EVE Online's single-shard universe, the server hardware and game code have to be continually updated to cope with the game's constantly expanding playerbase. Each time the server is upgraded, node stability and lag in large fleet battles improves significantly. Unfortunately, this trend of periodic improvements took something of a wrong turn when the Dominion expansion came along. Before Dominion, fleet battles took place with over a thousand ships on each side and no crippling lag or node deaths in sight. Since the expansion's release, however, fleets of only a few hundred have regularly experienced unplayable conditions.
Frustrated by CCP's lack of visible progress in tackling lag, members of the EVE community have been making their outrage known. A recent appeal to the gaming media by a few players resulted in the issue getting very high exposure, which could be bad for CCP's public image. CCP issued a response explaining that lag is a high priority, and that there is even an entire development team dedicated to tackling it. Earlier this week, CCP Zulu expanded on CCP's lag-busting efforts in the first of a new EVE devblog series dedicated entirely to lag.
CCP Zulu began the blog with an honest admission that lag has been getting worse since Dominion was released. He went on to give a brief introduction to four upcoming devblogs, each on a different aspect of CCP's lag-fighting strategy. CCP Tanis will be reporting on the results from player-assisted mass testing events on Singularity, the EVE test server. CCP Warlock will explain the challenges associated with MMO scaling, and how exactly CCP spreads server load during a large fleet battle.
CCP Atropos will follow this up with an article on automated testing, and how CCP's new "thin client" tool allows for testing with hundreds of simulated players. Finally, CCP Unifex will talk about CCP's organisational structure and the approach that CCP's developers take to making games. If you're interested in what's going on behind the scenes at CCP HQ, the four upcoming EVE devblogs on lag are sure to be an informative read.
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