CZ Minutes: Manual Piloting

CCP stunned players earlier this week by releasing this dev blog, detailing a new opt-in manual piloting system which will allow players to direct their ships with WASD keys. Citing concerns about player retention and an expectation on the part of new players that they should be able to fly their ships manually, CCP is rolling out basic keyboard piloting controls in Rhea. The WASD keys will allow players to steer their ships, opening up manual controls to some who might not have been as comfortable with EVE’s existing manual piloting mechanism. CCP is adamant that this is only a test, and will not necessarily ever replace the existing manual piloting system. What are your initial reactions to this change? What potential issues or areas of imbalance might it introduce? In the context of your normal EVE activities, how do you think the increased ability to manually pilot your ship will have an impact? Do you currently use manual piloting? Will you start? Most importantly, are you excited by this latest major change to the EVE universe? Hendrick: On paper, the rationale is justified. CCP Rise’s presentation at EVE Vegas, and even going back to Fanfest 2014, discussed the issues a new player who has never played EVE would have with the “RTS-style” usage of the mouse to do the main work and not the keyboard. It was even discussed when they had a play-tester explain they didn’t know how to fly and kept using WASD to move. In practice however, I’m not sure this will achieve what CCP hope to accomplish. I love the idea of the mechanic, and the fact a player can opt to use it or not. However, part of the allure of EVE is that is a “tactical” game and not really about flying your ship around. It is the equivalent of comparing Warcraft to World of Warcraft. They’re two drastically different approaches in terms of Player Interface. Who knows, we may all be loving the fact we able to manually fly our Interceptors in a fleet fight in the next two months with our keyboard rather than our mouse. Georgik: I have to admit, these guys are working miracles with this one.  As a long time EVE player this had been one of the more request features that were shot down time and again as “not possible.”  Finally my dream of putting together the Blue Stilettos, a precision flight squad of interceptors, can be achieved! Although.. that means I’ll have to rebind my keys since WASD is pretty much right in the middle of my mid and low slot hot keys. Sho: It’ll be interesting to see how well this ends up working. If latency is decent it will be a nice way to fly tackle and do more precise maneuvering in space which will benefit small gangs as well. For larger fleet fights, the majority of pilots are still going to anchor, but now that anchor will have a bit more freedom of movement. I’m curious how the servers are going to handle it as well. We have heard of the drop and abandon as many drones as possible to crash the node tactic being used on more than one occasion in a large fleet fight, I hope that spam all the movement keys won’t bring a similar result. ManualFlight Tarek: I am very much looking forward to this. It reminds me a lot of my favorite sandbox single-player game X3 Terran Conflict. There you could also switch between a “click in space” and a manual piloting control style. Hendrick says that EVE is a tactical game rather than a fighting simulator, but I only agree with that partially. When it comes to large-scale fleet combat, an individual’s ability to move their ship around is indeed not so important, in small gang or solo PVP it is quite crucial however and I do use manual piloting a lot in such situations. I think this change could level the playing field a bit between older and younger players. Today, manual piloting involves a lot of pre-anticipation of your flight path and that of your opponent. You also need to divide your clicks between maneuvering and the overview. (provided you do overything else with keybindings) That creates some difficulty for the less experienced pilots who might be more used to WASD controls from other games and are less practiced in the way one needs to use the EVE UI during combat. I do not expect a problem for node stability. After all, sending lots of movement commands would be no different than repeatedly clicking the mouse onto different points in space. I am unaware that this causes any problems. What I do wonder is how WASD controls will behave under TiDi. Also – on a sidenote – there is a special hell for people who deliberately cause node crashes to get out of a fight and I think instigators of such actions should be permabanned. Niden: I still remember when I got into EVE, and as a case in point the first thing I looked for is WASD-style manual flight, it took me a while to get used to clicking in space. I still find it clumsy at times in solo or small gang fast skirmishing, but am very much used to the current system. The point is that in fast-paced small-scale fighting I use a mix of manual flight and orbit/keep at range/approach, and when it comes to manual piloting I’m very glad to finally get the option to fly with WASD. It will allow me, as Tarek mentioned, to intercept projected flight paths in a more natural way for instance. I certainly won’t be using this all the time, but this brought back to me how strange I thought it was that it wasn’t there to begin with and that I had learned to live without it. Xander: So this isn’t something that excites me much personally – the way I play Eve, there is just too much going on for my wee head to be worried about manually piloting my ship to as opposed to hitting ‘orbit’ or ‘approach’. I do think it’s a very cool wee addition though that will get a lot of people excited. I also suspect that with the likes of Star Conflict and Elite: Dangerous gaining a lot of traction and ground, this is something CCP may iterate on in the future. And who wouldn’t want to fly their ship in Eve in bridge / pilot mode with a joystick and Oculus Rift? I’d be all over that. Whether it becomes an actual efficient, ‘good’ way to play Eve though, I highly doubt.
Tags: cz minutes, manual flight, rhea, WASD

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Oh Takashawa

Oh Takashawa enjoys smugness, spaceships, and burning unnecessary amounts of helium isotopes.