Blog Banter 44: Is there anybody out there?

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?

I had been on my way to Pator to engage in a talk at the Republic renowned University when the incident occurred. I had just passed through the lowsec system of Hek and emerged through the connecting jumpgate to the high security system of Eystur. As had always been one of my many self-preservation techniques, I scanned the local system chat channel.

Odd, I thought to myself, not a soul insystem. While I would expect that in nullsec or occasionally in lowsec, a high security system this close to the Republic homeworld should not be empty. Something was wrong.

Aura, run a diagnostic on long distance sensor arrays as well as a scan of FTL tightbeam comms. Within moments, she had processed the request. All systems functioning within normal parameters, her voice echoed in my mind. If all systems were functioning normally, how was it possible that there was nobody in this system? Deep search GalNet for keyword Eystur, emergency, news. Again within seconds she replied, not finding any hits to the search query or logical derivations thereof.

Any Concord broadcasts, public or capsuleer only about the system? Again, nothing.

Fortunately, I had opted to travel light and stealthy. In hindsight, it was lucky I had fit my Firetail that way, not that it ended up doing me much good. I did a quick directional scan, reducing my angle of coverage, and was startled to see several pinged results. A quick refresh confirmed they were heading towards my current position, and given the distance between pings, I knew they were in warp.

I quickly aligned to the next jump gate in my journey, and was prepared to make my exit when a Caldari Interceptor decloaked and warp scrambled me. It was obviously suicide for them to attack me under the watchful eye of Concord, but given they had managed to somehow jam the local chat channel, I wasn’t prepared to stick around for any more surprises.

My nimble Firetail turned, heading back to the previous jump gate, afterburner engaged and burning hot hopefully faster than the Interceptor could close the range between us and web me.

“To any Republic friendly ships in the area. I am under attack at the Hek gate and require support.” Hopefully, they hadn’t jammed my communications as well.

The removal of local chat has been something discussed ad nauseum. It really has. As the original quote for this month’s banter states there are many that think it’s silly as it reveals everything you need to know about a system as soon as you enter it. I wonder if those people have considered that we are immortal beings living in a world of technological superiority, driving spaceships with our mind with a police force that can respond anywhere instantly within space and practically obliterate anything in its path instantly. Not to mention that we can transfer our living consciousness to a new body at the moment of death, or any other number of equally impressive phenomena that exist in New Eden.

Sure, wormhole space doesn’t have local chat. Know why? Because GalNet and Concord’s influence doesn’t extend that far. Temporal distortions, black hole theory, quantum physics – they are all plausible reasons to support the lack of local in WSpace.

KSpace however is all within the influence of the Empires, whether highsec, lowsec, or nullsec. You are still within some form of known civilization. It’s been charted, explored, developed and is a constant. Sovereignties may change but nothing else does and every broadcasting corporation in the universe knows this.

Want to make it plausible? Want to make it fit in? You can’t just say remove local because you want to sneak up on someone. You have to thin of immersion within the universe. Let me show you how to do this, off the top of my head:

  • A module to remove myself from local chat. It’s fit like anything else, or could be an implant, and lasts for a set duration, let’s say 10 minutes. Or get the T2 version that lasts for 15 minutes, or the Officer/Deadspace version that lasts 30 minutes. How badly do you want to not be in local?
  • Have the cloaking module remove you from local chat.
  • Allow sovereignty bonuses depending on level where an Alliance can spend ISK to disable local chat in a system they control, with an interface for exceptions of course (maybe they’d like to see their own alliance or anything blue to them, like allies).
  • Live Event scenarios like in the story above where CONCORD or some other NPC organization has jammed a system/constellation/region.

See? That’s just spur of the moment. I’m sure other players, and CCP, have put a lot more thought into the ideas. Have you thought about how to balance that out though? I mean it’s kind of unfair to have all these perks without any drawbacks. For example:

  • While you are cloaked/removed from local chat, you cannot communicate on any channel or your silence is broken.
  • Why not have a communications jamming device that when active on your target prevents them from calling for help?
  • For an alliance system that is under local silence, why not have a percentage chance every hour or so where the system could malfunction in some way? Maybe local is enabled. Maybe the Alliance can’t communicate or see local, but everyone else can.
  • Make these types of jamming devices illegal in high sec and make it so it actually matters if CONCORD or a border patrol actually finds you with one. In lowsec, the chance of discovery could go down and in nullsec there is no chance of discovery anyway so what does it matter?

It’s all about balance, fun, and risk vs. reward. It’s not about “local sucks”.

Wear your big boy pants if you want to come play in my yard. It’s not supposed to make sense.

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5 responses to “Blog Banter 44: Is there anybody out there?

  1. “I want local gone because it is unrealistic” always a nice argument in a Sci-Fi MMO.

    If we get local removed because the lore makes no sense I want switches for the lights in my captain quarter because it is totally unrealistic that the lights might switch on if I’m awake / moving in this quarters.

    • That’s the nice thing about scifi/fantasy – we can always create a logical argument for our position within the pre-defined lore of the universe.

      Having said that, game design is also an important consideration:
      – is it a balanced idea/system?
      – is it something that brings value and/or is important to players?
      – does it fit within our established lore?

      Your example of a light switch is perfectly valid. I would like to assume that the level of technology in space stations is such that lights come on as we enter our quarters, much like doors should open as we come near, etc, etc. That’s simply my perspective and my rationale. Of course, light switches make sense too.

      So the next part is to ask if it’s important. Do players want light switches? Nope. That’s why we’re talking about Local Chat.

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