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EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers) 308

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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  • by Rakshasa Taisab ( 244699 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:22AM (#30651812) Homepage

    It's well known and not even contested that the forces bridging in to the system black-screened and never got to fight.

    However, they got what they deserved. The node in question was not reinforced due to the unexpected nature of the fight (as in; the notification system was not used to put the system on a dedicated server). And jumping into large fights was well know to be bugged since the expansion and the Fleet Commander was made aware by an alliance member that the specific way in which they were going to enter the fight would trigger the bug.

    They ignored all those warnings and decided to go ahead. Sources claim the intent was to crash the node and get a more even fight once it got up, multiple accounts even got banned for spamming local chat. Funny thing is the bug seems to be in the simultaneous transfer of 100+ ships into an overloaded system, and doesn't affect people warping around within a system once they are there. This being the worst possible situation for the attempted rescue of the system.

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:44AM (#30651934)
    They're not real ships, and "thousands of dollars" were not lost.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:06AM (#30652064)
    There is a legal way to get money into the game that is exchange real money for virtual money, so things in the game have real value. Conversely, there are illegal (violation of EULA) but doable methods to get real money out of the game. Also, these virtual things were created by the people in game and their time spent can be valued by the cost of the subscription. So it's pretty easy to calculate the value on these nonexistent in game items. The approximate cost of one of those large ships mentioned is $10000 real world.
  • by DrugCheese ( 266151 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:19AM (#30652120)

    They're not real ships, and "thousands of dollars" were not lost.

    But it did take a lot of time to build up the in game credits to buy those ships. And you do literally pay real money for time in game.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:35AM (#30652214)

    In a situation like that, the players need to take the limitations of computer hardware into account, and use it to gain an edge.

    It's EvE, after all.

  • by routerl ( 976394 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:07AM (#30652356)
    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.
  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:09AM (#30652376)
    If a player played for a year to build up your ship and treated it all as a horrible chore as merely an investment for possible future fun, then the fault is that of the player. If instead the player had fun while building up those ships, then the money is already well spent and thus isn't "lost".
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @05:07AM (#30652694)

    It was basically a one sided battle, shooting fish in a barrel because the other side was caught in lagland (server transition isn't so great in EvE when a few hundred ships are already in the system). So I guess if you're expecting to see a "battle", you have to end up disappointed. It's a bit like shooting sitting ducks that had their wings cut off.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @05:13AM (#30652740)

    I'm a Goon and I was there, sat a system out because I was late and didn't jump in, listened as everyone lost their shit, will not x up again until CCP unfuck their servers. Pre-dominion fights with these numbers were doable (I believe the final count was 1700). You'd get some module lag and might e-warp when you jump in but you could at least fight.

    Now, all you have to make your move post downtime (node reinforcement requests have to be made at least one downtime ahead, SoT dropped their shit post downtime that day, I know a request was made but the node wasn't reinforced) and then pack the system with more than 300 people and keep eyes on all the gates (this is a doable number in eve, some people might need to stay up late or call off work but when the alternative is several weeks of work to take the system back you just do it). Then, when the attackers jump or bridge in you just turkey shoot wherever they show up while they're blackscreened for 3 hours trying to load.

    It's funny that CCP went through all this trouble to make an RPer news brief (I bet some guy in provi creamed his jorts at THAT little piece of roleplay gold) about a giant space battle when there wasn't even a fight. PL was dumb as hell for jumping a bunch of titans in, but considering no one involved except the NC had been in a fight this big since before Dominion they have some cover for not expecting the situation to turn out as bad as it did.

    Regardless, this is really all good for us. While IT have a station right next door to us they still have to come like 10 jumps through junk space to actually get to anything and we can do pretty much the exact same thing they did to us in every station system (of which we have like 40 and, thanks to ccp, it requires 4 days of poopsocking to take a station. If you lose one of those days you have to start all over).

    This is of course unless CCP pulls another t20 and fixes the situation right before IT shows up on our doorstep, one of the reasons I'm unsubbing three accounts is there were things that happened in that 'fight' with bombers and grid load for people who were already in system that were pretty damn suspicious, I will keep the details to myself however as some of it is opsec.

    Dominion was supposed to shake up 0.0 sov warfare. It has (in usual CCP fashion) instead pretty much killed it.

    Obligatory 'u mad' 'tl:dr' 'cool story bro' etc etc

  • by Sobrique ( 543255 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:14AM (#30653302) Homepage
    Well, sort of. But the bigger point is not so much 'money was lost' as a 'basis for comparison'. Lets face it, only a WOW player knows what 1 gold is worth, and only an EVE player knows what 1 ISK is worth. But to compare it to 'real money' is something everyone can understand - whether that's done 'legitimately' or not, the point remains you can buy in game currency on e.g. ebay, and that's about the only real baseline for comparison.
    My girlfriend doesn't 'get' what 60 billion isks means, but if you look at the exchange rate (which last I checked was about 300 mil for 20$?) quoting $4000 is something that ... makes more sense. (even if that does make us EVE players barking mad).
  • by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:07AM (#30653518)

    The fact you're comparing a game to a job says loads about how fun EVE is.

  • by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @08:49AM (#30653698)

    Oh stop with the tears ... that kind of emo-rage might work on eve killboards, but not here on slashdot.

    There's a difference between one user pressing a button innocently, and 700 all users all deliberately pressing their buttons at exactly the same moment, KNOWING what will happen when they do.

    It's the EVE equivalent of slashdotting a webpage, in more insidious circles it's called a DDoS.

    Now stop playing innocent, you're kidding no one, especially here.

  • by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:16AM (#30653836)

    Only in EVE would the players decide that network failures are a factor they should take into consideration.

    EVE is a fairly intense game.

    It can take you literally years to train enough skills to fly certain ships. It can take weeks to manufacture a piece of equipment. It can take months to recover from a loss.

    Yes, of course, it's only pixels... But they're pixels that take a lot of time and effort to acquire. Because of this, people take things fairly seriously.

    In this case - everyone knows that CCP has some issues. There are known problems that people just work around - like Jita on the weekends. You know it'll be packed, you know there'll be travel advisories, so you work around it.

    In the case of this battle, and the network failures... Yes, it is something that they should have taken into consideration. One side could have camped a jumpgate with overwhelming numbers intending for the other side to lose players to lag when they jumped in. Or they could have flanked the system and come in through different jumpgates to avoid some of the lag. Or they could have attacked other assets in nearby systems to draw players away from that one overwhelmed system and even the playing field.

  • No you can't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @09:19AM (#30653858) Journal

    The problem ain't like a webserver where you can seperate users, this about a LOT of users needing to interact with each other as they are in the same battle in the same area. You then run into the problem that for every person added you need 1+N more data being handled.

    Imagine a battle between a B17 bomber and a single fighter aircraft. The game needs to handle direction changes by both players AND their firing action BUT while the B17 can generate a LOT of fire data (10 or so guns) it won't actually be doing that since many of its guns will not be able to shoot at anything.

    But now add 1 more enemy fighter. Suddenly the B17 can often have two of its guns being able to see an enemy and fire at it. 1 more player added means not just that players flight and fire data but also additional data being generated by the original B17 player.

    And you now got extra as well with the fighters wanting to know each others status.

    That is why multiplayer games scale so badly and you can't just say, "oh my connection is 10x faster, now I can host 10 times the number of players. If that was true, we should be seeing home hosted 256 players game servers. We aren't.

    Personally I think that for the next move in massive player worlds (lots of people in the same area rather then just a massive world made up of different zones) you need to talk to IBM about mainframes and "super" computers. And that would involve more serious money then a small MMO company has available.

    MASSIVEmo's can't just be created by adding more servers, they have the difficult problem of needing a lot of CPU power to be applied to the SAME data, exactly what current super computers do NOT want to do. Parallel programming won't save your ass here. Neither will splitting up the load.

  • by SlothDead ( 1251206 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:24AM (#30654402)

    If you really like to stick to the chess analogy:
    Imagine a big chess tournament with 300'000 participants. And then some of the automatic sliding doors in the building get stuck, preventing some people from accessing the playing room. The referee then decides that the people in the room can have as many turns as they like, which makes winning very easy.

    And no, I neither play Eve nor Chess...

  • by jameslore ( 219771 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:39AM (#30654564) Homepage

    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.

    EVE is a sandbox game that provides an environment and a permissive attitude as to what goes on within the sandbox. If people choose to be ruthless, great. If they choose to co-operate, great. But CCP have long been pretty clear that exploiting the game engine is out of bounds, despite all the Band of Developers history the old Goons like to rant about over the space-campfire.

    If someone can play the metagame and infiltrate Goonswarm and disband them, good luck to them! But when CVA was disbanded via an exploit recently, CCP rolled it back.

    I'm only a foot-solider, so don't take this as gospel, but my understanding is that the intention was not to exploit by crashing the server. It was acknowledged over TS however that a crash was a real possibility - they had a real large fleet, as did we. But admitting we were pushing the boundaries of the capacity and preparing for it is a very different kettle of fish to actively setting out to attack CCP's infrastructure.

    I still don't get your analogy, mind - I lost a group of pixels. It hurt me no more, nor anyone else on either side, than losing a pawn, or an evening of wiping in WoW. The only participant with a potentially broken nose is CCP, as they're the ones who'll suffer if people in 0.0 get bored with pre-emptive blobbing as a tactic and stop paying their monthly subscriptions.

  • by Zeelan ( 533372 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @10:57AM (#30654808) Homepage
    How would culling players have been fair? The people on the IT side logged in and got into system four to six hours before the battle was reasonable expected to start, and goonswarm was told by all of their allies about the fleet lag and grip opening issue and chose to go in anyway.

    From another thread I found out about leaked logs that they were aware of the problem and jumped so many people in at once with the intent of crashing the server outright and the plan failed.
  • by amosh ( 109566 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:23AM (#30655146)

    Wow... this IS insightful. A post about a game using so much in-game speke that I don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about. Well done!

  • by thoth ( 7907 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:49AM (#30655536) Journal

    As others have noted, you're watching the equivalent of aircraft carriers fighting each other - those don't dodge or pivot much.

    More exciting action is much scale, 5 on 5 or fewer. In those type fights, one person will try to slow a ship (web stasis field), prevent it from escaping (warp disruptor), make it more visible electonically (target painting), scramble it (electronic scrambling), drain its energy (nosferatu modules), etc. Though set in a sci-fi game, smaller scale battles play out reasonably realistically.

    Granted, it still isn't X-wing space fighter style combat. If you want that you would look for a different game.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @11:52AM (#30655596) Homepage

    The problem is that, in this case, all the people outside tried to enter at the same time instead of forming a queue, and expected the door to break. It didn't, it only jammed, so they got screwed. Too bad, but they had it coming.

  • by zAPPzAPP ( 1207370 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @04:41PM (#30660148)
    The whole point here and of this news is, that the victims of this battle (the big ships you see being shot at) were not able to to anything. The players supposed to control these ships were staring at a black screen for at least an hour. With no reaction from their targets there was no reason for the attacking fleet to do anything else besides just sitting there shooting them one by one. Compared to your average battle, this one was exceptionally boring. In a "real" EvE fight, you might have seen them reposition themselves from time to time, although they arent really suited for such maneuvres when being pinned down by faster ships. Smaller ships would be warping from spot to spot trying to get a good shot in and while staying alive.

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.