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Hiding in Eve- Why We Cloak

Mors Sanctitatis
Death of Virtue
#1 - 2011-12-18 08:28:20 UTC  |  Edited by: Mors Sanctitatis
I was trying to come up with an elegant way to tie together many different concepts in a nice smoothly delivered analogy that would be easily understood by the general Eve population. But that takes effort, and I'm lazy. So this is what you get instead:

Key points:

Space essentially has no "terrain features" to hide behind, particularly with respect to it's incarnation in the Eve Universe.

Eve provides nearly perfect information intelligence that can't be avoided or spoofed to hide one's existence (Local channel, ship/system scanner, probes, galactic map info).

The only counter Eve provides to any of this is a purely binary solution (on or off, no in-between) and it's only capable of hiding one's immediate location, and only on a system-wide level: the cloak. Everyone is still able to determine a player's location down to a system level of precision, even if they are cloaked.

Don't even *think* of bringing up W-Space. That's completely outside the scope of this issue.

With good game design players should never be handed anything for free. Large rewards need a large amount of effort. Information about a player's location is a large reward. It should require a large amount of effort.

Players currently complain about the lack of ability to carve out a small niche of space to call their own without belonging to a major Alliance or Coalition. The reason this doesn't currently work is because players are too easily tracked down and precisely located. It's simply impossible to exist somewhere and not be found.

An important bit here: EVE NEEDS "SPACE TERRAIN" ON A SYSTEM AND GALACTIC LEVEL that will allow players to mask and hide their presence.

There are two key areas here: Strategic and Tactical location information. I'll start with Tactical:

Tactical location information should be gained through sensors and sensors only (no, Local isn't a sensor). Sensors come in two flavors: active and passive.

The advantage of passive sensors: always on, doesn't give away your position. Disadvantages: short ranged, imprecise, doesn't reveal a lot of info ("hey, there's a ship out there!" not "hey, there's a ship out there and it's W type and at XYZ location!").

Active sensors have much greater range, greater precision and provide detailed information about any contacts. The disadvantage here is that you broadcast your presence to everyone within range of the active sensors.

Information should be range dependent: in order to get precise info, you need to get close. Yes, there's a group of ships at 20AU, at 10AU you can discern that it's 12 individual ships, at 5AU you can tell that it's 5 cruisers, 2 BCs and 5 BS. At 2AU you can tell what class each ship is. When you're on grid you can tell who's flying which ship.

The more powerful and/or specialized the sensors are, the greater the detail you get at longer ranges. Each race of ships should have their own trace signatures that sensors can be tuned or specialized in.


Players should be given new modules and rigs to build and customize sensor packages as they see fit in order to tailor them to their play styles. Defensive players (miners, mission runners etc.) will want powerful passive sensors to enable an "always on" long range omni-directional warning system that will alert them to incoming ships, regardless of type. Offensive players (PVPers, who else?) will want highly tuned directional sensors that will enable them to find prey at extreme range and identify targets with a high degree of detail as quickly as possible. Players should also be given modules/rigs to decrease their sensor signature to various types of sensors (stealth rigs, if you will) that will allow players to adapt to their prey.

Note that all of the above isn't binary. It's not ON/OFF- detected or not detected. There are multiple highly granular levels of information between detecting something and clearly identifying it as a threat. I could go on for pages in detail about how to implement these ideas, but let's leave it here for now. We can expand on this later.

Strategic location information- hiding among the stars:

Just like tactical information, strategic info needs to have many levels of detail and precision and be delivered through both active and passive sensors.

System bodies (planets, moons, asteroids, stars) should provide "terrain" with which to mask players, stations and their activities. The larger the mass, the larger and more intense the gravity well within which to hide ships and outposts etc. Asteroid belts would provide "backscatter", gas clouds and nebulae would provide opaque scan-proof environments in which to hide. A "stellar forest" if you will. The equivalent of hiding in the trees.

Corporations and Alliances would get the ability to install massive sensor installations that would provide real time active and passive information from a system to regional level, with varying degrees of detail and accuracy. At no point would these static sensor nets deliver information as accurately or as quickly as ship sensors would.

Strategic signatures would accrue over days and weeks and months of player ship activity. The more activity and the greater number of ships and/or tonnage of said ships would generate increasingly more intense signatures. Small groups of players in small ships tucked away in quiet corners of space in the shadow of massive stars and planets or hidden away in giant gas nebulae would go unnoticed for weeks, months or maybe years. Massive groups of highly active players would create so much "space pollution" that it would be sensed light years away, across multiple regions. You would literally be able to smell the stink of your enemy.

[more to come]
Mors Sanctitatis
Death of Virtue
#2 - 2011-12-18 08:37:16 UTC

Currently, there's no advantage to being a small group. With the above concepts there will now be a very good reason to bring only what you need, or even possibly less than you would optimally require. Currently, Eve's game design only rewards the biggest and most numerous. CCP needs to build in more game design that rewards a player who is smarter than the rest and attempts to be as asymmetric as possible and do more with less.

Once small groups or even solo players are able to exist and survive in 0.0 by keeping their existence hidden from other players I think we will see a large number of players migrating to 0.0 to give it a go. I think that the current perception by most players who aren't currently in 0.0 is "I can't survive without massive numbers, so why try?" I think that's a valid question. Once you're found, the enemy descends upon you with superior numbers and you're dead. The main problem here is the perfection and precision of location information and the ease with which it is required, and the fact that CCP rewards numbers superiority above all else in the game. The blob is the fault of CCP, pure and simple.

I'm looking forward to your comments. Let's try and keep them constructive and focused please. I know you can do it.
Questionable Acquisitions
#3 - 2011-12-18 08:47:51 UTC
I like the ideas and vision for EVE you present. Practically speaking though what would you suggest CCP do that doesn't take several years for them to deliver?
Mors Sanctitatis
Death of Virtue
#4 - 2011-12-18 09:55:27 UTC
Xorv wrote:
I like the ideas and vision for EVE you present. Practically speaking though what would you suggest CCP do that doesn't take several years for them to deliver?

How to do it in a nutshell:

1. Put Local in Delayed Mode.

2. Tactical Location Information: Extensively modify the scanning system and build in passive/active modes, adding in rigs/modules to optimize for each. Additionally, factor in racial sensors, racial emissions (ship exhaust, emissions etc.) and various third and fourth order complexity to give evasion and detection a subtle and nuanced feel with an extreme amount of depth built into the game design.

3. Strategic Location Information: Similar to Tactical, build in the player produced/operated equipment that replaces the current "free" information streams and data sets. Strategic Location Information can be propagated through player groups via standings.

The mechanics for what I'm proposing should be viable with the existing code base. We already have variables like sig radius and sensor strength. We already have omni-directional and hyper-directional scanning capability. Now all we need to do is break the existing scanner mechanics into separate portions, add more detail to each and make it highly customizable and tunable by the players. Everything that I've thought of so far is based on existing game design/game mechanics.

More specifics:

I'll start with the most simple portion of the whole thing, the passive sensors.

All ships will have passive sensors. This will be the default sensor mode. All ships will have more/less effective base passive sensors depending on ship type and race. Some will have greater range, others faster refresh frequency (5 seconds vs. 10 as an example) while others provide more detail at greater range etc. Passive sensors will be upgradable with both rigs and modules, and all sensors will be able to be tuned to detect a particular racial type of ship at the expense of detecting other types of ships with less capability.

Ships will also be able to equip mods/rigs that will make them harder (or impossible) to detect with passive sensors and/or tuned to be particularly invisible to racial sensor types etc. Giving players the option to configure their ships for a specific threat at the cost of making them more vulnerable to others is good game design.

The larger/hotter the ship signature, the easier it will be detected: it will be detected at greater range and with more detail than other ships. No longer will a cloak be a 'one size fits all' solution, making a BS invisible just as easily as a frig.

Example: BS will be detectable from extreme range compared to a frig. As ships come closer to one another more info about the contact will be revealed depending on the power of the sensors and the type of target. Depending on the proximity of the contact with other ships and the size of those ships, multiple ships might appear as one large ship, or a large ship might mask the presence of smaller ships in its group. The closer you are, the more powerful your sensors and the less stealthy your target is, the more info you discern at a given range.

The concept with passive sensors is that they operate on the idea that they detect emissions by other ships: exhaust gas, heat, communications signals or what have you. The louder/brighter/smellier your ship is, the easier it will be to detect.

The automated nature of the passive scanner alleviates the issue of "always having to push the button" every 2 seconds. It's the equivalent of "watching local". It's imperfect information however is what gives attacking players a chance to locate other players and get within range before they can run. Which brings me to Active Sensors.

Active Sensors:

These can be separated into a further two groups: ship mounted and probes. Both systems will emit a "ping" which can be detected by targeted ships that are hit with this sensor ping. Targeted ships won't always be able to detect your pings if your active sensors are sufficiently advanced and you're operating far outside of the defending player's passive sensors. Active sensors are the equivalent of shining a flashlight into a dark room. You can see what the flashlight is pointed at, and your target can see the flashlight, but nobody else can see the light beam unless they're being painted by it.

Probes are comparable to an illumination round. You fire one up in the air and it lights up the entire battlefield, showing everyone where everyone else is all at once, friend and foe alike. This is a generalization and of course CCP should build in immense detail into this with respect to type of probe, race of probe, range, power, duration, pulse frequency, probe arrays and coverage, probe overlap and constructive interference of sensor volume etc.

Strategic sensors:

These are both active and passive as well. They will be Corporation and Alliance level assets. The more accurate and timely the information the more expensive it will be. At an exponential rate. The game needs analogues to every modern sensor type: surveillance satellites, early warning radars, missile launch detection etc. Not literally mind you, but figuratively.

What should never happen: big Alliances "getting local back" with some static sensor add-on to an outpost. At the most the information should be similar to "average number of ships in system in the last 24/12/6/4 hours, depending on the level of sensor (more granular/shorter time slice = better).

[more later]
Mors Sanctitatis
Death of Virtue
#5 - 2011-12-18 10:19:59 UTC
The concept of ship stealth and detection: incorporating it into every module, every choice!

Imagine if different types of shield extenders increased your ship's signature across various different racial emissions spectrums. The same for various microwarp drives or afterburners. What if different types of armor plates provided lower signatures due to better signal absorption, at the expense of not providing as much EHP? What if passive shield/armor hardeners provided lower emissions spectrum than active did? What if using special (Tech 3?) ammo in your guns caused zero increase to your sig (silenced weapons anyone?), allowing you to quickly and quietly make a kill before anyone knows you're in the area?

On earth, not every ship is a submarine, but every submarine is a ship. In Eve, EVERY ship is a submarine. Some are just more stealthy than others. Dedicated Covert Ops and Recon class ships will have exceptional sensor suites and ultra low emissions in addition to active cloaking capabilities. I would recommend that these active cloaking abilities be of limited duration and require cap/fuel to use, similar to how diesel/electric submarines used to operate. You can "go dark" to sneak up on a target and then attack, but you'll eventually need to "surface" and refresh your air/recharge your batteries so to speak. All other ships simply wouldn't be allowed to cloak. Non Covert Ops cloaks would be replaced with "stealth modules" that would reduce a ship's signature, but wouldn't render it completely invisible/impossible to find like cloaks currently do.

There should be trade offs that would make currently "worthless" modules attractive: do you go for the best fitting, best performance, best efficiency or lowest sensor signature/emissions? Incorporating various sensor emissions capabilities into named modules seems like a good way to differentiate them, mitigating the "bigger is always better" game design that currently exists.

Sensor networking:

In addition to information, sharing it is just as important. Where Corps and Alliances will really benefit is in the sharing of information. If you're in a gang and you have a CovOps pilot with you, what if everything his sensors detected showed up on your tactical overlay? Now he truly is your eyes and ears for your whole gang! What if your ships could fire their weapons at targets he acquired, even though the targets are out of your lock range (but not weapons range)? Indirect fire, so to speak!

What if you're two systems away but an enemy blob arrives and your Alliance has regional and local static sensors installed in that system? You're able to look on the map and notice increased activity two systems over in the past 4 hours and are able to pack up your mining op in time to make it to safety. Unfortunately, the next day the enemy comes back in smaller ships and in fewer numbers and splits up into three different groups, arriving from three separate directions. Unable to detect the smaller ships in fewer numbers from long range, your sensors don't notify you until it's too late and you lose half your mining crew to the invaders.

The inability to manage large amounts of information will inherently limit the size and scope of space that a single Alliance/entity can effectively police and control. This is another positive byproduct of this concept: it will be very costly in TIME to control a lot of space. People will tend to settle on a reasonable and practical amount of space to control and stick with that. Controlling large swaths of space for little or no need will go away as it won't be cost effective to do so from a time standpoint.

Eyup Mi'duck
#6 - 2011-12-18 10:22:35 UTC

But to answer your question, I cloak to become less visible as a target. Roll

I am me.         I am not you.     I have my own thoughts.     I am very happy with this situation.

#7 - 2011-12-18 10:50:13 UTC
You know, it like your ideas alot. This is very close to what I envisioned EVE would be before actually trying the game out. I especially like how this would provide the basis for terrain in space and provide many more tactical options to fleet commanders (small fleets may actually become an advantage in many situations) and individual pilots.

The scanning system, local and cloaking mechanics is in dire need of a big overhaul. OP is a very good starting point.

Jask Avan
Republic Military School
Minmatar Republic
#8 - 2011-12-18 11:16:08 UTC
Information should be a skill, not handed to everyone on a silver platter.
LUX Uls Xystus
#9 - 2011-12-18 11:33:55 UTC
I like these ideas very much. You should consider posting them in the ideas section
Seleia O'Sinnor
Drop of Honey
#10 - 2011-12-18 11:38:47 UTC
This is well written and is sound in logic. I support this completely!. Thanks for a highly valuable thread.

Odyssey: Repacking in POS hangars for modules +1,  but please for other stuff too, especially containers. Make containers openable in POS hangars.

GreGh Rakrot
Strix Ridens
#11 - 2011-12-18 11:39:48 UTC
I like it, alot. Its basicly how I envisioned space exploration game would be like, feeling of vast and unknown space. You get that feeling wheh you start playing EVE but as you learn the basic intel gathering tools (local chat and ship scanner) the feeling quickly vanishes, this would be alot more challenging and fun. Kind of similar to spaceship technology in Sci-Fi book series Vatta's War, where the tactical positioning and ability to communicate between ships in real time would greatly influence the space battles.

Sadly I doubt CCP would be bold enough to make such drastic changes to the game, one can only hope.
Dr Karsun
Coffee Lovers Brewing Club
#12 - 2011-12-18 12:00:19 UTC
I disagree.

This information of someones presence is for free, sure, but it's not precise information. The enemy can be, in some systems, more than a hundred AU away, I wouldn't really call that precise information.

I would gladly trade all kinds of local for removal of cloaks. I don't need to know that you'r in my system as long as I can scan your ass down with combat probes.

As long as cloaks are the only thing that doesn't have a counter - I see no reason to remove local.

"Have you had your morning coffee?" -> the Coffee Lovers Brewing Club is recruiting!

Sarion Stormweaver
Spectrum Solutions INC
#13 - 2011-12-18 14:49:25 UTC
nice idea.

One thing though. How do you make the change ? :) Because these are huge game mechanics changes. And switching overnight from one system to another is gonna **** off a lot of people.
Apollo Gabriel
#14 - 2011-12-18 14:54:17 UTC
I'd leave w-space for this
Always ... Never ... Forget to check your references.   Peace out Zulu! Hope you land well!
J Kunjeh
#15 - 2011-12-18 15:36:03 UTC
OP has some really good ideas in it. I hope this discussion continues and some of these get implemented down the road.

"The world as we know it came about through an anomaly (anomou)" (The Gospel of Philip, 1-5) 

Vin Lieger
Ambiguous Holdings inc.
#16 - 2011-12-18 15:42:31 UTC
Love it

I imagine a day when you can hide swarms of frigs/cruisers etc behind titans and other caps for a while, kind of like hiding your true fleet size across battlefields
#17 - 2011-12-18 15:48:09 UTC
Sarion Stormweaver wrote:
nice idea.

One thing though. How do you make the change ? :) Because these are huge game mechanics changes. And switching overnight from one system to another is gonna **** off a lot of people.

I am not so sure it is such a huge change. Most mechanics already exist in dscan today. Just apply different range/vector limitations and update intervals depending on ship/modules/rigs. That would cover most passive and active scanning mechanics. What needs to be added is mechanics to hide behind space objects/celestials and such.

As for upsetting people - most players in null and low knows how to adapt and would probably be very happy with such change. Highsecbears are another thing, but local could stay as is in highsec so no prob there. And since they don't use dscan much they would not see much of a change.

Living Ghost
#18 - 2011-12-18 15:50:39 UTC
i like the idea

not realy any comments besides that :)
Center for Advanced Studies
Gallente Federation
#19 - 2011-12-18 15:57:43 UTC
So as to completly trash this nice thread idea which should be in Suggestions

Jump gates

You can hide behind a jump gate, because you can never see whats on the other side until you go through it.

Jump gates are the limiting factor and implimented for the exact opposite reason OP is describing to make space "spacey", jump gates "chokepoint" players into conflict otherwise you just avoid people. Which would chase away all the hardcore PVPers. Unless CCP does a MAJOR OVERHAUL of EVE (pfft, yeah right) and changes huge aspects its pointless to even suggest it adding space to space.
Torin Corax
Game of Roams
#20 - 2011-12-18 16:14:25 UTC
Very nice ideas. I dare say this would be a huge shake-up, and no doubt cause endless whine threads. That said something along these lines is long overdue imho.
With proper balancing (and this would not be an overnight success I'm sure) this would be fair to both hunters and hunted.

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