Friday, August 6, 2010

Eve Online: 500 pilots in local

Yesterday evening, CCP and more than 500 volunteers executed another mass test on the Eve Online test server Singularity. Participating was easy this time as no client patch was needed, just a copy of the current Eve Online client.

The test involved several phases, all in the Syndicate region. First, we gathered at the F6 jumpgate in MHC where the X and W fleets, each consisting of about 240 pilots, were formed; we jumped a few times, ending up in X-B, where we up a gatecamp. Finally, we had a few rounds of fleet battle. Between the test phases, CCP staff were busy tuning the system, testing certain fixes or settings, and evaluating the results as we went.

During the first mass test a few months ago, we couldn't even gather at the gate before crashing due to lag, but this time that went much better, although my corpmates reported an increase in lag upon the arrival of the Ragnarok.

Jumping to the next system with hundreds of pilots still yielded hilarious results, with pilots being stuck for minutes before they could jump. I, for instance, got a 2.38 mins waiting time warning from traffic control. And when we finally jumped, many ended up without anything on grid - or even completely off grid. Effectively I was unable to participate in any activity for about five minutes. It's frustrating to read the fleet chat about the battle raging around you, when all you see is a nice default starfield background..

Using drones in the fleet battles seemed to have a large negative impact as far as I'm concerned. Without drones but with 500+ pilots in system, I was able to participate in the fleet battle, even firing some shots at CCP staff member CCP Atlas. Unsurprisingly, the CCP's are among the hottest targets in fleet, and CCP Atlas quickly got relieved of his Abaddon battleship :)

Eve Online: Mass testing, 2010...

A few minutes later we were all cleared to release and use drones, and that's when the lag really hit. Modules wouldn't cycle, guns wouldn't fire anymore, and for quite some time launching and using drones was virtually impossible too. By this time however, the number of pilots in local had dropped considerably - it was past midnight in Europe and many pilots got killed - so you would expect lag to lessen. But with drones out, it got significantly worse.

And then, suddenly, I got hit by something massive: I lost shields, armor and hull in one volley. Insurance email arrived, informing me that my Dominix had, unfortunately, been destroyed.. yet I still had my ship and modules on screen. The shields even started repairing themselves! Obviously some things were way out of sync by that time. Time to logoff and go to bed!

One thing I learned yesterday, is that large scale fleet battle is a unique activity in Eve Online, with it's own rules and language. Many volunteers - including me - were not that familiar with the ins and outs, leading to a lot of confusion, undisciplined behaviour (keep firing when the FC tells to CEASE &^%% FIR for instance) and general mayhem. It was a real chaos at times! But, a nice fleet battle practice run for pilots like me.

It will be interesting to see what CCP gets out of this test. I think they are making progress - and they really need to - so hopefully we'll see some improvements on Tranquility in the near future.

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