Today there was a massive fight in 9-4RP2 in EVE Online. Unfortunately, time dilation made it virtually unplayable. Ships sat in space for hours unable to move or shoot, for those who don’t know what time dilation is, it’s a “feature” introduced by CCP, the makers of EVE, to slow down the game and make it still playable under heavy loads. Today, that feature failed in a rather dull way for the first time, with over 6,000 players in a single system, the server could handle no more, and the CPU utilization on the server was under maximum load at 100%.
This ended up causing several issues aside from what already been mentioned, but chief among them is that timers do not stop when space stops due to time dilation. Time may be running at 1/100th of real-time but the countdown timers on stations will continue going at a constant speed. When this happens, the time available to attack a structure counts down to zero while thousands of players are wasting time just sitting there in space, unable to move or fire, a window of opportunity that required weeks of planning and coordination is gone.
Why do citadels matter?
Several things make citadels important, principally, they hold space and allow players to dock supermassive ships for the first time in the history of EVE. Not to mention, they are incredibly expensive to build with prices ranging from the equivalent of a couple of US dollars to between three or four million US dollars depending on size and fancy features. These things are beasts, and they are not meant to be temporary, but as with everything in life, there are other powers out there that are bent on taking them down for a variety of reasons.
What needs to change?
First, I think the most important change, is that CCP needs to build one very high capacity server in the cluster that fight systems can be moved to. They’ve already implemented such a system, but the capacity is obviously lacking.
Second, CCP needs to constrain the structure timers to time dilation, in doing so, the window of attack would be substantially lengthened and by the actions the players are taking.
These two changes are critical to the future of EVE in the time of citadels, a time now marked by the rapid expansion of empires in space and the construction of massive numbers of incredibly expensive outposts. Citadels have changed the fundamentals of the game, and it’s critical that the game change with them to support the players.