This is a local channel, for local people

12th January 2013 – 3.32 pm

In another recent discussion about how to decouple intelligence from chat in the local channel, Mabrick muses that 'In Star Trek every ship had its own transponder, but how many times did that fail, be faked, or otherwise masked on the covert mission deep into Romulan space?' It's an interesting question, but that really only happened during wartime or distinctly military operations. And although EVE Online has plenty of combat, and plenty in Concord-protected high-sec, no capsuleer really wants to annoy Concord by pretending to be something they are not. You'd better believe that if a hostile craft spoofed its transponder on approach to Jita 4-4 Concord would shoot the crap out of it.

It may be true that there has never been 'science fiction ... where the communications screen showed every pilot in system whether they wanted to be seen or not', but a ship's transponder has a solid place not just in sci-fi but real life. Traffic control would definitely require a transponder to be active for docking and stargate travel. Relying on visual information in even quiet stations would lead to catastrophic collisions regularly. And each transmission would include identifying information, and as ships are tied to sole capsuleers, pilot information would be included. Any traffic control board could easily display every ship in a system, coupled with pilot and ship details. They would have to in order to be able to control the traffic.

Transponder information couldn't be hidden without eventual Concord involvement, and would be difficult to hide anyway. Want to dock? You need an active transponder. What to use a stargate? You need an active transponder. This is how the list of pilots can be built and maintained in each system. Every ship that undocks is known; every ship that jumps from one system to another is known and tracked. The lack of hardware pushing ships to w-space is also how local doesn't work there. In fact, an interesting change, along with what I propose below, could make local be spoofed by pilots short-cutting through wormholes. Enter through a stargate, leave through a wormhole, and local thinks you are still in the k-space system until you dock/stargate-jump elsewhere, and vice versa.

As for how the information is relayed, maybe this is how local can be successfully transformed. High-sec has active Concord involvement. The traffic control information is relayed publicly, for safety and information, so is free to all. Low-sec could have a delay, maybe updating once every thirty seconds—or maybe having a base delay of thirty seconds that scales upwards as the security status of the system drops—just because the equipment isn't as high a standard as in high-sec. Stargates and stations build up a log of all entries and exits, and ping the log occasionally.

Null-sec could have two layers. Unclaimed null-sec systems work like low-sec. There is the same equipment, and anyone passing through a stargate or docking in a station is logged by traffic control. Sovereign null-sec, however, allows the bill payers to set access rights to the logs. All traffic information is still collected by stargates, but the log could be sent on an IFF channel, or whatever. Set the rights as you desire, whether you want blues, neutrals, or reds to be visible in local or not. Call it a home-field advantage.

Withholding information about the local system from one side and granting it to another may be a little powerful, and may make it more difficult to successfully invade null-sec space. So perhaps we need to add another layer. Assume that stargates gather information about all ships passing through, and that sovereign corporations can configure the hardware that controls local in their own systems. Now add a new function for hacking. Jump a scout in to the system and allow them to hack in to the stargate, using a standard or special codebreaking module, to reconfigure the equipment controlling the local channel. Mask an incoming fleet for a short time, reveal all pilots in the system, or whatever else, perhaps even done without the locals being aware of the hacking attempt. Intelligence and counter-intelligence at work.

As always, w-space won't be affected by these changes, because it seems to work already and I don't see any w-spacer complaining about it. Indeed, many arguments have been made that tip the functioning of the local channel to be more like w-space. But I have to admit that I can only really comment with any authority about w-space itself, as I live there, and my ideas for k-space systems may be unrealistic. One aspect of reading proposed changes that concerns me is how changes are rippled through all space, seemingly without a sense of how, for example, w-space actually works, or how the occupants want it to work. I'm therefore prepared to accept that my own suggestions aren't workable, for whatever reason. I merely present them for consideration.

Edit: the initial discussion and myriad reactions prompted Seismic Stan to make it the subject to become Blog Banter 44: Is There Anybody Out There?, thus provoking further discussion as listed on Stan's site and, as is customary, below.

Most interesting to me are the proposals to populate local, but only with the number of pilots. Who they are is unknown until they speak, or you end up on-grid with them. Then the intelligence is known to you, and your fleet, but not to everyone. A modal system that doesn't compromise too much. I like it.

Points of Origin
Unbreaking Local - An EVE Intel System Proposal by Rhavas @ Interstellar Privateer
Getting Rid of Local & More Local by Poetic Stanziel @ Poetic Discourse

Found on D-Scan

Local Banter

  1. 16 Responses to “This is a local channel, for local people”

  2. I feel like hacking null local to hide a fleet would be a hilarious addition to the game

    By Planetary Genocide on Jan 12, 2013

  3. Hm, by that logic jump drives would not put you on local either. Which might make black ops more useful.

    By Mick Straih on Jan 12, 2013

  4. Unintended consequence the first. Thanks for the insight, Mick.

    By pjharvey on Jan 12, 2013

  5. While I was reading your post, I starting thinking of real world applications. Most Planes, etc do have transponders, and to take it further into combat situations you have a system that identifies friend or foe. There is also a limit to what any force can see, and this involves commercial aircraft as well. Radar has it's limitations, and no one in a combat aircraft can see every aspect of a battlefield. It takes the use of an AWAC's and other speciality craft to extend what we can see, as well as the opposite side of the coin and the use of certain abilities to mask your signature as well (stealth). I don't know if it could be done. but what if every ship had a range that they could see out to? and identify everything in that radius? maybe have a module to upgrade your ability. and if your docked in a station you would not be in local untill you undocked, or talked? just an idea I got while reading yours.

    By Zensai on Jan 12, 2013

  6. Those are good ideas that could be developed, Zensai. Rather than AFK-cloaky ships boosting fleets in unrealistic ways, an AWACS-type ship that improves on-and-off-grid awareness would be pretty interesting.

    By pjharvey on Jan 14, 2013

  7. This is the best thought-out 'change local' proposal I've read. It makes sense why it would work that way, isn't really game breaking. Well, except for complete sov null control of local. That seems a bit too powerful a mechanic and might need some rethinking. Adding some sort of visible timer (a small progress bar across the top of your local chat window) to when the next 'ping' will take place would allow for more tactical decisions.

    I do like the idea of dropping out of a wormhole or a black ops bridge would effectively make you a space ninja. However, it doesn't seem to tie in with the rest of your logic. If you've got bad faction standings with Amarr and jump into an Amarr high-sec system from w-space, the Amarr navy knows immediately where you area. Same thing with low security status and concord. So it does seem as though our ships are actively being tracked everywhere in system and not only at system infrastructure.

    By Araziah on Jan 14, 2013

  8. A visible timer like that, showing when local will update, is a brilliant idea.

    Yeah, I'm aware that the null-sec change may be too much, hence my paragraph-long caveat at the end.

    As for faction ships and Concord, why not have them not be able to track you until you appear in local? Or, at least, until you hit the logs for the next ping, which would be, for a simple implementation, when your ship is visible on-grid with a station, stargate, or beacon. Would that cause issues?

    By pjharvey on Jan 15, 2013

  9. I love the ideas in general, although you do still need to keep highsec friendly for the carebears, so perhaps Concord could have a number of system-wide scan stations that provide blanket coverage to detect any transponders within the system even if the pilot remains cloaked.

    This same idea could then be logically extended so that the low sec systems couldnt afford the infrastructure to support such a wide network of scan stations and so blackspots start to appear as the sec drops and fewer transponder scan stations are located outside of the gates and stations, as a rough idea 0.4 would still have blanket coverage like highsec, 0.3 has a scanner on each planet, 0.2 has a scanner just in the mining belts and 0.1 just has stations and gates with integrated scanners.

    Finally for null - the sov holding alliance would have to provide a not insubstantial amount of pos fuel or similar to keep their own scanners up and running wherever they like, this creates a balancing act for the holding alliance on whether to spend a huge amount on keeping all of their systems fully localled up for their blue friends or just concentrating on monitoring the major hubs and letting the outliers rely more on their d-scan skills. Sov owned scan stations could be attacked and destroyed by aggressors wishing to disrupt the local communications advantage.

    A certain range would have to be decided on for each of these stations so that it creates a gradual decrease in local coverage as you go from 0.4 - 0.1

    What could then get more interesting is if there's also delay as the station that picks you up has to distribute the information across the system to the other nodes.

    By Erneste Ambraelle on Jan 15, 2013

  10. As far as high sec goes, I think the fluff is that you have a CONCORD-required transponder on your ship, so they always know where you are if you're undocked. (Whence the conceit for Incarna, that sometimes you want to be off CONCORD's radar.)

    But what if you made it possible to turn that transponder off? That has some interesting implications, especially combined with your idea that you're only added to Local if you use a gate. If you turn the transponder off:

    1) CONCORD will not come to save you, because they don't know you're in system;

    2) CONCORD will not come to kill you, because they don't know you're in system (but if you gank someone who has their transponder on, CONCORD will come to them, and it's an exploit to leave grid once they're involved);

    3) If you ever pop up in their sensor range, you're dead.

    So, if you come in to high sec through a wormhole, with your transponder off, you are effectively off grid in high sec. I'm sure there are some interesting things that could be done with that.

    By Dersen Lowery on Jan 15, 2013

  11. More good ideas, thanks chaps.

    Significant costs for running null-sec transponder stations, for want of a better term, would be interesting. It would create important, hub systems of sovereignty with border space that is less well-monitored, better imitating the feel of 'holding' space.

    And turning off your transponder could be interesting, much like the safety controls introduced in Retribution. It could be fun to see the occasional pirate forget to turn it back on to dock and getting popped by Concord. I don't know how this would affect null-sec, though, as there would be no consequences.

    It's good to see that it certainly seems possible for CCP to transform local in a feasible direction or two that doesn't break it.

    By pjharvey on Jan 15, 2013

  12. Just a note to say I hadn't actually read your posting before I made my submission.

    Felt the need because of how close some of the points are. Always nice to see someone thinking on the same lines though.

    By Helena Khan on Jan 19, 2013

  13. That's cool, Helena. A similar situation has occurred with one of my posts before.

    Edit: by which I mean that I wrote a post that was similar to someone else's, also by coincidence. These things happen.

    By pjharvey on Jan 19, 2013

  14. Same here truth be told. Thank you for understanding :)

    By Helena Khan on Jan 19, 2013

  1. 3 Trackback(s)

  2. Jan 14, 2013: Unbreaking Local – An EVE Intel System Proposal | Interstellar Privateer
  3. Jan 21, 2013: BB44 Local at a distance | A Missioneer in Eve
  4. Jan 21, 2013: BB44 Transponders – More than meets the eye « Aggressive Logistics

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