Elite Dangerous: A Burro muses on the UI (or “My, what a lovely door handle this speeding car I am driving ha…*SMASH*”)

About a year ago I bought an expensive new car. It wasn’t actually new, but it was pretty close and it wasn’t really expensive but it was more than I’ve ever paid for a car before so it was expensive to me. It’s not a sports car or anything flash, just one of the millions of people moving machines you’ll see on the M6 on any given day but to me it was a beaut; I’d paid a lot (for my bank balance) and now had a lovely car that wouldn’t threaten to shake itself apart as it approached the speed limit. I washed it, cleaned it, checked it and took good care of it because I loved it. And then time took its inevitable toll and the wonders of my car seemed all too normal and everyday. I soon forgot the dark days of its predecessor and soon the one loved car was just another part of my life, more background than fore and it’s moment of wonder had passed.

About the same time Frontier Developments released the Alpha of Elite: Dangerous and now, after playing it for half a year, I feel the initial glow of adoration is finally wearing off and I can re-examine some of the desires and worries I raised in my “ED: What a Burro Wants…” posts from before it’s release and my “ED: Grrr, Grit is so annoying!” post from the Beta phase.

I’m going to start with an old chestnut, well for for it is, and that is the placement of the bloody side UI panels.

Look, it’s simple. I do not think it is a good idea to have to look away from what you are pointing at to read some information about it and then make menu-based choices, especially if you are moving towards that thing is a pressurised tin can and at speeds that are measured in the realm of “per second” rather than “per hour”. When I’m driving my lovely red car I don’t want to look down at my legs and away from the road to change the station on my radio, especially if the car is moving forwards at 80 miles per hour (sorry Officer, I meant 70) towards the rearage of another car. Make that 80 70 meters per second and I really don’t think it’s a good idea to make me look away from the front window!

At this point I can’t see the Frontier Devs changing this bizarre design decision so all I can hope is that at some point some clever sod hacks the game (or produces a mod based on the official API, which would be far more legally acceptable) in order to move the two side panels to the lower left and right hand corners of the front view. Until then it’s just one more odd design decision that makes me scratch my head and wonder how anybody approved a system that saw a first person perspective game move the player’s view away from the action in front of them.

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4 comments

  1. And by the time the game is fixed I will hopefully be able to play 🙂

    Oh and as ever I find crudity (not to be confused for crudités!) in your posts, to summarize, ‘If you are looking at rear ends, don’t look away!’

  2. I know how this passed. For most of the game, the positioning actually is no problem. I mean, usually when i check those things i am in supercruise or in a space station or moving slowly and preparing to dock, etc.

    But you are right, the moment you quickly want information on your target or other objects nearby while being in combat, the placement of these holo-windows is absolutely terrible. But as you also mentioned, repositioning them is quite unlikely.

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