Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blog Banter 44: Capsuleer Identity Distributor (CID) Reciever

"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've been silent a long time, that happens in RL. But this particular topic is one that has been on my mind since the release of Apocrypha, and then my introduction to life in nullsec shortly thereafter. I've played in all the areas affected by any change to local chat. I was a hisec carebear for a bit over a year before Apocrypha, and then spent a couple months learning the ins and outs of wormholes, but realized early on I didn't have the time to dedicate to life in a wormhole. Since then, I've spent time in both NPC and sovereign nullsec, as well as Faction War and lived in losec. Chat channels have been part and parcel in my game forever, and local most of all.

I've spent far too many cycles thinking about Local, and the intel it provides, and justifications for keeping it and losing it. I've refined and reviewed and regretted my position on Local over the years, but at this point I am comfortable with my position today. With that extended introduction, here's where I'm at with Local.

Local is a great intel tool. Knowing exactly who is in your system can be the difference between a ship and an explosion, but players have become far too dependent on knowing everything, all the time. Local in a wormhole is the exact opposite – you have no idea of anything when entering a wormhole, which in the beginning is part of the excitement and appeal. Somewhere between these two extremes is the appropriate solution. Here's my take on it...

First, the RP justification...

Due to the near godlike abilities of capsuleers, CONCORD implemented a unique identifier in the neurological upgrades that enable capsuleers to utilize implants. These ID codes broadcast on a specialized frequency that can be identified by the CID Receiver, which is deployed as part of the stargates, and utilizes the stargate network to broadcast the identity of all capsuleers within a system. Due to recent financial challenges, CONCORD recently announced that they would no longer cover the cost of maintaining the CID Receivers throughout known space.

Empires recognized the importance monitoring capsuleer traffic within their borders, so they took over the cost of maintenance for the CIDs internally. The factions that have sovereignty in NPC nullsec have taken over maintenance of the receivers as well, including NPC areas like Phoenix constellation in Fountain, or the Blood Raiders constellation in Delve.

The devil is in the details...

The CID Receiver ties into the Stargate network (which is why it doesn't exist or work in wormhole space). Whether offline or online, the CID Receiver will always broadcast the number of capsuleer signatures in a given system (local count). If online, the CID Receiver will broadcast the identity of any capsuleer who uses a stargate to enter or exit a system. There are no CID Receivers in Smuggler gates, so these gates will never broadcast the identity of a capsuleer who enters a system through a Smuggler gate. This means that pilots who enter systems via other methods (logon, cynosural travel) will not have their identity broadcast, but the local count will increment for each additional capsuleer who enters the system. Jump Bridges and Cynosural Beacons do not broadcast identities to the CID, so traveling via these methods do not display the identity of the traveler in local. In addition, upon entering a system, capsuleers can bribe the CID maintenance workers to block their identity when entering any system in empire space. Finally, in sovereign nullsec and Faction War systems, CID Receivers can be hacked to put them offline for 15-60 minutes (randomized based on the hacking success ratio). If a CID Receiver is hacked, all local identities are lost, and identities are only updated once the Receiver goes back online and pilots travel in and out via stargate. These two tools (bribe and hack) enable pilots to travel anonymously throughout any region of space.

In case it isn't clear, the CID is what provides count and identity of pilots in Local. Local in all known space systems will always have a count (Local [###]). Once a ship decloaks a pilot name will be added to the Local Channel list under the following conditions:
  1. The CID is online, and a pilot jumps into the system using a normal stargate.
  2. The CID is online, and a pilot undocks from a station in system.
  3. A pilot talks in local chat.
Hacking the CID
Hacking the CID is done with the Codebreaker module. When the CID is successfully hacked, the module goes offline and a timer appears on the module, counting down until it goes back online (automatically). Hacking the CID utilizes the Hacking skill, the meta-level of the Codebreaker module, and a formula to generate an offline time. This time ranges between 15 and 60 minutes, depending on the outcome. Note that any pilots who jump into the system while the CID is being hacked will be updated in local.

Bribing the CID
Bribing the CID can be done before a pilot decloaks. Bribe amounts are based on a combination of system sec status, pilot sec status, and (in FW systems) contested status. A bribe provides a 60 second delay before the pilot ID is updated in Local. Bribing also prevents the Faction Police (but not CONCORD) from tracking or attacking a pilot who has negative standing to the faction until the pilot ID updates in Local.

What other people think:

1 comment:

  1. Heh, I am thinking along very similar lines with how I'd like to see local improved.

    Coming from w-space or via jump - delayed or no local identity until you use a gate or show up near a station.

    This would mean several things:
    a) stealthy ships could cash in on surprise tactics
    b) exploration and continued observation of a system is vital to local residents
    c) wormholes would see more travel as gateways into hostile territory

    And those are just the most obvious consequences that come to mind.

    Now before you start whining about cloakers, keep one thing in mind - fitting a cloak on your ship gimps your combat abilities. It's a calculated risk of surprise vs. reduced combat capability.

    Personally I'd love to see some kind of structure the local can set up that makes their live a little easier, tho. Provided you have the ability to hack it for a sense of false security. Give those utility skills some more meaning for Gods sakes.

    I was also thinking about Eve being a game that relies on trapping your opponents. The theme is everywhere, from scammer to pvp.
    So why is it we do no have tools to actively trap, disguise, fake?
    I'm thinking of a kind of probe that simulates signatures - maybe some delicious radar site explorers make good money off.
    Observe an explorer next door, set up a trap somewhere in space - launch a fake sig, cloak up and wait for the hapless recipient.
    Or fake wormholes - observe a group coming from w-space for a spin around null, collapse their wormhole and pop up a fake one - looks the same, just goes nowhere.
    And then the obvious - fake ships. Two flavours come to mind:
    a) the disguise - transform your ship into another. Overview, d-scan, probes all show the faked type. Only way to know better is the little details (can be faked by a skilled pilot to some extend, e.g. speed, flight characteristics) or ship scanners.
    b) the holographics companion - add some fake numbers to make yourself bigger.
    Get less likely to be jumped or distract local defenders with a few boats while the real fleet engages other targets etc.