Friday, January 30, 2015

Camera Drones And Nanocoatings

I meant to return to the subject of Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings last week but sometimes things happen.  SKINs are the way that CCP plans to introduce custom paint jobs to ships in EVE.  Some players are terribly upset already because they won't have to opportunity to destroy the paint jobs.  The current method of paint job, which is actually a different model of a ship, is destructible.  If any upgrade in painting technology is not destructable, to paraphrase these players, then CCP is turning EVE into WoW.

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.

"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."
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.

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.


  1. Never liked the camera drones idea... simply does not make sense from a tech perspective... seriously, even we stone age beings here at the very dawn of the information age have the ability to create a fully believable virtuality (ask anyone who has put on an Oculus Rift headset and tried Valkyrie...) no, the idea that we have thousands of throw away micro camera drones needed to 'see' outside our ships is... well, it's laughable.

    The computer power and AI available in the Empyrean Age far outstrips anything we can even dream of today... the ability to virtually render our ships and the 'verse around us would be simplistic in the extreme to them... But you are right, transmitting a whole BOOK full of technical specs and knowledge... no, that just might bog down the NEOCOM system a bit too much... =\ (gods but we do accept some weird shit in order to play our game dunt we?)

  2. This is one of those ideas that... does not upset me. the coloration is a vanity thing. Just like clothing it represents nothing more than a willingness to spend isk to look the way you want. Or to spend the $ because its cheaper to buy arum, and convert to goods then to buy plex and convert to goods. I've done that, infact ive done that to the tune of ~ 4 bil isk worth of clothing already. Importantly those actions have given me no benefit in my ability to fight, flee, trade, mine etc. The only advantage they might give me is making me look like a stupid and easy mark, and that's only if I am not actually one (haven't really been tested with this one) the ship skins doubly so when they get here. The only thing I am wondering is if they will convert the legacy special edition stuff to SKIN. I have an ore edition qual bpc sitting in the redeeming system that it could be fun to play with.
    As for the logic behind the clothing being indestructible think of the item as an IP license to wear it. I mean look at the basic clothing. there is something like 200+ items in there (I may be lowballing that), and with customization available to your character shape etc they would have to stock thousands if not hundreds of thousands copies of the different variations of each item. No these things are made to order, probably with additive manufacturing.
    As a side note, I never knew that clothing was indestructible. infact when I moved briefly into a wormhole last year I actually pulled all the bought clothing off just incase I got podded.

  3. "we do accept some weird shit in order to play"

    Like 3 different modes of faster-than-light travel ?

  4. Maybe its some strange form of copyright protection. Think of it this way, transmitting the original data would leave it open to duplication, that's bad if your business is to make those data dumps for capsulers to buy and inject. Same goes for SKIN's in initial form, and vanity clothing. Maybe once its injected into our brains the form changes in a way that cant be taken back out as easily. so free transmission of that data isn't a threat to someone's business model.
    yeah we do accept some weird shit to play this game, like warping only ever being point to point. but then again we are addicts

  5. Skillbooks that must be picked up in hard copy, but the contents of which can be transmitted instantaneously across constellations along with a capsuleer's entire consciousness, don't make sense, either. But the ship of making sense sailed over a decade ago when air resistance first slowed the ship of the first capsuleer to turn off his prop mod.

    The indestructible skin makes much more sense, however, when looked at as a commodity that CCP wants to sell us more directly for real money. Were gankers able to take those scalps as well, players wouldn't buy as many. It's a game from which CCP hopes to make a lot of money, people, and if they do perhaps they'll keep your gank playground open a few more years. A few more years of those skins making players more eager to undock. HTFU.

  6. We often think of space as empty. It isn't. any large mass attracts the stellar dust and gas that exist throughout the cosmos. in the most empty regions you may only have a couple atoms/ions/molecules of any gas per cubic foot, but it is there. there is gas resistance to travel (something we land lovers call air resistance when the gas is thicker) all structures in eve larger than a beacon probably have enough mass to collect some amount of this gas/plasma, and things like stations and titans? hell those things are big enough to have significant amounts near them. yeah some of the max speeds that ships have make no bloody sense. but space isn't the emptiness we often think it is.

  7. Megarom StringscreamFebruary 1, 2015 at 3:00 AM

    Why wouldn't there be multiple? Aren't there are multiple modes of slower-than-light travel too?

  8. Megarom StringscreamFebruary 1, 2015 at 3:42 AM

    All this Kerr mumbo jumbo is a ruse. Don't let yourself be fooled. It's a conspiracy of the camera drone manufacturers. They sell you the overpriced licence with the story that justifies the cost. What actually happens when the so called SKIN is activated? Augmented reality technology is activated on all the camera drones in the area which makes it look like the ship appearance has changed.

    Yeah, I am a bit annoyed with this. I get that people don't want to use ships skins that are destructible and I get that for this reason this implementation makes business sense. What annoys me is the immaterial feel of these mechanics. You buy licences. Applying the skin consumes no resources, which means the skins fit into the same category as plex and clothes which is more about the out of game economy than the ingame one. The are not 'real' in the sense ships and modules are 'real'. That is what makes it un-EVE and disappointing to me. Unfortunately I'm not sure if there is ANY design that would feel EVE and be tied to the player run economy while functioning as the real money sink CCP needs it to be.