Why is the overview so important?:
In addition to the convenience of clicking on items in a list rather than having to locate them in space, the overview has some essential functions. Information such as a ship's speed, name and distance from you can be displayed on the overview. Items on the overview can also be differently coloured or filtered out based on a wide range of factors from security status to whether they're in your alliance or not.
With all of these options, setting up your overview can be a confusing affair. In part 1 of this guide, I explore the various overview options and what they all do.
Filtering the overview:
To open your overview settings, click the triangle on the left hand side of the overview's title bar (pictured right). The first menu in the overview setting screen is the "Filters" menu, which is split into the two separate tabs "Types" and "States". The types tab determines what types of item will be shown on your overview. Everything from veldspar asteroids to dreadnoughts are listed here and only those things selected will be shown on your overview. This is extremely useful for de-cluttering your overview of items you don't need to see. If you're pirating in an asteroid belt, for example, having asteroids on the overview will make it harder to quickly spot and target your prey.
There are two main schools of thought when setting up your types list. The first method suggests hitting the "Select all" button and then manually removing types you don't want to see as you encounter them. This is easy because the option to remove a type from your overview appears when you right click something of that type. This method will ensure that nothing accidentally slips by you unnoticed and is recommended for most activities. The alternative is to hit the "Deselect all" button and manually add only those items that you absolutely need to see. This is popular with 0.0 alliances engaging in fleet warfare, who typically instruct their pilots only to add ships and a few other essentials to their lists.
The states tab is a handy addition to the filter menu. This allows you to filter out items based on variables like security status and standing. Most pilots will leave all of these checked but depending on what you're doing, it can be very helpful to deselect some options. If pilots in your corporation, fleet or alliance show on your overview, for example, you may accidentally target them in the heat of battle. To help prevent friendly-fire incidents, having the option to remove fleet members or corpmates from the overview is extremely useful.
The appearance menu allows users to customise the appearance of items on the overview. The "colortag" tab allows a variety of tiny icons to be associated with pilots. Icons can be set to show under conditions such the pilot being in your corporation, having a bounty on his head or even having negative standing with your corporation. If two of more states apply, such as a pilot in your corporation with a bounty on his head, the one higher up in the list is applied. Items in this list can be moved up or down as you see fit, allowing you to determine the priority given to each colour tag. The most useful property of the colortag list is that the icons appear next to pilots names in chat channels, including local chat.
The "background" tab does the same job as the colortag tab but applies a more visible coloured background to items in the overview. This makes it very easy to distinguish between friend and foe in an instant, helping you make quick decisions that could make or break a PvP encounter. Colours used can be customised and the option to make a colour blink is available, making the colour pulse to make it more noticeable. The only colour which flashes like this by default is the red background applied to pilots with security status of -5 or below but the blinking effect can be applied to any colour.
The "Ewar" tab is a fairly recent feature addition to the overview. If an enemy uses any form of electronic warfare against your ship, a small icon will be added next to the pilot at the rightmost edge of your overview. The ewar tab lets you deselect any types of electronic warfare that aren't important to you but in general keeping all of this tab selected does no harm.
The columns menu lets you select what information you want to be displayed about each item on your overview. You can add everything from distance to size and velocity but keeping the number of columns to the bare minimum is recommended to avoid clutter. Depending on what activity you're doing, you'll need different information immediately available. If you're part of a sniper gang, for example, you'll want to add angular velocity to your columns. Angular velocity tells you how fast your turret tracking will need to be to hit a target, which can help you avoid attacking targets that are moving too fast to hit.
The most useful columns to enable are "Icon", "Distance", "Name" and "Angular velocity". When running complexes or missions in a group, the "Tag" column can be useful too. By right clicking on an enemy and selecting the tag option, the gang leader can tag enemies with a number or letter. This tag is visible to all gang members, making it much more clear which targets their gang leader is referring to when he gives orders. In PvP, the often overlooked "Radial velocity" option is actually a very good indicator of how quickly enemy ships are closing in on your position. If an enemy's radial velocity is positive and matches his total velocity, you know that he's heading right for you.
Whether you're commanding a PvP fleet or just running a mission, setting up your overview correctly can give you a decisive edge. In part 2 of this guide, I examine the best ways to set up your overview for PvP, mission-running and other tasks and offer some helpful hints and tips on getting the most out of this useful tool.