Currently, ECM grants a x% chance to disable all targeting.
This matters because most all offensive modules require a target.
The basic idea is to replace this with a x% chance to disable each targeted module seperately.
(By targeted module I mean: turrets, scrams, webs, etc.)
Some common complaints regarding ECM that I have seen:
It randomly grants a huge advantage to the user, victims get triggered by being beaten by a PRNG rather than another player. Similarly, ECM users sometimes complain that half the time it does nothing.
The victim has no counterplay whatsoever, ECM users are not perceived to have done anything interesting/skillful by using it.
How this change would affect those complaints:
The probability that you jam every targeted module is much smaller. The probability that you jam no modules is also much smaller. Rather than ECM occasionally granting an automatic win from RNGesus, it disables x% of the target’s targeted modules with reasonable consistancy and the only real random element becomes the modules it happened to disable that particular cycle.
I think this would be the clearest advantage, both complaints would be made completely redundant. In order to capitalize on/mitigate ECM the user/victim has to do the following mid-fight:
a) Notice(victim) or infer(user) what is jammed.
b) Know or work out what the optimal course of action is given the current jam profile.
c) Act on this while maintaining their normal reps/movements.
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Large ships might be much more elusive prey because even when jams land they will usually still have some DPS to blap at the ECM ships.
Hardpoints get an advantage distinct from their contribution to hardpoints*damage_mod. (Many destroyers get a cool niche role.)
Having the midslots to double scram gives you the option to reduce the probability the target can warp out to x^2, marginal fitting buff to some ships.
In some situations, disabling a single important module (eg scram 1vs1, a low-tracking ship’s web) is enough to win/escape anyway. In such situations, ECM would be significantly BUFFED because on top of giving x% chance to satisfy the circumstantial win condition it would be disabling x% of the victim’s hardpoints. Either the base x should be reduced or midslots(and utility highs?) should be more resistant to ECM than hardpoints. I doubt ECM users would actually mind because the increased number of rolls per cycle (1 per targeted module) would still mean that ECM did nothing much less frequently.
Drones don’t fit very neatly into the idea, I imagine it could get very messy and resource intensive to jam a ships control of each drone seperately. (Can individual drones even recieve seperate orders?) Should probably just count ‘the ship’s ability to order drones to attack a particular target’ as a module, with the same relative disadvantage that hardpoints have vs mid/ut.highs. Could also make ‘ability to aquire new targets’ a jammable pseudo module in similar fashion, to retain theme.
You could further reign in outliers, where small ECM ships land jams on much larger ships, by generating a ‘maximum jammable modules’ variable based on jam_strength vs sensor strength (presumably with minimum 1.) Jammer could randomly pick ‘max’ targeted modules on the victim and attempt to jam each one (dumb, more outliers) or could attempt to jam each module and then randomly select from those it had succeeded the check for until ‘max’ modules were jammed(smooth average).
You could slightly reign in the ability of ECM frigate swarms to crush enourmous ships by having each jammer be ignorant of which modules on the victim hull were already jammed. If a gang attacks a large ship, some portion of the successful jams will land on modules that are already jammed. Even assuming this resets the cooldown of the jam, its less effective than a fresh jam on an unjammed module. Another rather extreme approach would be to make ‘max jammable targets’ be ‘the number of jammed modules the jammer can increase the jammed module count to.’ This way, if your frigate gang can only jam 1 module on your target, having 100 frigates still only allows you to jam 1 module at a time and only increases the consistancy with which 1 module is jammed. I imagine you would have to be pretty lenient towards the jammer with the ‘max jammable modules’ calculation.
One issue with the above set of suggestions is that IF guns/ability to control drones are less resistant to jams than scram/web/neut AND max jammable modules < targeted modules on victims hull AND additional jams are ignorant of which modules are already jammed THEN in the average case ECM will completely kill the targets DPS and the poor battleship bro will be sat their with his scram/web and no DPS twiddling his thumbs. To avoid this you could either switch option 1 to ‘reduce base x% for all ECM’ or you could give hulls/ship-classes role-specific ECM resistances (EG. battleships double racial weapon ECM resists, assault frigates double tackle ECM resist). Latter option is certainly more interesting but it could get pretty messy.
This got really super long and vague, if nothing else I hope it demonstrates that replacing winnerTakesAll thouShaltNotTargetAnything ECM with some kind of distributed module jamming would make it much easier to tweak, make ECM combat more demanding/exciting and create opportunities to give various ships niche but significant benefits.
Perhaps one of the reasons it has never been ‘fixed’ is that the ability to make a ship unable to use ANY targeted modules is too ‘heavy’ an ability to balance
Lastly, the main disadvantage I can think of is that it would pose quite a few UI problems.
If one of a group of weapons is jammed, is it removed from the group? Does it stop the whole group firing? Does it remember if heat is on when the jam ends?
If ‘drone control’ and ‘target aquisition’ are jammable pseudo-modules, how could you inform the player without further cluttering the scroon?
I guess it also makes the game even more complicated, but honestly who cares game is impossibly deep anyway.
 besides the fact that ECM would still actually exist KEK AMIRITE!!1!!!11!111