Take a look to the left, you see that image? That looks pretty cool right? Right! But what this image fails to capture is the speed of the battle. While this looks particularly amazing, watching this play out over a livestream was exceedingly slow. This is from a game called Eve Online. What I’m about to describe will sound like the coolest thing to ever have existed. But let me tell you, that it is also easily one of the most boring.
In Eve Online you take control of your very own space ship, in a truly massive, single world online multiplayer game. Over time you decide what you want to specialize in and the skills you train over time are what you’re able to use. You can join corporations, or groups who’s goal is to conquer a zone of their own out in the zones without any security. This is one of the best sandbox games on the market. You can truly do whatever it is you want to do. I could list off jobs all day and still not be done, so I’ll let you use your imagination. Now that you have some background let me tell you a little bit more about an incredible event that recently took place.
Called “Burn Jita” members of the Goonswarm and their alliance set out to destroy billions of assets in a high security sector that rarely sees any conflict at all. Jita is a large trade hub protected by strong NPCs who easily take down aggressors. The catch? It’s more difficult when there are a few thousand of them. So surely there is a method behind this madness, there’s something to gain? Not really, Goonswarm is known for their desire to simply grief other players and go out of their way to reek havoc and spread discord. As a truly open world game, it’s not that difficult for them to do.
The best part of all of this? While most developers would panic at the sound of players trying to do something for themselves. The good folks over a CCP has this to say “I tell you what, it’s going to be f***ing brilliant,” Senior Producer Jon Lander told the folks over at Eurogamer. “We want people to be able to do this. If Goonswarm want to do it, we want them to do it and we want them to have a great time doing it. The worst thing we could do is to stop it happening. It would be appalling for the game. It would be against everything we stand for.” Did I just hear that right? A senior producer not only saying he thought it was a good idea, but that they were definitely not going to stop them? Many companies would go on a banning spree at that point in time. To prevent even the slightest misstep that may involve players using the system they created and having fun doing it.
There are three things that CCP has done to make this such an incredible event, one that they didn’t even plan or have to lift a finger for:
1. Staying out of the way. Other than hot fixing a bug, CCP didn’t do anything other than wait excitedly for the show to start.
2. ISK or “Inter-Steller Kredits” is the currency in game and is so tied to real world thanks to some smart moves by CCP that around 300 Million ISK is the current going rate for a month of game time. Meaning 300 Million is roughly equal to $15. How big is this? Well, back in 2010 a player named “Bad Bobby” ended up stealing the assets of a corporation he owned. Netting him over 850 BILLION ISK, worth roughly around $45,000. Read more about it HERE.
3. “Time Dilation” or TiDi. This revolutionary new technology that CCP has developed to help combat lag. In a game where there is only one server and tens of thousands of players, and battles that can easily stretch over a thousand men per side, you can only imagine how big lag would be, with all those people, all those abilities, all duking it out. Do you remember fighting Titan mode in Battlefield 2142? Do you remember how with 32 people sometimes the titan mode would slow to a crawl. That was with 32 people…this is with thousands!
The following is the tale of Lovelocke who participated in the first large battle of this year. He mentions TiDi in his story numerous times and only has good things to say. “The lag was barely noticeable. 1400+ in local, super capitals with fighter bombers swarming, doomsdays, Drake missiles, etc, yet with TiDi in full force there were no crashes, no unresponsive modules, no MWD’s that wouldn’t turn off. Astonishing. I still don’t fully understand what TiDi is, its explanation far too technical for my fragile little mind, but whatever it is CCP have certainly struck gold.” He summed it up well there at the end. I’ve read page after page on Time Dilation and can’t quite comes to grip with it either. But it is my sincere hope that other game makers figure it out, as it may well be the greatest blow against lag we’ve ever seen.
So all this sounds incredible right? How can something so cool be boring like I said? Well take a look at THIS video and you might understand. With the HUD up it looks like a stock broker spilled a bag of skittles on a picture of space! This video shows just how slow the game can play. Today while many people are looking for the next big fast explody shoot-em-up, Eve does a wonderful job of slowing down to smell the laser cannons.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an incredible game and one that should be used as a “How to do this right” for many MMO producers in the future. The people that play this game consistently are truly dedicated and know what they like and want. I’ve tried Eve a few times myself but can’t ever get quite into it. But for the players out there who go out of their way to make fun events for others to experience. I salute you.
And if you’re wondering how the event turned out? Goonswarm didn’t quite destroy the economy but as you can see below in this “Kill Heatmap” CCP released, billions upon billions in ISK were lost. With thousands of dollars disappearing into thin air you can bet this event will be remembered for some time to come.