Sunday, July 28, 2013

TEST Alliance Please Ignore's last stand: The Battle for 6VDT-H

This battle has been touted as the largest in Eve Online history, and I get to say that I was there... through soul-crushing lag to eventual victory. I will not bore you with a write-up of the battle when there are several accounts that you can read, this will be my account, and why it was lots of fun and shitty at the same time.

Formup

I was unable to show up when the fleet started, so I was in the first reinforcement fleet. I was flying a Megathron-class Battleship, ready to go kill some Testies (say that with a straight face) I showed up to fleet, sat on a Titan, which is a ship that allows you, among other things, to bridge an entire fleet from one system to another in an instant, allowing for massive force projection and quick reinforcement. As we are sitting on the Titan, we are doing final preparations to jump in.

Then the Fleet Commander (FC) gives the order to jump.

Lag from Hell

Many Call of Duty players will tell you about lag of a few milliseconds making the huge difference in a fight. They can only hope to grasp what happens in Eve Online.

For those of you who don't know, Eve has only one server. If you've played any MMO, you can understand the infrastructure it takes to have 50,000+ players on a server at the same time, spread across 5k+ solar systems. Several systems have their own server node, most notably Jita, Eve's main trade hub. At any given time, Jita has 1500+ pilots in system, managing buy/sell orders, contracts, and local scams.

For large fleet fights, the organizers of the fight can request that the system's server node be reinforced, basically the system is moved to a dedicated server. Only two systems have that at all times, and those are Jita and Amarr. For this fight, in which more than 4000 pilots were in system at the same time, CCP set the system up on Jita's dedicated supercomputer.

It didn't help much.

Historically in Eve, lag in fleets battles has been famous. It was not uncommon for pilots to be unable to click modules to fire or repair their comrades. This caused CCP to develop Time Dilation to slow down time to ensure that every command given to a ship is carried out. This fight, with CCP's most powerful supercomputer, still managed to cap TiDi out, slowing the entire system to 10% of normal speed, is lag.

It took me one hour to get into the system after jumping in. After several client restarts, the grid finally loaded, and I began to experience the lag from hell. I don't want to hear from CoD players that their ping is over 100ms, because it took MINUTES for my modules to activate, after taking 5 minutes to lock my cruiser sized target. It got to the point, after 3 hours, that my Eve client's clock was no longer running, and I got this error, stating the the server was not even receiving commands from my computer any more. Many laughs were had on coalition comms about the errors, and the FC just saying "fuck it, if you can target it, shoot it" made it for one of the most fun gaming experiences I have ever had.

As TEST retreated, it was not only a feeling of accomplishment removing them from their ancestral system,but a feeling of relief getting to the Titan, and jumping back into the CFC staging system, where there is no lag, and no one trying to shoot at me after 6 hours of sitting on that battlefield taking one shot every five minutes, killing a few ships, when I could lock them and get a shot off.

And I would do it again... but for now, I'm glad the war is all but over.

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