Great battle report, and good example of TiDi in EVE.
I’ll keep hammering the lag point until every last person understands what’s technically possible, and why MMOs with servers the size of a game from 97 are doing it wrong. I understand CCP is in a class of their own, and I’m not saying every game should be this flawless with 1400 people in one area, but when you see recently released games choke whenever 100 people stand around, it’s embarrassing.
I’m not saying that EVE isn’t a marvellous piece of engineering, nor that other MMOs aren’t problematic: but it’s bit disingenous to compare 1400 ships moving on particular trajectories and cycling weapons, to 1400 characters in a more traditional MMO, that could jink or strafe in any direction any given fraction of a second, or activate instant-cast attacks and skills at any given time.
By the way, that was indeed a great battle report, and I sprayed tea on my monitor at the reference to “the horn of Goondor” being blown.
While EVE is definitely forgiving on server hardware for various reasons, I don’t quite understand your argument. A player can get his ship to “jink” as much as he has the patience for. Then you have to take into account 1400 guns/launchers cycling (more if people don’t have their guns stacked), ~1400*5 drones, hundreds of missiles whose flight path needs to be followed through, 1400*x amount of mods being turned on/off cycling, overheating.
I think you’re underestimating what happens in EVE combat. Ships, while they follow trajectories, can zig and zag as much as players, in addition to the plethora of modules, missiles, drones and deployables that can be activated at any given time. Non-ship player avatars follow trajectories too. Server-side motion prediction can lead to some hilarious effects when a player disconnects while moving.
And I don’t think space combat is any more suited to TiDi than FPS-style combat in the typical MMO. In both cases everything slows down to a slideshow, and you can think and plan way ahead of the events on screen.
MMO developers must be aware they can slow down time, it’s not exactly breaking news.
I was t… nevermind. I missed the killmail because at some point boat said ‘don’t shoot the Erebus’ … and I did what the FC said, all the way to the end. Damn youuu!!!!
On a different note, TiDi is huge. Absolutely huge, major breakthrough in technology, etc etc. Let me put it this way – when the good people of kugutsumen.com have only 100% praise for CPP, you know you’ve struck gold.
EVE is certainly interesting and we’re left with two options:
1) EVE is fundamentally less taxing on server processing than traditional MMOs because it’s dynamics are different.
2) EVE is less taxing on the server than traditional MMOs because traditional MMOs are badly implemented.
Somehow I doubt that it’s option 2 but the absolute scale of EVE should inspire developers to re-think their approach. Of course having all the SWTOR/WOW players on one server would make the game itself unplayable even if the server coped.
It’s a little bit of A) and a lot a B). EVE has always been, right from the beginning, touted as the single shard MMO where big giant fleet battles occur. To live up to their own marketing CCP has always put maximum effort into maintaining their server technology. I always gloss over the server technology devblogs but they are constantly updating their servers (something a company like Blizzard does not d0) to the latest and greatest technology. It’s actually gotten to the point where they are currently running “future” tech provided to them by Intel. On the programming side of things, they have a large team of developers (Gridlock) dedicated 100% to optimizing the performance of the EVE server.
Time Dilation is just one aspect gridlock developed and to discount it is retarded, it is an amazingly simple and elegant solution to the lag problem. Simply, slow down the local time incrementally allowing every bodies “actions” to be processed by the server, and yet I doubt quite as simple to implement as perfectly as CCP has.
In the end you can dismiss the decade of work CCP has put into fighting the lag monster as “lol-EVE”, and we’ll continue chugging on with more people in local then an average WoW server has online during prime time.
To add to this, what does it say about an MMO that today can’t handle 100 people in one area out of the gate? To have a game go all the way out to release and not have that addressed? And money/time is not an excuse for AAA games, so it’s clearly a conscious decision.
For BioWare and SW:TOR, clearly voice acting was a much higher priority than getting the game to be anything close to massive multiplayer.
They also decreased group size to 4. I think SWTOR is leveraging multiplayer well, but it is not massive. Illum PVP is reportedly pretty laggy with 50 players.
Anyone I know who has a modicum of sense in the tech-side of what MMOs require, they are always amazingly impressed by the engineering and smooth functionality of EVE. To date, they still have the hands-down best patching process of any game I have ever played. Their programmers continual astound and awe me at what they’re able to do.
Most devs, believe it or not, are doing pretty damn stupid things when it comes to networking, and nearly none of them are even trying to think of new innovative ways to cram more people in on one server.
Granted, even the mighty EVE server is not composed of one super-computer but rather from dozens or even well over a hundred machines, each running a small portion of the game. The technological marvel behind EVE is the router that keeps all the server nodes updated and synchronized.
A couple weeks ago a company named Much Different from Sweden demonstrated a new server technology that allowed 999 simultaneous players in a traditional FPS game (although the game itself was horribly unbalanced). They actually broke a Guinness World Record with that and I must say, as a game developer myself, that they created some impressive server tech (it’s written in Erlang and based on the same principals as cellular network if anyone cares).
Now the thing to remember is that SW:TOR is built with the a modified version of the commercial Hero Engine, which is built with quite a legacy approach to networking. It worked in the past, and sharded, instanced servers do have their advantages over more modern and massive MMO’s.
Think of the Singularity test server – what’s the difference between an enormous but lightly populated world and a small but lightly populated world?
That’s right, the latter would feel less empty.
Also, what is the cost of creating an enormous world against the cost of creating a small, replicate-able world?
Again, the latter would be less costly (unless you voice-act everything, obviously).
When everyone lives in the same place you need larger worlds, and larger worlds need more unique content, unless that world is space, and you make everything with procedural algorithms, like EVE. That approach wouldn’t work so easily for your average fantasy MMORPG.
TiDi is an elegant solution for a common problem, pretty much the same way instancing was an elegant solution to Warcraft III’s engine’s inherently flawed networking technology (sorry Blizzard, modding an RTS P2P-based game engine into an MMO engine is an interesting idea, but you never really expected it to be Massive, did you?)
Many devs are lazy and do stupid stuff, don’t doubt that.
Suits don’t want to waste money, don’t doubt that either.
The ruling philosophy says if it’s working, don’t try to repair it, even if it’s horribly broken or just an ancient legacy.
It’s a question of priorities, and milking people is regarded as more important than building better tech, so here we are.
‘I was there’ update (damn this thing). 1900 is the new 1400. http://www.evenews24.com/2012/02/11/the-battle-for-0p9z-i/ . The dilation factor was stuck at 90% pretty much the whole fight. Almost 900 (if I remember correctly) drakes online at the same time, shooting missiles. Ouch.
I wouldn’t say “embarrassing.” How many textures, shading, polygons, shadows, etc etc, exist for the average EVE ship versus the average character avatar in a given MMO? How much memory is freed up by not having to render much in the way of, you know, environments? Can EVE rely on graphical shortcuts when combat between ships takes place at a distance of hundreds (thousands?) of meters? And so on.
It is certainly a design direction devs have to consciously make. Generally speaking though, for as cool as the Battle of Helm’s Deep looks, I believe most players want to be Legolas and Gimli and Aragorn, rather than just some faceless archer or orc that randomly gets killed.
If Helm’s Deep was a fight between 40 Legolas’ vs 40 Aragorns, repeated every 15min, is that really so different from some ‘random orc’ dying*?
*It is if the orc is one of 1000 in a battle that happens once.
If you’re asking me whether there is a difference between being an integral part of a battle and merely being a part of a battle, then yes, there is a difference.
I’m not trying to denigrate the 1000-person battle; it’s definitely an event, and probably something special. I’m glad it exists somewhere in the gaming world. But when talking about players in the aggregate, I think the evidence is there that they prefer the battles wherein they (can) play an important, noticeable part. Or battles that are easy to get into, get out of, and move on with their day.
I think you’ve done it, Syncaine. I keep reading all this greatness about EvE here. By the end of the year, if the fantasy MMORPG sub-genre doesn’t pick up, I might just hafta take the plunge for [avatar-less] EvE.
It might not be everything I want in an MMO, but at least it’s soul is intact.
Last night there was 2174 people in Jita when I logged on in the system. Was quite amazed! If it lagged or was lagging it wasn’t obvious to me as I spent at least a hour in system. But that the highest number I ever seen in any system. Granted Jita is a reinforced system node. For some MMO’s they dont even have that much on one server.
Awesome write up. TiDi is killer, and a really good idea. Though, to be fair, I think it “works” a lot better in EvE than it would in a real-time FPS-type game — Darkfall, for example. However, a similar approach would work just fine in any theme park, tab-1-2-3, type game (e.g. SWTOR, WoW, etc.). I’m surprised they haven’t borrowed this feature yet. I guess they only cannibalize OTHER tab-1-2-3 games.