WASD: EVE Online Adding Direct Flight Controls

Now the need to play zoomed-out is another problem...

So much of a game is unseen, unspoken, felt through the fingertips. EVE Online has never felt like a game of spaceships to me, and this isn’t a lazy “MS Excel In Space” joke. Oh it’s got gorgeous space-scenery and some cracking spaceship designs (how I loved my many Rifters!), but it doesn’t feel like space, not how I’ve experienced it in other spaceship games. Navigation is through menus – orbit this target at this distance, approach this gate, align to face this station – or double-clicking points in space. Most games make us both the captain giving orders and the pilot at the stick. How interesting, then, that EVE is adding keyboard flight controls with WASD in its next update.

They’ll arrive in Rhea on December 9th. Yes, yes, Rhea will add new wormhole systems, new ships, new NPC enemies, better ship lighting with physically-based rendering, and other stuff, but that’s mostly interesting to folks who play EVE and already know this. So WASD controls, then.

Senior engineer ‘Nullarbor’ explains in a blog post that they’re coming after CCP’s tests with bringing in a load of folks who play PC games but have never touched EVE:

One of the things we almost universally observed was the initial expectation to be able to fly your spaceship in any direction using the WASD keys on the keyboard. The transition to EVEs flight control scheme of right clicking on things was jarring for some.

So here come traditional spaceship controls, or a beta experiment at least, with WASD or arrow keys moving your ship up, left, down, and right. Oh sure, this will be less efficient than using menus. If you’re mining somewhere risky, you will still trust your navigation computer to keep you pointed towards safe space. If you’re on a long journey, you’ll still let EVE calculate headings.

But if you want to experience the joys of being in space, of controlling a spaceship, of taking your pride and joy that you scrimped and saved for on a joyride, look at this:

Zoom zoom.

I only played EVE for a few months, but the sense this seems to give of controlling an actual spaceship rather than an abstract collection of data points is so very exciting. I imagine I’d only use it to waggle a bit when docking, but those small moments can form a real bond with a ship.

55 Comments

  1. Jiskra says:

    Oh my god !

  2. Stellar Duck says:

    Whaaaaat?!

    I just unsubbed. Maybe I should reconsider, just to check it out. Or look if my remaing sub covers this release.

  3. Howard says:

    For the millionth time: It is W S A D!

    You don’t say “Up, left, down, right” when talking of arrow keys, do you?

    • Volcanu says:

      Except no-one actually refers to it as that (except you) and the moniker WASD is rather well established.

      EDIT – Unless you are a programmer perhaps. But the ‘gaming’ convention is definitely to use WASD

      • Howard says:

        Except that a great many people refer to it as WSAD as they refer to Up Down Left Right or EDSF. It is not a word, said as “was-duh” (apt) but a set of letters.
        Has always been WSAD and always will.

        • tasteful says:

          wanna go to a party or something

        • Muttley says:

          This is literally the first time I’ve ever heard anybody talk about WSAD in 38 years of gaming. It’s been referred to as WASD since the Quake days.

        • Chuckaluphagus says:

          I’ve been playing computer games for decades, and I’ve never heard anyone refer to it as “WSAD” before in all that time.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Tilting at windmills, guy. And they’re not even very important windmills…..

        • Hebrind says:

          I’ve always thought it was just in the order the Keyboard was laid out. Much like we say, “Qwerty” for the top line, if you read it in a westernised way (from left to right, top line to bottom line) it’s WASD.

          And yeah everyone in the world ever except you seems to say WASD. And I’m completely alright with that.

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          Phasma Felis says:

          Yeah, no, it’s just you.

    • Cockie says:

      Nonono, it’s ZQSD.

    • DrollRemark says:

      It’s WASD in the same way that it’s QWERTY, you big silly.

    • demicanadian says:

      I guess that depends on pronunciation? I feel like in english WASD is more natural, while in my language WSAD is a legitimate word.

    • int says:

      WSAD is far too depressing. I’m sticking with DAWS which makes me think of George Dawes in all his bald glory.

    • 2late2die says:

      Typically you don’t but it’s not exactly a rule. If someone were to say “up, left, down, right” I wouldn’t bite their head off. Same for WASD or WSAD or whatever other way people might put it. ASWD is just as correct as WASD or WSAD or “left, down, right, up”. Stop freaking out about a trivial non-thing.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Um, no. We (I, at any rate) say WASD. Probably because of the keyboard layout and way of reading. Top to bottom, left to right.

      But, you know, if you prefer WSAD, by all means do so. I won’t stop you.

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      phuzz says:

      You don’t say “Up, left, down, right” when talking of arrow keys, do you?

      Of course not, we say up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right B, A.

      • pack.wolf says:

        You just won the internet. Unfortunately you won’t be able to collect your price since you cheated.

    • HiFiHair says:

      I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been saying SWAD my whole life. Long before I even knew what a keyboard was in fact. Swad. Swad. I’m doing it right now. Swad.

    • P.Funk says:

      We read top to bottom left to right though. I think that greatly overrides any thought about arrow keys.

    • Rindan says:

      Hit those four characters in the order you naturally want to hit them in. I bet WASD rolls off your finger tips, while WSAD takes a little effort. WASD is just the natural order that you will want to hit those keys because it alternates fingers, letting you hit them faster. It is also how you would read them off if going left to right, top to bottom.

      Also, despite this, Eve will continue to be something that I wish I liked and like to read about, but this ain’t going to make it Elite: Dangerous.

    • halcyonforever says:

      I still remember when it was SZXC. Some early game used that and that is what I learned on.

      I got so used to that I would remap every game to it.
      Then I finally hit a game that didn’t allow re-mapping and I had to switch to WASD and never went back.

      Now I use a g13 so the keys are whatever I feel like

  4. wyrm4701 says:

    This is a thing I’d have loved during the five years I played Eve, and is now… not enough of a reason to resubscribe. Glad they’ve finally implemented it, but too late for me.

    • Montavious says:

      Ya, Im with you. Unless combat is actually integrated into the WASD controls, no point in it. A whole lot of things need to be changed to get me back. Ive always wondered why it only takes one person to fly a capital ship, why they dont make combat actually take some skill like WASD movement while aiming your guns yourself. I know they say that when you buy the bigger stuff, “it comes with a crew”, sorry, thats pretty stupid. Imagine an EVE where, in a carrier for example, you had a pilot (movement), an engineer (shield/armor), a player fighting in each of your fighters, and you as a commander giving orders. That would be epic. But EVE is one of those games where if you have done it all, it starts getting boring, then dies out. Make combat funner, then Ill give it a second look.

      • Unruly says:

        WASD might make it easier to spiral in on a moving target, but I think that would be about it. Still nowhere near worth it for me to resub.

      • Calculon says:

        I agree with these two comments. I played EVE for many years (lost count really) and there were a few things that just bothered me to the point where I no longer wanted to play:
        1) There has been no way to manually control the ship. As the poster above indicated, unless using WASD actually *means* something in the game, then there’s no point. Manually having to maintain an orbit, and having flight sticks supported by the game would be a much more enjoyable experience, and would have a meaningful impact on play. I know there are client server issues which can result (especially with having 40k players on one server) but they need to figure this out to make it more than excel in space.
        2) ‘Other variables’ – ie: crew. It always boggled my mind that you have this fantastic roleplay/story line built into the game that is never used – buying crews, skilling up crews, staffing crews, losing crews. I always thought it would be interesting play to have crews that could improve your ships stats over time, and that they could also be lost in combat due to certain damage/impacts that occurred.
        3) Lack of any impacts/structural damage from ‘hitting’ another object. Killed any sense of realism for me.

        Ultimately my issue with EVE always became a matter of me building my own story around the game I was playing – filling in all of the meaningful details in my mind rather than actually experiencing them in the game. After a while – you really stop wanting to do this given the cost of playing the game ($15 X 4 accounts/month), and the lack of any real progress to achieving the type of game you want to see it become (the one built in your mind).

        • SomeDuder says:

          Crews are there. There’s some articles of lore that explore it, but all it comes down to is that they die by the milions in a typical engagement, and the capsuleers are the immortal god-captains that rule over them. When you give a command, some of it is handled by automated systems, others are performed by crew. And the reason that players are called capsuleers instead of captains is that you are inside a goo-filled capsule whenever you are in a ship. You lose the ship, that’s just lost ISK and a lost clone. But the crew don’t get clones. You don’t have dialogue or interaction with crew – they obey your commands or die.

          But if you really care about this kind of thing, then yea, this is not the game for you (Odd, given how Eve is an autists’ paradise). Play Star Gemini or the Jupiter Incident. Or any other kind of single player spacegame.

          • Alfius says:

            Not so, the lore is pretty clear that capsuleer, i.e. player, ships are un-crewed. The capsuleer interfaces directly with the ship a la The Matrix, rotate your character around in the editor and you’ll see the neck plugs. NPC ships are supposedly crewed but the ability to control huge numbers of ships with very little man power is what makes the capsuleers a force to be reckoned with, which is why the NPC empires begrudgingly recognise player alliances’ sovereignty over null-sec space despite their ostensibly being subjects of the respective factions.

          • Distec says:

            I’ll have to look it up, but my understanding was that all ships had crews (maybe sans rookie ships) of varying sizes. Capsuleer technology allows one person to handle a lot, but there’s still maintenance and a lot of low-level jobs that require some additional manpower to tend to.

          • Kala says:

            Yep, crews are in the eve fiction. Even something like the rifter has a small crew iirc, whereas a battleship has many people onboard. (though not represented ingame in any way, so it’s a bit moot).

            And yes, capsuleers are plugged in and interface directly with the ship.

            edit: here’s a couple of evelopedia articles that ref. crews

            link to wiki.eveonline.com

            link to wiki.eveonline.com

      • Distec says:

        Ehh… I really wouldn’t care for that. Requiring four to six people to pilot one hull would be annoying, and individually each crew member doesn’t have much to do.

        One of those things that would be neat in concept, but far less exciting in actual gameplay terms.

        • Calculon says:

          I wouldnt want 4-6 people to have pilot a ship personally, but having to ‘hire’ crews (visit stations for re-crewing), paying a monthly sum for them based on their experience level, and having a certain ‘bonus’ to ship performance would be interesting, as well as dealing with the losses (stat hits) would also be interesting to me. Making a ‘part’ of the game play could add an interesting dimension

      • halcyonforever says:

        sounds like what you are wanting is Artemis in EVE.

        Which with some gameplay additions in my opinion WOULD BE AWESOME!

  5. VCepesh says:

    And that’s the thing I’ll never be able to appreciate. The notion of controlling a spaceship “directly”, be it with WASD or a flight stick, seems just as absurd to me as controlling, say, a modern aircraft carrier or submarine with a tiller, attached to a rudder. This doesn’t give me an impression of “Space!”. It gives me an impression of a WWI airplane – which is appropriate, since in almost all “space games”, space battles are typically a combination of WWI dogfighting and Age of Sail naval battles.

    • aleander says:

      Look, joysticks!. Mind you, I’d love a much more tactical game (think Honor Harrington-esque get a firing solution and wait what happens while you approach on barely modifiable trajectories, though I’m not a fan of the books), and the Soyuz controls are for mostly slow maneuvers that totally can be done automatically, but most sf universes have some hand-wavey Butlerian Jihads to explain the presence of squishies at controls.

    • Rindan says:

      I think my problem with Eve is that it isn’t any of the space combat flavors. It doesn’t use fantasy World War II. It isn’t a ponderous battleship game with shield facing, turret arcs, and damage on particular sides. It isn’t a stealth game of space submarines. It is Everquest in space. Granted, it has its own quirks, but outside of transversal velocity and maybe ECM/ECCM, it is traditional MMORPG combat, in space. I’m not implying the combat system is simple, but I loath the feel.

      I think that one fact is what makes me bounce off Eve each and every time I try it, despite the fact that I like the concept. I think literally any other combat system would have made me happier. Give me an Eve with shield/armor facings and turret arcs, Eve with hide and seek stealth, or Eve with the combat of Elite: Dangerous, and I would be a very happy guy.

  6. RedViv says:

    Can’t help but think of this as a reaction to Elite: Hahah I Told You It’s Dangerous To Trust Braben’s last news, though it obviously has been in the making for much, much longer.

  7. AbigailBuccaneer says:

    I played a trial and the fact that the game never felt like a game of spaceships, as you put it, is what made me stop playing fairly quickly. This looks like it’d be more fun, but as it presumably puts you at a direct disadvantage to other players, will anybody use it?

    • Calculon says:

      One would hope that they would remove the right click orbit at functionality.

  8. mickygor says:

    What a waste of development time. The game’s had 10 years of complex balancing around not needing to do this. Can you imagine trying to orbit at a range of 500m at 3.5km/s using WASD? Because all I can see is things going horribly wrong.

  9. nojan says:

    Too late , many people have already jumped ship (pun intended!!) to Elite and star citizen!

  10. HiFiHair says:

    Yes, but when can we expect dance mat support?

    • wyrm4701 says:

      I put far too much time into making a Wiimote work with Eve to find that funny. If I’d had a dance mat, I’d be ready to run marathons by now.

  11. WiggumEsquilax says:

    What happened to all the vocal defenders of EVE controls, that would react vehemently against the notion of existing control schemes being limited in some way? WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?!

  12. utharda says:

    We’ve all been bitter vets for so long we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t remember the name of the forums where we used to bitter vet it up. I think they started with an o? anyway, hope eve goes a long helpfully, have lots of good memories (except of that mad screaming fc I used to fly with)

  13. utharda says:

    was it kugutsumen? hrms. Ahh senility.

  14. buzzmong says:

    This is interesting from a technical perspective as EvE runs on a 1hz tick rate (ie, 1 update a second). The reason why things like Time Dilation exist in Eve was because heavy server loads utterly broke the 1 second tick mark, causing all kinds of havoc on the server back end, and features like TD are there to make sure the universe ticks correctly.

    Fluid controls don’t map to a 1hz tick rate, so I’m very interested in how this is going to be implemented without plunging everyone into TD when the server gets swamped trying to deal with all this new movement information.

    • Calculon says:

      It’s not. They wont be able to implement it with the current architecture they have.

  15. Kala says:

    I’m…not sure how this is going to work with their mechanics?

    I mean, I can understand why people would want that ‘direct control’ – sure, and feel more involved with the process but…that tends to be more relevant in twitch based combat? Which EVE has never had, and has always been more tactical than reactions-based.

    (and hell, working out things like ‘optimal range’ ‘fall-off’ and ‘transversal velocity’ took calculations – unless the game has changed significantly, since I last played, anyways).

    If it’s nothing to do with combat and simply a fun movement feature…well…you warp everywhere anyway? Trying to manually fly anywhere will take a zillion years?

    I’m not sure I’ve understood all this. Maybe I need a nice lie down.

  16. cylentstorm says:

    …too little, too late…

  17. TheSplund says:

    I propose a new internet acronym – ‘What a sh|t day’