However, I don't hear these same players complaining that they don't have to pay for camera drones. At this point, I can hear some EVE players asking, "What's a camera drone?" I'm not saying that some players really get into the game and take on the persona of a demi-godlike immortal capsuleer, but would you believe that some pilots don't even recognize their ships have a human crew?
I shouldn't judge, as a lot of these players are new and probably started hanging around the wrong crowd. This condition is curable with many visits to EVE Travel and Intersetallar Privateer along with listening to the Hydrostatic Podcast. But for today's topic, let's review the lore behind how capsuleers view the universe from their ships.
"After the Jovians introduced capsule technology to the empires several methods have been tried out regarding the visual presentation of the surroundings to the captain enclosed in his capsule. The first method tried, and the one the Jovians first used (and sometimes still do), was to use the data from wide range of scanners to paint a realistic view of the ship’s surroundings in the mind of the captain. But after intensive experimentations it was discovered that this caused severe nausea and disorientation for most captains not of Jove origin. Other high-tech methods also had to be discarded for the same or similar reasons. In the end, the empires discovered that simple cameras directly connected to small screens inside the captain’s helmet were the best solution. At first these cameras were mounted on the hull of the ship, but with the advent of electrical energy weapons these cameras became too vulnerable to damage from electrical charges.
"The Gallenteans were the first to experiment with cameras mounted on drones hovering around the ship. They first developed this method when researching more efficient point-defense weapons. This hovering method later caught on with the other races and is now common practice, with all the empires manufacturing their own types of camera drones, all based on the same principle. At first only one camera drone was used, but today they are two, for stereoscopic vision. The camera drones are suspended some distance from the ship. They attach to the ship by using a combination of an attractive magnetic force and repulsive electromechanical force, this also allows them to orbit the ship at any desired position. This means that the drones never need replenishing or refueling.So capsuleers use an extremely cheap technology. Camera drones are so cheap players don't even need to purchase any, their corporation just hands them out like candy. I imagine that is how the lore will introduce Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings. They are attached to the ship when constructed, and will replicate themselves to cover the ship in case of damage. Currently, the chip (or whatever tech CCP decides on) that determines the pattern a ship's SKIN shows is stored somewhere in the ship itself. But why shouldn't capsuleers have the ability to store that chip in their pod? Then, when the pod is loaded into a ship, the same connections that allow a capsuleer to pilot the ship can transmit the proper patter to display to the ship's SKIN.
"The camera drone can be commanded through the captain’s neural link. This gives the captain tremendous ability to get a clear view of his environment in a quick and comprehensive manner. By stationing the camera drone some distance from the ship the drone is not as susceptible to weapon outbursts hitting the ship’s hull. The drone can still be destroyed, either by accident, such as passing debris or stray shot, or on purpose. All ships have abundant supplies of spare camera drones stored away for such occasions and the captain has to be fairly clueless to run out of camera drones. The fact that the drones are stationed outside the ship’s shield makes it impractical to try to protect them. Simply storing lots and lots of them is much easier, as they’re very cheap."
I would imagine that the pattern for a SKIN pattern is pretty small and the entities running New Eden's faster than light communications systems would allow the transmission of those patterns on their networks. I mean, it's just a SKIN. It's not like a pilot wants to transmit something huge like a Cynosural Field Theory skill book. Those things are huge!
Once the chips go into production, I imagine they will have the same cost as a camera drone and become a standard feature on all pods. In other words, so negligible that capsuleers don't even notice them. Sort of like human crews.
So am I concerned that CCP is introducing a non-destructible item sold in the cash shop? Not anymore. That ship sailed 4 years ago when CCP made clothing indestructible. And to tell the truth, at least making SKINs indestructible makes a lot more sense if CCP makes the lore approach what I wrote in this post.