Target Lock: Buckingham

I am now logging into Buckingham.  Why?  Because I think CCP Explorer challenged me to do it.  Last night after the first broadcast of the New Eden Open, I found myself caught up in a twitter conversation about first impressions of the tournament and CCP staff were asking what people thought of the show and of the new tournament UI.  I went and said this:

Ugleb ‏@Ugleb_Capsuleer

@erlendur @PoeticStanziel @ccp_bro @CCP_Veritas @CCP_Arrow It took me a couple of matches to get used to the new bars, after that; yes 🙂

Ugleb ‏@Ugleb_Capsuleer

@erlendur @PoeticStanziel @ccp_bro @CCP_Veritas @CCP_Arrow TBH, its always nice to see CCP iterating on UI full stop. 😉

This was meant as a good natured joke as CCP have been doing a lot of good work on the UI in recent times with a bunch more coming in Retribution.  Which is when CCP Explorer responds with:

Erlendur ‏@erlendur

@Ugleb_Capsuleer Have you been on the Buckingham test server to check out the new targeting UI and related changes? (Cc: @CCP_karkur)

And:

Erlendur ‏@erlendur

@Ugleb_Capsuleer Have you tested the latest changes to the Inventory UI on the Buckingham test server? (Cc: @CCP_Arrow, @CCP_Optimal)

I can only assume that I have been challenged.  So, to Buckingham!  One 1.5gb update later and I’m sat looking at the striking new login screen listening to the Mass Effect/Tron Legacy inspired new title music, given a definite EVE twist.  So far so good. 🙂

I think I’ll start with prodding the universal Inventory to see if I can spot the changes.  I log in with my production alt and head straight for my R&D starbase.  Which isn’t there.  Hmm.  Guess this means Buckingham either isn’t running on a very up to date mirror, or they don’t transfer over anchored structures from TQ.  Right, re-log to Ugleb then!

…I’m not sure what if anything has changed tbh.  Maybe whatever got changed is something that never bothered me in the first place.  Not sure.

But there is a new ‘tinkle-beep’ noise when you undock from a station.  There is also a buzzing sound that plays each time I jump through a low-sec stargate, so I guess these are new alerts intended to warn players that they are entering the danger-zone that is New Eden.  I’m not sure if the low sec (and presumably null sec) jumping sound is going to get a bit annoying when travelling long distance, or if it something I’ll just get used to hearing.

It sounds like (heh) they have also implemented a mild audio alert for low capacitor warnings, a little buzzing sound keeps going off when my capacitor is hovering around 30%, and a faint click at 75%.  Which is nice.

I discovered these little tweaks while testing the new targeting UI.  Which I like.  The new UI places a small circle around your selected object, which does make things a little more obvious than before.  At first I tried it out in a belt with a few rats, but soon decided to give it a proper test drive and go on a mission.

Which is when I docked up in a station that happened to have an old Stabber lying around.  Oh I am so looking forwards to flying the newly buffed and remodelled Stabber around the FW warzone….

 

That is what I’m talking about!  The frigate/cruiser rebalancing I am very much looking forwards to as an FW player as these are the hulls I expect to be using most in my near future.  Small ships are my love in EVE and sci-fi in general, plus T1 is well suited to be FW and my wallet.

Anyway, I was talking about targeting UI. The old and trusty Maelstrom + level 4 security mission seems like a fair test run.  Working for the Brutor Tribe, of course.  Turns out that a level 4 quickly demonstrates the new system quite nicely.  There is a new locking animation that displays a circular ‘cycle’ animation that runs down  as the lock is acquired.  It looks good and is intuitive, I’m very pleased to say that they retained a numerical countdown of seconds remaining.

Furthermore, compared to the original redesign prototype, the locked target icons were redesigned to more traditional damage readout more like the main HUD, where the outer layer represents shield, the middle armor and the inner layer structure.  The team has clearly listened to feedback (mine own 2 pence included) that the original proposal was unintuitive and inconsistent with the existing UI.  What we have now is a good middle ground between a slick looking but not very intuitive concept and the more practical but kind of dull current design of three damage bars.

I would say that this new system is hitting the right mark, it is visually reminiscent of the Dominion trailer (particularly at 1:35, ‘Hammer’) but retains the functionality of the old interface.  With maybe one exception that I’ve noticed.  In the current interface, mousing over the damage bars shows a percentage read out of remaining hit points, the new ‘wheel’ design doesn’t. It would be nice to see that put in but I wonder if the designers considered it to be too fiddly given the shape of the display and slimness of the bars.

The new aggression brackets (I think this is the right term for the red circles of ‘uh crap I’m being shot’) are I think going to go down very well.  As before, each ship that aggresses you has the red square bracket icon surrounding it.  In addition we now see the red circles which are an indication of how much damage each attacker is dealing to you.  The brighter the circle, the greater the threat that ship poses.

As you can see in the screen shot, some ships have either a very faint red circle while some appear to have none.  I was actually being attacked by everything, which is why they all have the red square brackets, but the system weights the colour coding to flag up the largest immediate threats.  The battleships were dealing by far the most damage, and those BS in their optimal were being highlighted more strongly than the same BS further away, as they were hitting me harder at the time.

This should prove to be a very intuitive system and make it much easier for players to understand and connect with what is happening to them on the battlefield.  Doubtless some will mutter darkly that this removes ‘pilot skill’ from the game or some garbage.  I don’t buy that and advise them to get over their masochistic selves.  This will make it harder for glass cannon fitted ships to hide in larger gangs I think, but in reality all this does is present information already availiable into a more accessible form.

One quirk I have noticed though is that ships dealing high volley damage fluctuate in the display due to the long gaps between firing.  A rapid firing ship will probably appear as the more obvious threat as its aggression bracket may appear brighter for more of the time, while a slower firing arty ship or a delayed damage dealing missile boat may drop down the threat scale between volleys.  Will that add up to much in the field?  I’m not sure yet, it may well even out.  I suspect that this new display will prove generally useful but somewhat subjective, I doubt that it is accurate enough to make your decision making ability on who to primary redundant, assuming that enemy DPS is your main concern to start with.  ECM, anyone? 😉

There are obviously other changes in this build, such as Crimewatch 2.0.  I haven’t gone delving into that and I think this is long enough already, but simply put there are a couple of UI elements in that stand out.  Mousing over the orange exclamation mark in the top left is a nice and easy to understand explanation of what aggression towards an NPC means.  The green button on the HUD is a ‘safety lock’, this prevents you from performing actions to get yourself CONCORDOKENED by doing something illegal.  You can set it to allow yourself to perform suspect or criminal acts should you so choose, again it looks intuitive and simple.

Based on this little meddle with Buckingham, I think the UI dev’s are on strong ground for Retribution, although I’ll have to hold off on my opinion on the Universal Inventory changes on Buckingham until I figure out what they actually are…

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3 Responses to Target Lock: Buckingham

  1. Bosstiger says:

    Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

  2. Ugleb says:

    A little update to this from twitter:

    Bára Gunnarsdóttir ‏@CCP_karkur
    @Ugleb_Capsuleer @erlendur nice post 🙂 btw, there should be tooltips on the health bars and the red blobs are top 5 dmgdealers in last 2min

    Ugleb ‏@Ugleb_Capsuleer
    @CCP_karkur I didn’t get the tooltips working, not sure why that would be :/

    Bára Gunnarsdóttir ‏@CCP_karkur
    @Ugleb_Capsuleer i know why… and i’ve fixed it now 🙂 thanks for the heads up 🙂

    So there we go. The feature I thought was missing turns out to be a bug which is now already fixed thanks to this wall of text. I feel like I just achieved something! 😉

  3. Pingback: I’ve seen the future and it will be transparent « Serpentine's Eve

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