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Three UI Improvements EVE Needs By November

 

November looms ever closer and this expansion has the potential to be the most impactful one in recent history. With thousands or potentially millions of new and returning players flooding into the game, it is more important than ever that the game is presented in the most polished state it can be.

While a lot of focus is given to the amazingly complex functions of EVE such as Sovereignty, Command Boosts and Engineering Complexes, none of these things are worth anything if new players are frustrated out of the game by confusing rules and a bad interface.

We often criticize the EVE community for being “harsh” to new players but the vast majority of new players are turned away before any vile actions of other players can even have an impact. We know from Fanfest that the New Player Experience spearheaded by CCP Ghost has been a huge focus of this year’s development cycle. While getting players is one side of the story, the other is that retaining new players only works if the game itself feels good.

Thankfully, a little bit can go a long ways and I have three changes to propose to the UI that could have a huge impact in the quality of life of how we play EVE.

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Put hit calculation information in the standard UI

EVE’s combat is complex but not all of that complexity is positive. Complexity is the amount of information a player must have in their head at any given moment to interact with the game. The problem is that while EVE does get a lot of depth out of many of its complex systems (industry, combat mechanics, economy mechanics) in several ways EVE is held back by needless complexity.

One such example of this is the tracking information for your ship. In order to view your tracking information, you have to open the “show info” on your weapon system. A problem with this system is it makes it very difficult, in the moment, to take boosts, electronic warfare or drugs into account. This effectively obfuscates a rather important number and sticks it in an already overly complex information pane. There is also no real help to ensure the player understands the ramifications of this value.

This problem is compounded by missile ships who have all the information stored in the charge and not the weapon system. This means that in order to know the actual explosive information about the missiles, you have to open another interface (ie. Ship Fitting window). This is clearly unacceptable for a number that can change on a moment-to-moment basis.

the process of becoming a good pilot and making well-informed decisions can be frustratingly obtuse.

Additionally, the only way to view the relevant enemy information is to add a column to the overview yourself. This means new players will by default not only not understand the meaning of the numbers that control successful combat but also not have comparative numbers readily available to figure out how to interpret what they are looking at.

Both of these are compounded in the fact that the previous tracking information has been reduced to a “Weapon Accuracy Score”, which means that the value for tracking and the value that you are working against are two different units of measurement. The consequence is that the process of becoming a good pilot and making well-informed decisions can be frustratingly obtuse.

To resolve this, the basic tracking (or explosion) information about the weapon system already displayed in the hover-over tooltip on the weapon system should be amended to include everything we need to make a call. Likewise, all of the relevant information for hitting the opponent should be on the locked target. Given the room for the locked target interface is limited, many people have suggested a red-amber-green ring to demonstrate the tracking capability of the modules. This will allow players to make good decisions and prevent confusion from not understanding your ship’s capabilities.

2ash

Tie bounded box actions to overview settings

Where the last issue was one of confusion, the second is more a matter of giving the players tools that feel good to use.

The new-ish bounding box interface is really cool but still has a problem in that it picks up all of the trash that is in space. Occasionally that is valuable in that you may want to lock a structure that may not be in your overview but you know you want to lock up. The best way to go about this would be to have two hotkeys, one for selection via bounding box and another for selection via overfiltered bounding box. And if you absolutely must, you can put a toggle in the options.

Worst case scenario the filtered bounding box would be more generally useful than what we have now so if nothing else change it to only select things on the overview.

This will allow the user to feel they have power over their interface and tools at their disposal that work. The overview is already used to filter out what is important at that moment and tying it to bounding box interactions will ensure that people feel that they can control the tool enough to get good use out of it.

3ash

The ability to add a pending state change on modules that are running

Finally, the third suggestion is a matter of feeling like your equipment is responsive to your needs. One of the most requested UI features is to make it so you can cancel a turn off request on a module. This issue has become even more present with the advent of the Entosis link which punishes you for accidentally turning it off.

Still, this is only the tip of the problem.

The piloting process would just feel better

Modules should accept new instructions during the entire cycle time and at the time of cycle perform the last action that was requested from it. What this means is you can turn off a module while it is running but also you could queue up a command to switch to a new target. Right now, for example, you can control the overheat status of the next cycle throughout the cycle.

The piloting process would just feel better, especially when using multiple modules on the same target such as guns and a web. For bonus points, they can also make it so you can cancel a lock in progress. Partially due to the nature of bounding boxes, it is possible to select an object that isn’t meant to be targeted and you cannot cancel the targeting until it is complete.

Conclusion

So there you have it, three changes that could impact the overall quality of gameplay. While these are conceptually simple, it is very likely that there are several technical limitations that would make these changes complex or difficult at this stage. These are also not the only, or even arguably the most necessary, changes needed for EVE.

However, as we have learned in the last several years, a commitment to making EVE awesome will always drive us forward.

 

 

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Tags: Ashterothi, game mechanics, overview

About the author

Ashterothi

Ashterothi has spent the last five years learning and teaching EVE Online. He is a host on the highly successful High Drag and Hydrostatic Podcast.

  • DireNecessity

    Your hit chance suggestion brings to mind the question of how much work it should be to come to learn something. This isn’t a complexity question exactly, though complexity is connected.

    If you’ll indulge a personal example . . . way back when I was a true noob I asked a corpmate for help determing how micowarp blooms affected missile damage application. On one hand you’re a much bigger target, on the other hand you’re moving much faster and both affect application. He responded by forwarding the missile damage calculation equation which did me little good. Not because I’m math illiterate, but rather because, in practice, I wouldn’t be performing the calculation in my head, rather I’d be preoccupied with flying my boat. What I wanted was dependable feeling for what would happen. While an equation built graph probably would have helped get me to that, I instead chose to log in an alt, slap him in a microwarp enabled frigate and start shooting missiles at him toggling the microwarp on and off and recording the results. I, in so many words, spreadsheet my way around the equation building up dependable gut feeling with each successive, recorded shot.

    Hit chance information right in the UI eases such labor by not only removing the necessity of actually shooting the weapon under different conditions and recording the results but also by continuously handing you the information all the time allowing you to pick it up willy-nilly. I’m not sure which version is better. I am sure it’s not only a question of complexity, good or bad.

  • Druik Arbosa

    Cueing actions on a module would a massive boon for Ewar pilots.

  • luobote kong

    The recommendations are not wrong. But they focus on the PVP glamour and not the awful remnants of the game you may well need to play most of the time to fund your PVP habit. There are much more pressing things required if Eve aspires to regain past glories.

  • Jan Koxsos Kopecky

    I put together a tiny piece of writing as a response. It would be an honour if you gave it a read. Big fan!
    http://evehovna.blog.cz/1609/miroslav-hebky-of-eve-online

  • Dr.P.A.esq

    So what is a “bounding box interface.” Am I missing something, or am I just not up on the nomenclature?