Learning to Fly: Avionics

I actually started using the side panel map to plot local courses on the constellation level, but I agree that it could be more useful. I'd like to see your scan probe interface work on the f11 button for a small-scale map you could both quickly scan without having to lose situationial awareness.
Eve's map does have a setting that shows who controls the space. It just takes a good 20-30 seconds to load, generally defeating the usability of it.
Like this article, some really interesting suggestions - the mapping sidebar is particularly good. Sometimes I feel the EVE UI is so shit there is no hope for it (F11 map has always been useless), but you've come up with some interesting ways of presenting existing info in a fresh way. Point the CSM and relevant dev teams this way!
It also looks shit and is bearing readable.
You've barely scratched the surface. What about overview tabs? Whoever can explain reasoning behind that deserves a bachelor's in logic.
I'm glad there are vets writing and agreeing about the status of UI usability b/c since day one of my playing it's been a big gripe of mine (albeit one I've grudgingly come to terms with) and it's worrisome to think that somewhere in CCP's playbook this is part of the intended "challenge" of the game - that this somehow adds to the EVE experience. That it "fits" with the game's ridic learning curve, or some such notion.This is a concern of mine because in reality, there's a lot of things you can do to mirror the kinds of increased usability you'd desire in real life, where more, and different, things are at stake. In a game like EVE, we will always probably have a large margin of where things could be made more functional, and thus "easier" in one or more senses. But you have to draw the lines somewhere for each element of gameplay, or you cut out some of the skills that are both required, and add to the depth of the game when you have people competing with differing masteries of said skills. I just hope this isn't one of those things, esp when some of the features mentioned are already available via websites viewable in the IGB (ex. nearest med station on DOTLAN, etc).
If i went through everything, it would be a dissertation, and not an article
Wholeheartedly agree. Would support
As I've said before, I think the local idea is spectacular. Nearest station as well, I'm surprised both of these changes haven't been updated yet. It's clear CCP have no ergonomics specialists involved in developing the ui.Also, G1000 = the shizz, wish I'd had that shiny stuff when I learnt to fly.
I like these ideas and setup. The issue I've had in trying to write something like this is when something is so bad I can't even come up with where to begin improving it which isn't terribly helpful.
For supposedly flying spaceships with warp drives many centuries from now, we sure have pretty shitty computers installed in our ships. They're not even calculators. It is shameful pilots still have to manually convert KM to AU (d-scan), or have to parse out unhelpful information from combat logs, or spend precious minutes trying to glean information from maps, in an age where surely fancy 3D holographic displays are the norm. We're sitting in a pod, plugged into our ship Matrix-style, we should have access to awesome visualization tools and information. It is way beyond time the UI looked less '80s and more 40th century.
Id love to have the solar map on a minimap style window. F11 is useful but using it feels like driving a wheel barrow in a f1 race ...


The Evolution of Avionics

The Cessna 172 is by far the most produced aircraft in history, and nearly every pilot from airline pilots to fighter pilots do their primary flight training on it (or something very similar).

Pictured below is a standard cockpit layout of a 172 from several years ago, followed by what now ships (more or less) standard now.


Old Steam-Gauge 172

 And the new:


Modern Steam-Gauge 172

There’s many differences, some subtle, some not.

Although if you're really lucky, you get to fly something more like this:


Modern G1000 (Glass Cockpit) 172

All aircraft have undergone massive avionics changes in the last couple decades with one thing in mind; making available information more easily seen by the pilot, and the more critical the information, the more prominent it needs to be. Many issues in an aircraft can tend to creep up on you. Whether it is the slowly toppling attitude indicator, or the oil temperature slowly creeping up ever higher, the old ‘steam gauges’ can be hard to monitor all at once.

In an old aircraft, an engine with a high oil pressure would have a needle deflect a few milimetres in one direction or another, and it would be up to the pilot to be watching them closely. In a newer aircraft, you might have a blinking, or brightly-lit warning light.

The difference is night and day. The pilot no longer needs to go hunting for the information he needs, and as a result can deal with the problem before it escalates to something much more threatening. Increasing oil pressure for example could be an indication of an imminent engine failure. It’s often said that changes in aviation are written with blood, and there have been many incidents where prominently displayed information may have saved lives.

Enter: Eve Online

(In)famous game reviewer Yahtzee once described EVE’s UI as something that “could only be less intuitive if your monitor was at the bottom of a fucking well.” When he said that, and up until even eight months ago, that was arguably true. Crucible, Inferno, and Retribution all boasted UI improvements, and those boasts were not entirely unfounded.

The aggression panel differences, the threat panel versus searching through the overview, and even focusing your camera on your target all improve a capsuleer’s perception of the situation by leaps and bounds. However this isn’t about what CCP has already done, it is what they still need to do.


Eve's Annunciator Panel

If we are to compare EVE's old UI with steam gauges, to where we need to be compared to the G1000 shot above, what do we need to do to make it functional and appealing? The G1000 is easy because its integrated with the rest of the avionics, you can input and output much more data, while still monitoring everything that’s happening. 

Less Clutter; More Information

Compact local is awesome, but the general chat icon is useless. Why waste the space instead of conveying information? The local window is next to useless unless you're hunting for a specific person. Often a quick scroll-through for approximate ratios of who has what standings to you is all you do in a fleet. The rest of the time, you've probably got it minimized to save space, and are just watching the number to see if it ticks up or down, and how quickly. Instead of having the most useless icon in the world telling you nothing more than "This is a chatbox you can't close:" []

Changing it to something that actually displays information would not only have more information available at a glance, but would reduce the clutter as well. Perhaps something more along the lines of this:


Having it display the number of people in local, because lets face it, local is set apart from most other chat channels. If you're feeling really feeling ambitious, you could even do something more like this:

Having it display the current ratio of standings local occupants hold to you might actually be useful. Crazy, I know right? Displaying the information you need without having to open up a seperate window and scroll through a list.


With the G1000, there is no need to pull out your map, no need to put it away, it’s just there, integrated into one of two screens. EVE’s current map can display a lot of information, and is very versatile, but it also has many shortcomings. For example; why has there not been an implementation of something like this into the map? There's currently no way to tell who owns a large area of space in the EVE client, aside from mousing over individual systems, or selecting their name from a list of hundreds. 

Don’t tell me about tiles, tiles are terrible. They don't even show who owns it. With little reason for alliances to have a contiguous empire, coupled with the number of alt-alliances which tend to propagate in nullsec, it can be hard determining who is actually control of vast swathes of space. Why CCP hasn't input an influence colouring of their own in the map is beyond me. Rather than having all the data sitting on its own, why not integrate it into something thats already in place? 

Furthermore, probably the most important aspect of navigating or investigating a solar system has been completely left out of the solar system map. Why has directional scan not been integrated into the map function? Sure, there's the 2-dimensional cone that pops up when you hit 'F11,' but thats a pretty sad excuse. It doesn't even show range. Why not integrate that information into the map function?

On the 'F11' note, the current map panel is next to useless. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I don't blame you. Nobody uses it. Here's a screenshot:


Does anybody use this?

Integrating a partial map function (especially the solar system map) into the side panel would actually make it useful when you’re in a rush. The 4-5 second load time for the current map can make it next to useless in a pinch if for example you’re running from a gang and can’t afford the extra seconds. The static nature of the panel means you have literally no control over it. No filters, no functionality, just white dots you can avoid, or in the constellation map, set destination.

Here's more of what I'm talking about:


Form, Function, Less Waiting

Fully functional maps would be quite useful for plotting courses on the go, or analyzing where you should go in the system. And if you like the size of how they are now, there's no reason to remove them.

One of the greatest features on a GPS in an aircraft is the nearest function. Essentially, you pick a feature, be it an airport, a flight service station, radio aid, et cetera, it will instantly pull up the nearest such feature without you needing to search through lists. The current search for services in the map function is passable at best, but why not include a nearest function in the side panel? Picture that you’re running from a gang, and REALLY need to dock up. You hit the nearest function, select station, and go direct to. No going through map settings, hilighting the service you need, setting destination to the ones that look close, and finding the lowest number. Just refresh, right-click, set destination.


Just like the avionics in the aircraft, the aim here is to display the most information in the shortest amount of time, with the fewest clicks. An easy comparison would be that up until very recently, you could say EVE had a UI like the top picture of the cockpit. There have been enough changes that we could even be nearing the middle example. Lets install that G1000 into EVE, and actually display the information we need with less clutter.

Take a lesson from aircraft avionics development. More information, fewer clicks, less clutter.

I have been playing EVE since late 2006, with a preference for nullsec warfare. I am currently a member of Nulli Secunda. In real life, I started a career as a pilot in 2007, and many of my articles discuss both flying, and EVE Online.