Yesterday I was on about how most of my time in New Eden has now been spent in null sec space. Today I am back to something of a more PvE, if not wholly high sec, in nature.
That is The Agency.
The Agency started out during the summer as something of an event framework. I called it The Temp Agency since there wasn’t much on offer.
But CCP had bigger plans for The Agency. At EVE Vegas they revealed their vision for The Agency, with it eventually becoming the one stop shop for all PvE content in New Eden. With the Lifeblood expansion later that month the update for The Agency was in place, with a dev blog to show us the way.
I meant at some point to write something about the new interface that The Agency offered, but never quite got around to it. I used it a few times to find some Resource Wars sites to run, but for something like anomalies the probe interface is simply more efficient. Also I hate that it has a definite article as part of its name. I’ve had to restructure at least one sentence so far in this post because if sounded odd because of that. My pet theory is that we refer to The Mittani as “Mittens” more because it removes the definite article than because we like the nickname. But that might just be me.
Anyway, The Agency looked nice but felt a bit awkward in my hands. You could find what you wanted, but you still had to know what you were looking for. And while having a map in the middle of it seems like a good idea… it does at least show relative positions of items on the results list… the map is really too small and detailed to deliver information well. CCP seems stuck on the idea that star maps must show the actual relative position of stars rather than doing something ala DOTLAN and giving us an abstract but clear view of systems.
For the most part I forgot about The Agency as things like the massive Alpha Clone update arrived. But now The Agency is back on CCP’s list of things to do, with plans for the coming January update. Specifically, according to a Dev forum post, the plan is for the following:
- The Agency is getting Factional Warfare, Incursions and Expeditions added to it along with some new cards for Ice sites and Epic Arcs
- The Journal is being stripped back to a couple tabs with all the removed functionality going to The Agency or other appropriate window like Contracts or Planetary Colonies
- The Agent Finder is being removed and finding agents will be handled by The Agency
The first bullet seems fine. I suppose the PvE sites in Faction Warfare fit the bill, even if they are in a PvP environment.
I will have to see the details of the second when they get to the promised Dev Blog about all of this. We shall see.
But the third, the removal of the Agent Finder, that strikes a nerve. It strikes a nerve because we’ve been down this path before.
For a long stretch of time… from August 2007 through to July 2011… one of the most popular posts here on the blog was one entitled How to Find and Agent in EVE Online. That was because for ages finding agents from within the game was a bit of a pain in the ass. Click on that link to see what I mean. Generally the preferred method was to use a third party site to find an agent, but I wanted to detail how to do it in game.
And then came the Incarna expansion.
I bitch about Incarna in EVE in the same way I bitch about Cataclysm in WoW. There was a lot wrong in Incarna, both in details and in direction, but it wasn’t ALL bad. And one of the shining lights of Incarna was the current Agent Finder interface.
It was simple… certainly relative to the efforts previously required… and the button to bring it up was put in a few places so people could find it.
I wrote up a post about it which pretty much marked the end of life for my original post about how to find an agent in EVE Online. CCP had essentially fixed the problem they had and people stopped searching the web to figure it out.
CCP messing about with the “currently working reliably” Agent Finder makes me twitch a bit. So I went to go look at how The Agency interface handles finding agents.
As it turns out, when it comes to filters, The Agency has everything the Agent Finder had for filters, with a couple of additions, like being able to show the “highest available” agent level, which will show you when you cross the boundary from 2 to 3 or the like.
So far so good. Then I brought up the Agent Finder just to make sure that both methods were returning the same results. A life in software has made me a mistrustful soul.
I was happy to see that, with the same criteria entered, both interfaces seemed to be showing the same results. And then I looked at how many were returned.
In what I imagine was an effort to keep The Agency from fire hosing too much data at new players, the results list in that interface is limited to a dozen agents. The Agent Finder gives you 32 results for the same criteria.
I get the idea of keeping results down so as not to confuse… and maybe the last few agents that are 27 jumps away won’t be the most important to everybody… but I also have a long standing bias against any system that omits or hides information from me.
My hope is that CCP will figure out a way to resolve this or, absent a solution they can implement in the current time frame, punt on the plan to kill the current Agent Finder.
My fear is that they’ll say, “Hmm, good enough” and just go ahead as planned.
But maybe that will open up an opportunity for a new popular post about finding agents that The Agency won’t display. Possible click-bait titles for this:
- One Weird Trick to Find More Agents!
- See What The Agency is Hiding From You!
- The Agency Hates This Guy!
Addendum: The official Dev Blog has been posted and the Agent Finder is still for the axe.