EVE Online has a poor user interface. With its drop-down menus for interacting with objects and text lists to show information like market orders and nearby objects in space, EVE has thoroughly earned the nickname "spreadsheets in space." The UI has changed drastically since I started playing in 2004, but in recent years, it's fallen behind the development curve. In a new devblog this week, CCP Snowlax suggested that the UI developers at CCP have lacked the framework necessary to do what they wanted with it. The existing framework had become bloated with eight years of development, and the underlying rendering engine wasn't even capable of using custom shaders.
With Incursion 1.6, CCP pushed live a completely new UI framework that makes cool features like holographic UI elements possible. With the new Carbon UI framework in place, developers are taking another look at redesigning the EVE user interface. Screenshots of the new features being used in the upcoming Incarna expansion are impressive, but that's all taking place inside stations. I can't help but wonder how these new technologies could be applied to the space-faring portion of EVE and whether there are more fundamental challenges to overcome in UI design than adding flashy graphics.
In this week's EVE Evolved, I give some thoughts on the development of EVE's UI, from the necessary evil of the overview to some things I'd like to see change.