Great news if you get really excited by scanning—or you really don't and just want to get more drunk—and are frustrated by having to use the mouse and the modifier keys. The scanning system is getting another overhaul in Odyssey, and this time you only need one hand to scan a whole system. Swig back a drink, eat a sammich, or simply rest your chin on your spare hand in the quintessential boredom pose. It will soon all be possible.
The first obvious change is in the launching of probes. They all come out of your launcher at once, and in to a predefined pattern. A initial perceived drawback is that emptying the launcher forces it to reload. Personally, I always liked launching half of the ten probes in my launcher and having the option to cloak immediately or reload if I have the time, giving me two opportunities to launch probes and cloak without having to spend ages to reload. But the time it takes to launch five probes and cloak, with added latency effects, is similar to the new multi-launch and reload, so the change is positive in getting everything done at once. Launch probes! Done.
The probe formations are interesting. At the moment, neither of the two formations fits my preferred style, although one can be modified with some battling with the interface, and I could perhaps get used to the other. But these formations are likely to be changed before Odyssey, and we are apparently going to get user-defined formations too, including an option to launch a different number of probes. This looks like a positive change, particularly as switching between formations is possible at any point, which effectively resets their positions. Get one probe out of place? Switch formations back and forth and they are neat again.
Starting to scan, now it gets interesting. Only one probe box is visible, the central one, because all the probes are intrinsically linked together by default. Move the central probe, all the probes move together. Change the range of a probe, all the probe ranges change. No more modifier keys required. Moreover, changing the range of the probes also maintains their relative positions! Shrink probes to a lower range and all the probes are drawn closer together. Increase the range of the probes and they are all pulled further apart. The formation never changes.
So what does it take to scan signatures? Launch probes, position probes, scan. Pick a signature, move all the probes on to that signature by dragging the central box only, reduce the range of all probes by dragging a single probe sphere, scan. Repeat until the signature is resolve. Repeat for each signature you want to resolve. And you only need one hand. It's pretty simple. And very boring. I don't like it.
I understand that scanning isn't for everyone, and that the changes are to make the process simpler. I am not about to argue that just because I had to learn the old way then everyone should. I can recognise that there can be positive changes, like the introduction of the alt-dragging mode, and that going back a step doesn't help anyone. And I don't think my skill training should not be made obsolete. I fully appreciate that scanning is busywork of sorts, another form of PvE for w-space, akin to mission-running. And I enjoy it. But I have two issues with the simplification of the new interface.
First, simplifying the scanning interface so that a whole system can be resolved using one hand is a neat idea, but leaving one hand completely idle disengages me from the process. I'm no longer some leet hacker deftly working through some security systems that bizarrely have a graphical interface. The one-handed scanning interface in Odyssey makes me more feel like I'm playing Minesweeper. I'm just mindlessly passing the time to get to an inevitable result, until some work that's actually important comes along.
Second, the new interface feels far too close to being able to scan all signatures with a single button press. Not that I honestly think this will ever happen, you understand. But drawing back the curtain so far shows more clearly how completely possible it would be to automate the whole process. I already stated in my guide to Apocrypha scanning that the process is algorithmic, which is only to be expected in a computer-generated environment, and that it would be trivial to create a script to scan whole systems. Odyssey takes this concept a leap forwards.
As changing the range of probes also maintains their relative positions, all we need now is a button to let us centre probes on a selected signature to really show us how much we're wasting our time not letting the computer do the whole scanning process. After all, the computer can do that quicker and more accurately than we can. Then all we'd need to do is scan, reduce range, select signature and centre probes, scan. Reduce range, select signature and centre probes, scan. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Players would soon be asking for an autoscan button, arguing the autopilot achieves the same result for travelling between systems, so why not also let the computer handle scanning?
Admittedly, nothing about the scanning system in Odyssey changes the fundamentals. The scanning essentially unchanged since Apocrypha can be completely automated just as it can in Odyssey. But getting us those few steps forwards only highlights how much we are wasting our time in scanning instead of letting the computer do it all. Curiously enough, forcing the player to do more makes them more inclined to do it. The current system engages me, makes me feel skilled. The new system makes me feel like I'm just going through the motions. It will become tedious for becoming simpler.
Finally, there is a difference between scanning a system's signatures and scanning to hunt a ship. Odyssey scanning makes scanning a system really easy, and makes hunting ships really awkward. Having all probes always linked, moving all of them together, even moving them all if you change the range of a single probe, and needing to hold shift every time a single probe needs to be moved, makes hunting with d-scan fiddly. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed before Odyssey arrives, or w-space life will become terribly frustrating.