Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CCP Considers the Discovery Scanner

Back in the ooooold days... before Odyssey... it used to be that you'd never see any sigs at all, unless you popped out scanning probes and scanned.  Men were men, women were women, and newbies had no idea there was this entire dimension to the game if they skipped that tutorial and never read stuff online about EVE and never talked to anyone else, and had no curiousity whatsoever... 

But then CCP changed all that.  They implemented the "discovery scanner" in Odyssey, which is really several changes.  One is that every pilot now gets a general location for every signature in a system without any scanning at all.  The pilot need not do anything except enter the system.  Second, when you enter a system all its sigs and anoms are temporarily displayed on the main window.  And finally, new sigs that appear in a system are be pushed to a pilot in two circumstances: when an existing sig or anom disappears (everyone in the system gets a push), or when a particular pilot manipulates his scanner interface.  The thing I do is click on the "show anoms" checkbox, but I think many other things you can do will trigger a refresh.

(Incidentally, many players believe the discovery scanner pushes all signatures immediately without effort on the part of the pilot.  As far as I can tell, this is false.  New sigs appear only when you actively twiddle the scanner interface, with the exception that an auto-update will happen if any sig or anom goes away.  Now, twiddling the "show anoms" checkbox is not much work, but it does require player interaction, and very little more interaction than hitting "scan" on a deep space probe.  I have the feeling many players don't know it works, because I still succeed in sneaking up on them, and site runners I find often abort after completing a site, as they did in this recent post.  Penny still hates the discovery scanner with a white hot passionate hatred, and looks at outbound wormholes as nearly lost causes, while I don't.)

The discovery scanner was a success, I think, for CCP.  Along with the other changes in exploration they made in Odyssey, it got a lot of newbies into exploration.  Exploration boomed.  (Salvage prices crashed.)  I expect they are committed to it.

However there was a downside: in wspace in particular, hunting became much harder.  It used to be that competent groups would have one guy with probes out all the time.  That guy was supposed to alert the group to new sigs.  But many people would skip this, or the guy might have a bathroom break or he might be busy doing PVE in a site with his main.  If you rolled into the system, you had a decent chance to get some time to find locals doing dangerous stuff and gank them.  The discovery scanner changed that somewhat.  Everyone gets the effect of a built-in probe launcher that never needs probes; a fleet of 6 guys doing PVE has many more chances for someone to notice a new sig and alert the group to GTFO.

Wspace players have lamented the discovery scanner enough that evidently CCP Fozzie has heard.  Now he has a post up at the forums proposing delaying signatures for K162s:
We have been thinking about and discussing the way that the Sensor Overlay has affected Wormhole life, mainly in the ease with which players can now observe new wormhole signatures appearing (which often indicates that the entry of hostile players may be imminent).
We investigated what would be involved with delaying the appearance of signatures on the sensor overlay, but that solution is somewhat unsatisfactory since players could always return to the old trick of spamming probe scans to check for the new sigs. Basically, the Sensor Overlay had only made the existing problem more visible, and it would be better if we could get right to the source. 
The potential change would be to delay the appearance of the signature beacon when K162 dungeons spawn. This would prevent the dungeon from appearing on probe scans or the Sensor Overlay for up to a few minutes. ...

The delay could take a few potential forms, either a set timer of a couple minutes, a timer that has random elements or even one that is variable depending on the amount of mass that passes through the wormhole.
A "few minutes" seems to be five in the minds of some posters, but perhaps not so much in Fozzie's.  In any case, the thread is full of angsting and people saying this would kill wspace life (it wouldn't).  But mostly people just want back the pre-Odyssey scanning behavior.  I would be happy with that.  Since CCP is never going to remove the discovery scanner for newbs (and I support them in that), I feel the best compromise would be to make it a service that is provided in empire (lowsec and highsec) automatically.  It should not exist in nullsec or wspace unless the local system owner provides it.  (This idea I originally posted as a comment at this here blog.)

As for delaying signatures, I tend to agree with the majority of people in Fozzie's new thread that (a) if a thing exists it should be scannable, and (b) there should be a way to do due diligence.  But I do think it would be nice for wspace (and for kspace, too) if the hunter/gankee balance were pushed a bit more towards the hunters.  So, I posted there:

Here's what I think should be done. First, remove the discovery scanner's signature pushing in wspace. Sigs should never be detected in wspace without using probes. (This should also be the case in null unless upgraded, but that's another discussion.)

Second, give some more advantage to hunters. I think 5 minutes is too much. Here's what I think: use gate cloak. The general idea is: while gate cloak is held, that player cannot be detected in that system. In wspace, make K162s not be detectable until any ship that has crossed that wormhole drops gate cloak. As soon as any ship does drop its gate cloak, the wormhole is a normal K162 and can be scanned with probes. This gives an aggressor a minute to evaluate the situation, but he can only do it from that one position. Make a similar change to promote hunting in kspace: a player should not appear in local until he drops gate cloak.

To prevent wspace from losing connectivity, there should be a mechanic to make K162s eventually detectable. So, make it so that they have a 1/60 chance per minute to become detectable regardless of flown-throughness.

Also, the current design of ore anoms that are immediately knowable is unfair to rock miners. Miners cannot fight back; they should have the protection of being in a sig site. (And also mining is crap income by comparison to other stuff in wspace.) By contrast, a PVE fleet has significant PVP capability. Please revert the change that put ore sites in anoms.


  1. If I mined, I would want ore sites to be signatures. At the moment, when I scan I want wormholes so enjoy having less crap signatures to weed through.

    However come the next expansion, when WH's will be able to make the best compressed ore .... I expect my opinion will change.

  2. "back in the old days" you say... the old system you refer to was already very much simpler (or dumbed down if you like) than what we had before. Then probing was quite a advanced exercise, not everyone could do it. W-space would have been a LOT of work with that system.

  3. At issue here isn't the scanning interface, most people like that change. The addition of pre-set probe formations was very welcome for just about everybody.

    One other change that they could add to mix things up would be to significantly increase the number of interconnecting random wormholes. There should be random wormholes going from every wormhole type to every other, that appear far more often than they currently do. I can't remember the last time we had a random connection originating form our hole.

  4. Maybe the push can stay but it should only advertise new sigs in the Dscan radius ?
    That way out of Dscan range sigs would only appear when travelling or launching probes ?