Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scraping the Start

TL;DR: Sugar focuses on one topic two days in a row. This miracle brought to you by Jaguars. Jaguars, the frigate of choice.

I am one of those people who downloaded Eve to check it out after reading about the terrible things that happen there. It seemed to be right up my alley. I started playing directly after Crucible was launched. It was launched the 29th of November and I started to play December 1st. That means, in my world Attack Battlecruisers have always existed. It also means that I was on board for the change to the item management windows. This was a huge moment, where CCP changed the entire way that we move things around. It also did not go as well as expected and they released it with a lot of usability lacking. That happened because what players do with the interface and what the developers expect them to do often vary. Eventually, this was rectified and the new interface with its trees and ability to move things was born.

I like it and slowly my use of it has increased. When the POS change came in that allowed us to move things between POS modules from anywhere within the force field I really came into full appreciation of the tree. It was not until I started managing the store that I honestly came to use, and then love, the filter window.

Yesterday, I commented on some of the things that I saw seeing doing the tutorials again. I've received a lot of good discussion. At one point, Sarah Flinnley comments on the UI as the biggest hurdle for new players.
Third time I try Eve I go at it KNOWING the the UI sucked. But wanted to play a space MMO I tough it out and start learning....
 I thought about this. My first reaction was, "Well I use it just fine," but I realized that no. I do not. I didn't know, for instance, that you could group guns for a while. I didn't know that you could activate modules by using F keys for who knows how long. I didn't even realize that there were short cuts to use the overview and do things like jump. Because of that, I have a hybrid usage of short cuts, button clicks, and the right menu that I am embarrassed to show other people because I know is not optimal but it is optimal for me.
Obviously, the user interface was a problem for me. It seems to be one that I conquered without realizing it. I was enthralled with Eve. I had no problems using the Market interface and buying skillbooks. That is something I often see Rookies struggling with at first. In my mind there are always markets or shops so just go and find it. Yet, I didn't understand about selling thing to buy orders for months after I started. I figured out my asset window quickly and learned the rule, "When in doubt, Right click." But, I have to learn the fleet window which is still mostly shrouded in poorly documented mystery to me.

My knee jerk reaction was just a matter of comfort and habit. Sarah Flinnley is correct that the UI leaves a lot to be desired. This is something that CCP also has noticed. Or, so I believe.

One part of doing the tutorials was using the radial menu. I have not used the radial menu since it was implemented. That is because I am comfortable with what I currently do. Instead of introducing the radial menu and nerfing the other menus, CCP introduced both. That stopped the older player from being alienated and unable to do anything (anyone remember our irritation over the undock button being moved for Odyssey?) while giving the newer player a more intuitive means to do things. And yes, I do mean more intuitive and I wouldn't have said that if I hadn't sat there while Aura showed me the radial menu.

Like many, young and bold dinosaurs (unlike the bitter crusty ones :P) I have a hard time replacing what works quite well with me with something that may work better. The tutorial gave me a more relaxed way to learn the radial menu. To my amusement, I don't trust it yet. The pictures don't reassure me like words do that I am going to jump. For my Venture going off in yellow glory to mine Veldspar to make a cap booster (that is another issue post on its own) using the radial menu is new and interesting and I am willing to experiment where I am not with my jump freighter or in combat. But, for a new pilot, it is what they will know best and it is a better more game expected way to interact.

Similarly, the discovery scanner. Outside of the issues many currently hold for it, the concept of it as a more visual in game view without having to switch to a special viewpoint is an indication of where CCP wants to go with the interaction the users have with the game. More visual. More audio. More intuitive. I wonder if some of the UI changes are missed by experienced players simply due to our ingrained habits that cause us to flow with the older UI.

The UI. Is it alone the problem or is it also a mixture of the current tutorials? Are we sniffing up the wrong tree by trying to mold the new player experience into a boarder, more truthful representation of Eve? And perhaps, we need to rethink what we consider the new player experience and redefine it into something that suites Eve without integrating the current one.

Also, I really, really feel that not integrating the new player experience and station services into the Captain's Quarters as intractable stuff (as it is in Dust) is a major, major miss on interacting with new players.

9 comments:

  1. Two weeks ago i managed to scam one of my friends into making a trial account. He quit because he didn't understand how to do what the tutorials asked of him. I don't remember it being confusing, but apparently there is a problem.

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  2. Part of the point of the tutorials is spitting people out when they find something to do, be it solo, or in a hand holding corp. That you aren't trapped into doing them all distinguishes EVE.

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  3. I can still remember when I started. The problem I see is EvE is like nothing else. Look at all the other MMO out on the market and new ones launching soon. They all look somewhat the same. Good comparison would be all the other MMOs are 4 wheel vehicle. Yes they all are bit different but if you can play one you will be able figure out the rest. EvE is a semi truck what you learned in 4 wheel vehicle somewhat helps but not really. Just learning to move in EvE is a WTF moment

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  4. Last night I realized the UI has extra mouse clicks. I really wish I could remember the thing that did it, just a blatant worthless extra click.
    I originally felt this way doing PI setup (it's the worst UI for layout/design I've used), but now I feel that it has always been there, it is just much worse in PI setup.

    I'm really glad you mentioned the radial menu, I've been meaning to try it but haven't had the time. I've just started jumping capitals and have been right clicking my capacitor. I don't understand how that giant list is acceptable to anyone. I have just discovered you can right click on a fleet member and jump to them. My hope is that I can hold-click and use the radial menu to jump. Really just so I can have a smaller drop down menu. I feel like the "when in doubt right-click" has given us drop down menus 20 items deep.
    Personally I feel Minecraft solved it better with the use bar. Edit your use bar (can we edit radial menus?), press a number to select something (sword, warp...) then click to use.

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    1. Suggested editing on the forums.
      https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=320880&find=unread

      I didn't check the commonly proposed ideas thread.

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  5. From a professional standpoint, MMO's all look the same (EQ, WoW, Star Wars, ext) because they are attempting to appeal to the broadest demographic possible. One of the things they do to help in this is to present game information and controls (I.E. the UI) in a way people are familiar with.

    Having to right click for main functions really went out after Windows 3.1 in the early 90's. Right clicking is for optional commands (with the exception of spell checkers really) that people can and do go without. Because of Eve's utter reliance of the right click to play, I will say that they utterly fail at the above.

    Well, what does that mean? It means that instead of being immersed in a game environment and falling in love with a game, people ask themselves "Is this game really worth learning how to play?". When the shelves are stocked with cookie cutter games they can pick up, install, and instantly get immersed in, a game company needs to strive to NOT have people ask that question. How do you do that? By accomplishing two things:

    1.) Present controls adequate to performing the base functions of the game cleanly to the player in a way they easily understand (which usually means a variation of something they have likely seen before).

    2.) Immerse the player in the game PvE environment. I say PvE here, because no newb in their right mind thinks coming out of the dock for the first time and PvPing.

    You know my opinion of the first. I'm going to go ahead and state that Eve does a bad job of the second as well. Though Eve has great graphics, it again depends on it's player base for any type of environment and a new player simply doesn't have that.

    If I where a decision maker at CCP I would come out and state simply: Eve is ten years old. The UI we designed with it is no longer adequate to appeal to a broad demographic of people. To do this, we need to drop the existing UI and design it from scratch with a simple goal: all basic functionality of the game will be presented to the user in a clean fashion that is easy to understand without any 'hidden' windows, features, or menus. We will continue to support the existing UI, and our users who won't want to change by allowing the new UI to be an option, but we are in no way attempting to incorporate both designs into a single experience. Our goal is to eventually get everyone using the new interface. We must therefore plan on ending support for the old UI X months/years after the new UI is released.

    See look at that? Clean concise goal that opens the game up to a wider demographic of people. Yes, it's an investment, but a damned good one.

    As far as the PvE gaming environment.... well, that's a completely different topic.

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    1. I agree but which is worth more? "Is this game really worth learning how to play?" To me this is never asked if the game starts with a PvE experience that shows off the game and sneaks in basic functionality, as opposed to having a familiar UI and an intro that simply hints at the better qualities of the game.

      If it is less familiar, there should be more rails and hand holding, but I feel like this is frowned upon.
      I'm having trouble finding CCP's opinion on being able to edit action menus like the selected item window and radial menu. Is it a "that would take too much time" thing or a "we don't want that sort of UI" thing?

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    2. CCP is fully against us having any editing abilities to our UI. That is why we have to work with them and come to compromises while trying to reach the broadest audience.

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    3. There is a lot to be said for what you said Hlljah, but the core of my argument really comes down to the UI in Eve being neither clean nor easily understood.

      And I'm not advocating they pull out WoW's UI, slap Eve icons on it and call it good. I do however believe that there are significantly cleaner, and thus easier to use, ways to present the user with the information in Eve and the controlling options.

      This topic is starting to sound like a dead horse so I'm stopping. :P

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