I've known about Capsuleer and the other iPhone apps for EVE for some time now. I found out about Capsuleer 2.0's release a bit in advance, and I really wanted to try it out. There was one snag though -- I'm not an iPhone owner myself yet, but I *do* like the shiny. Oh yes. A friend of mine was nice enough to let me borrow his iPhone so I could use Capsuleer. Downloading and installing my pre-release copy was pretty straightforward and will be even simpler for users now that it's approved and available on the App Store. Going into this, I knew Capsuleer 2.0 (nor any of the EVE apps for iPhone) won't let me log in and play the game remotely and is meant to help you keep tabs on your character. Bearing that in mind, I fired up the app to see what it can do.
I was glad to get my hands on Capsuleer 2.0, but I was dreading having to manually enter that huge API string, the code that represents your EVE account data. It's ridiculously long but isn't a problem with PC or Mac programs since you can just copy-pasta. The iPhone developers at Apple, in their infinite wisdom, did not include this basic function that's existed in computing since the Devo era.
Fortunately, the guys behind Capsuleer figured out a way to avoid having users try and enter it manually -- almost guaranteed to end in frustration -- by creating an Import Control System.
The Import Control System makes use of EVE's limited API which was mentioned in the interview, something that CCP Games has provided for all players. Odds are that if you're familiar with third party programs like EVEMon and EVE Fitting Tool, practically standard issue among EVE players, you've already put your limited API to use. Roc and PyjamaSam are pretty much experts when it comes to using EVE's API. In fact they wrote the Insider's Guide to the EVE API for the latest issue of E-ON magazine.
The first screen I found upon starting up Capsuleer 2.0 explained how to import my characters into the app, and it's very simple. I began by getting my limited API from the official EVE site and then emailed it to myself as a hyperlink. I opened the email on the iPhone, clicked on the link, and Capsuleer's Import Control System immediately retrieved my character info. That was it, totally painless.
Again, there's no risk in entering your limited API into Capsuleer. In fact, even were it to be used maliciously, a limited API never provides actual account access. In addition, Capsuleer doesn't alter your account, characters, or client in any way. It merely monitors what's going on inside EVE.
Once my character info was imported I could jump into the app's features. You'll see here that the main aspects of Capsuleer as of version 2.0 include Headlines (news and blog feeds), Pilot info, Skills, and Server Status.
The grayed out icon represents factional warfare and is slated for the next Capsuleer release.
Moving ahead, I chose Pilots and checked out the primary feature of Capsuleer. After all, the developers bill it as the premier iPhone Character Management Tool for EVE Online. Let's see what's inside.
You can enable any or all of your three characters on your account. Here I chose my generic account alt and stunt double, Nexus Freya. Her info displays as a widget, showing my ISK balance and current skill training status.
I click on that character and get more info about what's going on with her.
Here's the expanded view of my character. My corp, skillpoints, and ISK balance are shown here, as is my clone grade.
From here I can click through to more info about Nexus Freya.
The Pilot Background screen displays info about Nexus Freya's race and bloodline, which is Minmatar and Sebiestor, respectively. The artwork here is straight out of EVE Online -- with the background many of us saw when rolling a character, pre-Apocrypha expansion.
Capsuleer provides a snapshot of your character's attributes, showing the base stats plus those modified by skills. If I had implants to boost those attributes, they would display on this page as well.
Despite the big brain on Freya, the rest of her stats are somewhat depressing, so I moved on to check out her skills.
As a character in EVE, you are your skills. The Capsuleer display of the sum total of your accumulated knowledge is similar to how the character sheet displays skills in the EVE Online game client.
Skill ranks, skillpoints and levels attained display here in collapsible lists.
Capsuleer 2.0 has a skill browser, allowing you to check out skills and what they entail. Primary and secondary attributes used to train the skill, prerequisites, and training times. It's all here and easy to follow.
One of the new features CCP Games gave us with EVE's Apocrypha expansion is a skill queue, which allows players to line up skills to train automatically. Roc and PyjamaSam didn't waste any time in implementing skill queue monitoring into their app, and it looks identical to what is seen in the actual EVE client.
Capsuleer can display the current server status in EVE, letting you know of downtime or conversely how busy the cluster is. Here we see over 45,000 players logged in.
That's a fair number of pilots active at the moment but probably not enough to cause crippling lag. Unless half of them are in Jita... and they probably are.
EVE has a test server which is not always operational. Capsuleer 2.0 keeps tabs on the status of the Singularity test server, as it does with the live Tranquility server.
Roc and PyjamaSam have incorporated EVE-related feeds into the app. Of course their own announcements to the end users display, but updated info from CCP Games themselves is readily available here with a simple refresh.
Plus, they've included the EVE Blog Pack, which is a significant amount of blog posts, articles, and guides focused on EVE, updated many times a day. (Note: If you're an EVE player and aren't familiar with CrazyKinux and the EVE Blog Pack, you're really missing out.)
I'm one of those people that hates reading patch notes when all I want to do is play EVE. I know I *should* read them, but I don't always. Then again, if I could catch up on things like this in cabs, standing on line, and so on, I probably would.
Patchnotes display within Capsuleer 2.0 as they do on the EVE site. That is to say, updated text still displays green to show what's been updated.
In addition to the CCP Games announcements and EVE patch notes, Capsuleer 2.0 will also pull down dev blogs for you. Again, another nice thing to have in the palm of your hand for when you've got some spare moments and are away from a computer. Your employer may not let you check out gaming sites during work hours but they can't stop you from reading about EVE on your iPhone.
This doesn't exactly fit my own situation as I'd get fired for *not* checking out game sites, but I can see how having this updating content will be useful for everyone with normal jobs.
As I said earlier, the EVE Blog Pack is something put together by a player named CrazyKinux. He brought together a tightly-knit community of gaming bloggers focused on EVE. The most active among them form the Blog Pack, and Capsuleer 2.0 is tapped into that.
I can attest to the fact that you'll need to refresh this page frequently as new posts are always being published. Perfect for that mass transit commute to and from work.
There's image support on these scaled down pages as well.
All in all, my impressions of Capsuleer 2.0 are positive. It's an extremely simple app to use, and keep in mind I'd barely even played with an iPhone before snagging my friend's and installing Capsuleer.
I had it downloaded, installed, and running in minutes. It gave me an accurate snapshot of my character's skill progression, wealth, and players can use it to mull over new skill plans to take.
The EVE-centric web content is also a nice feature included with the app. One refresh tap pulls down all the latest info related to EVE Online. Hassle-free.
There's nothing I tried here that was broken (save the "Options" group, which just wasn't enabled in my pre-release build), everything worked as PyjamaSam and Roc said it would.
The only negative point I could make is that Capsuleer 2.0 is a victim of its own success, in that I like what I see so far and want more. I see the grayed out factional warfare icon and want to be able to get in there and monitor how the struggle is progressing. Likewise, I see the other blank icon squares on the screen and wonder what features will be sitting there in the next update.
I suspect I'm not the only Capsuleer 2.0 user who feels this way. But let's face it -- having a user base that likes what you've created and wants more isn't exactly a "problem" and I suspect that PyjamaSam and Roc will see a real surge in users with this latest update.
Capsuleer 2.0 is available at the iTunes app store and is free of charge. EVE players who own iPhones can't go wrong by checking out Capsuleer. It's simple to use and has the potential to extend the EVE Online experience beyond the client interface, giving you updates on EVE whenever and wherever you want. You can find out more, or get the app, at the official Capsuleer site.