Friday, March 7, 2014

Blog Banter #53 - Unstructured Structure

The Overview. Is it sufficient? If not how can it be improved? Is there some way to replace it? Does it give too much information, or not enough? Please be creative and specific as the overview currently is the heartbeat of the GUI.
Blog Banter #53, Kirith Kodichi 
I didn't start using the overview until I had been playing for a few weeks. I learned to right click on things to interact with them in space. The things I did add to my overview (asteroids) I interacted with in space and used my Overview as a distance gauge. The overview was something of a status bar and I mostly ignored it. That was because I didn't expect to interact with it to interact with the game.

These days the overview is an unconscious thing. It is something that is registered automatically from habit. When I have multiple screens up I leave them layered with their overview showing. Flickers in it catch my eye at amazing speeds. That is because I now know what the overview is and why it is important to me.
When the question was posted, "is the overview the best way to get information," I had a knee jerk reaction of, "Of course." But, that was just a knee jerk reaction without any thought. I was defending a habit without thinking about that habit.

My second response was, "We can't have it all in space." It was a fretful response. The discovery scanner, for instance, visually shows us where things are in space. But, Eve is a three dimensional environment. I've always loved games where I get to swim or fly properly. It is exhilarating to have up and down as immediate travel options. It also comes with another wave of information that I have to process. My Eve experience now tells me that I'd have someone slip up on me and have me locked and pointed before I could even see where or who they where.

Information is gathered through multiple methods. Having one of my cynos killed the other day reminded me of that. The sound of being locked immediately caught my attention. It gave me time to get myself ready to warp out when my rookie ship died. Instead of thinking about changing the overview itself into some other form that gives the same information, perhaps we need to cause it to create information on more levels. Sounds are good. Right now we have pinpoints that go from module to target in space to target selection icon. Maybe an overview that could be integrated with that would be nice.

I think the two things that would more interest me are more editing options. I'd like to be able to color all logistics ships names blue for instance. Right now we can do some editing based off of standings and security status but it'd be interesting if we could create more, personal colored, bold, and blinks on our own without having to go edit the actual file that holds our overview.

The overview is also a pain in the butt to manage. I've deleted mine accidentally more times than I can imagine trying to tweak it and having my changes not stay. A better method to edit and personalize the overview and save it would be lovely.

I think that a modular overview could be interesting. If there was a way to break it up or down. Right now we have tabs but what if those tabs could each be a separate window? Right now we fight for screen space but that does not mean take away the option to use more of it. The true best thing would be an overview that detached from the client completely, but I suspect that isn't in the works.

Similar to many aspects of Eve's UI, the overview is old and that age makes us wonder if we need something different. But, similar to many aspects of Eve's UI a refresher, properly done, can improve a system. I'm leery of ripping things out just because. I head right back to the change in the asset management when the tree was added and the ability to have multiple item windows was removed.  Just because it is there, and works, does not mean it has to change to be better. In that, I'm reminded of my apps. My phone chirps at me and an app updates itself and suddenly, all of the functionality and simplicity I loved was gone because it was to functional and to simple so it must not have been good enough.

Shiny isn't better. Many a officer fit ship has gone down while they learned that the hard way. If the overview is to be improved it needs to be done with the objective to bring a better overview forward and not just because it is there.



7 comments:

  1. Tikktokk TokkzikkMarch 7, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    I think the overview is perfectly fine as is, but CCP should work on making it less necessary. Maybe add to the tactical overlay. Stuff like an arrow near each ship pointing in the dirction it's going and length depending on the its speed. It would add a lot of useful information without being spreadsheet-y. Could also have overlay options like overview options so we can choose which information is important to us.

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  2. A concerned MinmatarMarch 7, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    It's unclear to me why we should change something that fulfills its function so well as the overview does.

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  3. The big thing that comes to mind is that 'the view' is an equilateral pyramid while the overview gives a full globular view.

    The one thing I would wish for - and it may be there but I've not found it - would be a way to tie overview to view. So if I've tweaked it to make all enemy EW to flash alternately yellow and red, the 'dot' on my view, or on the borders of my view, flash in sync.

    Yes, I'd still have to make my own tweaks to the view, and I'd have to train myself so 'these flashes' mean I need to maneuver and 'those flashes' mean I need to click-target (whether with the overview or on the HUD just depends). And so on and so forth.

    Oh, and tying this all to the tactical view would make me happier.

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  4. There's one very good reason to pitch the current Overview: CCP Punkturis has said that it's a fragile creature, and all fragile, fidgety code should be wiped out on principle. It's just an albatross around CCP's neck otherwise.

    As far as there being a list-based, configurable interface that provides an overview of what's around you? Sure, it's incredibly useful. Possibly even too useful.

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