"CCP fix lag nao!!" That's essentially what this writer has been hearing from players since he began EVE Online, and most assuredly it was being uttered long before that. Whether it's a typical forum whine or something much more clever, the message remains the same: Players really want to have fleet battles with several hundred people at once. After all, the shardless galaxy that players populate, in theory, should allow for that. But in practice, lag can turn such engagements into a slide show. Is it unrealistic to assume that 1000-player fleet battles will ever be a reality in EVE? Time will tell. Still, you'd think that CCP Games didn't care about wiping out lag from much of what you read on the forums.
They're making some inroads with their new server technologies and ongoing initiatives to improve performance, but players still wonder what goes on behind the scenes. The latest in the recent blitz of dev blogs from CCP Games comes from CCP Tanis, "Introducing: the EVE Performance Group," and is an attempt to explain how this group of developers works to make EVE "run better, faster, and smarter." CCP Tanis lays out how they using monitoring, profiling, and debugging tools to try and reduce server load and increase performance.
His discussion leads into database optimizations, namely as they relate to the upcoming Weapon Grouping feature and the inventory system. A notable change they're making is to NPCs, which will have a (slightly) stronger alpha strike, but will fire less often. Ultimately, their DPS won't change, but the reduced rate of fire should free up resources previously utilized by NPCs.
CCP Tanis also discusses the difficulties in making changes to low-level systems given how they can impact other aspects of the game, namely tweaks to the aggression manager and the attributes system. While what CCP Tanis outlines won't quell those aforementioned outcries of "CCP fix lag nao!!", it's good to know that they're actively pursuing ways of making the game run smoother and, in general, communicating this better to the playerbase. CCP Tanis closes by saying, "I really want to express how excited I am by the progress we've made, even just in the past couple of months; and there are even more promising changes on the horizon." See "Introducing: the EVE Performance Group" for more details on what CCP is doing behind the scenes, and weigh in on the forums with your views on this.