Quote of the Day – The Button Label is Bad

Alright then, I think to myself. I’ll just repurchase another Ibis. They appear to be cheap, and I had made a whole big chunk of ISK from tutorials…

-Massively OP, Choose My Adventure Column

Chris at Massively OP headed into EVE Online for the latest round of Choose My Adventure and, unsurprisingly, it has been a tough time.  Welcome to New Eden, same as it ever was.  The new player experience remains… challenging.

But what struck me out of post of familiar woes was the line quoted above, because there is literally a button in the station/structure UI that will give you a brand new rookie ship… or “corvette” as they are now styled… on demand.  It isn’t even hidden away, being located right under the undock button.

The button and the hover help

Back in the day the game used to just give you a rookie ship if you docked up in a capsule.  It was changed to a button a while back.  I am going to guess they did that because somebody did a database query on “Ibis” and found there were more sitting in stations than there were total user accounts ever created.  I went on a cleaning up campaign a few years back to destroy all the ones I had cluttering up my hangars and when I searched today I have 26 still hanging around on my main.

Ibis results…

I was going to show the whole list, but I thought that one in 6RCQ, which I repackaged for some reason, like I was going to move it somewhere, was more amusing.  It isn’t like I couldn’t get one where ever I went.

Anyway, looking at that button I realized that the label on it isn’t as helpful as one might think.  *I* know what it means, but I know because I read the patch notes at some past date about the change.

But is it descriptive enough to somebody who wasn’t there when this change went into effect?  To somebody new to the game?  You know, the people who might actually need a new Ibis or other rookie ship?

The button says, “Board my Corvette,” which sounds a lot like simply “get in my ship.”

And the tool tip/hover help text is an example of the classic mistake for that medium, as it just adds three unhelpful words to what the button already told you, which fails to clarify anything if you didn’t understand what the button meant in the first place.  This is the equivalent of finding out that somebody is deaf and then just speaking louder.

The tool tip ought to say “Get a replacement starter ship for free!” or something else more instructive.

I am reminded of CCP Burger’s priority list from the first CSM14 summit minutes:

1. Stop the bleeding
2. Fix the stupid
3. Excite and teach
4. Incentivize return

-CCP Burger on CCP’s focus, CSM summit minutes page 6

I think we may still be in the “Fix the stupid” stage.

8 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – The Button Label is Bad

  1. Redbeard

    This is my shocked face: :-|

    In reality, this doesn’t surprise me at all, because the thing about developers is that –try as they might– they don’t have the newbie experience down pat simply because they are not newbies themselves.

    I’ll give an example that has occurred multiple times over the years at my various employers. To get new team members up to speed, each IT/developer team has their own internal training in addition to whatever corporate training is out there. On top of that there’s likely a doc that says “hey, if need to do X, here’s a step by step set of instructions”. Invariably, however, these instructions leave new team members confused, because they were written by people who already know how to do these things and likely skip steps. Or they gloss over steps. Or some of the steps say “go to this web site and fill out the form”, neglecting to tell the newbie how to fill out the form.

    But when you go to other people on the team and point these issues out, they laugh at you, saying “everybody knows how to do that!”

    Well, obviously not.

    So this issue you’ve highlighted definitely falls under that umbrella, where the team doesn’t get the newbie experience, and is a “Fix the Stupid” item.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Redbeard – There is a rule I have about any dev written documentation which must naturally be missing about half the steps a new person would need because the person immersed in it makes all sorts of assumptions. One of my secret powers at work is to be able to follow other people’s documentation completely literally, which usually comes up with a bunch of “how did you get to there from here?” observations.

    But if I write the doc I don’t see it. Something else about the outside point of view and clarity in that.


  3. flosch

    I haven’t played Eve in a few years, and learned about this “new” (?) button via that story. I’m both confused and immensely impressed. Confused because… why is it called a “corvette”? I guess according to Wikipedia a corvette is a small ship, potentially smaller than a frigate (the more you know!), but I can’t remember that term being used by the game before. Maybe that’s my absence.

    Impressed, because CCP actually managed to find a way to make the newbie experience even more confusing. One of the things they got right, always automatically providing at least the most basic starter ship; and they took it away and hid it behind another button on their interface, because we all know if it needs one thing, it’s more buttons. Your point that they might be worried about having abandoned starter ships all over the place makes sense, but I guess I’m not alone when I say I have piles of stuff in several dozen other stations and will probably never get around to clean it up. They could’ve just made a new rule that a starter ship with default equipment and empty bay just gets destroyed when you leave it behind. Apparently, CCP doesn’t have an issue with people losing much more valuable assets than a starter ship, right?


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @flosch – The thing is that I have no insight into CCP’s code base, which is coming on 20 years old, since it was in development well before launch. The corvette button came in as part of the attempt to give citadels parity with stations. For a stretch you couldn’t do things like insure your ship in a citadel, and the whole “dock up in a capsule and get a free ship” code wasn’t there either. I don’t know what factors went into deciding the button was a better option… database size, old code, desire to start from scratch… but that is the route they went.


  5. flosch

    True, we don’t know what the backend looks like. I’ve had to say “yes, that sounds simple, but it isn’t because that’s not how our architecture is designed” many more times that I would’ve liked… though I still have this inner incredulous voice that tells me “I can’t believe we didn’t think of that way back then”. And that’s if it isn’t because someone was rushed and had to do a half-ass job of it… I think what I find most surprising about it is that their UX/UI people and “new player experience representative” signed off on it. But maybe it was one of those situations where everybody had bigger fires to fight elsewhere.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Alli – EVE Online can be exceptionally bad, though it is trying to do so many things that it inevitably has to have some problems. But when the team goes back to fix some bad UI… it usually remains bad, or at least indecipherable to anybody new. They did a pass over the Planetary Interaction interface last year because it was so obtuse. Now it is about 5% less obtuse and I still have no idea how new players figure it out. I had a guide to read and I still couldn’t get it going on the first two tries.


  7. Abulurd Boniface (@AbulurdBoniface)

    I remember when the tutorial mission said ‘Go to this deadspace location’ and I went: deadspace?!? Nope. I’m in a newbie ship, I ain’t going to some deadspace place, I will die (I did die soon enough, but not because of that :-) ).

    There are three levels of writing:

    – the message the writer wants to pass on
    – the information the writer assumes everybody who is engaging with the content also knows
    – information the writer does not know they are imparting, but that is clear from the context or follows as a logical conclusion from what the text contains.

    I wouldn’t want to write a manual for EVE Online. Because it’s out of date in about 3 months, but most because it would take a glossary to explain all the principles contained in EVE. And even more so: EVE has a very deep meta game the concepts and vernacular of which is not properly defined and is typically only acquired by engaging with the environment.

    The technicality of having a new button (newbie does not know it is a new button) that does not indicate why it is there clearly enough to make them understand they get a new ship for free, with a thumbnail that does not explain it any better, is the expression of a systemic problem with how difficult it is to explain EVE Online to a new player (the new player experience roundtable at Fanfest is a staple).

    From my own experience as a newbie I can say that the interface was overwhelming. I knew nothing about EVE and had no idea what all the knoepfkens were for. I don’t think that’s going to improve until someone figures out how to tell newbie what the basics are and how they are controlled.


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