Sunday, August 22, 2010

Twinity update

At the Koinup blog, I have published a new update on Twinity. It's about real estate, shopping and gambling, as Twinity's first casino opened. Interesting times in the mirror world! Read about it here: Twinity: developing, shopping, gambling...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eve Online: perspective is lagging

Much noise has been made, recently, over Eve Online and the way CCP deals with it's flagship product. One of the focal points of the emo rage directed at CCP, is the lag experienced in large fleet battles, which occur mostly in lowsec or nullsec space. This lag is a true issue as these kind of massive battles rank high amongst the features which make Eve Online an unique environment. Yet, what I'd like to point out, is that it's an issue that's not affecting everyone.

In my highsec industrialist corporation, I have not heard one single complaint about lag. It's simply not an issue we are confronted with, in our day to day gameplay - unless we visit Jita, which I try to avoid anyway. Part of our corp in in wormhole space, which is quiet by nature; some are mining in Gallente or Amarr space, where lag doesn't occur much either.

On page 14 of the recent Quarterly Economic Newsletter, we gather that most Eve Online pilots reside in highsec - over 88% actually. It is my guess that many of these players rarely, if ever, are affected by the much decried lag issues.

CCP should fix the lag issue (and they are working on it), as it is hurting one of their most important assets in terms of gameplay, and because it yields a lot of negative publicity at the moment. But in all the noise and bile directed at CCP, it wouldn't hurt to remind ourselves that for the majority of Eve pilots, fleet battle lag may not be 'the most pressing issue' after all.

Oh and while I'm on it: if you're technically inclined, do yourself a favor and read this Gamasutra article on sharding and the Eve Online infrastructure. A good read!

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.