Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Odyssey Changes, Part 2

Odyssey is rapidly approaching with many new features some of which I really like, others I can cope with, and some that might just make it to difficult and frustrating to do certain activities.  Now as I mentioned in my last post, I have been doing a lot of reading this past week to try and gauge how some of the Odyssey changes will affect me.  Not wanting to go entirely off of what other people say, I decided to get the test server installed and try out a bunch of stuff that bothered me.  This is when my mentality switched from "These changes can't be as bad as some people make them out to be" to "Wow, that change really does suck".  I also found a few things that I enjoyed or thought would be good improvements.

Before we continue I'd like you to keep a couple words in mind.

EXPLORE:  To travel over (new territory) for adventure or discovery.
DISCOVER:  To make known or visible or to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time.

Let's start a little bit with the new scanning interface.  I think it's pretty sleek and enjoy how they have incorporated more visual cues like the signal strength progress bar.  It is also very nice to enter a system and have all available anomalies right there without having to do an initial scan.  The fancy graphic that happens where it scans around is a nice little visual bonus (I don't know if it's a bug but it seems to not activate half the time).  I am a person who really enjoys visuals, I fly around with all effects turned on to full so I can watch all the pretty lights.  So these additions though minor and don't really affect gameplay too much, I tend to enjoy. 

Something I do not like, of which will make life more difficult is that the new scanner also automatically tells you if there are any signatures in the system to scan.  Now I can see the appeal of this and technically it makes life easier because you know right off the bat whether or not you need to launch probes.  This makes moving from system to system faster, which in high security space makes total sense.  When applied to low or null security space it makes things substantially harder.  From what I've seen, people don't normally carry a probe launcher on a small scale roam.  They are looking for some fast action and when they see a cruiser or some other large ship on d-scan they warp around and try to catch them.  Now during all this hunting you don't know right away if they are in a belt, a moon, a planet, or getting a tan at the sun until you get close enough to do a tight beam scan.  Now when a roam enters a system they can immediately rule out if people are at exploration sites.  On top of that this automatic scan gives you a strong enough signal that you know exactly which planet this exploration site is next to and you didn't even have to launch probes.  Life becomes harder for the explorer and coupled with the new hacking mechanics it may not be worth the effort.

So this concept of knowing if something is there before you even look, takes away the wonder and mystery of exploring and discovering new things.  It has now turned into a process of how many systems can you jump through until you need to launch probes.  The mystery of whether or not a system holds any secrets has now been solved for you. Same thing with all sites appearing within 4 AU of a planet.  (They could incorporate an invisible ring that is 4 AU from the outermost planet's orbit and make it so sites can spawn anywhere within that circle.  Or they could make it so that sites spawn 4 AU from a planet's orbit instead of the planet.)

Now we move into actually scanning.  It generally works the same way now except for quite a few quality of life changes.  Chief among these are the probe formations...

One of my favorite aspects of the probe formations is that now all the probes are the right distance away from each other.  (OCD much?)  This is a very large quality of life improvement, being able to quickly get a formation that you want without having to move everything is just plain awesome.  In the old system where you moved probes around individually it took me all of a few seconds to set up my formation that I would use for scanning so this is really just a large quality of life change.  The two default formations that are provided are "ok" and can be made to suit your style by finagling with the controls.  What's nice is that if you move a probe way out of alignment or screw the formation up somehow you can quickly reset it to the default and try again.  You can also double click a probe in the probe list to center on that probe.  They should also implement the ability to double click on a signature to center on that as well.

CCP has suggested this but they really need to allow custom probe formations which allows one to also launch a specific number of probes to suit that formation.  Along with custom probe formations it would be nice if CCP had a probe formations popup window which allowed you to set distances and angles from the relative center, and also allow the adjustment of the initial scan distances.  A hotkey for analyze would be nice, but then again I like hotkeys.

The controls took a minute to get used to, which is normal when you have done something a certain way for months or even years.  The rundown works like this:

·         DOING NOTHING:  When NOT holding shift or alt a probe box appears in the relative middle of your selected probe formation.  Click on this box to move your formation around.
·         SHIFT:  Holding shift will bring up all the individual probes and allow you to position them any way you want.
·         ALT:  Holding alt will move all probes in relation to the technical center of the formation.
·         RE-SIZING:  Clicking on the probe circles and dragging, changes the size of the scan distance while also keeping it relative to all the other probes.
·         RE-SIZING WITH PROBE LIST:  If you use the probe list to change the size, the probes remain where they are but the size of the scan circle does change.

I don't have much to gripe with these changes except that probes are now magical and return to your cargohold when you jump systems.  It's instantaneous, whereas if you recall your probes in system it takes time.  Go figure right?  Where is the risk of losing your fancy sisters probes in your mad dash for escape?

Stay tuned for the hacking mini game and the vomit of worthless loot.

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