RIP Local?


Line members in nullsec entities often make up a vast majority of their income by running anomalies, belt ratting, or by mining vast asteroid belts. These activities are easily predictable and can safely generate ISK hand over fist with little to no risk or variance involved for the pilot. The biggest thing that can get your heart pumping while doing these light input activities is noticing a spike in the number of people in your Local channel. Noticing Local numbers climbing can often mean the difference between saving your vessel(s) or providing a shiny killmail.

The Local channel is also often used by roaming fleet commanders to determine if the system that they are in, or are jumping into, contains any potential targets. The ability to instantly see the number of people in a system and judging whether or not to send scouts to different locations in system to try and find something to shoot is an invaluable tool to deliver content to your fleet mates. Local exists in all areas of space, and with the exception of wormhole space, provides a near perfect second-to-second reflection of the players in the area. However, at a recent panel during Fanfest, CCP Fozzie suggested that this may not remain the case.

Is Local too much?

make sure that the information gathering and reporting tools in the game not be overpowering

CCP Fozzie mentioned during the panel that it has been a goal of CCP to make sure that the information gathering and reporting tools in the game not be overpowering. Too much intel can rob people of any safety at all, and too little can serve to make people far too safe. Recently, one of the few remaining “perfect” intelligence gathering tools was removed: the non-consensual Watchlist, which in its time led to the downfall of a great many supercapitals. Before its removal, any pilot could set themselves to be notified whenever any other pilot of their choosing logged into the game via an instantaneous notification that had no proximity limitations. Combining this with the, at the time, inability to dock in a station with a supercapital ship, and you ended up with groups that would aggressively hunt those pilots and ships.

In a much smaller way, the Local channel currently gives that same ability. Instant, non-consensual information with no interaction at all on the part of either entity involved. In this case, the advantage likely goes to the would-be prey, rather than the roaming gang. Instant Local reporting leads to people being able to see enemy fleets coming via intelligence channels, and even allows semi-automated programs to be used to make sure ratting and mining pilots are perfectly safe.

There, of course, already exists a class of space without a Local channel providing instant, near-perfect intelligence reports on all capsuleer movements. In the darkest corners of the galaxy, capsuleers have invaded mysterious wormholes, and live just fine without having this information. Inside wormholes, no one appears in Local unless they decide to speak up and announce themselves – an act that is considered taboo in most wormhole focused groups. Those that infrequently travel the tunnels of J-Space find it more untamed and wild because of this lack of constant intel. To know who is in space with you requires either scanner probes, which give off the fact that someone is there, or creative use of the directional scan tool. Primarily J-Space pilots have told me that they find K-Space to be nerve wracking, because they’re not able to hide in the shadows, and are exposed by Local chat.

What’s to be done about this?

manipulate and control the information that the game shows

CCP Fozzie did not go into great detail about what they intend to do about this, but he did begin to speak about the Observatory Array – a new structure being provided to us by the Upwell Consortium in the future. This structure will allow capsuleers to manipulate and control the information that the game shows, potentially letting us alter the information provided by both the in-game map and the Local channel. As the Observatory Array was only very briefly and vaguely mentioned, it’s hard for us to know exactly what CCP intend it’s purpose to be.

We have several different examples of information being provided or denied to pilots inside of the game already. There are the locator agents, who for a cost, will tell you where in New Eden your quarry is currently located. I’ve already mentioned the former all-seeing watchlist feature, which would instantly alert you if a capsuleer of your choosing logged into the game. Also mentioned previously is the low-intel places in wormhole space, which cloak players from Local until they announce themselves. With the new Crest API allowing for fleet commanders to get accurate readouts of the makeup and position of their fleet out of game, we can also see CCP adding in more, very powerful intelligence tools.

Looking ahead

The potential for this structure is limitless, and it’s current intentions are extremely vague. It’s my opinion that CCP Fozzie said what he did intending to start a conversation on this subject and allow us to help guide the future of this structure.

Tags: intel, local, Observatory Array, Sarin Blackfist, structures

About the author

Sarin Blackfist

Sarin Blackfist is a linemember with Karmafleet, part of the Imperium.