Proximity alerts controversial in EVE Online

EVE Online is a brutal game. There should be no question in a player's mind about this, regardless of whether or not they believe themselves to be completely safe in Empire space. The first podding or two pounds that lesson into your head. Still, for most, life in Empire is relatively safe.

But there are two main threats that loom large for carebears these days, particularly for industrial-types. One is JihadSwarm, the GoonSwarm effort to suicide bomb as many Empire miners as possible, which they've drenched in zealotry. The other threat is receiving a wardec from another corp. Once war is declared upon a corporation or alliance, they are fair game to all aggressors and Concord will not intervene to protect the war targets. In effect, nowhere outside of a station can be 100% safe to a war target.

But, what if you could run a program that gives a proximity alert when hostiles enter your system?

Indeed, what if you could receive a voice notification that literally reads off the names of any pilots whose corporation or alliance you've set negative standings towards, or merely any pilot with a low security status?

That program now exists. It's called Bacon, and has been made available to the EVE playerbase by Cesar Malari, a pilot with Gunfleet Logistics -- a member corp of Hydra Alliance.

Of course, Bacon has implications for all players, not just those who hunt or hide in Empire. If it becomes harder for pirates and mercs to even enter the proximity of their targets, and subsequently easier for players on the other end of the spectrum to avoid conflict, then the PvP aspects of the game suffer. Moreover, isk farming and RMT is already a significant problem in EVE Online. Cloaking Ravens ratting in 0.0 are hard enough to catch as it is. With added proximity warnings, it would be even easier for them to survive.

Bacon could potentially throw a wrench in the JihadSwarm machine and make it substantially harder to pin down war targets, which suggests that the program might unbalance the dynamics of the game. On the other hand, the end result is no different from remaining vigilant in local. A player has always been alerted to a threat by looking to see if local spikes. Bacon just adds a second way to be alerted.

It should be noted that the removal of this element of paranoia from the game stands to make EVE into a more casual experience for many players. This is something of a paradox, as many EVE players I've spoken with were drawn to the game by its hardcore nature.

People have been sounding off on the official EVE Online forums, and predictably most players are voicing negative views of Bacon. However, a few players are praising Malari for creating the tool and bringing more attention to the fact that local is used as an intelligence tool -- a game mechanic that many players would like to see removed or drastically changed. But let's look at the facts:

  • An initial comment from EVE dev CCP Lingorm last week stated that he found nothing 'wrong' with the program, per se, but that CCP would reserve final judgement on the issue.

  • GM Grimmi updated the community on 4/18 of CCP's view of the issue, that there is no apparent violation of the EULA or TOS.

  • Cesar Malari has been very open and transparent with the community and CCP Games about the program and what it does. He complied with CCP's request to remove Bacon's ability to log data to a remote (Gunfleet) server, and clarified this both on the forums and on the Bacon site.

  • Tools of this nature already exist, and New Eden hasn't imploded just yet.

So where do you stand? Does Bacon ultimately matter, or is it simply going to force EVE's more aggressive players to adapt?