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EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers) 308

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-it-on-the-torrents dept.
captainktainer writes "In one of the largest tests of EVE Online's new player sovereignty system in the Dominion expansion pack, a fleet of ships attempting to retake a lost star system was effectively annihilated amidst controversy. Defenders IT Alliance, a coalition succeeding the infamous Band of Brothers alliance (whose disbanding was covered in a previous story), effectively annihilated the enemy fleet, destroying thousands of dollars' worth of in-game assets. A representative of the alliance claimed to have destroyed a minimum of four, possibly five or more of the game's most expensive and powerful ship class, known as Titans. Both official and unofficial forums are filled with debate about whether the one-sided battle was due to difference in player skill or the well-known network failures after the release of the expansion. One of the attackers, a member of the GoonSwarm alliance, claims that because of bad coding, 'Only 5% of [the attackers] loaded,' meaning that lag prevented the attackers from using their ships, even as the defenders were able to destroy those ships unopposed. Even members of the victorious IT Alliance expressed disappointment at the outcome of the battle. CCP, EVE Online's publisher, has recently acknowledged poor network performance, especially in the advertised 'large fleet battles' that Dominion was supposed to encourage, and has asked players to help them stress test their code on Tuesday. Despite the admitted network failure, leaders of the attacking force do not expect CCP to replace lost ships, claiming that it was their own fault for not accounting for server failures. The incident raises questions about CCP's ability to cope with the increased network use associated with their rapid growth in subscriptions."
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EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers)

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  • EVE Online. (Score:4, Informative)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:30AM (#30651868)

    I'm not trolling, but I fail to see the point of EVE for several reasons. I used to play EVE myself for a few months but quit...

    One, why play a game that takes you at least a year to be able to do anything fun and useful? That's not a game at all, that's a job.

    Two, CCP has shown themselves in the past to be shady and unreliable, having developers specifically favor certain alliances and otherwise abuse their powers for their own in-game corporations.

    Three, the amount of bugs and inability to cope for server stress for large battles (which is the meat and potatoes of this game--large space wars!) has apparently been evident for quite some time now.

    I understand that EVE online fills a niche few other games do, and EVE is probably the only one that even attempts what it does, but, IMO, that in no way means the CCP has displayed what I would consider a necessary amount of competence or good game design to make me want to play it. I mean, if Age of Conan (no, EVE is nowhere near the mess that game was at) was the only MMO out there I still wouldn't play it even though I like MMOs.

    It's pretty poor form when CCP will claim that subscribers need to account for their own ineptitude when playing their game and not take responsibility for their own, and not even fire the developers that gave unfair advantages to their own corporations way back when. And I hear the game masters are incompetent jerks, too...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:41AM (#30651904)

    For those who don't know, there were already 750-800 players in the system when the defending forces decided to jump into the system. It was a stupid move on the part of the commanders, and they deserved to be shot down like they were.

    EvE has many thousands of systems, and many have very few players in them a large portion of the time. CCP requests that when large alliances are going to have a large fight that they notify them so they can put the system in question on a more powerful server to support the large number of players.

    Goonswarm, PL, and SOT knew that the system in question was going to be attacked and failed to inform CCP. After they lost the race to get players in the system first, they decided to attemp to crash the node by spaming the local chat channel and jumping everyone in at the same time, and then beat IT alliance back into the system when the server came back up, but they failed, and lost a record dollar value of ships for one fight. Before that fight there had only been about 15-20 titans killed across the whole game, and they lost 4 in one fight. Pretty epic.

  • Re:EVE Online. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:51AM (#30651974) Journal
    1) It takes about a month to fly an interceptor. I'd far rather have a newbie in an interceptor than a battleship, they'll be worthless learning in the battleship. This is just plain wrong.
    2) This has vastly improved with the creation of the internal affairs department. The problem with CCP is more incompetence (mostly on the part of the low-level GMs) than outright malice.
    3) The Reinforced node system helps, but is too limited. This is honestly the biggest issue with the game. The servers need to be able to support the player base.
    I play EVE because I enjoy small scale combat with meaningful risks. If I wanted to have epic battles with thousands of ships I'd probably be disappointed in it, but for 10-20 man roaming gangs it's very fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:05AM (#30652058)

    ISK (the in-game currency) can be used as a substitute for paying subscription renewal fees, so yeah. There is some real money being lost here.

  • by piggydoggy (804252) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:09AM (#30652082)
    Sadly the node couldn't be reinforced in time, as CCP's policy requires it to be done during the daily downtime. Yet thanks to a screwup by the original owners of the system, the attackers (in this battle) had only 12 hours to make their move and attack the system - not enough to wait for the next downtime and node reinforcement.
  • by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... OLo.com minus la> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:20AM (#30652126) Homepage Journal

    Only in EVE would you try and have thousands of players meet in a single location to fight.

    From the sound of it, the number of people who were in that particular star system (or trying to get in) exceeds the number of players on many WOW instances. Yet, all in all, that was probably at most a few percent of the players online at the time, and they're all connected to the same game world.

    That said, a single star system on EVE is hosted by a single physical server. Less-used systems can be grouped together to save on hardware, but for a big fight like this CCP fires up their most powerful hardware and puts the relevant system(s) on dedicated servers. While they're getting good at this - a few years ago 200 ships was a big fight, these days it's a common occurrence - it's still going to be an awful strain on the server to support that many players in combat. In a situation like that, the players need to take the limitations of computer hardware into account, and plan accordingly.

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:0, Informative)

    by Dest (207166) <dest@twcny.rr.cTOKYOom minus city> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:21AM (#30652128) Homepage

    This shows how uneducated you are about these things.

  • Re:EVE Online. (Score:2, Informative)

    by techhead79 (1517299) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:22AM (#30652136)

    A year to do anything useful? That's what you got from playing for a few months?

    I don't really see any difference between that and say WoW where what everyone tells you the first goal is to get to level 80. How long does that take you assuming you don't have a pal leveling you through everything or you were not so devoted that you went out and found a leveling guide and followed it to the letter. All games like this take HUGE amounts of time. I don't see how eve is any different.

    The major problem with eve besides huge fleet battles is the repeating cycle of quests...but again this is seen in other games as well like eve.

    There are some people in game saying it was closer to 1,300 ships...not just a couple hundred...I mean come on...how many games out there can handle a battle in real time with 1300 players? Eve has done a lot and there are many things unique in it...but I'd agree...it's just a game...no point in making it a job.

  • Re:EVE Online. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Korin43 (881732) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:26AM (#30652158) Homepage
    I don't play anymore, but I think you're wrong about your first point. One of the reasons the Goonswarm is so powerful is that they recruit noobs in frigates and cruisers and then swarm the enemy. It's not like other games where a level 70 player could stand around being hit by a lower level character all day. You can destroy a titan using frigates (and the titan likely wouldn't even be able to fight back, it's only options would be to call for help or run away). If you think you need to have a big ship to do anything fun or "be useful", you're missing the point.
  • by Antiocheian (859870) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:30AM (#30652174) Journal

    Gamers with a tighter schedule (work, studies, family etc) or a lagging connection to online servers should really consider an offline alternative that goes with their own pace and allows time speed adjustment. Without time speed adjustment (which is by definition incompatible to large online games) space games can be extremely time consuming.

    X3 Reunion + Xtended mod (I didn't like TC very much) is a good alternative but I'd be willing to know more.

  • Re:EVE Online. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:32AM (#30652188)

    For an absolute expert, it takes 2-3 days of played time to get to 80. For a good player, 6-7 days. For a dedicated newbie, about 10.

    So in a month, you get to the bulk of the game. But the process to get there is hardly uneventful.

    If you take longer than 10 days of played time to get to 80, you took that long because you were enjoying it.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:42AM (#30652248)

    Hmm... last time I checked a PLEX was about 300m for 30 days. 15 USD=300m, so a Titan would "cost" about 3000 USD, the equivalent of 200 months of play time. So I guess the description could well be correct.

  • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:46AM (#30652278) Journal

    I never got refunded when I lost ships due to Goons and their lag inducing tactics. Why should they get any refund when they get lag pwned?

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:34AM (#30652526)

    You're looking at effing HUGE ships. There isn't much movement sensibly possible for them, they are slow and turn even slower. Battles in EvE are at this scale less a matter of maneuvering and moving yourself in position (ships that depend on that instead of huge hulls exist, too, and they serve a vital role, too). Battles of this size are highly influenced by actions before the battle even starts, they're more a matter of good logistics and efficient group management before, as well as good coordination of targets and boosting/enhancing in battle, less one of swift evasive maneuvers and dogfighting skills.

    I admit, it's not really a looker (ok, for the EvE player in me it is, but from a non-player perspective it's maybe not much more interesting than the average screensaver), but considering what was necessary "behind the scenes" to make such a battle possible (and how many, many, many hours of "hard work" were wasted in mere minutes) makes the mind cringe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:53AM (#30652620)

    That really looks terribly boring. After decades of big budget sci-fi movies, not to mention epic space battle video games like Homeworld, this is the best space combat system that EVE can offer? There didn't seem to be any maneuvering involved at all... might as well be a text based game.

    That's because you don't see any interceptors or for that matter any other small craft flying around. That might be a matter of scale or maybe their display is turned of to prevent the death of the graphics card. What you SEE is a big lump of imperial star destroyer sized ships and some death star sized ships which shouldnt move fast.

  • by jameslore (219771) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:58AM (#30652642) Homepage

    Because we didn't get lag, we got a failure of the game system. We stared at a black screen for 2 and a half hours. My killmail is dated 30 minutes after I logged off.

    Lag is expected in a fleet fight of any size. You expect to be able to see that someone is present though, even if you're not sure if they're shooting you or not.

    Whether you like the Goons or not, that's not a fun game to play for either side. Hell, when IT and the Goons agree things are broken and need fixing you know there's either a problem or it's the end times.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:00AM (#30652656)

    In this particular case, there were 1340 people in the same star system at peak. A star system is handled by a single server, due to code limitations - CCP have stated that they want to improve the code so that a single system can be managed by multiple servers, but they are not yet there. About a year ago, this number of people fighting in the same system would've been next to impossible. CCP later improved their code to be able to handle fleet fights of 1500+ players with reasonable responsiveness (IE, lagged but playable). Due to the fact that eve is more of a tactical simulator than an action sim, lag is not always such a big issue. A five or ten second weapons activation lag is actually playable in a fashion, unlike many other games.

    Now, keep in mind that this is actually 1340 players fighting on a single physical server, with upwards of 50,000 players logged in at the same time on the single world shard of eve. Compare this to many other MMOs, where you may have 1340 players total on a shard cluster.

    Now, EVE is not designed for 1340 players. The fact that that many players are able to play in a single solar system at all is a testament to the sandbox nature of eve, where the developers have decided to try to avoid hard limits as much as possible (IE, no 25-man raids or maximum players on the server), but instead allow the players to use as much as they can and want. This obviously results in situations where the servers cannot cope, which is a known problem with fleet fights. CCP's response has traditionally been "Yes, we allow you to do this, but be aware of the potential consequences - we won't reimburse you for lag or poor server performance". The alternative would've been hard limits on the number of people on a node, which would've favoured those who made it in first, with the most people on their side - there are no defined sides in eve, so you cannot for instance let in 100 red and 100 blue.

    The battle that the OP refers to was one of those cases. It was well known that server performance was unreliable after the Dominion patch. In many cases, this would prevent fleet fights from occurring, and when they did occur, they were often one-sided massacres. Knowing this, and despite being warned by their allies numerous times, the opposing force still decided to enter the system. Not only that, but they also decided to jump in at the same time, instead of staggering their jumpins - something that has been proven to reduce lag and avoid people getting stuck in loading - or jumping in to different "grids". In fact, leaked logs indicate that they did this knowingly with the intent of crashing an already overloaded node, so that they'd be at an even footing when the server came back up.

    In the end, this backfired and they lost their entire fleet as a result.

    Once again, CCP allows fleetfights with no hard limit on the number of participants, but their stance is "Yes, we allow you to do this, but be aware of the potential consequences - we won't reimburse you for lag or poor server performance".

  • by Yoik (955095) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:01AM (#30652668) Journal

    Eve is operated with a very laissze faire policy. Fraud, taking advantage of weak code, and other forms of "cheating" only get punished if repeated after explicit announcements. Piracy and fraud attempts are one of the interesting learning aspects for most new players.

    The game is treated as something to be played as it is, not as some perfect environment where you should be compensated for deviations.

    This is to my taste, as is the extreme PVP orientation. Playing a carebear game instead of Eve is a more appropriate response than whining if you don't like it.

  • by acz (120227) <(gro.treh) (ta) (z)> on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:44AM (#30652910) Homepage

    OP is a bit lame as it fails to even mention Pandemic Legion who
    lost the 4 titans.

    Pandemic Legion loses 4 titans [kugutsumen.com]
    ( contains teamspeak recordings of the attack, screenshots, chatlogs, etc...)

    Bobbechk's comic strip about the event [kugutsumen.com]

    EVE-O Uncensored Daily Political Updates [kugutsumen.com] (reliable source of information about EVE Online politics, updated daily.)

  • Re:Easy fix (Score:3, Informative)

    by ihavnoid (749312) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @06:23AM (#30653354)

    If money and sheer 'raw performance' could solve the problem, I'd bet that they would have already done that. The (salary of the engineers + server downtime + crashses (resulting in bad reputation) + etc.) are much more expensive than the hardware cost.

    The problem in this situation is that they are trying to put too many people inside a small region.

    For example, if you develop some kind of chat server, which can have 10 people inside a single room, and assuming that each person types one message per second, you have 10 messages per second on the room for 10 people, resulting in 100 messages transmitted per second. Make that 1000, and you have 1,000,000 messages to broadcast per second.

    The problem is that, all that data has to get out of your server farm. Even worse, is that the required bandwidth grows square-proportional of the number of users on the battlefield. Now, add the 'computing load distribution' when the computation (and the interaction between the users) also grows square-proportional of the number of users. Things will get ugly quickly. That's why most MMOs put queues and user caps on individual 'servers' or 'instances' or whatever, because potentially everything inside the region need to interact with each other.

    Actually, I heard that EVE online had done a tremendous job scaling the size of battlefields up to remarkable sizes. Well, at least they are trying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @06:40AM (#30653432)

    Yeah, but they had it coming, all of them.

    EVE is a ruthless game that encourages players to be ruthless; and apparently, exploiting bugs in the codebase, trying to crash servers etc. are considered acceptable tactics. But beyond these specific tactics, EVE not just encourages people to engage in *metagaming*, but in fact pretty much makes it necessary to do so.

    Given that, people did get what they deserve. If you get into a boxing match, don't complain about a broken nose. It's not what's intended to happen, no, but given the activity you're engaging in, it's obvious that it is a possible outcome, so if you want to avoid it altogether, don't do boxing. If you play chess instead, for example, then the bloody battles of the opposing armies wlll only exist in your mind, and the players themselves will be unscathed.

    I hope the difference is clear. If it's not, consider classic (pen and paper) roleplaying. Wouldn't you frown upon players that use knowledge and information their characters don't have, for example? Players that try to read the DM's notes to get an idea of what's waiting for them?

    EVE is not about cooperating (as players, not necessarily characters!) in a shared fantasy or imagined environment. And CCP is right when they say "sorry, but tough luck". If you live by the sword, don't complain if you die by the sword.

  • GoonSwarm (Score:2, Informative)

    by wernox1987 (1362105) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:54AM (#30653718)
    Wasn't the stated purpose of the Swarm to grief BoB in game? When did they get all serious about the game (just like the group they were mocking).
  • Clarification (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zos23 (1614073) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:01AM (#30654170)
    A lot of what was said here is incorrect. EVE usually allows for very nice fleet battles with small amounts of lag. However about a month ago a new expansion was introduced that includes a nasty bug which makes it extremely hard for people to load the grid that already contains many other players. There were several battles in the past month where one side was completely annihilated because of that bug. Everyone involved in that conflict was already aware of that. IT alliance had a strong presence in system for the whole day, preparing for possible battle. Their enemies decided to show up when it was almost over while boasting about crashing the node. Sov was neutral and both parties had the same starting position. IT was bringing in forces during the whole day, the other side did nothing about it and gambled it all on one moment and lost.
  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:46AM (#30654650)

    The explanation for it being "boring" is the same explanation as to why an two elephants walking across an anthill looks boring - you're not watching the details.

    One of the Titans they talk about in the summary is an Avatar [eveonline.com]. It has a volume of 155,000,000 m^3. If they were completely completely spherical, they'd have a radius of 333 meters.

    In the opening of the battle (post jump I suppose?) I see at least 6 titans on "our" side of the camera. I'm guessing the distance between the closest ships on either side of the screen is 10 km as a minimum.

    Now, one of the smallest ships I can find [eveonline.com] have a volume of 28,100 m^3. That's a radius of 19 meters. Try spotting those in a field that is tens of thousands meters across. Even if we go up to mid size ships like T2 Battlecruisers [eveonline.com] we only find a volume of 234,000 m^3, which is sphere with a diameter of 39 meters. Not going to be easy to spot either.

    Essentially you're trying to spot the zodiacs in a carrier group picture [wikimedia.org]. And keep in mind that the aircraft carrier in that picture is shorter that the radius of the Titan sphere.

    Now, obviously the Titans aren't spheres. That is obvious from the pictures. They're probably on the order of two kilometre+ in length. Essentially the only thing we're seeing in the video is two elephants bluff charging on top of an anthill. It's going to be very boring to watch at a distance, but get up close and you'll see the ants scurrying about trying to fix their nest. But that's not something you can really show in these kinds of videos - that's something you can show in movies with large budgets.

    And when you have weapons that can shoot hundreds if not thousands of kilometres in less than a second, and your ship cannot possibly get out of the line of fire, because it is simply too large a target, why would manoeuvring ever be important? It's important for the small ships, but in any kind of meaningful battle of this kind (meaning the ships are moving at identical vectors at almost identical speeds), the only thing manoeuvring can help you with when your ship is several hundred meters across, is turning to present the smallest cross section possible or present the biggest armour to the enemy. If the ship is small, then you can talk about dog fighting and running around trying not to get hit. But if you're watching that, you're going to miss out on the big picture.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:01AM (#30654884)

    I have no clue about how this game work, but judging by the video the big vessels clearly should have gone into Ludicrous Speed mode!

    You see that bubble in the video? That is warp disruption bubble disabling the Titans' warp drives. They were going nowhere, except the scrapheap! Epic fight, loved every minute of it! I'm still a confused how I only used 2 cycles of stront during a 30 minute battle, but oh well. :)

  • by daveime (1253762) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:19AM (#30656010)

    Is it effectively a DDoS? Only if the servers can't handle it.

    Agreed 100%. Which is exactly why CCP put a system in place whereby large fleets could notify them in advance to put it on a server that *can* handle it (which certain fleets choose to ignore in favour of trying to take down the whole server).

  • by Shinobi (19308) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:56AM (#30656630)

    "Note that "single server" does not mean 1 computer, but could be several working together on that 1 star system."

    Wrong. EVE is not parallellized. One system is limited to one CPU core, though a core can run several systems.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:37PM (#30660086)

    Ships in EvE can fire at any angle, I dunno where my post gave you the idea they couldn't. Also, retreating is only an option if you have control over your ships, something that appearantly they didn't have. Imagine your expensive ships duking it out while you're afk for, say, an hour.

  • by zerocool^ (112121) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:42PM (#30660184) Homepage Journal

    This gives you an idea of the size of the ships involved:
    http://www.gossipgamers.com/images/eve1.jpg [gossipgamers.com]

    Anyway, yeah, Titans are huge, and the rest of the ships there are dreadnoughts mostly (they're also huge). Check the chart - in my opinion, most of the fun combat is in cruiser sized ships. Find the Caracal or the Rupture or the Vexor to see a size comparison. There's lots of maneuvering with those kind of ships.

    Something like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aeyt-T_U2Vg [youtube.com] gives you a better idea, but even that ship is more of an up-close slug fest kind of ship. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUDLQEZf9J8 [youtube.com] is another idea of combat. Keep in mind, if you zoom in you get great visuals but after a while, you stay zoomed out to get an idea of the arena of combat. It's strategical, not twitch, so much.

    ~X

  • by Coren22 (1625475) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:07PM (#30663798) Journal

    Especially Goons in this fight, most populous, third most populous, and a rather small alliance ganging up on an alliance that is still not up to full strength, I think the numbers in the fight were around 1000 - 500 in favor of Goon's side.

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