One-handed scanning comes with Odyssey

12th May 2013 – 3.34 pm

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.

  1. 6 Responses to “One-handed scanning comes with Odyssey”

  2. I totally agree. I'm not a WH resident, but I do a lot of exploring. And I enjoy the scanning process. It was not dead simple to understand, took me an hour or so to figure out, but after that it became something I could refine.

    So I feel that people can be better or worse at it... With Odyssey, ironically, exploring becomes less of a skilled profession (to me anyway).

    It seems the idea is not to have the exploring skill set valuable, but to get more people into low or null (albeit hopefully with greater rewards) and thus more vulnerable to PvP... I don't like it either.

    Not to mention the "scatter loot" aspect seems to be discouraging solo exploration, which is one of the few things a solo player can specialize in other than missions or mining.

    when I first heard about the exploration focus of this expansion I was really excited. Now I'm concerned. We'll see.

    By Vodelus on May 13, 2013

  3. I totally agree with stated above.

    Scanning as it is on SiSi now is booring and I don't see it as challange at all anymore. Sometimes the scanning itself was more challenging for me than doing the site i have scanned down. That was merely a bonus to it. Just mechanical scan->center->shrink->scan->center...
    I have tryed (on SiSi) 31AU->8AU->2AU->0.5AU and it worked. I had to move probes only once to cover the possible area of signatue. Except that the cetre stayed almost in the same spot. Having Gas site scanned in 4 steps is.. well ... leave it to computers.

    Also predefined probes positions are very easy to use for "noobs" (which is ok with me, easyer start) but i don't see my "beloved" formations. For me scanning was like everything else in EVE - you have to do it many times to be good at it as player.

    It is similar like if CCP took most of the player side imput from PvP and stick strictly to the numbers so stronger ship (by numbers) would allways win against the weaker, no players' manual flying skills involved. Bigger ship would allways win unless smaller ship would set automatic orbit to 500, in that case smaller ship would allways win. There can be nice cinematics about it that way :D which would be cool thing to watch and cool thing for CCP to present EVE to non EVE player to lure in mone subscribers. Normal PvP is so hard for them.

    Also totally agree with if this has to be this easy, why not make there "scan this signature down" button. If there is computer which is able to launch 7 probes at once, maintain probes formation it should be able to do the scanning too.

    And i have same feelings about "scatter loot" after the minigame (i haven't played one yet, so i don't know yet), but i don't like being forced to group up with other people to have more loot. I like solo exploring for what it is. Or in case you'll really have to play "Gotta catch them all!" game, i hope there will be at least drones for solo explorers to catch more pieces. Or it can be function of salvage drones as well.

    Also from WH residents point of view. Gravietric sites (after Odyssey "Ore sites" - don't get me started on the change of names.. it's scanning for dummies) will be scanable same way as core sites.. i think we all can say bye bye to wormhole mining. Unless we have big gang to protect us. Right now scanner/combat porbes on d-scan are usually the only indicatin that anybbody is trying to find your beloved cheap and insured mining barge which gives you just enough time to warp away. Now anybody in claoky ship can surprise miners almost without any trying. Jump to wh, do basic scan without probes, warp and cloack, kill. Ok some need of cloaky flying between the roids will be needed.. and i hope that CCP won't impement sub warp autopilot, which would keep you 2000m away from objects -> from decloacking, in future expansions, because doing it now isn't that easy either.

    Don't get me wrong. I like the new UI, where you can see signatures in space. But again this looks half done to me. If you can see signatures, why can't you see also bookmarks? Wouldn't it be only logical? For now i mostly like Oddysey for what it brings, but it also seems to me to be only "half-done" in so many ways.

    Sorry for longer comment. I don't usually write comments, but when I do...

    By ghousty on May 13, 2013

  4. Ah, glad to know I am not the only one who isn't a big fan of the new scanning system ;). Great article !

    By Morphisat on May 14, 2013

  5. Thanks for the comments. Let's see how the feedback guides CCP's response. They seem open to comments, but generally adamant that what they are doing is the right way.

    By pjharvey on May 14, 2013

  6. Excellent write-up. As one that is much better at exploration than pirating - I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about the changes. I enjoy the current system now that I have a method that works - and simplifying it might not be to my advantage.

    But I'm willing to wait and see what the final result might be and anything rogue like (Amulet of Yendor FTW!) sounds interesting.

    For you WH residents, it might be a serious blow to scanning down ships - good luck with that!

    By Jack Dancer on May 15, 2013

  7. As with most changes, I imagine it will be a matter of adapting as much as possible and petitioning for modifications where the system feels to inflexible.

    Thanks, Jack. And keep up the solo piracy. It's always entertaining to read about your fights.

    By pjharvey on May 15, 2013

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