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Making fleet battle reservations in EVE Online?

James Egan

This is probably a first in the MMO industry... EVE Online announced higher performance server reservations for large scale PvP battles. Unlike most other MMO titles where you choose a server to play on with your friends, EVE Online doesn't make you choose. Although the server cluster is made up of hundreds of IBM blade servers, from a player's perspective, it's all one galaxy with over 5000 solar systems. This is good for a 'sandbox' game, where players are allowed to do whatever they feel like within the rules of that place. It creates a huge galaxy where everyone can potentially interact... or kill each other. But it comes with a rather substantial drawback at times: lag.

This 'single server' approach makes EVE Online a game where players hope to have large-scale fleet battles not unlike all those sci-fi shows and films we grew up with. But the harsh reality is that there are limitations of server technology that hinder large scale conflicts. Bring a few hundred of your friends to a fleet battle in EVE and you might not be fighting so much as watching a slide show. Definitely not the most fun to be had in the game.

EVE's developer CCP Games have taken steps to improve this situation, and some of their approaches do seem promising, but for the time being they're taking a stopgap measure to reduce fleet combat lag -- server reservations. This new Fleet Fight Notification system allows players (CEOs and Directors only) to actually log into a site and reserve faster servers, 24 hours in advance of combat commencing. Of course, given how competitive the game can be, this will set off some warning alarms in the minds of some players...

One of the first things that will probably come into people's minds is, "If I notify CCP that we're planning to have a large fleet operation tomorrow, will our enemies somehow get advance warning of the offensive?" And that's certainly a valid concern, as you'd wonder who actually has access to these requests. CCP stated that notifications go to the Tranquility admin team (aka Virtual World Operations), the Lead GMs, and most notably -- Internal Affairs. (CCP has employees who are tasked with investigating allegations of wrongdoing on the part of CCP staff... emphasizing their stance that "Abuse of this system will NOT be tolerated.")

The upside of this is that it's like a concierge service for your fleet battles, and might provide alliances with a better fleet PvP experience than they'd have otherwise. The downside is that it's not always practical to schedule these things in advance. Granted most large-scale fleet engagements are the result of planning, but some fleet actions come together in a more dynamic way. Perhaps more than anything, this new option for requesting higher performance from the servers entails some degree of trust on the part of players, who will be giving out sensitive information about their alliance's plans. But that's the tradeoff.

Where do you stand on this? Would you be willing to trust in the sanctity of the system CCP put in place to provide optimal conditions for large-scale PvP? Or are you skeptical that this system won't somehow be turned to someone else's advantage?

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