Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Is local broken?"

Had you asked me this not to long ago, and I would have emphatically answered, "Yes, without a doubt, local is broken." I guess time changes all things....

Drackarn made a post I largely agree with, but more focused to lowsec/FW... this will be more about NPC null and sov Null where we do most of our roaming as opposed to Lowsec.

So the question remains to be answered, "IS the local channel broken?"
The easiest answer is also the most vague, that being, "Yes in some circumstances." or better put, "It has issues, and it's not perfect, but calling it outright broken, is overstating the problem."

Currently the "LOCAL" channel works the same in lowsec, null and highsec. WH space is the only place where Local is any different, and that's because it is put into "delayed" mode where you only show up in local if you speak in it.... And possibly only if another person is in your local to see it, I suppose you would appear on local to yourself even if nobody else was present.

So in Null and Lowsec I'd say that Local is used for intel rather than communication. By intel I mean the ability of a scout or soloer to jump into the system and at a glance, be able to tell if there even is anyone else in the system with them? It's not as if Local also gives their locations, so the scout or the solo pilot still have to try to locate a target, mainly done by flying around hitting on d-scan.

In Highsec intel is used for communications in some systems, and trade in others. Smack talk, or even friendly banter, depending on the situation. Now Highsec local CAN also be used as an intel channel, but it takes a lot more agressive settings of blues and reds, or perhaps just looking for WT's and non-WT's.

Competing issues with local as an 'intel tool' in Nullsec -

It seems like both sides, the defender (in this case that would be anyone already in the system, either looking to stay safe, or looking to find a fight), as well as the agressor (person jumping into the new system) have equal uses for Local. Neither really gains a disproportionate advantage.... but only on the surface.

Defender advantage : This advantage could and maybe should be classified as the "home field" advantage. It extends either way, that is, with or without current Local. It might even be justified to have this advantage built in, as there should be some kind of home field advantage that extends beyond just owning sov.
  • WITHOUT LOCAL : Roaming gangs and soloers would have to do a in-depth scan to find targets, making scan probes, t3's etc essential to be able to provide the scan for targets as well as the ability to kill the things they find. Roamers would be hard pressed to roam as far if they had to do a deep scan in every system to determine if a target was even there. Jump in, drop probes, search for ships, scan down all the ships in POS's in space, try to find the ship in a belt or in a plex, warp to plex, kill, or move on if no targets are found would make for a long roam even if it was just for two or five systems. Even then a good, smart ratter will keep an eye on d-scan, much like in a WH and see those nasty probes out there. Sure, the stupid will still be killed, but that's just the 'near side' intel. I say near side intel, because seriously, what major alliance doesn't have forward scouts in their pipes, or friends reporting intel to them anymore? The answer is, none. Those would be the far side intel gatherers. Even solo roamers get reported with ship-type, location and possible destinations when they are just a few jumps into sov space. Even without local, cov ops on gates or ships in offgrid safes near gates will keep the smart ratter alive without issue, yes these scouts will have to be more actively monitored, but it's far from impossible, especially if roamers will have to drop probes in each system. 
  • WITH LOCAL: When a new person jumps into Local, they have being more than ample time, in most situations, to avoid contact by either warping to a safe, a POS or a station or simply cloaking. This is especially important because botting programs can easily pickup the state change of someone entering local and then run immediately for the hills, making botting even more safe than it already is.
Agressors remain at a disadvantage either way Local goes.
  • WITHOUT LOCAL: it will be tough to tell if there are targets even present. Even with the star map tools, like avg pilots in space and active, or even docked and active pilots, the reports given would not be enough to find reliable activity. False positives are often given by gangs moving through the area or clumps of players ratting, with the scouts watching for encroaching agressors on the inbound gates. Players would have to spend time in every system scanning, or at least in major systems scanning for targets, both giving away their presence and making finding a target that much more difficult if their probes show up on scan.
  • WITH LOCAL: you can see if there are people in system, but still no idea where they are (at least not without further scouting, spais or other intel tools), but at least you can determine if they are present, making roaming faster and easier at some levels. But like I said above you also immediately give away that you are in system, allowing players to dock/safe up in some manner to avoid you/your fleet.
Impacts of a loss of Local to differing fleet types :
  • Sov. non-roaming, structure shooting fleets - Near no impact, as the fight at a POS, or IHUB or sov structure is static, as is the fight at a gate. Ships are jumping into the fight at a more or less static location. IE planet 10 moon 3, or warping directly to the TCU/IHUB under siege. Or going to the gate where the enemy fleet is jumping in. This may be a gross over simplification of sov fleet tactics, but let's face it, sov fights will be next to unchanged if Local was removed, or put to delayed mode. Maybe less smack if it was removed (+1 for removal ;) )
  • Sov roaming fleets - let's call these fleets of sizes 35+. Honestly these fleets can support having 1/2 dedicated scanners working in tandem as scouts, and honestly are rarely just looking for the solo ratter, though they wouldn't pass one up, they are looking for competition on their level. Gate to gate warping and d-scan would still suit most of their needs. Either scouts would be detected, or the fleet they are looking to fight would be scouted or revealed. Roaming would be effected, and slowed down, but not hugely so.
  • less than 35 person fleets in Nullsec (NPC/Sov) - Roaming would be significantly slowed down and fights would all but disappear as it would be hard to find people to fight. If local was removed then these fleets would have to near-rely on the star-maps "Active people in space" ability to hunt down similarly sized targets and things to kill. Finding a target once they arrived would take much more time and effort and overall slow the already slow "pace" of the combat game in Eve way down. Granted a lot of fights in 0.0 take place on gates, but it's more finding a similar sized fleet will become more difficult without local. Not to mention that larger alliances will be more able to exploit their huge numbers to trap a roaming fleet between response fleets if local isn't around for the back scouts to keep an eye out for the backside of the fleet. Yes, I realized that everything is counter-able and that fleets should employ intel gatherers just like defenders, I am just mentioning that it is much more difficult for the agressor fleet to maintain intel on many hostile fleets vs their one.
  • Bait fleets - Would just in general become horribly overpowered if local was removed. After all you could bait a small fleet into attacking your bait and the the first time they would know something was wrong was when the majority of your fleet suddenly appeared on d-scan.
Some of the possible solutions thus far follow...

New Intel measures
  • Sov anchor-able structures that "scan" for new people in local. So not only does the defender get the advantage of a network of scanning alts, but then ALSO gets the advantage of having a structure that can give it more intel, and that intel would only be supplied to the person or team launching that structure.... horribly unfair to roaming gangs and really doesn't help unless it provides the same information as local, ie green, blue, red, etc. If it does all that, then what's the point of even getting rid of local in the first place?
  • Some kind of module or deployable that could be deployed by either side, Once again, why force a whole new required module or item just to go roaming. Every FC will have to wonder, okay who has the primary scanner-thing, who has the secondary. Then you can't scout without one. And once again, if it provides the same information as Local, when why get rid of local at all?
  • Deployable "beacon" like scanner... same as above, but shows up in everyone's overview. Once again this slants towards the Defender. IE you are plexing and see one of those things show up in local, instantly you know someone is either hunting you or looking for hostiles. A quick check in the intel channel and you find out one way or another, instant disappearing act if hostile. Agressors will still have to run scan probes to find their targets in most cases unless they get lucky and find people on gates, or are in search of a fleet fight. Dropped scanners would be a good item to have fleet fights on though... Drop the beacon, wait for response, if any is coming, otherwise pack up and move on. Gives a static place to fight/defend and then the agressors have something to defend, some skin in the game as it were to keep them on the field to attempt to keep the beacons alive. Beacons would have to cost a decent amount of money though, enough so that keeping them alive would matter.
  • "Special" probes of some kind. I have seen this repeated over and over again, but requiring probes is just like requiring anchor-able structures, only maybe worse. It forces people into either a non-DPS ship or an alt into the same, forces slower progress, encourages bigger fleets to cover the extra utility.
  • Delayed Local - Already in use in WH space, why not in K-Space. Of all the options this seems like the front runner, not to mention the most repeated option. But the bottom line is as follows. Defenders get the same advantages with delayed local that they get with removing local all-together, and agressors get none of the marginal advantages that keeping Local gives them. Even with a 10 minute delay, or a 5 minute one like Drackarn mentions in his post, that would mean the scout would have to sit in system for 5 minutes to see if there is even a fight to be had? That's as bad as having to scan each and every system.
One thing I haven't addressed, and that's the fact that a lot of 0.0 "fights" take place on gates. One fleet jumping into the other... In these cases "traditional" scouting would still find some/most of these fights, IE your scout jumps into their fleet and scouts them, or the reverse. If local is removed then backup can just be 15 AU away, safely out of scan range, but close enough to reach the fight in the opening volleys, making a bait fleet even more viable than in the current meta, and they are already very viable. Support could arrive in just 25 seconds vice the main fleet being one jump back and closer to 45 seconds to a minute away from support. Lots can happen in that difference of time.

TL;DR, I agree with Drackarn, well for the most part. I don't think Local as it is is "perfect" but in the current game, I don't see a real effective, solution to make it perfect by any definition. I would rather effort was put into other area's of the game than attempting to fix something that has been working (for some level of "working") for years.

This only focuses on the "obvious" intel you can gain from first glance at local, to say nothing of all the intel that can be gathered by show-info and out of game searches of players names. That slants the intel side of Local from one extreme to the other, where one is able to determine if their target is an old or new player, get information on their usual ships, setups, even fleet comps if you know where to look.


  1. "I would rather effort was put into other area's of the game than attempting to fix something that has been working (for some level of "working") for years."


  2. Local is just fine and functional as it is currently set up. The gathering of intel is something that benefits all side, Agressors, Defendors and neutrals alike. In all sec space I see no reason to change it currently. Also have yet to really see an effective method to "make it better" by any means. I agree completely with your statement that effort should be moved elswhere (Like wondering why the Tristan can suddenly put out 300+dps? Fucking drones...) Anyway. I like local how it is. I run multiple accounts with multiple types of toons. From the PVP toon to the industry toon to the more secretive work. In all cases Local is beneficial to me. In highsec it can help to wittle away the hours I spend setting up my manufacturing or mining in belts. Even in my low-sec roams I have pleasant chats with the players who live there or are passing through. The only place I had no large use of local was when I was living in 0.0 and that was mainly because I used the alliance intel channel way before any local chat was necessary.

    I may need to drop my own post about this issue to actually explain it all...

  3. THey Delayed local thing with the 5-10 minute delay helps the roamers because anyone who has been there 5 minutes+ will show up, but they won't >.>

    1. Well that makes the delayed local make more sense, but not a lot of sense. Why should the defender be put at a disadvantage just because he's been there longer? this seems to be a fix that is intended to change the "lean" of home field advantage to the agressor instead of the defender. Still does not make sense. But thank you for making delayed local make more sense.

  4. It's not possible to remove local in k-space with current d-scan tools. It works in w-space, but it was built for it: wormhole systems are relatively small (you rarely need more than one or two short warp to d-scan all planets) and all pve site are within 4 AU from planets. K-space systems on the other hand can be huge and combat site like mission site can be in the middle of nowhere, too far from a planet to be d-scan'ed.

    Instead of changing current space local rules, CCP could create a new type of NS, in between NPC NS and w-space, with gate and station but no local.