Sunday, July 7, 2013

About the Discovery Scanner

Penny at tigerears has a screed up opposing the discovery scanner.  I can certainly see her point and agree with her insofar as it makes hunting in wspace too hard.  By showing almost immediately when there is a new wormhole connecting to your system, it makes it almost trivial to maintain fleet security while doing stuff in wspace.  Just do this:
  1. resolve all signatures in your system
  2. close all wormholes incident to your system
  3. ignore all existing sigs.  Keep the discovery scanner open
  4. Do whatever you want, in near-total safety.  So long as no new signature appears, goto (4).
  5. [a new signature appeared]: immediately abort and return to a POS (or cloak up in a safespot, whatever).  Goto (1).
One other annoyance with the discovery scanner: if you are hunting, you don't always want to launch probes.  If you don't, there is no way to turn off the display of signatures.  This is usually what you want, but not always:
Kiptain, I kinna see a thing!

The main thing I may disagree about with Penny is that I really like the idea of showing newbies that there is an exploration game there.  People argue that this is something that should be done in the newbie intro missions, and it should.  (It was when I did them a year ago.)  But this is not enough.  Newbs are overwhelmed with information when they do those missions.  They need more than just that.

Anyway, here's what I posted at tigerears, which I might as well replicate here.

I think there are some fairly simply changes that would help.

First is the suggestion that Mara makes, to restrict the discovery scanner's ability to detect sigs to ships with a probe launcher. This does not solve anything fundamental, but it means that at least one person in a fleet needs to use a high for a probe launcher, and that that person needs to pay attention to the discovery scanner. The average grunt in a warship should not get all that free information.
It would still be too hard to sneak up on anyone, but at least in this case a small fleet would not have N potential eyes to see, just 1 or maybe 2.

To serve the end of alerting newbies to the unknown: give all T1 frigates the built-in ability to detect sigs with their discovery scanners. This means that for the first few weeks, when the newb is running around in a frigate, he'll see sigs regardless of whether he has fit a probe launcher. And he will also see them intermittently after that, whenever he uses a frig to get around fast or whatnot. Hopefully these will be enough to get him interested if exploration will be something he likes. Most players most of the time won't be able to see sigs on discovery.

Second fix needed is to make the discovery scanner run automatically only when you enter a system. Running it that one time serves the end of piquing the interest of newbies in "the unknown out there". But once is plenty. The auto-run should be restricted to the least usage possible, and I think "enter a new system" is that.

Third, make the discover scanner runnable via player click on the "scan" button. If probes are out, the scan acts as it does now. If probes are not out, you get a new discovery scanner sweep. This allows active players, but only active players, to get the benefits of the discover scanner.

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