Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Social Side of Local Chat


The "Local is Broken" thing has come up again.  It is a topic I have followed since I started expanding my Eve knowledge, reading blogs, reading the forum, reading other forums and absorbing Eve information in general.  Often I see the topic pop up and the other day Rhavas covered it with some interesting ideas on changing local.

I have one concern about the entire project about local being broken and fixing it.  I guess it is the way that I see Eve as a game or the way that I do and do not interact with it.  Local does not bother me a bit.  I understand all the concerns and issues and irritations people have with it as an intelligence channel.  The problem I have with removing it in most ways that people want to remove it is that the game will seem very empty and lonely.

My questions and thoughts are focused on the social nature of Eve.  Moving outside of the information that local gives for the individual players local also gives the feeling of Eve being populated.  Many games have social centers that players run through regularly   These are towns, or plazas  or some place in the game or game zone that have a natural influx of player movement.  You stop at these places, AFK at them, chat in them, player organized events happen in them and in general you see a constant flow of other players and feel that you are not alone in the game.

As we grow into the game we develop so many social channels, friends and connections that it is easy to forget there was a time when we had local chat, constellation chat(which no one uses), NPC corp chat and rookie chat.  Later the server numbers are enough to tell us that people are online and our personal channels satisfy whatever social desires we may happen to have and local grows into a place to smacktalk and spam other players.

Eve, outside of trade hubs, does not have this as many games do.  And Trade hubs are not multiple times a login visit for most people.  In the newbie zone, if you make an alt, you are overwhelmed with green squares on your overview from the other newbies.  You have your newbie corp to talk to and rookie chat spamming you.  It gives the feeling of the game being very busy and very full of people.  Once you move away from that and lose rookie chat sometimes your only connection to other players is the list in local, with the occasional conversation, that tells you that you are not alone.  People gravitate to busy systems just as others gravitate to empty ones.

There is a lot of stigma about talking in local.  People don't want to bring attention down on themselves because of wardecs.  But the chat that does happen, catching someone's attention, matters.  I was given invaluable advice by a veteran my first time into low sec when I was being dangerous with a courier mission.  I called out to me in local.  I wound up sending him a message and he told me about nanofibers and how to make myself fast enough that I would be harder to catch.

I understand that people get used to not having local.  I know that people are happy to live in wormholes and that they can and do have productive games.   I also think that is the gameplay that they enjoy and it is not for me.  I'd not want to take it from them but I don't really want it myself.  I happen to be a local chatter. I have met a lot of great people by saying "Hi" when they wander through a system I am in.  Even I might shy away from randomly saying Hi in an empty chat window hoping someone responds.

I cannot shake the feeling that the occupied and busy feeling local can give to space is very important, especially in Empire space.  

I wrote about this five months ago and decided not to post it because I am rather ignorant of  complex game play full of Intel channels and spies and dramatic fleet movements.  I PvE with neutrals in system, I laughed at the last group that AFK cloaked to watch us and in general I may be too dense for the sensitive nature of this discussion.  I do not live in null.  I do not live in wormholes.  I have been to both but I have not spent my time in them as a way of life.  A neutral in system means someone that may try to kill me that I need to be prepared to kill back or avoid.  I do not want to invalidate any of their concerns but I also do not want game play broken on one end to improve it on other.

9 comments:

  1. Low sec local chat wouldn't be missed. 99.9% is taunts or "in your face" bragging. Obviously the listing of pilots in system is the only benefit from the local chat window. I assume CCP didn't intend on this use, but ran with it anyway.

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    1. I know it does. My local window is a fascinating look into insults and shock therapy sometimes. Still, the metric of the value of the window is different in parts of space as well as the experience and interaction of the player.

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  2. The New Order brings life to Local. We motivate miners to talk. We check if they are active. We inform them of the code. We celebrate our ganks.

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    1. As Azalean said.......

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  3. What's this talk of "socializing"??? That's only in fleets! Otherwise you're expected to rely upon your 4 alts to keep you company. ;-) What kind of Massively Singleplayer Online RTS is this anyhow???

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  4. I like your writing style a lot; it's thoughtful. Kudos.

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  5. The problem with local is the instant, 100% accurate intel. That's really the crux of the matter. If the intel aspect could be separated from the social aspect, that would be ideal.

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  6. I actually don't disagree with most of what you've got here. I think Highsec should effectively be the same as it is, and "feel crowded". Lowsec really just needs to know "there are active ships here and you should go try to shoot them".

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  7. I've been reading a lot of the change local posts that came up recently and most of them agree that we should keep local the way it is in high sec, the places they want it changed are low-sec and null-sec, with maybe a twinge or two to w-space if CCP is kind enough. So the newbies talking on local and seeing EVE as a busy place would stick around

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