EVE devblogs discuss developments in the war on lag and RMT

With the Incursion expansion's second phase almost ready to deploy, it's been a busy few weeks for the developers at CCP Games. Work is well underway, but a few of the folks at CCP have taken time out of their busy schedules this week to explain some of the interesting developments that have recently gone on behind the scenes. GM Grimmi, well-known for his work battling EVE's RMT (Real Money Trading) problem, delivered an update on the problem and what CCP is doing to tackle it. Similarly, aptly named developer CCP Masterplan wrote two in-depth devblogs detailing the latest developments in the war on lag.

Lag has always been an issue in EVE Online's territorial warfare, as each side in a fight will try to bring as many ships as possible to major battles. The point at which the EVE server lags and server nodes begin to drop has been increased over the years through hardware upgrades and software performance optimisations, allowing much larger fights than were previously possible. With the playerbase growing every year, however, the number of players who can potentially meet in one place for a major battle has similarly risen and the issue of lag has persisted.

Skip past the cut for a roundup of three new devblogs detailing CCP's progress in the war on lag, recently deployed optimisations for fleet battles, and the progress made in the fight against RMT and botting.

Fixing lag: Drakes of destiny -- part 1

Some time ago, CCP announced the creation of an awesome new tool in the war on lag. The thin client is just like a normal EVE client except that it doesn't have any graphical components and is accessed via a command line interface. CCP uses the client to automate testing that was previously only possible when hundreds of players participated in mass-testing events.

Using this tool, CCP was able to simulate combat between hundreds of remote-controlled Drakes with a few hundred other ships as onlookers. Using a new profiling tool named Telemetry, CCP was then able to work out exactly where most of the lag experienced was coming from. During a typical cycle of Destiny, EVE's physics engine, it was found that the actual physics simulation was a tiny portion of the overall server load. What really killed performance was scheduling the explosions for missiles.

Fixing lag: Drakes of destiny -- part 2

Since the titan's area-effect doomsday was nerfed to a single-target blast, the field of war has radically altered. Entire fleets of missile-slinging Drakes now patrol nullsec, which is apparently very bad news for the server. Missiles have always generated a lot more lag than turrets, and part 1 of this devblog series looked at why this occurs. In part 2 of the series, CCP Masterplan delved into inefficiencies in the algorithm used to prepare updates on physics objects and deliver them to the appropriate clients.

By adding a caching step to avoid unnecessarily repeating work and refactoring the algorithm used, CCP managed to decrease the server load of its missile-spamming simulation from 95% to under 60%. The optimisations were deployed on the EVE test server back a month or so ago to prove they functioned well in real-world situations. They were subsequently rolled out onto the main server at the start of December and have notably improved server performance in large-scale fights.

Unholy rage: Raging on

About a year and a half ago, CCP announced operation Unholy Rage. In one fell swoop, GMs banned over 6200 accounts known to be actively engaged in RMT or botting. As part of an ongoing campaign to fight EVE's RMT element, CCP created its own alternative for players short on ISK but with a few dollars to spare. Rather than buying from ISK-selling sites, which are supported by botting, ISK-spamming and account hijacking, players were urged to buy game time codes and sell them to other players for ISK.

This culminated in the release of the PLEX, an in-game item that can be redeemed for 30 days of game time. In his devblog "Raging on," GM Grimmi explains the latest revelations in the fight against RMT. One of CCP's highest priorities is educating players in the dangers of RMT, its negative effects on the game and the alternative of trading in PLEX.
This article was originally published on Massively.