Friday 27 April 2012

Screen Layouts for PVP

One thing I'm sure you've noticed about Eve is that space (as in room on your screen, rather than the empty black thing that has stars in it) is at a premium. There are a lot of windows that you'll probably want to have visible, and unless you're fortunate enough to play on a very large monitor you're probably going to struggle to fit it all on.

The default screen layout is, it's fair to say, pretty impractical for PVP. Most people make some basic changes until they find it bearable, others go for a more radical approach and reorganise the whole thing for maximum efficiency. Take a look at a few screenshots and videos of experienced players in PVP, and you'll find a whole range of different layouts built to suit the user's needs.

I'd like to take a moment to talk through the layout I'm currently using, as well as why I chose to set it up this way. Remember that there's no right or wrong here, it's all based on preference.

You can see my current layout below (click the link to see it full size). This is something which has evolved almost constantly since I started PVPing, although I've been using roughly this layout (aside from a few small changes) for perhaps the last three or four months. I have to say, I'm very pleased with it so far.

My screen resolution is 1680 x 1050, which seems fairly common. I do sometimes run Eve on a smaller screen (although generally not for PVP) and I find that I really struggle to get everything that I want on there. If your monitor is smaller than this, you're probably going to need to cut back on a few 'nice to haves' and focus on just the parts you really need.

The left side of my screen is mainly for passive windows - these are the ones which I look at often, but only rarely have to interact with. This lets me take in key information at a glance without needing to look all over the screen.

The right side on the other hand contains all of my active windows - these are the windows I use to give orders, or otherwise interact with on a frequent basis. Keeping them close together minimises the amount of mouse movement required during combat, and makes it easier to micromanage my ship. The layout on this side is a little less conventional and took some getting used to, but once I got over the initial unfamiliarity it has proved to be very effective.

1) The local window is probably the most important information on the screen, and it always needs to be visible when you're in lowsec or nullsec. I'm not really interested in what people are saying in local (hence why it's quite small), what I'm really interested in are the people. The new option to show a compact member list is really useful here. I used to have my local window the whole length of the screen (with the chat channels only getting half the space that they do now), but in the places I've been living recently I find the current height is usually enough. I leave a bit of a gap at the top for the system details and also enough to see my route when I have a destination set.

2) I like to have my people and places window open all the time, so that I can quickly make bookmarks on the fly or type in a system to set my destination. I've recently started merging my cargo in here too, although whether I have that open depends on the ship - for active tanked ships it can be useful to see how many cap boosters you have left, and also allows quick consumption of combat boosters when you need them.

3) In this gap, I keep my watch list and my combat log - the combat log is more use solo (and I admit I don't use it as often as I should), while the watch list obviously applies more to fleets. Now that you can have 15 people on your watch list, this takes a little more space than it used to.

4) Various chat and intel channels. I used to have this one much smaller (to give more room to local), but these days I have a lot more channels that I casually lurk in so giving them a little extra room is nice.

5) The overview is a mix between a passive window and an active one - obviously I use it to lock targets, but once the fight is underway I don't really have to interact with it other than to lock a new target. I am however very interested in the information it provides. With that in mind I keep the overview fairly out of the way, but give it plenty of room. I plan to write a separate article on overview setup, so won't go into any more detail on my overview just now.

6) I keep my selected item window below the overview rather than the default of above - this is something I have to click on often to issue approach/orbit commands, so it makes sense to have it as close to the other active windows as possible. Keeping it close to the overview means that I can still issue commands relating to an object on the overview (such as aligning to a gate) easily. Getting used to this one was particularly hard, and it does have its drawbacks - while I find it makes issuing commands in combat much easier, it does make giving align/warp commands a little more tedious given that overview entries fall to the top of the window.

7) The drone window is something I've never really found a good place for - it sticks out a bit more than I'd like here, but having it close to my locked targets and other active windows makes sense.

8) Moving my locked targets to the bottom is probably my favourite change - having this just above my modules makes managing modules which are spread above multiple targets much easier - in a single glance, I can see which modules are active on which targets (and how close those targets are to being destroyed) as well as their cycle timers and heat status. This is also incredibly useful if you activate modules by clicking, since it speeds up the process of selecting a target and activating a module on them considerably. As I mentioned earlier, having this close to the selected item window is important, as I'm regularly clicking back and forth between these two areas.

9) Finally, we have the directional scanner. Like the overview this window is partly for information, however it's also something I'm clicking on almost constantly when I'm in a hostile situation. I also keep the fleet window stacked with this - while not ideal, I didn't really have anywhere else to keep it and it's another one which it's useful to have open all the time. This is particularly true if you're flying logistics, and locking targets via broadcasts.

Note that none of my windows quite touch the edge of the screen. This gap is commonly referred to as 'the gutter', and allows you to see all the brackets which are not directly in your field of view. This is particularly useful when trying to figure out which direction a particular stargate is in, for example.

As I mentioned earlier, all of the above is simply my preference. You might find some of it works for you too, or on the other hand you might find something else which you think works even better! My request to you is this: Take a screenshot and load your layout up to imgur (or the image hosting site of your choice) and post it in the comments. If possible, include a sentence or two on what you think works well about it, and why you have it the way you do - I'd be very interested to see what you're all using!


  1. Very interesting, I also prefer the target bar close to my buttons.

    For some windows like people & places and the browser though, I used to make extensive use of scrollup feature, where you double click the window and it scrolls up into it's titlebar leaving only the title bar visible.

    However since late I've started making more use of keyboard shortcuts. Especially for people & places. I just hit alt+e and the window pops up ready to make bookmarks. Then alt+e again to make it go away.

    alt+t for assets, and alt+b for browser. I'll make a screenshot of my screen later and link it.

  2. "8) Moving my locked targets to the bottom...."

    I've been playing Eve over 3 years and I've never figured out how to do this! I've looked in the display setting etc multiple times to no avail. Could you enlighten me? (now that I've asked I know it's going to be somewhere so glaringly obvious that I'm going to look like an idiot :P)

    1. Lock on to something.
      It will be displayed beside your overview. Now, between the overview and your target, there should be a cross, which marks the limit of your locked target "box". Simply click on this cross, hold the button and put it where you want.
      There you go, with an image:

    2. if you look at Azual's enlarged screen shot you can see the target anchor right next to his D-Scan window, in between the 'Proktolog Roman' and 'Ostingele - Star' entries. Move that around to get the targets where you want them.

    3. Awesome guys, thanks. Had never noticed that before!

    4. That's a new one for me as well, thanks.

    5. Thanks, mine is now vastly better. I too always wanted to move the target icons.

      FYI if you click your capacitor, you can drag it left/right.

    6. If you have locked targets and they are at varying distances, you can click each of the INDIVIDUAL targets and drag them to the left or the right. I came across this by accident and it's one of those hidden gems for when your in the heat of battle and you have your targets locked, but they are all at different ranges. Simple, click and move them into the order you want. Hope this is of some help ;-)

    7. I believe that was actually quite a recent change (and a very useful one at that)!

  3. I have everything smashed into the lower right corner as much as possible. My selected target box is above the overview, which is above dcsan combined with a few chats at the bottom right corner. Left of that is local, left of that are intel channels and a few more chats, and left of that is my capacitor and modules. Above local, if I need it, are the fleet and watchlist, drones are with those as well. People and places is usually minimized for me unless i need to make a bookmark, at which point i unminimize it. Assets and cargo is usually under the system name, but also minimized unless I need them. Across the top are the locked targets.

    All of this results in having about half of the screen to still play on without the boxes on that space. It shrinks my 1920x1080 screen to something more like 1024x800, but it still a good amount of open space.

  4. First off, this was really interesting to read. I've always taken some interest in other's UI setups when I see a PvP video, etc. Anyway, since you's mine.

    I tried to do something similar with numbering them as you did...don't mock my horrid shop skills.

    1) Local, with enough space left above it for autopilot routes.
    2)Cargo. Of note that if I open a looting screen, they're stacked. This used to be so that I could quickly Ctrl+A and drag loot up into my own cargo...but the Loot All button has made that sort of pointless.
    3)Combat Log. If I'd remembered to form a fleet, my fleet window would have stacked here.
    4)Chat/Intel Channels
    6)Selected Items
    7)Where my drones would be...if I had the foresight to be in a ship that had drones when I took this. Whoops.
    8)Locked Targets

    So, the most obvious difference is that I have my HUD at the top of my screen. I like it there as I find it easier to catch things in the lower part of my peripheral vision than the when I'm focused on it. During actual combat, the area of screen space I need to do much clicking on is limited to the upper-right of the screen, and I like having the selected item right on top of the overview for faster GTFO options when I need to warp somewhere. Thoughts?

  5. I wish I had a program to add helpful bubbles like you did, but alas I suck at photo editing.

    I am also a low-sec small gang pvper and I really do like your setup since it's one of few that I've seen that sets the main focal point on the modules and the right portion of the screen.

    This is my setup

    This way allows for minimal mouse movement from selected targets to the modules and also from the overview and back. The main thing that I really dislike about the default overview is the need to constantly look up and down, up and down to look at the target's velocity, distance, etc.. which is why I felt the need to bring it down to the level as shown. Between local and my capacitor is my watchlist, and besides that, my setup is pretty straightforward except for maybe constantly using the tactical overview to easier zoom out and gauge visual distances between objects rather than fully relying on number cues on the overview to give you that same information. Also I really like the idea of putting the people and places as a secondary tab to cargo. Making safespots is paramount to pvp and this is help me out.
    I really like your blog, keep up the awesome posts and as always, fly dangerous :D

  6. Great post. I suggest everyone petition CCP to develop a launch drones keyboard shortcut. Oh, how I hate clicking that menu.

  7. Here's my setup for playing in windowed mode (I like to have my browsers up a lot):

    I changed some of my setup a little after reading this- mainly I used to have cargo below local and my "other channels" where fleet now is. My watchlist goes below the dscan, and both are resized as necessary depending on fleet size and my role in it. I also cleared the gutter after reading this, as it hadn't occurred to me to do it even though I was annoyed by not being able to see my outgates easily without switching tabs.

    I really tried to do the selected item below the overview but it was insufferably annoying to click something in overview and jump back and forth for the things that I don't know the kb shortcuts for.

    I'm not fully satisfied with it, but it's working a lot better than before.

  8. how do you move your locked targets down to the bottom like that? i like the idea. Great artical

  9. Here is my current screen setup that I have been using for the past few months.

    After I read your article I adjusted my windows to show the "gutter" and I combined my log with my people and places window (previously I had it merged with my chat channels but I never liked it there) Very useful tip.

    Otherwise I think we have very similar setups. I even combine the fleet window with my scanner like you.

    I have to agree that it takes a while to get used to having the selected items window below the overview (or in my case, below and to the left) but after a while you get used to it and it is great to have it near the other critical items.

    One thing you will notice is that I usually open a window containing tactical bookmarks. I wish this window would auto update when you jump from system to system, currently I have to double click on the people & places window twice. Doing this minimizes and reopens the P&P window but it also updates the tactical bookmark window for the current system.

  10. Another suggestion... You can move the "center" of your screen left or right. This will allow camera to focus on your ship (or ship you are looking at) to be moved to one side or the other. This has allowed me to fill up the right side of the screen with my various windows rather than move all my windows around the middle of the screen. (my local and overiew windows are neatly parked to one side)

  11. I'm using the screen layout as shown by Azual as a base and then modified it to the one I use now across my three accounts. If you look at the drones, I've specifically put them into their relevant groups and labelled them as one of the four major dmg types. Linky

  12. Can't wait to see your Overview guide. Unless it's out there somewhere already and I missed it?

    1. Nope, it's currently languishing half finished somewhere! I'll hopefully get around to updating it soon(TM)!


The Altruist is the Eve Online blog of Azual Skoll, PVP instructor and small gang PVPer.

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