Ever since the Dominion expansion hit Eve Online, lag issues have been playing up. Especially during large fleet battles, the kind of battles that tend to take place in nullsec space between the larger space holding alliances, lag has been a real blight, even becoming a battle deciding factor at times. I am not living in nullsec space and not a member of such an alliance; in other words, I have never been in a large fleet battle, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to participate in one! Large scale nullsec warfare is completely different from my usual gameplay, as it includes ships and technology rarely (if ever) seen in highsec and employs radically different tactics. Stuff I'd like to see and experience!
So how does a lowly mission runner and parttime trader work his way into a massive fleet fight between the capital ships of New Eden? Simple, I participated in the March 20th mass test on Singularity, Eve Online's test environment! CCP is working hard to fix the lag issue infecting the currently deployed code, and they wanted to test some of the possible fixes on the test system Singularity (Sisi) first. So, yesterday evening, several hundreds of pilots logged on to Sisi instead of Tranquility (the 'normal' Eve Online game environment) in order to help CCP and, ultimately, themselves. For me it was not only a matter of helping, but also a chance to participate in such a fleet and see the cap ships in action.
After logging in and fitting my Megathron battleship, I found myself a long way from where the test would be executed. On Singularity, there's an easy solution to that: I logged on to the in game Moveme channel, and got transported, in an instant, to a station in the FD-MLJ system in the Syndicate region. The testing was supposed to take place in the neighbouring system X-BV98; we would gather there and mass jump to Poitot (yet another neighbouring system) to see what would happen. There would be siege warfare and quite possible a nice battle to top things off. The good thing about battle on Singularity is, that any losses incurred are limited to the test environment and have no repercussions in the normal Eve Online environment. In other words: risk free battle!
After chatting a bit in the in game MassTesting channel, I joined CCP Stillman's fleet, left the station and set out for X-BV98, which would normally be one easy jump. The vast amounts of ships that had to move through the system, however, meant that there was indeed an enormous amount of lag. FPS (frames per second) dropped to 'average 0.1' at one time, effectively rendering the game unplayable. I decided to relog; that helped a lot and I was able to jump to X-BV98 and travel to the Poitot stargate, where an impressive fleet was gathering:
More pictures available: Mass Testing on Koinup.
Cyno beacons were lit, more and more ships arrived at the gate and I again joined the CCP Stillman fleet. The lag, however, became terrible again; joining a fleet seems to have a very negative impact on the performance.
Unfortunately, this is where it stopped for me. Family duties interrupted unexpectedly; I had to log off. When I came back an hour later, battle was raging, but it was 17 jumps away. With no moveme channel available to drop me at the scene of the battle (and noticing many testers logging off) I parked my ship, left nullsec Singularity and headed for the less epic world of empire, high sec space on Tranquility. I missed my large fleet battle, but it was a good experience nonetheless. Next mass test I hope to be there again!