Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Map Feedback

I posted a version of this on the forums for map feedback, but because the map (particularly when scanning) is so important to my gameplay I am going to post my feedback on the new map here as well, in a bit more detail.

1) The single largest issue with probe scanning on the new map is that the celestial clusters (such as planets and moons) are too compact--much more compact than they were on the old solar system map.

For instance, say I want to probe down POSes (using combat probes and setting the filter to "show all"). I frequently do this in order to find a POS or find an inactive POS so I can potentially destroy the mods. Here is what it looks like on the old map:

As you can clearly see, all of those green clusters are different POSes, each on a different moon, and I can warp to each individually via the map. As you can ALSO see, even the old map does not zoom in far enough, as some of them are overlapping (and some celestial clusters are even worse). So even the old map needs to zoom in more.

But here is what it looks like on the new map: 

This is as far zoomed as the new map will go, on the same celestial cluster. Needless to say, this is almost completely useless for purposes of scanning down POSes, mobile structures, drones, or players. For one, the probe icons themselves block out a bunch of celestial objects (more occlusion problems below). Second, again, I cannot zoom in far enough to interact with anything, such as warping to distinct POSes or even just telling how many POSes there are and what modules they contain.This problem exists regardless of whether the map is in abstract mode or not.

2) As other posters have noted in their feedback on the new map, there are big problems with how information is displayed. For instance, showing jumps per hour, kills in the last 24 hours, players currently docked, and so on, are all very poorly communicated and very much a step back from the old map design.

Here is how "ships destroyed in the last 24 hours" looks on the old map:

It's not pretty, but it does at least communicate basic information decently enough--you can see that there are systems with zero kills and others with quite a few just at a glance. But here is how it look on the new map:

The immediately obvious problem is that the new map does not visually communicate the numbers well at all, either by size or by noticeable colors. On the old map, I can immediately tell which systems have had 0 ship kills--a very important piece of information obviously--and I can immediately tell where the hot spots are. The way such information is displayed on the new map should model the old map but do it better--currently, it is doing it worse (even more so when it comes to jumps and other stats that display large numbers).

Compare this to how "systems I've visited" is displayed, which, I think, is a very nice improvement in the new map compared with the old map. With "systems I've visited" I can see each system distinctly and I can fairly quickly tell which I frequently visit and which I have never visited. Other stats should be just as easy to read:

3) When "Group stars by region" is selected, the bright light representing the region usually covers up the name of the region, making it very hard to read (especially for a newer player who might not know the name of the region just by its relative location). For instance, in this screenshot I am not even zoomed out much and the entire name "GENESIS" is covered:

A solution would be to either display region names above the bright circles, or move them above the circle as one zooms in so that they are not occluded. There is also occlusion when one region's bright dot covers up the name of an individual system nearby. I suggest making region dots smaller and transparent as well.

4) It would be very nice to have the ability to collapse and expand the map by double clicking the top task bar such as on the name "MAP." I would like to be able to double click and collapse the map down to the top task bar, do something in space like cloak, and then double click the map to expand it again.

5) Zooming problems: If I am zoomed to the level N on a celestial object and I double click another celestial object, I am immediately zoomed OUT. This is highly annoying when probe scanning or trying to identify celestial objects. If I am zoomed to level N and double click another celestial object my zoom level should stay at that same level N.

6) More occlusion problems! If I am zoomed to the level of a solar system and am looking around at bookmarks or cosmic anomalies, they are frequently covered up by text (such as the name of the system). Here is an example of a system with a cosmic anomaly in the new map: 

Yet in this example when I look toward the center of the system (say, to dscan the anomaly) it completely disappears. It is occluded by the sun and name of system to the point that the map does not even display it:

All I did was point the camera toward the sun. Setting the map off abstract mode helps visibility, but only if the objects are spatially separated in the solar system. When they are not, occlusion persists. Again, a big problem with the new map is that it has a lot of trouble clearly displaying information in a system, because celestial and bookmarks and anoms and writing frequently over-lap and block one another. This was less of a problem on the old map, partly because you could zoom in much further and objects were more spread out. Here is the same system as shown above on the old solar system map:

As you can see, it is far easier to tell clusters of objects apart, and nothing is blocked. In this screenshot you can see that there is an anomaly in the center of the system and you can easily dscan its location or warp to it from the map. And I am not even zoomed in as far as I can. Level of zoom is probably 90% of the issue here on the new map. 

7) Annoying wobbling: When I am zooming in the map it frequently wobbles. In general, movement on the new map is not at all fluid or fast. It frequently feels like I am moving through syrup when interacting with the new map. Oh, and yes, it does use a lot of system resources as well.

The bottom line is: The new map has considerably less functionality at the solar system level. The new map needs to be able to zoom in much, much further--even further than the old map, because the old map did not even zoom in far enough. And the new map needs to display statistical information and writing a lot more clearly and avoid occlusion problems. I will not use the new map until 1-7 (particularly 1) are fixed but in many other ways the new map is a huge step in the right direction so far.

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