icons on the system map available by pressing F10. Make the data real time data. For example,  if you are in a fleet, and a fleet member has eyes on an enemy fleet, the enemy fleet will show up on the map until the scout can no longer see them. This would be the only way invading fleets could gain intelligence. That's the way it works when you're the attacker. After all, it's not your home system. You only want it to be and that will take sacrifice. I'd also ask that CCP make the system map a window rather than a full screen display. However, I can live with it either way.

The only "module" I would add to the game are d-scan buoys pilots can anchor in space. It would require Anchoring I as the skill to accomplish the task. These buoys would constantly d-scan an area of space and beam the results to the anchoring ship or designated POS. They would have a far lesser range than ships due to power limitations, I envisage 2 AU, so a local nexus would have to be built. If you put enough buoys in space, you can see every ship that moves in the system. This would be tricky to setup. Building a complete local nexus might require hundreds of buoys. You might have gaps because you could only warp to those things you can warp to today. I'd add active buoys to that list of objects a ship can warp to. If you want the intelligence on your map, you will just have to spend the time making it possible.

CONCORD, in their treaty with the various Empires, already have a local nexus setup in every high-sec system. That doesn't mean they share their intelligence with everyone though. If you want access to their  data, you had better have a big, fat wallet. Oh, and the information will be limited to a specific time and place. Those taking the bribes don't need long duration data accesses sending them to jail. They're not stupid after all. Finding these corruptible CONCORD agents would work somewhat like locator agents. BTW, if you find and destroy a buoy in high-sec, it makes you an instant criminal.

In low-sec, I think the various Empires have a vested interest in helping their militias. So, in factional warfare systems, all pilots participating would have local information about all pilots on their side and on the other side as well - unless someone decides to take out the local nexus. Destroying a buoy in low-sec would only make you a suspect. The ships of the other two races would not be visible unless someone in your fleet sees them or a corruptible agent was found and bribed - but those agents should be very, very rare in low-sec. This would make low-sec as safe as wormhole space for neutral races - with the same sort of local, none.

In null-sec, it would be up to the sovereignty holder to decide if a system is seeded with local nexus. Dissemination of the information gathered would be done at the discretion of the sovereignty holder through any POS they own in the system, but only one. It would be assignable through corporation management. Those living in NPC null-sec could setup whatever sort of local nexus they could get away with. It would be up to them to keep it from being taken down. Of course, they'd have to have a POS in place. One last thing: if you lose the POS, you lose the local nexus - POOF! A hostile force could capture a local nexus intact by destroying the controlling POS and gaining sovereignty over the system. However, to activate it they would have to find a buoy and hack it. I recommend Hacking V as the minimum skill required.

These buoys would also work in wormhole space, but they draw Sleeper frigates like shit draws flies. They don't usually last long, less than an hour in fact. Sometimes much less time than that. However, they might have some limited functionality. I know I could think of a thing or two to do with them.

One item, the d-scan buoy, puts all the control into our hands. A local nexus gives us the means to gather intelligence. Like any other objects anchored in space, we already have the means to remove the local nexus. What a fantastic extra role this would give our covert ops pilots! And the only thing CCP needs to do is create these anchor-able d-scan buoys and add an option to existing agents. It doesn't affect ship balancing. It doesn't change cloaking mechanics. It's the same mechanism for all types of space. It expands player tactical and strategic options opening new avenues of game play. But first and foremost, it leaves the solution completely (okay, mostly) in our hands - as it should be - and flushes the crap out of the local WC. Yeah, I had to go there.

Fly Careful


  1. Great proposal, and thanks for the shout out. I fully acknowledge my proposal is complex, but I tried very hard to take one key thought into account - namely the position likely to be taken by the natives of each region on how they want intel to work. As a wormholer myself, I love the idea of no local, anywhere, at a certain level. I actually suspect the highsec folks could get used to it as well, with the exception of gank targets. However, where the argument falls apart for me is actually in lowsec. Speedy discovery of targets is life in lowsec. Roaming gangs have to have an at-a-glance mechanism. It further falls apart for the sov null crowd - as I mention in my writeup I'm mostly not sympathetic, but I do understand their POV - and more importantly, their weight as a "voting bloc". Long story short, I think the stink that will be put up if Local simply goes away will be more pain than CCP wants to endure in the marketplace.

  2. Great idea, intel shouldn't be automatic and one should be able to disappear if he want and makes the effort.

  3. I like your idea and would imagine it would also be far easier to implement than some of the other proposals out there. I especially like the ideas that local intelligence is something that should be earnt and not granted for free, coupled with the creation of another ISK sink.

    My only concern would be the impact on server load of the d-scan bouy concept. Would there be an upper limit of how many could be deployed per system? Also, would the d-scan bouys have the same lifetime as an anchored secure can?

  4. Personally I really like the idea of removing local chat from low sec because as you said if you're not a pirate its pretty much painting a target on your head saying "I'm a target, come and find me" and as we know a lion won't look to fight another lion; they'll look for an easy Zebra instead and local provides them that information (or at quick reference).

    It works both ways though and the 'zebra' can also check local to see if they want to stick around for too long and either risk being found out or move on.

    Personally I can see this move really annoying some people because the pirates will all of a sudden have to put much more effort into looking for targets than they did before; at least now with local they can KNOW that there is a black cat in a dark room to find - if you remove local they'll have to scan each system and every signal, check if its a likely target and then decide to attack or not - I can see being a fairly boring process; especially if success is not assured.

    This would mean a massive increase in gate camps for easy kills as it avoids scanning down and players using scanner alts so to avoid the loss of a high slot.

    I can see some need to change the D-scan mechanics as its not very easy or obvious how its used and I think something a little more graphical would be great - being able to get a good idea of your surroundings and direction would be really useful, especially if you notice that a potential threat is coming from one direction so you can be prepared to run in the other :P

    I think a disposable becon or one fired like a probe would also be really good idea as players that are running a site in low sec could deploy the probe and it would scan every few seconds and could show a warning if it detects incoming or nearby ships - much in the same way a Dscan run manually acts as an early warning system.

  5. To be honest, I say just get rid of local in low and null - or, more accurately, convert all local to wormhole style. Yes, no mods, no way to build a grid - nothing. Highsec can have local; it makes sense for highsec to have it remain as is (though I'd not be unhappy with a conversion to w-space local in highsec, either).

    The reason I say no mods, no way to build a grid in null, is because we've already seen what attempting to limit proliferation by cost/skill points accomplishes - nothing. Every piece of important kit in the game related to sov was thought to be self-limiting, but in an open-ended game, eventually someone - lots of someones - accumulate enough resources to negate the early self-limiting factors. Capital and super-cap proliferation, anyone?

    As I said on Poetic's blog, wormhole dwellers already operate in an environment without local and where we only have d-scan to keep us less unsafe and we get along just fine. I don't really worry about undocking a battleship or an orca or a capital in nullsec because I have local (and the resulting intel chans) to show me my system/route is safe. When I bring out any ship in a hole, I'm only guaranteed safety within my pos bubble. It certainly brings back that sense of risk that I felt the very first time I completed the new player tutorials with the exhortation to look under every molecule of free hydrogen because space is dangerous.

    As for low, well, maybe a delayed local might work - it is still Empire space, after all, just not well-maintained Empire space. That one's a bit trickier, I think. One could make a case for or against an altered local in lowsec. I think it should be changed, though, probably to some sort of hybrid between highsec and current w-space.

    Any change to local will hideously annoy null and low residents (and probably some highsec), but that's not a valid reason not to do it, especially if changing local makes the game better.

  6. You've given no thought at all to how much all of these buoys would add to server load.
    This is a poor idea, from that aspect alone.

    See Penny's blog if you want a well thought blog about local.

    1. Your comment about server load is specious. If a node can take 2000+ ships and tens of thousands of drones and missiles in active combat a few hundred stationary buoys is nothing. I've seen systems with way more than that in POS gear anchored. Our WH for instance.

      And as for Tiger Ears, I read it all the time. Duh.


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