Thursday, December 18, 2014

Playing With EVE-O Preview

Last night after I leveled my Imperial Agent up to level 19 in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I switched over to playing EVE.  With the whole controversy concerning input broadcasting, I really haven't felt like playing lately, but I had a plan.  I had heard about EVE-O Preview, a windows management program for EVE created by StinkRay that first made its appearance in the EVE Technology Lab section of the official EVE Online forums back in June 2013.  After StinkRay unsubbed for awhile, a new thread was created at the beginning of December when Makari Aeron and CCP Foxfour were added to the list of authors.

Since the big draw of ISBoxer, apart from its ability to broadcast commands to multiple game clients, is its windows management capabilities, I wanted to find out how the free software worked.  So I clicked on the download link and downloaded the application.  The download is really quick, as the executable itself is only 205 KB unzipped.  So after unzipping the application, I created a shortcut to place on my desktop and started the app up.

My Settings

All that shows up is one window.  The boxes checked in the graphic above are what I wound up using.  The instructions state that the order in which EVE-O Preview and the EVE clients are opened doesn't matter.  I wound up feeling more comfortable opening up EVE-O Preview first.  Personal preference.

I have three accounts, but usually don't run all three at the same time.  I usually dual-box Wandering Rose and Rosewalker, but I figured I needed to throw the third account on just to see what the display would look like.  I probably should have undocked my alt and mined in high sec at the same time, but since I never run all three accounts on one machine, I wouldn't know the impact of EVE-O Preview on the performance of my desktop. 

My setup in operation.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised at was the ease of setup.  I didn't know how to set up the windows, so I went with what I saw Lazarus Telraven use on his Twitch streams for TheMittani.com.  I placed the three clients one on top of the other, and then place the three preview windows along the bottom.  I decided to get a bit fancy and make the preview window for the active client disappear.  All I had to do is check a box.  Easy peasy.

I decided I didn't like the preview frames, so I unchecked that box.  I also liked the little overlay of each character's name so I left that on.  Then for the test.  I undocked and mined a little bit.

As you can see, I used a Procurer to do the mining and a Hound floating in space to provide the extra pilot needed in order to gain leadership bonuses.  Also, the Hound is pretty nice to have around when a battleship rat decides to warp into the belt.  The third ship on the screen is a Skiff in a station somewhere in high sec.  About twice a year or so I run out of low end ores and spend a few hours mining in high sec.  But I try not to do it often.  I guess if I had really wanted, I could have run courier missions at the same time on that character.

I do have to say that switching between clients is easy.  Click on the preview window and the proper client appears.  I found that making the preview window for the active client disappear not only looked cool but also helped in selecting the proper client with which to interact.  At this point I should add I am a clicker.  That's right, when I play MMORPGs, I click on the action bars and don't type on the keyboard.  In EVE, I'm one of those people who targets using the overview and mouse.  Did I mention I love the radial menu?  So I really liked having the ability to switch between clients using a mouse click instead of ALT-TAB.

After mining one load of glazed hedbergite (4000 units/12,000 m3) and two loads of vitric hedbergite (8000 units/24,000 m3), I then performed one last bit of testing.  I shut down the clients and then shut down EVE-O Preview.  I then started up EVE-O Preview and logged into all three characters.  As I hoped, the position of the clients and the preview windows returned to where I had set them up.  If I understand how the software works, the information is stored in XML files in the same directory as the executable.  I think the windows position information is also stored on a character basis.  But either way, if I wish to use the application again, all I need to do is just start up the clients and go.

One thing I should add is that EVE-O Preview is strictly, as least in version 1.16, a windows management tool.  The application does not have the ability to create hotkeys so users can perform multiple actions with a single keystroke.  So unlike ISBoxer, which will allow users to do multiple actions like press F1 and then cycle to the next client, that is not possible in EVE-O Preview.  And I hope that ability is never added to the application.  I can accept EVE-O Preview in its current state as a windows management tool.  I don't want it to evolve into a monster that skirts the edges of the EULA.

Will I use EVE-O Preview on a consistent basis?  Probably not.  I dual box and the two screens provided by my laptop and desktop are a lot easier to read than crowding everything onto a single screen.  But I've considered running all three accounts when I run mining missions, and EVE-O Preview would allow me to manage two clients on my desktop pretty easily.  Doing those missions in half the time?  Pretty tempting.  Of course, I'd probably have to abandon my Hound for a Falcon, because I might have one of my ships locked before I can warp off.  But everyone loves EWar ships, right?

I can't give a final recommendation, because I didn't try to run a real mining fleet.  Maybe someone who's used EVE-O Preview for more than 45 minutes can leave a comment about how useful the application is in managing multiple clients.  My test really didn't do that.  Or perhaps people can try the app out and leave their impressions in the comments.  I'm really interested, because I forgot to emphasis the biggest advantage of EVE-O Preview.  Using the app is free.  That price is a lot better than the $15 USD/90 days or $50 USD/year that Lavish Software charges for Inner Space so players can run ISBoxer.

2 comments:

  1. This looks pretty interesting. I'll be checking it out!

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  2. I'll still use ISBoxer. I never really used it for input broadcasting except for undocking all the toons at once. What I really use it for is the dashboard feature. That's where you can put little views of all the different clients onto one window and then interact with the clients through them so you don't have to switch to all the windows individually to send commands. I run an Orca and three barges on one dashboard. From the dashboard I tag the rocks and then each barge locks their own tagged rocks individually and dumps to the Orca all from one view. Works great and doesn't violate the new EULA at all. From the Orca pilot I'm able to fleet warp to move everyone around together so that's easy too.

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