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The Daily Grind: Should EVE Online add manual flight controls?

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On Friday, developer CCP Games stunned us with the news that EVE Online will be adding manual flight controls in December's Rhea update. Gamers have been asking for twitch controls since EVE launched in 2003, but the idea has always been shot down as infeasible because it would put the server under extremely heavy load. CCP mentioned its interest in twitch controls during Fanfest 2013, and I speculated on a possible server-friendly implementation in an EVE Evolved article shortly after, but the fact that the feature is about to be released still comes as a huge surprise.

The new controls will be optional and quite limited. Ships will be able to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise and pitch their ships up vertically up and down, but we won't be able to do loops or rolls like in a dogfighting game. Developers also want to add joystick support soon, but so far there are no plans to add manually targeted ship weapons. Many players are excited for the new controls, and some of them are already asking for further features like the ability to lock the camera behind their ships for a more hands-on flight experience.

The announcement has prompted debate in the EVE Online community, and not everyone is convinced it's a good idea. Some have complained that twitch controls don't suit EVE as the ships are supposed to be massive starships with full crews rather than single-pilot fighter craft. There's also some cynicism over whether the feature is only being worked on now due to the growing popularity of Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous. EVE could be positioning itself as a viable alternative for any players who are disappointed with the new space games, a strategy that has worked in the past to help it absorb players from games like Earth & Beyond and Star Wars Galaxies.

What do you think? Should EVE add manual flight controls, and is this an attempt to appeal to the mass market?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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