Physical Communications

Welcome to the eighth installment of the EVE Blog Banter , the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here . Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from me, Ga’len at The Wandering Druid of Tranquility. He asks: “What new game mechanic or mechanics would you like to see created and brought into the EVE Online universe and how would this be incorporated into the current game universe? Be specific and give details, this is not meant to be a ‘nerf this, boost my game play’ post like we see on the EVE forums.”

I do plenty of spying, intelligence wargames and so on in EVE. It’s more or less impossible not to be involved with this when you’re embroiled in alliance politics and warfare. Yet it more or less all has to happen out of game or requires a certain amount of metagaming to achieve.

What I’d love to see in EVE would be physical manifestation of communications.

Let’s face it, EVE’s communications are something of a mystery when it comes down to the actual implementation in the universe. Let’s say we add some new objects to the world: relay stations. Systems could have a few relay stations each that connected them to the outside world- think of them as stargates for your evemails and conversations. The number of relay stations and the defensive capability of the stations could vary depending on the system. Highsec systems could be CONCORD-protected, multi-honed systems. Lowsec would be poorly defended and have 1-3 relays. Nullsec could have 0-n relays, where the number depends on how many are deployed by the system’s owners. NPC nullsec and so on could have poorly defended relays preplaced- anywhere should have relays except player-controlled space.

And of course to make life a little easier for the next bit of my grand plan, let’s say if you have more than one relay you also need a router to link the relays together.

So now let’s review the use cases: I’m a spy who wants to listen in on an enemy fleet’s chatter. I fly up to a relay cloaked, use a module on the relay, and am rewarded with a realtime display of their fleet chat. Or alliance chat, or more or less any other chat that is taking place on that relay. If a person talking in a chat is in that system using that relay, then I could potentially listen in on that chat. Upgrades could permit chats to be secured but not to the extent where it is impossible to view them. Perhaps garble some of the text or require a decryption delay. Routers would be harder to tap and better defended but would provide an entry point into an entire system’s chatter.

What would this mean for the average pilot? Very little. Local chat would remain public through ship-to-ship broadcasts, but if you’re in a system with no relay operational (We’ll assume relays could be destroyed or disabled through some means, but not easily) then your other chats become unusable- you’re off the network. EVEmail would stop updating and you wouldn’t be able to send anything. And, of course, fleet chat would only work within one system.

Right now spies use out of game techniques to achieve this same level of network penetration, be it a spy in fleet running a program to monitor and upload chat logs in realtime, or simply relaying back chat that matters. Of course, Teamspeak/Ventrilo security can’t be tackled in this manner (ingame) but by providing people with tools to do their spying ingame without entirely breaking immersion, CCP could perhaps ground the practice of spying a little better in the ingame world.

It’d take a lot of work to implement something like this but the reward would be tangible and really change the world of EVE for the better imo. Removing the idea of untappable and reliable communications and replacing it with something no more reliable than an O2 mobile near my house would make the whole world experience a little more on-edge and a little less comfortable. And in EVE, that’s how we like it.

7 thoughts on “Physical Communications”

  1. Hmmm…I think the current rationalization is that communications are routed by mechanisms built into the stargates themselves. (But then, why do communications still work in wormhole space, where there are no gates?)

  2. Erbo makes a good point, according to fluff as I understand it, Stations and Stargates act as comms relays for the chats that aren’t local and act as a kind of monitor for local (thus revealing who is in system) whilst not being directly used for transmission of local comms.

    So how do fleet, alliance, corp and other chats work in wormhole space? Shouldn’t a pilot in W-space be completely cut off from these communication channels?

    That being said, there are some interesting ideas in this post. the ability to cut off (not monitor, that can already be done through the use of metagaming, which I am in favour of) the fleet, corp, or alliance comms in a particular system woudl add a whole new dynamic to warfare (not necessarily combat though) in EVE. If you spot a black hole in your comms network (a pilot dropping from corp chat upon entering a system for example) that would be a valuable source of intel in itself.

  3. I’m not sure if I like the idea of being able to hack directly into a comms channel in the game. Half the challenge of spying at the moment is the social engineering required to get someone onto voice comms or into fleet. It requires cunning and artifice just like real spying. Being able to click on a module and hack directly in just seems too cheap and easy.

    However, some kind of module like that would be good. If small gangs could burst into enemy space and do hit and run on their communications channels that would be really good but I have absolutely no idea how it would be implemented.

  4. The contact methodology in EVE is based off quantum pairs. Every ship has a quantum pair communicator, which can transmit instantly across any distance to the other communicator in it’s pair. The stations act as massive communicator repositories and network hubs connecting you to everyone else and all the other stations.

    Distance is a non-factor in quantum pair communication so it will work just fine in w-space for your normal channels. However, in theory, the systems probably don’t have dedicated channels since they haven’t been mapped out, so it’s working solely off the routine of retransmitting anything you send out to ships it detects to be in close proximity to you.

  5. @Sara: Interesting- thanks for the information! Quantum entanglement would make a lot of sense, combined with a peer-to-peer mesh networking system…

    A shame if you ask me. All too neat! Untappable and completely secure…

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