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Tactical Overlay Command Mode

Big changes are coming to the user interface. Things will get more complex and things will get alive in space.

Dictor, move to 120, 60 at 50km distance and cloak up!, Logi, I want you in the sector 30 to 60 azi(muth) and -50 to -70 elevation, 20km off the fleet. Hictor, please bubble up at 90,0,30, their logi will drift right into you. Let’s do this!”

In the first dev blog on the captial changes for the citadel expansion there is a little outlook on how the dev team wants to improve the tactical overlay. This work is motivated by the reimagined carrier gameplay, where the player will be able to control squadrons of fighters to much more granularity than what you can do with drones at the moment. In particular it will be possible to direct the fighters to arbitrary positions in space, without the necessity to have a bookmark there.

Prototype for the tactical overlay with squadron controls.

Prototype for the tactical overlay with squadron controls.

Not much details have been released so far but in the above example squadrons 3 and 4 might have been commanded to move towards the blue marker. We already have been shown concepts of how a pilot might create those markers by specifying distance, bearing and elevation over the plane of the tactical UI:

This technology will also be used to specify the area of effect for the new doomsday weapons:

So there is a considerable effort behind this and the system will be able to do quite sophisticated things. Together with the ability to unanchor the camera from your ship it will provide a new way to explore the battlefield.

Idea: The tactical overlay in command mode

It would be great if these features could be used in a wider context. Fundamentally EVE is about interacting with other players. These new UI elements would be perfectly suited to enhance player communication on the battlefield!

Imagine if the markers that an FC places in space would be visible to their fleet members…. The FC could place instructions on how to position the fleet directly into the tactical overlay. Commands would not be limited to awkward directions like “burn me a perch above the gate, slightly towards planet 8”. Instead the FC could mark in space exactly where they want their interceptors to go. In captial fleets, where positioning with the envisioned area of effect doomsday weapons will become crucial, this tool could become indispensable. Indeed the technology to broadcast markers in space is already being developed: In the wamup phase of the new doomsdays a marker will highlight the destined danger zone. Probably little is needed to restrict this kind of broadcasting of markers to fleet members.

I imagine this feature to work as follows: When in a fleet and on grid with the FC, the tactical overlay switches into command mode. The fleet commander now can place markers in different colors and different style into space. These markers are purely a visual aid to communicate with the fleet members. They will NOT be warpable, not approach or orbitable and can’t be bookmarked. Markers might come in different shapes, such as points, lines, arrows, spheres. A very basic selection will suffice. Probably less is more there. The FC might be allowed to type in a list of tags for each marker, which fleet members can access by hovering the cursor over the marker. Markers can be removed by the creator and have a limited lifetime. When the FC leaves grid the tactical markers should vanish as well. As a bonus feature it might be possible for the FC only(!) to drag a marker into a chat window. In that way the information could be shared between fleets. Strategic level FCs would get a tool to better plan the layout of the battlefield. Fleet members should get the possibility to filter the displayed markers according to tags or opt out of the command mode completely.

If markers appearing in space on the tactical overlay are deemed to be over powered there would be a second ¬†option to leverage the feature, which requires more effort from each player: The “drawing tool” could be used as a ruler to measure the coordinates of locations in space. All that needs is to display the three numbers, azimuth angle, elevation angle and distance, next to a selected point. Here is a mock up:

Coordinate indicator on tactical markers (mockup)

Coordinate indicator on tactical markers (mockup)

The FC could then communicate these coordinates over comms or in chat. However, this scheme has a catch: The coordinates will only be valid in the coordinate system of the FC’s tactical overlay. In this case, when the tactical overlay enters command mode, the coordinate systems of all fleet members have to be anchored on the same origin. In the simplest case this will just be the position of the FC. More useful and less exploitable would be if the FC could anchor the coordinate system in space before they turn on tactical command mode for the fleet.

In this scenario there would be no markers broadcasted to show up in space. But fleet members could exchange coordinates, using the ruler tool to find those points in space. “Dictor, move to 120, 60 at 50km distance and cloak up!, Logi, I want you in the sector 30 to 60 azi(muth) and -50 to -70 elevation, 20km off the fleet. Hictor, please bubble up at 90,0,30, their logi will drift right into you. Let’s do this!”

Everybody who has flown in a fleet will know this: it is very hard to understand the intentions of your FC. Even the best ones have troubles explaining how to maneuver and where they want people to be. Especially for newbies this makes fleet operations quit enigmatic and frustrating at times. Anchoring has been invented as a way around these limitations, effectively handing over the control of your ship to the FC, thus creating the infamous “F1 warrior”.

A more powerful tactical overview, shared by the whole fleet, would help FCs to effectively communicate their commands, enabling them to conduct more complex fleet maneuvers. It would also empower the line members who would receive much clearer instructions and by giving them a clearer tactical awareness help them make their own decision how to achieve the FC’s goals. In a collaborative game, communication is key. Now the 3D battlefields of EVE would not only display their intricate beauty on our screens, we would have a meaningful way to discuss their topologies and outsmart our enemies!

Asides

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