Orbit Plotter UX
Hey Folks! My apologies for the lack of devlog posts yesterday. I was chatting with Michael over Skype at the end of the day, and we carried away talking about AI drama :)
The orbital plotter has been receiving a lot of love over the past couple of days. Now that there is RCS thruster control for short range maneuvers, the plotter was starting to show its limits, and was really clunky to use. Trying to target something took a lot of finicky key presses to line things up (the crosshairs followed screen center), then you had a split second to move the mouse over to some controls to lock in a target before things moved. Plus, the controls were bad for fine-tuned movement, causing a lot of overshooting and corrective adjustments.
Now, the orbital map pretty much behaves like Google Maps. You can drag it around to scroll the map, and I kept the WASD scrolling for cases where that's more convenient. You can now zoom via either the +/- keys or R/F keys, depending on which hand placement is more convenient. And furthermore, the mouse scrollwheel zooms in/out.
The crosshairs follow the mouse now, so you can literally point where you want, and click to lock the target. Click again to unlock. By default, the crosshairs follow the mouse exactly, and clicking will lock an arbitrary point in space. (A.k.a. "FREE" mode.) But by toggling the FREE button off, the cursor will now snap to whichever ship or celestial object is closest to the mouse. I also fixed the bug that caused the cursor to snap to non-rendered ships (e.g. those out of sensor range).
I repurposed the "Error Adj" to basically work as an offset to the current target. So if you've locked a point directly inside a space station, but want to plot a course to 50km outside the station, you can adjust the offset manually to the desired range.
I also removed the "FOLLOW" button and replaced it with a FOLLOW MODE knob. Now, you can choose between three modes. OFF will keep the map stationary, while SHIP and TRG will keep your ship and crosshair at the center, respectively. This comes in handy when you're trying to plan a route to a moving object far away from your ship. Simply lock the moving target, set the knob to TRG mode, and the map will stay centered on that moving target, allowing you to fine-tune the offset and other course params.
Finally, I fixed a bug in the ATC Uplink UI that caused every ship in docking range to be listed in a random order. Now, they are listed in order of increasing distance, which helps when you're in a crowded spot.
It may not look like much for two days' work, but the user experience here has improved a lot, I think. We'll be spending a lot of time scooting around K-Leg local space using this UI, so it needs to be tolerable (and dare I say, fun). I'll still need to give this UI a facelift with the fancier widgets and art we see in the reactor UI, but that will wait until I'm sure which widgets I need.
That's all for this week. See you all Monday!