EVE Peeves

7th December 2009 – 5.48 pm

I get an error message, informing me that my connection has been dropped. I can't quit the game, I need to 'force quit' to get back to the desktop. It happens occasionally. Except tonight it is happening regularly. When I can't get back to the desktop and need to hard reboot my machine I start to get fed up. I get rather more fed up when I find that the EVE Online client refuses to load, and nothing I can think to do resolves the problem. Searching for solutions, I find that there is a known bug with the current Dominion patch on OS X, which has corrupted my settings files. A patch for the bug will be released soon. For now, the best I can do is delete the preference folder and disable audio.

Playing EVE Online with no sound is inconvenient but probably possible, particularly for only a few days. I write 'probably', because I'm not going to try, not with all of my preferences deleted. All settings are gone. All window placements, all communication channels, all overview settings. All gone. I am not going to spend however long mucking around in fiddly interface screens trying to get everything back to being usable until a patch is released and I have some assurance that I won't have to delete my settings a second time. I don't actually want to spend the time doing it at all, as it is time-consuming and frustrating to get right. I'd rather be playing the game.

There is a reason why I don't use many add-on components in games. In World of Warcraft, I use the standard interface and a few minor additions, barely changing the default configuration, because it is such an irritation when an add-on breaks or otherwise needs to be reset. It is already annoying to have to change all the default chat window settings for each new character, and that takes maybe five minutes. It is not that I don't like the extra functionality of the add-on components, I simply don't want to spend much time tweaking configurations instead of playing the game. So when I finally am able to return to New Eden and find that every setting has been reset, I am seriously frustrated. As the bug causes file corruption, it looks like I won't be able to get my old settings back either, even once the patch is deployed.

Some of the problems with the default settings in EVE Online are mere inconveniences, like window placements. I have long had a problem with window placements in the game. I don't know why the interface makes a distinction between an agent's window and this agent's window. I have never experienced a conversation with an agent where I wished this particularly agent's window was ten pixels to the left. Yet every time I open a conversation with a new agent, the window is positioned in the default size and position, cramped in the middle of the screen.

Each ship's cargo hold window placement is also strangely unique. Every single ship opens a new, default window in the middle of the screen, small enough to barely show a single item inside. Perhaps there is a need to have ships with different capacities to have different cargo hold window placements, but there are still opportunities to reduce irritation. Even basing the window placement on hull size would be an improvement, so that an industrial ship has a window placement different from a frigate, but every industrial ship's cargo hold is in the same position and the same size.

I'm sitting in front of a powerful computer. Computers have long been touted to perform tedious, repetitive tasks so that users don't have to. Yet I am amazed at how many tedious, repetitive tasks I am called upon to do myself because I am using a computer. Repeatedly informing the computer where I want an agent's or ship cargo hold's window to be is one of these tasks. But this is nothing compared to the mess that is the overview.

I have spent quite a lot of time setting up and tweaking my overview settings in EVE Online, not because I want to but because it is necessary to have some sane set-up that isn't cluttered yet still shows me enough information. More than once, the settings have got confused and I've had to try to make sense of them, and every time I've had to configure the overview I get frustrated by its unfriendliness. There seem to be hundreds of different items that can or cannot be shown on the overview, including options based on standings, absolute and relative. To be fair, choosing the required settings for a personal overview set-up is not too difficult, it is realising those settings that is onerous.

Adding a selection of types to the overview may be straightforward, but it is horribly tedious. There really needs to be an option to add all items of a certain type to the selection, an overriding box that can be ticked to select all items below it. This would add, for example, all asteroids to the overview settings, rather than having to select each asteroid type individually. The 'select all' box could merely toggle the lower-level boxes, thus then allowing individual boxes to be toggled again, allowing all-but-one of the selected type to be chosen quickly and easily. But having to select or deselect dozens of different boxes is tedious and unfriendly. It also needs to be done several times, as having only a single overview setting is undesirable or restrictive.

The 'new user experience' for EVE Online seems to be an important issue. I thus wonder why it is that the default setting for the overview is so poor. The overview starts with a single, all-encompassing tab, lacking in functionality for anything but basic operations. Whilst it is desirable to understand how the overview works, throwing capsuleers in to the mire of the overview settings window with little help is a bad idea. There are plenty of guides on how to set-up the overview, yet CCP could make an obvious change to the default settings.

Rather than the default overview consisting of a single, muddled tab, the game could include several tabs or saved settings based on certain operations in the game. Settings could be included for travel, PvE missions, PvP combat, and mining, and labelled as such. The new user could then delve in to the settings to see how each differs, gaining insight in to how the overview works and be better able to improve each tab for their own benefit. The developers of EVE Online actively play, and I would be astonished if any of them don't use a modified overview. This alone should indicate the need to provide a better default set-up.

As the situation stands, I am faced with having to create several new tabs for the overview and spend exaggerated hours selecting and deselecting options, trying to work out what I want each tab to display. I also will have the irritation of having to position each and every window that I open to be somewhere sensible. Then I need to work out what options I had on my sidebar, rejoin my communication channels, turn off stupid blinking icons and tabs where appropriate, and sort out my dozens of bookmarks from the flat list back in to folders. If all I had to adjust were a few settings here and there I wouldn't mind so much, but the lack of attention to detail of so many default settings has me somewhat reluctant to head back to New Eden just yet. At least I can spend some of the time working through and writing my back-log of adventures.

  1. 2 Responses to “EVE Peeves”

  2. After being around you as it all got set up, I do have to say I am scared. I hope you are never as mad at me as you were at the UI.

    I'm the type to continue to poke at things until they break or I get them right. Usually the former happens or I get it right and then poke it until it breaks. Either way, I've managed to reset things multiple times. For some reason, things still get broken down the line.

    Oh, and EVE has sound?

    By Kename Fin on Dec 9, 2009

  3. There's an option to disable audio, but maybe 'audio' is Icelandic for 'annoying Mac bugs'.

    To be fair, when it all went pear-shaped, I was not only dealing with reset configurations but also trying to work out why the client was crashing and eventually not even loading, followed by trying to get everything working again. It was quite vexing.

    Anyway, how could I ever be mad with Fin?

    By pjharvey on Dec 10, 2009

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