Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drone Tweaks

First off let me say that this is my first blog attempt... ever. The purpose of this blog is to discuss all faculties of EVE including personal stories, strategies, opinions, and ideas.

Ok, on to the meat of this post.

Drones are a big part of EVE. They are common place in both fighting and mining and should never be taken lightly in either profession. They are also in need of some major polish both in the ways they visually interact with your ship and how they are controlled.


The drone window operates like most other windows in EVE. Often players have it located below the overview window. Drones can be launched by right clicking the individual drone or the folder in which those drones are grouped, and selecting launch drones from the pull down list.

Sure, this is simple enough. However, finding a tiny name located in the corner of your screen, right clicking, moving down the pulldown list to the desired operation and clicking it is time consuming in the heat of battle. Not only that but a ship that relies on drones for its main source of damage is constantly giving drones orders: selecting specific drones and telling them to dock with your ship, ordering others to change targets, disbanding them for new ones, etc. Sorry CCP but your drone interface is slow, it's ugly, and I often end up clicking the wrong things on the pull down list, like "scoop to cargo hold". It needs a complete face lift.

My suggestion would be to add drone icons into the ship modules display. It could either be next to the existing module display or completely integrate with it. One icon would tell your drones to attack, another icon would tell them to dock, and another to orbit your ship. Each drone group would have its own launch icon. All drone grouping would be handled in an improved drone bay window in which the player will have 5 group folders that they can drag and drop drones into. Not more right clicking and adding drones to attack group. Drones in space would have active stat readouts next to this interface rather than having to scroll through a drone window to see your drone's health.

I am aware of the drone keyboard shortcuts but find those to be annoying and very unfriendly to newb drone pilots.

Visual Interaction

I consider myself an artist and have worked on game art in the past. The way that CCP handles drone visuals is particularly painful to me. This game has so many beautiful and realistic graphic elements to it, but when I see a drone pop into space from nowhere it ruins the sense of realism completely.

This next suggestion would be a fair amount of work on CCPs part. I actually understand the amount of time it would require to implement this change yet I feel it is worth it to keep EVE graphics up to date with modern titles. That being said, drones need to have a docking and undocking animation. This also means that ships capable of carrying drones need a visual drone bay.

Example of a Dominix with a drone bay in the side.

Carriers in Homeworld handled this animation beautifully. When a carrier would launch interceptors you would see each individual interceptor exit the carrying bay. Likewise you would see them line up and enter back into the carrier bay when docking. Most games these days have similar animation sequences and EVE is no exception to this standard.

Another issue that I have with drones is the placement of sentry drones. When launching sentry drones they seem to just plop out into space in a random blob. It looks completely uncoordinated and un-intimidating. If sentry drones where to have a formation like appearance upon exiting the drone bay I think it would really make them appear much cooler.

Example of sentry drone placement.

This led me to think about an actual improvement to sentry drones with the ability to keep their formation around the carrier ship. Ships have tractor beams right? Why not let them tractor around with the ship. The sentry drones would not orbit or fly after other ships but would act more like destructible guns that follow your ship around. This would eliminate the annoying procedure of scooping them up every time you want to change locations. Then again it could pose some balancing issues in pvp.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! I personally use keyboard shortcuts, but the drone controls could be helpful. Graphics of drones entering and exiting would be nice as well. The idea of sentry drones that follow your ship around is quite interesting, although as you stated, PVP might have some issues.