It’s often the little things in a game expansion that can tip the balance in how you perceive it. Was a favoured tactic ruled inadmissible? Was a favourite piece of equipment or a ship re-engineered or de-powered in the name of balance? Were there a few minor graphic tweaks that suddenly make the place look even more huge?
There – that last one – that’s what’s had me smiling quietly while playing the new release of EVE, which patched yesterday.
There’s been a change to the way that you plan your routes between stars, requiring less of an intrusive GUI that could and did sometimes get very confusing. One minor part of this is a little checkbox that is on by default to show the route lines while you are in space. So what? Well, up until now, all the little stars in the sky might as well have been just part of the glorious wallpaper. What the route map projection does is show that each one of those stars on display corresponds to a system like the one in which you are flying. As you jump to a new system along the route, the map across those skies gets shorter and shorter – and is entirely consistent every time you make that journey.
This alone would be quite nifty, but they did one more very subtle thing – they turned each jump gate to point at the next star in your route. So now, when you jump to a new system, the flare of light that bursts from the gate animation shoots towards your next target star. Its a subtle piece of theatre that I appreciate for both the eye candy elements, but also for somehow giving much more of a sense of scale that can sometimes be lost when piloting multi-kilometre long internet spaceships.
Nice one CCP