Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Apocrypha: Probing IVb

This shall be the last major post on probing in Apocrypha.

- we looked at the new probes and launchers
- hunted down a Cosmic Anomaly
- hunted down a Cosmic Signature (with update from forums)
- and tried but failed to find a frigate

This time I will search for a ship in space and will not stop until I see it on my overview! On with the search.

Figure 1 - On board scanner makes a return. No idea if it works as I didn't find anything. Right now I'm assuming it will work just as it did before, giving 100% hits on really easy to find Cosmic Anomalies.

Figure 2 - Ordat is not big system so I could easily use one combat probe (which goes up to 64 AU) to cover the whole thing... except that only gives me a big blue sphere and I still need multiple probes covering all the space to narrow down the search area. So I go right to 6 covering probes along with 1 larger covering probe. The large 7th probe will ensure that if only one of the 6 smaller probes hits a target, it will still intersect with the 7th one and give a red ring instead of blue sphere to work with.

Astrometerics is supposedly going to determine how many probes you can control with current implementation being that Astrometerics V allows 8 probes.

Since the latest update, you move the probe scan area on the map but not the probes themselves. They warp automatically when you hit analyze to get into position, then you hit analyze again to do the scan. Here's hoping they change that to warp then analyze with one button press.

Figure 3 - Probes warping to position. The grey scanning spheres of the moving probes flash on and off which is hard to tell in a still frame.

Figure 4 - Lots of hits! Notice that in the scanning window the distance column reflects distance from my position at time of scan, and not distance from the nearest probe.

Figure 5 - Notice the selected hits in the scan window. Same strength, same distance, two red dots on the map... this is the case where its one target covered by three probes giving two points where the ranges from each probe intersect. If I were going to scan down that target I would have to make sure I get four probes covering both red points. Specifically in this case I would move a probe out of range into the area to get it to one point.

Figure 6 - I decided I would go for the highest strength hit I got, this red ring where Probe 4 and my covering Probe 7 both detected it.

How do I know which probes detected it? Well, its obviously in range of Probe 4 and the orientation of the red ring points to the second probe that detects it. Draw a line from probe 4 through the centre of the red ring and you will intersect with probe 7. Had I not had Probe 7 at 32 AU covering all the rest, that hit from Probe 4 would have been a blue sphere and required an additional step to narrow it down.

Figure 7 - I lowered the range from 16 AU (32AU for Probe 7) down to 4 AU and covered the red ring of my chosen target. I could have thrown an eighth probe in there to cover it all but forgot about it in the excitement.

Figure 8 - The result. Its another red ring from two probes, but a lot small area. Notice the signal strength went up to 12% due to the shorter ranged and high strength probes.

Figure 9 - I sent four of the probes in at 1 AU with each one covering the whole red ring. I wanted to see if I could resolve it to 100% with only four at second highest strength for Combat probes.

Figure 10 - Some interesting things here. We have a single point after the scan but its yellow meaning it is not resolved enough for a definitive warp in, only 53.27%. Also notice that the scan window now can tell us its a cruiser we are hunting whereas prior to this scan we only knew it was a ship. Somebody is probably making a database to cross reference your skills, the probe range, and the ship base signature to figure out what scan strength you will see when you get a hit so you know early on what ship class you are chasing, but that's more obsessive than I've got time for.

So what do we need to do to resolve this hit further? I heard on the forums that more than 5 probes won't help as only the 4 highest strength hits are used and if all 4 are at best strength than nothing will help. Rumour so take it for what its worth. Fortunately for me, I've got one more level of resolution to try...

Figure 11 - This is as close as Combat probes can get, 0.5 AU. Core probes can get one level closer but don't pick up ships apparently. So with four Combat probes at best strength if I can't get this resolved to 100% I'll have to look at skills, ship bonuses, rigs, and implants to increase their probing strength.

Figure 12 - A few seconds later, success! We have 100% signal strength, green dot means go, and we can see in the scan window that the type is Exequror, a Gallente Tech 1 cruiser. I can now right click the entry in the scan window and choose to warp to it. I pick 100 km as I'm nervous its at a POS or something.

Figure 13 - "Captain, we have visual. Target vessel is abandoned."

* * * * *
It took about 15 minutes from start to finish this time. I think I can shave about 5 minutes off that with practice and a few different probe placement techniques. But still about 10 minutes to get a warp in on a cruiser... that's harsh.

Perhaps even more time can be shaved if you use the directional scanner to narrow down the search area faster. That is to say, get within 15 AU of a target, cover the region around you with multiple overlapping probes to get it narrowed down to a single point as quickly as possible, and then send in the 0.5 range probes to resolve target. Downside of that is the warping from object to object time to find the target in the first place. Maybe clever placement of larger ranged probes early on could accomplish the same thing. I'll leave that theorycrafting to the readers, my work here is done.

When I was talking about this with my friend Lucius he pointed out that PvPers will like that safe spots are much harder to bust, but mission runner who tend to stay in the same spot longer will be more vulnerable. Especially if the rumour I heard about deadspace no longer causing interference to probes is true. Regardless, since it appears that if your ship is in space and in range of a probe it will be detected, probers will know you are out there. Hiding is going to be more difficult in mission deadspace.

Next in our Apocrypha testing I will be seeking out a wormhole and travelling to w-space (once its open that is) to get up and close with our new Sleeper overlords.


  1. Anonymous9:15 am

    So in sum, it looks like the current strategy of dropping one medium- to long-range recon probe and finding whatever mission runners we can will not be as effective (since we won't be able to see ship types).

    I wonder how difficult scanning down drones will be now.

  2. Anonymous9:18 am

    Kirith, you, sir, are an absolute legend. I'll be very curious to play with the new probes once they go live and I have some mission runners to scan down.

  3. Re: drones
    In my inital attempt to scan down a frig I could not get the signal to 100%. I imagine scanning down a drone would be next to impossible. It all depends on how the skills/bonuses/implants/rigs affecting scan strength shake out.

  4. Urg wow, 10 whole minutes at least so far.

    I really liked the old way of scanning, seeing the ship type, and warping in.

    Maybe this is a way to stealth nerf ninja salvaging?

  5. well, if the rumours are true and deadspace doesn't affect probes anymore, coupled with mission runners typically staying in one place for longer than ten minutes, coupled with rumours that we will be able to scan for things like containers and wrecks... I'd say ninja salvaging is just fine thanks ;)

  6. Wait, scanning for wrecks?

    Okay that totally just blew my mind!

  7. The system looks a lot more complicated than the current probe system. On the plus side, it could make the exploration profession a bit more fun due to having more to do than drop a probe and repeatedly scan until getting a hit that allows you to move to the next range level.

    Looking forward to hearing about your trip to w-space :)

  8. Anonymous7:48 am

    Sweet ty for the info. I too agree that 10 minutes is too long. How many people that are being hunted even stay on past 30 seconds? Scouting out wrecks n such looks fun, I just hope the time factor drops by oh say a factor of 10...90 seconds would allow you to warp in on someone who agressed you and engage them before the warped away

  9. Anonymous5:38 pm

    Excellent article, my friend. This is overwhelmingly descriptive, yet I do understand there are some tricks to making this work hastily.

    That said, I think anyone with a corp that's well-enough off will want to have a specialist of the sort. Someone who can pinpoint anyone in any system could really come in handy, especially if this person is able to switch ships, say, from an Orca? Could be very interesting.
    Thanks for the great work!