An exposé on Spectrum, servers and the eternal question of in game piracy.
Barring the grandiose title, This will be a simple take on what I believe is going to end up being the bar to measure insurance claims and determining bad reputation for certain types of players.
There is something marvelous about the entire universe that's being built from scratch, with an active intent on making most of the tools (spectrum) from scratch to work with the final build of the game. One could argue that sure it limits interactivity with other platforms like Steam but there is bound to be a reason as to why it's being done like this.
Spectrum has already been touted as the in game communication device, voip and such included. It will also have a role outside of the game allowing you to use your phone to connect to the verse in various other places. But you already know that.
Now the other piece of information that came in this week is that CIG is leaving almost nothing client-wise to interpretation, making it almost impossible to hack your way into a ship since everything is in the server and your client just asks for what you should have.
All of this should mean that CIG will almost certainly know exactly which players are involved in any type of incident, what ships were involved, what kind of messages were sent before or after hostilities started and of course who shot first.
But this doesn't mean that the in game authorities know any of this. But the fact remains that black boxes are in game and can be extracted from vessels.
So, let's run a little simulation.
You are in your Orion with a bunch of pals mining on a high security sector (using eve terminology sucks, i know). All of a sudden, two pirate ships warp in and charge at you with weapons hot. Deciding you are outmatched, you prepare to jump while your crew fires first to see if they can get lucky. You blow one of the ships up before jumping away.
Technically, that makes you a bad guy because you shot first and blew one up.
Queue server, spectrum, blackbox thingies. Blackbox should contain all information on telemetry and chat both with the other pirate and the orion crew, a simple numbers crunch would reveal that the hostile intent was actually coming from the would be pirates.
Now, the orion crew gets to safety with no damage to reputation done because no one even knows what happened, it might even be a good idea to implement some sort of mechanic where you could report an attack to a local militia using this information and that branches out quests to look for pirate wreckages. (While on the other hand, outlaws might go look for that wreckage to steal the black box and avoid a negative rep hit due to the evidence).
Now let's flashback to the start of the engagement, the Orion gets wrecked but not without sending a distress signal first, the ship is immobilized and the crew are fighting off a boarding action. A player comes in answering the call and sees the pirate ships. He contacts the Orion crew and blasts the pirate ships and boards the miner to help fend off the invaders. A few minutes later NPC guards arrive and instead of opening fire on you for boarding the Orion, you should be able to show the evidence as a recording or by having the original distress signal sender say it's all clear.
This all sounds incredibly complicated for a mind like my own, but these guys managed to make procedurally generated planets possible, a player run economy in the works and a massive amount of work on the mobiglas and similar tech which would rely heavily on Spectrum and similar services they have worked on, like videocalling npcs or players.
If you were to ask me how to do it and somehow find a balance, I would make it so that the telemetry on the ship is recorded, showing shields, damage, operators, quantum travel, and comms. Once all that info is in place, compare it with the other party. Even if you as a miner have constantly shields up and weapons hot, the pirate should have to either warp in, target you and make a move first before even getting in range of your guns, meaning the hostile intent was there, despite you being totally aware. Other pirates may simply go and land on an asteroid and avoid contact until a ready pray falls by. blackbox (and server stuff) should show you there waiting around playing with your thumbs for a while, before activating your ship to pounce on the poor miners.
I've read/heard about how to measure self defense in a game like this, who shot first is the most basic of basic methods which we all know won't cut it out because in a universe in which a second makes a difference between life and death it simply would look like not caring at all for piracy.
Another method I've read is having a bubble around your ship, similar to a personal space. Once they pass this area they would become targets and you would be free to fire on them. This would be exploited worse than before. Imagine an endeavor, a carrier, they could effectively grief people in their own corps if they wanted to, or random citizens looking to trade, or someone who respawned in an endeavor who is going to get picked up by his teammate, could get easily shot down because they penetrated the sphere of self defense. Imagine having a corp put an idris around a warp point telling everyone that this is their warp point and you could do squat about it because they have their sphere. Not even the NPCs would do anything because it was self defense.
This all changes however with all the information on the game, and almost all of the in game communication going through CIG in the first place. They are effectively able to make use of that information to craft a mechanism akin to the one I'm proposing, which would not only make piracy a risk-reward with a lot more thinking behind it rather than how to bait someone, to improving salvagers, vigilante justice, NPC security measures and reputation for players.
Now, I'm sorry to have bored you with my rant, I just wanted to get my thoughts out there on this topic.