Reconfiguring the overview

9th December 2009 – 5.49 pm

Dominion patch 1.0.2 for EVE Online has been deployed, and the patch notes give me some reassurance that I'll be able to pilot through New Eden without exploding my client. Now I need to steel my resolve, get back in to my pod, and reconfigure just about every setting that got wiped as a consequence of the stupid bug.

I start by adjusting my chat windows, so that I can better whine and complain about my situation a bit more. It's best to share the pain. All the windows have terrible default positions and sizes, from the chat windows, to cargo holds, to the overview. My character sheet needs to be moved and resized, as does the science and industry pane, and, well, just about every other pane too. The only window that is sensibly arranged is the fitting screen, but it would be incredible for CCP to get this one wrong. The most egregious default window size and placement I find is for a corporate hangar, appearing crushed at the bottom edge of the screen, with a size so small that not even a single module is visible inside. It is easily corrected, but time-consuming.

With as many of my windows arranged rather more sensibly, I can turn my attention to the overview. Oops, no, the local communication channel is blinking at me. Turning off the 'idiot indicator' only serves to remind me that I'll probably be finding lots of small tweaks here and there over the next week or two that need to be remedied, either because of configurations I long ago took for granted or windows and options I overlook in the sprawl of the EVE Online UI. For example, as the Crane transport ship I am sitting in has no drones, the first time I get in to a drone-capable ship I'll have another window to move and resize. But at least the Crane lets me sit cloaked in space whilst I spend however long reconfiguring the overview, which I am not sure can be accomplished when docked.

I am not looking forwards to setting up my overview again. I remember it as being rather opaque and awkward to configure, with dozens if not hundreds of different options that must all be selected or deselected individually, and the function or utility of many of the options are not all immediately obvious. However, even though it has been over a year since I last made a serious attempt to configure the overview, the help I got at the time and the months of tweaks and updates I've had to make, combined with my increasing experience of being a capsuleer, has made the function and configuration of the overview rather plainer. I believe I even know what a 'bracket' is and how to use those settings to my advantage.

My first task is to recreate my tabs, which is simple. I keeping adding tabs with the default setting until I reach the arbitrary limit of five, giving them suitable names based on the functions I expect each of them to provide. I have tab for stargates, a general-purpose tab, a tab for PvP, one for salvaging, one for travel, and one for mining. Yes, that's six tabs, so I combine mining and salvaging in to one tab, but only in name. It's possible to save more overview configurations than can be displayed in the tabs at any one time and load them as required. I'll keep important configurations loaded in separate tabs, and niche applications available on demand.

The stargates tab shows only stargates, and is used for quick piloting through high-sec space. The mining tab shows asteroid fields and asteroids, the salvaging tab wrecks and cargo containers. The travel tab shows stargates, stations and planets, and is meant more for low-sec travel, providing more escape routes. The PvP tab shows hostile ships and little else. The general idea for each tab is to present as uncluttered an interface as possible for the function I am currently performing, allowing for quick and accurate selection of my desired target, as well as reducing the severity of selecting a wrong target in error. With all the tabs created I can start populating them with the required objects.

Contrary to my previous complaint, it is possible to select or deslect an entire group of objects, allowing for quicker configuration of the overview. Being a Mac user, I am not a big fan of context menus, and EVE Online's mantra of 'if in doubt, right-click' doesn't sit well with me. Even so, right-clicking on a folder brings up a menu with a 'select all' option. I find this a little ambiguous, as it isn't immediately obvious that the option to 'select all' doesn't apply to the entire list, but thankfully it only selects every object in the folder clicked on. Being able to select all asteroids, and deselect everything else, is helpful when setting up my mining tab, for example. There is still a small delay when making a selection, as the overview updates dynamically, which prevents quick selection of multiple choices, but this is tolerable.

It is important to save each overview setting as it is made, with a suitable name, as any changes are propagated in to the current selection. With my mining tab complete, I can make a salvage tab, then my stargate tab, then I can worry about the more complex overview configurations I want. But with the stargate tab available I can set a course to corporate HQ and hit the autopilot. There is a small time between session changes when I can make no changes, but I can deal with it as I am making progress to renewing my overdue ME research laboratory jobs. My general purpose tab contains just about everything that the other tabs don't, almost keeping all the default selections. But having the other tabs lets me exclude extraneous objects from my general purpose tab. I don't need to show wrecks, asteroids or asteroid fields, and stargates and planets on the general purpose overview, which reduces a considerable amount of clutter whilst still showing me almost everything else. But I won't rely on this tab for tense situations, which is why I have a tab for PvP.

The error mitigation mentioned above is far more important a function of a good overview set-up than it perhaps seems. Whilst being able to select the right target is vital, not selecting a fleet member as primary target by accident is equally important, which is where brackets can be introduced. A bracket is the icon used to represent an object, such as a circle for a planet, broken rectangle for a capsuleer's ship, or cross for a drone. Objects in the overview appear in the overview window, and can be selected and targeted from that window. A loaded bracket will be integrated with the tactical overlay, offering easy azimuth and range information. Any one overview tab can have two independent settings loaded, one that will show those objects only in the overview, and one that will show the brackets only on the HUD. In general, the two settings will coincide, but there are important reasons for loading a different overview and bracket configuration in to a single tab.

The trick to having an effective overview is that there is nothing fundamentally different about configuring an overview setting and configuring a bracket setting. They both use the same interface and both perform a similar function, it is merely how the information is displayed that is different. I shall use my PvP tab as an example. Even though my lack of PvP experience may reveal the settings to be rudimentary, I believe it is a good example of the benefits of having different overview and bracket settings. I want the PvP overview to show direct threats against my ship, which means I want nothing but ships to appear. When I go in to combat, I should be shown nothing but targets. As such, I deselect all objects in the overview settings except for capsuleer-piloted ships. Now when I have my PvP tab selected, if nothing is displayed I can feel relatively safe, but when an icon appears I need to be alert and ready for action. If only it were that simple.

Flying solo may make every other ship a threat, but if I am in a fleet I am with allied capsuleers, and their ships will show up in my overview. I need to be able to show only threats. The overview can be configured against more than merely objects, and I move to the state filter. Under the state settings, I can deselect pilots who are in my alliance, corporation, or fleet, which then modifies my overview so that they are not shown. However, this then means that my allies' ships do not show up on my screen, making it difficult to see when I have support or if everyone has warped away. What I need to do is save my original configuration that shows all ships as 'PvP bracket' and save a separate configuration that hides my allies as 'PvP overview'. By then loading 'PvP overview' in to the overview I am only shown hostile ships, but by loading 'PvP bracket' as the bracket setting for the PvP tab, all ships, including allies, still appear on my screen and tactical overlay.

My PvP tab therefore has two settings. The bracket contains all ships and all drones, of all states. Every ship and drone will thus be visible on my screen, showing me the state of battle quickly, giving numbers of allied and fleet ships, and quantity of allied and hostile drones, all with visual range information. The overview's configuration does not show the clutter of potentially dozens of drones, nor present allies' ships for accidental targeting. This dual state is invaluable for effective piloting.

I can repeat my bracket configurations for each tab, so that I have more information in the bracket than the overview. I also make sure that even when salvaging or mining I have all non-rat ships revealed, as the dangers of w-space make these activities rather more dangerous than in high-sec. If I deliberately need to target an ally, like when I am repping in a Guardian, I can use the fleet's 'watch list' functionality, which only shows fleet members.

The overview is quite complicated and takes a fair bit of explaining, but it can be understood with a bit of time and experience. It takes me around an hour and a half to get the overview suitably configured, and I am likely still to need to tweak it a little here and there, but it is surprisingly straightforward to achieve a sane configuration once the concepts become clear. Experience is necessary to understand possible threats in specific circumstances and thus what is needed to be displayed, both in the overview and bracket, and, just as importantly, what should not be displayed. Now that I have my overview configured, I must try the option to export the settings. Even though I have a good idea of how to set up the overview, I don't really want to spend the time to do it again if I don't need to.

  1. 2 Responses to “Reconfiguring the overview”

  2. I have a mining tab [which is actually a bit of misnomer] as it tends to show everything. It's my run-to tab when I think something should be showing and it's not.

    The next is a combat tab that I alternate between a PVE and PVP set of overview settings, [though the PVP settings will likely need some work as I have only been on the dying end of PVP]. I use one tab and switch between these two as needed.

    The third tab is what I call my "Flight" tab and includes gates, stations and now wormholes visible. If you can fly to it or jump through it, I want to see it, but not really anything else. I do have a second bracket setting for it that is the same overview, but shows Enemies brackets in space and is called "Cloaky" for jetting around low-sec. I want to know the bad guys are there, I just don't want to click on them in the overview.

    The fourth tab is my junk tab that I use for tower operations, salvage and hacking/analysis, with each having it's own saved overview that I rotate through depending on the task at hand.

    The final tab is scanning that has planets, moon and suns on it that I mainly use when mapping out new systems and covert ops.

    Well, now I realize I've put a long comment on long post. If that doesn't keep people from reading, I don't know what will. :)

    By Kename Fin on Dec 9, 2009

  3. They all sound most sensible settings. Your low-sec travel tab suggests I certainly will be tweaking various settings here and there as I start to use my reconfigured overview. I won't really know what I've forgotten to add, or what else would be useful, until something obvious is missing.

    It's a good thing there's an option to add an object to the overview from the HUD's context menu, rather than having to dig through all the folders trying to find out the object's official label and category. It makes incremental additions based on experience simpler to implement.

    By pjharvey on Dec 10, 2009

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