User interface and EVE Voice changes - Fun (and free) stuff inside!

So Trinity is rolling up, bearing with it a new graphics engine and freshly baked models for you to go "oooh" and "aah" over. But what else is there? Could it be that the user interface is getting a face lift? Could it be that we now offer excellent voice communication which functionality is fully integrated into that spiffy new interface? Why yes!

Back up here a bit! UI in EVE?

This all started out a few months ago when we set out to improve on the EVE Voice groundwork we had laid with our partners from Vivox. We tried to get as much community feedback from our player base as we could and came up with a few pointers we needed to work on. The user interface was both clunky and ill-accessible and the delay for voice activation wasn‘t really competitive for PvP situations.

We did fix both the voice quality (it really is crystal clear) and activation delays (near instant) in the Revelations 2.2 release mid-summer. We didn’t however have time to work on the user interface as much as we had wanted and what we have been doing now is therefore a continuation of efforts started months ago.

We decided to integrate the usability of EVE Voice directly into the Fleet UI. Now; some of you may be thinking "but where are we supposed to find space for all this stuff? The selected items+overview+drones+fleet+broadcasts window takes all the space!! And if I‘m in a fleet I just fly around with the fleet interface minimized, then I can‘t use EVE Voice can I?"

We thought about this and in the end came to the conclusion that the UI in EVE was overdue for a makeover. So that‘s what we did. We‘ve actually revamped the entire in-flight UI in EVE so that specific items can be detached and moved around freely! YES! You can take your selected items box, move it to the far left of your screen, take your drone view and stack it up with the fleet broadcasts and move it wherever you want. Here‘s an example:

Detached UI Windows

So that‘s pretty awesome right? You can move your windows around, but that‘s not all. We’ve also gone over the individual windows themselves, compacted and merged functions such as the broadcast buttons and broadcast display window.

The biggest change you‘ll see is in the Fleet UI. It‘s been completely redone and looks prettier than ever. You now have a more clear view of your fleet; you can see at a glance if you‘re receiving fleet bonuses (if not, you see why), who are the commanders, what squads are active (you can name your squads and wings for easier organization) and it‘s easier to locate people in the hierarchy.

Wings and Squads

CCP Zulupark is the Fleet Commander, Wave 1 is a wing under him and has no Wing Commander. Tacklers is a squad from Wave 1 with CCP Zulupark3 as the Squad Commander.

Icon Legend

If you don’t want all this newfangled sparklery you can still set you fleet to display as a flat list of members. You’ll still see the fleet status indicators on each member, but you’ll have lost the overview of squads and wings:

Flat Fleet List

We‘ve added a new window accessible when you‘re in a fleet. It‘s called the Watch List; you can add any of the people in your fleet to it. Once they are on the Watch List, you can see at a glance their last broadcast. You can also see their damage indicators, regardless of whether they are in the same squad as you, and you‘ll be able to right click their name and get all the same functionality as if you‘d right clicked them in a chat channel or in space. This means that if you‘re running remote repairing in a large fleet, you can add 10 buddies into the Watch List, and these 10 are your rep-buddies. You see the damage they‘re taking and you have a better overview of their broadcasts as well. If they start taking hits, you can very easily lock them and start repairing without having to go through the entire overview or full list of people in the fleet.

Watchlist

The watch list: CCP Zulupark3 has sent out a broadcast stating that he needs armor repairing. Hovering the mouse over the pilot’s entry shows a timestamp on the last broadcast sent. The pilot is in your grid, and therefore you can see his health status. Right clicking on him brings you all the options you could ever need.

Windows can now be minimized too if you want to save up on screen real-estate. That way you still have core information available to you such as last broadcast, last speaker on voice and your fleet status. Just double click the header of any window to bring it down to a small bar size.

Compressed Windows

Now on to EVE Voice.

As stated earlier; we wanted to fully integrate the EVE Voice functionality into the fleet UI and now we have. Default for the fleet voice channel will be in “open” mode, so anyone can talk in it. It‘s however very easy to “lock” the channel and then only the fleet commander, and the ones he grants speaking privileges can talk (pilots with the scout role get this privilege automatically). Everyone can always listen however.

The fleet UI now has new buttons as well:

EVE Voice

What‘s going on here? The microphone icon represents which channel is your active speaking channel. The speaker icon with the two dots indicates that you are listening in a wing channel as well. The grayed out speaker icon next to that indicates that you are not on a squad voice channel, but right clicking that icon gives you an option to join any of the squads currently active. The two speaker icons to the far right represent your two optional channels.

If you are a regular squad member in a fleet, you will be on the Fleet, your Wing and your Squad voice channels. Depending on your level of access you can speak in 1 to 3 of those. You can select which is your current speaking channel by pressing the responding button in the fleet UI (as long as you have permission to do so).

The fleet commander can also hop on to any squad or wing channel he chooses, directly giving orders to smaller parts of his fleet. Similarly, a wing commander can directly talk to any squad under his wing.

You can also join voice on a total of two player-made channels, private chats, your corporation channel or your alliance channel. These channels are shown to the far-right on the fleet UI as “Optional Channel 1” and “Optional Channel 2”

How will I use this when I’m docked then, you ask? Simple, the Fleet and Broadcasts windows are now available while docked as well as when in space!

So what do we do with it?

Well, let me run over a few points here:

  1. Most Fleet Commanders know that discipline is key in fleet operations, and who hasn‘t run a fleet where the drunk guy logs on and starts singing ABBA songs or arguing with his mom without stopping voice transmission?

    With the improved EVE Voice the fleet commander can simply mute all these people from the main fleet channel. They can still bug their fellow squad members, but that’s entirely up to their squad commander.

    You can sort down your tacklers into a single squad and, when the time comes, issue a direct order to them – which only they can hear – without disrupting the rest of the fleet. You could also sort your scouts into a specific squad and then communicate only to them so as to keep important tactical information for your ears only.

    The possibilities are many; and the biggest advantage is that the functionality is directly integrated into the Fleet view itself, meaning that what you see is what you get and what you get is an organized, structured and easily manageable fleet with voice communications.

    This, in addition to the Watch List and all the other cool stuff that’s being added for Trinity, gives you much better control over larger fleets.

  2. Who hasn‘t wanted to pirate someone and instead of ransoming for ISK, ransom them for a song over Voice. Come on, don‘t say you haven‘t thought about it.

  3. Smaller corporations (and bigger as well of course) will now have an easy to use, no hassle, no-nonsense Voice solution that‘s fully integrated into the game. That means no more managing servers, no more managing passwords and user accounts for everyone in your corporation/alliance/for your friends. It means no more updating security vulnerabilities or wondering if that idle guy on your voice comms is a spy. This brings more ease into the social aspect of EVE as well and you personally closer to your friends.

By the way. EVE Voice, starting from Trinity release, will be completely FREE for use. All accounts will be voice-enabled with the new expansion and there will be no extra cost involved for using EVE Voice.

The end result?

You get a more beautiful, more customizable EVE playing experience along with first class voice communications. Get your game on with your friends, it’s worth it. We do it all the time.

Enjoy.