Thursday, December 18, 2014

CCP Its Time - Overview Overhaul

As a solo pilot or a fleet line member, or even as a scout, I came to appreciate and accept the overview's functions and limitations. When you are only concerned with yourself and your targets, for the most part, the overview suffices in what it offers.

But as a Fleet Commander with tens of pilots under my control, I am starting to really find the overview lacking in its functionality. Well, that's not completely correct. I can make the overview do what I want it to in various configurations, for example, show me all hostiles sorted by range or show me drones or show me all ships on grid grouped by type, etc. But what I want, what I really really want, is the ability to have multiple overviews open at once.

Here's what I'd like to be able to do:

Main overview: showing hostile ships only, sorted by type, and filtered further by a range of 0-75km. Second tab shows all ships with same sort and filter. Perhaps a third tab of hostiles but further filters to 0-30km.
Second overview: showing hostile ships only, sorted by type, and filtered to 75+km. Second tab shows all ships with same sort and filter.

When I'm FCing, there is the immediate threat of ships right on top of our fleet, and the secondary threat of ships on grid near our fleet. The tertiary threat of ships in system or on the other side of the gate are handled through normal intel. 

As I go to call targets (or decide to GTFO), I need to see what enemy ships are close and what types there are present on the grid but out of the immediate threat zone. An Ashimmu that's close to me is less of a concern than one 30 km away but on top of our logi. A Blackbird anywhere on the grid is a concern. Enemy logi is a target unless they are too far from targets I want to engage, etc.

The current overview is good at answering some of those questions one at a time, but lacks in allowing me to answer all of them quickly or even at once. I want multiple overviews.

* * * * *

OK, reality check time. 

The likelihood of getting multiple overviews that can be sorted and filtered like I want is very low, but perhaps its time to look at enhancing the current overview. At least being able to add a range filter to the distance would give some of the functionality I desire, especially if it was set per tab. As discussed in previous posts, I also think a lot more information could be graphically delivered such as hull size and role if you changed the overview icons for ships to something more intuitive. Velocities could have a gradient of colour based on how high they are. Distance could be done with colour or icons or even font size/boldness or transparency (e.g. bold and solid for close items, faint and translucent for distant). 

I'm just spitballing here but I really think it time to increase the power and information radiation levels of the overview. Aspiring FCs will love you for it, CCP.


  1. To get the overview where it needs to be would require designing it as though space weren't actually visible. In a true space environment, windows wouldn't exist on the ships, we wouldn't be able to see what we do in-game. Everything would be done by sensors & electronics. I don't know if it's possible to design something like that without being able to experience it, but that's the concept that they should work with. Obligatory IMHO.

  2. I feel completely the opposite. Filtering through all the info and targets, I usually just pick one and say, "oh, you'll do." ctrl-click, cycle ewar, ctrl-shift-click, next target, rinse and repeat.

    What I don't like about the overview is that it breaks immersion. I feel like I'm flying an internet browser through space. Anything that takes us out of the 3D is simply a compromise with necessity. I wouldn't be offended if the overview was simply removed, but that's not a practical way to go about it, even though any changes will affect everyone equally.

    Instead, I'd like to see the overview gradually become superfluous. I'd like to see UI elements incorporated into the "pretty screensaver" in the background. Most probably, this would be brackets on steroids. Ideally, they wouldn't be little squares anymore, but little ship class icons. With a little UI toggle buttons around the ship console, you could select defaults or custom presets with the same specificity as the current UI. f.ex., If I only wanted to show bonused ewar ships or logi, click click there they are, where they are, just ahead. If I'm running an anti-frig destroyer, click click dessies, stealth bombers, interceptors and others.

    Perhaps anything selected in space could have it's bracket expanded, giving all the info and options currently contained in the selected object window. These are the only ships from which most of us really need to get size or velocity data. Perhaps that would even ease up on server ticks and load-in times when most people start closing out their overviews.

    To support gangs, we give squad commanders the ability to make their chosen targets attain a glowing or blinking aura around its bracket. For logi, we simply have friendly ship blink when they are taking damage, maybe with different colors for shield, armor and structure. In the end, such a system simply rewards specialization for those who fly against large fleets, and doesn't entail any real penalties for those who fight in smaller settings, at least not any that aren't shared with their opponents.