We need to talk about PI


Hello! My name is Banden, and I made a thing!

Planetary interaction is currently one of the features in the game that are in the worst shape usability-wise. The feature was released in 2010 with Tyrannos along with EveGate which led that expansion to be heralded by players as “the facebook expansion”.

It has not seen any improvements since then and certain bugs in the UI has persisted. Despite the deficiencies of planetary interaction, planetary goods are being used in an increasing number of constructions with the roll-out of citadels. This creates the issue that players are increasingly encouraged to use a feature, which is not functioning to the best of its designed intention.

the user experience of this passive low-maintenance activity becomes very complicated and tedious

Planetary interaction is an automated assembly line. It is supposed to be a way of making ISK which is low yield but also low effort. However, as a result of the way the interface is designed, the user experience of this passive low-maintenance activity becomes very complicated and tedious. My take on it as a long time user of PI is that you need to throw efficiency out the window to win, and this doesn’t seem right. I think there are some systemic issues with the feature but for now I would like to focus on the interface.

It seems like the issue with it is that it allows you to micromanage every single unit within the colonies when in fact what the user actually needs the interface to do is to macro-manage colonies as whole. This deficiency makes the whole thing much more complicated than it needs to be.

This little project of mine started when I was considering what could be done to improve the the user experience. What I came up with were some simple quality-of-life fixes for the current interface and from there I ended up making some of those suggestions as mockups in Photoshop. This article is a compilation of these small fixes, as well as a concept for a full revamp of the interface towards macro-management. It doesn’t quite replace every part of the current interface (yet!), but focuses on making setup and day-to-day maintenance less tedious.


Let’s start with quality-of-life fix #1: The Planetary colonies window.

Get rid of the spreadsheet. Certain windows are difficult to present in any other way than a spreadsheet but this is not the case. Provide information that helps the user to better distinguish colonies from each other. Products produced could be a useful piece of information to have. A “Warp to” button which warps you to the customs office could also be nice with the alternative being to replace the Planet right-click menu with the Customs office right-click menu. A majority of the planets’ right-click menu is not really used for anything anyway.


Quality-of-life fix #2: The Customs office.

Get rid of the damned dropdown menu for launchpads. You will never have so many launchpads or resources that a simple scrollbar is insufficient. There is also a bug with the customs office where it randomly closes the window when you transfer a resource which would be helpful to get fixed.


This is the main planetary management screen. One thing that I have focused on, is to make routes more transparent and streamlined. As you can see in the above, the Noble gas resource is represented with an icon but shows as 0 with a dotted line around it. This signifies that the resource is unavailable, but that there are active incoming/outgoing routes. This helps you to keep track of resources coming and going as well as to distinguish which launchpads are routing which resources.

The excellent thing about including every structure into one interface, instead of one interface for every structure, is that it simplifies a lot of things. Routing can be accomplished with drag and drop actions and a visual cue. That is the chevrons you can see in the extractor window. Expedited transfer which is currently a monstrously complicated window, can be accomplished with a drag and drop action.


Quality-of-life fix #3: Mass selection of industrial facilities.

It would improve the setup phase by a dramatic amount if you didn’t have to select schematics and routes for every single facility. There hasn’t been a strategy game in the past 20 years that didn’t have mass selection. Just sayin’.

With the way I did it in this revamp, industrial facilities are grouped together depending on which kind they are and what they are producing. This makes it easy to see status and to perform actions on more than one facility at a time.

Including all structures in one interface also allows you to have continuity in the setup phase and you don’t need to click around because the functions you need are spread on a dozen individual windows. All the things you need to set up are provided.

Including all structures in one interface also allows you to have continuity in the setup phase

Selecting schematic and routing resources can be coupled so you can do both with the same action. The Extractor window provides summarized information about the running program as well as letting you drag and drop to route the produced resource. You can also double click the icon in there to open up the extractor program setup window. I also included a “Rerun program” button for those times where you don’t really need to move the extractor heads.

In general double clicking any structure on the management window should center the planetary view on the structure. As it is, whenever you click a colony in the planetary colonies screen it centers on the command center, which is often not very sensible.

It would be really great if some development time could be allocated to planetary interaction. It is a really nice feature and the idea behind PI is great but it’s let down by its user interface. I hope this have given some food for thought for a rework of the UI somewhere down the line.

That’s about all i got for now. Thank you for reading. If you have any critique or suggestions don’t hesitate to comment here or on reddit.


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Tags: Banden Lokemir, pi

About the author

Banden Lokemir

Banden Lokemir fancies himself a bit of an armchair game-designer. He has more ideas than you can shake a stick at, with varying degrees on making sense. When he’s in space he fights, kills and reps for his right to be a carebear. He is a seeker of all things shiny and valuable.

  • Cybirr

    Everything you say, gold.

  • tellur

    While your suggestions are good you left out the most important part of PI: Extractors. I think that’s where you have to start, because the rest is really just a very rare thing to bother with. It’s important for factory planets but that’s the minority of colonies.

    And dear god do extractors need an update. Personally I would be satisfied with an UI revamp (halve the number of extractor heads, get rid of this ridiculously granulated time slider) but in my opinion the whole concept needs a rework.

  • frankster

    if we’re in the business of fixing industry interfaces, how about we fix the manufacturing window:

    1) show remaining manufacturing and research jobs at all times (so if you have searched for a t2 blueprint, you don’t have to clear your search to find out if you have any science jobs available)

    2) make the mouse-over popups a little less sensitive – the number of times I have clicked show info on a skill when I moved my mouse over it on the way to the input or output hangar is uncountable.

    3) on the subject of input or output hangars, if you output into a corp hangar there is no way in game or via the API of determining which corp hangar the job is connected to until you deliver the job. It would be good to be able to change this at any time while the jobs was live.

    4) speed of loading blueprints: if you have a healthy blueprint collection the list of all blueprints takes a long time to load, freezing the UI during this time (could this be done in a background thread?). Its so bad, that when you open the industry window and perform a search for a particular blueprint, the search results for the blueprint load quite quickly, then shortly afterwards the list of all blueprints that was triggered by opening the blueprint window before the search replaces your search results! This sounds like a similar timing issue to the one that was fixed in the market window this week.

    5) it would be great to be able to remotely load a particular blueprint id in the industry window via crest. Just as you can open a particular contract. This would mitigate 4) somewhat, and provide other convenience to spreadsheets/apps.

  • Nice ideas, I hope CCP gives the PI interface some dev time soon. A couple more things I’d add: remove the spinny building graphic, which does nothing but block your view of the facility above the one you’ve selected, and also add more error checking to ensure the player hasn’t left any items unrouted, or double-routing of products.

  • Muon

    While I agree that the factory/routing/etc management is clunky, at least for me that’s not the major timesink when doing PI – it’s the damn extractors. I’m doing relatively simple PI – on each planet I’m extracting two P0s, processing them to P1s, and then combining them into a P2, which I ship off to sell. I only need to fiddle with routes and blueprints if I change product or have to tear down my setup and move it to a different part of the planet, which both happen rarely.

    On the other hand, I have to reset extractor heads every 3 days, and ye gods that is an annoyingly tedious process. The endless cycle of ‘move heads -> wait out timer -> install -> check *actual* yield -> cancel -> move heads again’ gets really old, really quick. And 99% of the pain is that stupid ‘recovering from last installation’ timer, which I can’t imagine why it exists. It’s not like there’s so many people doing PI simultaneously that you have to rate limit their inputs to one every 30ish seconds for server load reasons. And why the heck do extractor heads have to report erroneous yields *anyway*? Sure, the planetology and advanced planetology skills control the accuracy of the heatmap overlay, and that’s fine. Getting those skills up higher gives you a better idea of where to set up your operations on the planet for best yield, and that’s worthwhile. But once you’ve actually committed and gotten an extractor down on the ground at a hotspot, I see no harm in letting it report the true yield – if someone wants to sidestep having lower planetology skills and tediously map out the true distribution of a resource over a whole hotspot by slowly moving extractor heads around, more frigging power to them, in the meantime show me the true yield and stop wasting my time making me reset my extractor heads over and over trying to actually get the right amount of materials.

    • Jare

      I think they should make you stick with your decisions and put a 4hr timer on it. You’re basically saying that you don’t want to have to train for t2 guns, you just want your meta4s to be as good. There’s a difference between making life easier through interface changes and removing any reason to train adv planetology. If you’re unwilling to commit the sp, then you should be ineffective compared to people who have committed more time to getting good at pi; not just have to use an obvious bug/ unintended workaround. I hesitate to call it an exploit, but honestly even though everyone does it….

  • Kaboom Nik

    The real issue is all the flying around I need to do. I have 6 toons on PI with 33 planets in total. Flying around takes a hell of a long time, as does making sure each manufacturing planet (P1->P4) has the right materials, and so on.

    What would be the best help would be to do manufacturing (P1->P4) in a station / citadel / indy array. Just have mining and P0->P1 on the planets themselves, although you should be able to do P0->P1 off planet if you have excess raw material. This would save a lot of flying around, organizing which P1 to take to where, and so on.

    The next best thing would be to do multiple selection of processing units when you’re setting up a structure.

  • mysteriouspants

    Hey fam, you should peruse my thoughts on PI as well. https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/505tm9/i_wonder_if_cpp_devs_have_ever_tried_industry/d71k7lj I like your ideas, but I think the whole minigame stands in need of a revamp.

  • Takamori Saig0

    A kind of template system, that allows save of a colony setup and quick re-install on the next same planet, this would maybe only leave moving extractors to finalize setup. Think ship fitting feature for PI.

  • Mark Hills

    I agree with all your points, PI is tedious to do and had hard to get your head around to start with, and improvements would make it a lot easier process.

    But part of the value of PI products is that it is annoying to do. If it is made more user-friendly many more people would do it, drastically reducing the price at which PI sells for. For this reason I would like it left the way it is.

    • tasman_devil

      You do realise that is the shittiest argument one can make:
      ” I don’t like it, but I don’t want other to come in a play into my very own shitty sandcastle so leave it as shitty as it is, I have learned to accommodate it”

  • Razordreamz

    For me I can’t believe the various chains to build things are never listed in eve anywhere. To find it you always have to google it. For a game wanting to get more new people into it this seems absurd. Add to that reactions etc… Shouldn’t need to swap to google to find out how to play the game, it should be in there somewhere.

  • Taetrus

    Yes, want

  • sjp1966

    if… only… CCP… nah, they wont. I can live in hope, well drawn out idea.

  • Freelancer117


    Even CCP Soundwave said in the end, after all that effort, CCP made a huge mistake how they build it.

    • Mr Banden

      Didn’t notice your link until now. I probably read it back then, but re-reading that dev-blog… holy cringe, batman. I took special notice of the part where he said that the rewards scale with effort and dedication, that’s very much up to a point. The thing scales the most with effort and dedication is how badly the UI functions. Whatever happened to Team Pi anyway?