Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's always the thing you don't think of

Just a quickie.

The more of my old null-sec sov warfare friends I talk to lately, the more of them are excited about the winter expansion.  And the thing that they're excited about is not the thing that you're excited about.  No, they're excited about TiDi.  And secondarily (and strangely), they're also excited about drones being removed from dreads and super-carriers.  And it isn't even for the reason that you think.

I used to be a sov warrior myself, and I've been in many fights with several hundred on each side.  I still have a "NO LAG" tab on the Overviews of all of my mains, set up to remove brackets from view and only show me the bare minimum necessary Overview information that I need for a big fight.  Lag is an enormous consideration in a big fleet fight.  It currently drives virtually every decision about the fight, from what types of ships to bring to how many guns should be in each weapon group on your DPS ships.  Hell, you have to think about what portions of your fleet you can sacrifice if lag is too bad and the order that people have to jump into a system, just in case you only get part of your fleet into a fight.

It's just not the sort of thing that most EVE players have to deal with, you know?  ;-)

But sov warriors deal with that because they like big, epic fights with hundreds on both sides.  Those are the only fights that make the gaming press.  I'm having a great time in Rote and feel more and more firmly that's where I belong, but the biggest fight I'm likely to have in Rote will be 30 or 40 to a side.  If lag has to figure into my calculations there, something's badly wrong with the game.

And we're not likely to make the gaming press.

The big problem that TiDi is going to solve in these big, epic fights is the inherent unfairness of them.  Right now, if EVE doesn't like the number of calls that it's getting from ships in a system, it will arbitrarily just drop some of them.  And it's unpredictable whose calls will be dropped.  The dropped calls might be as simple and minor as a single volley of weapon fire from a single frigate all the way to as important as the call that will jump a Titan out of a heavily-lagged system.  The call will be dropped, the action won't happen, and you won't know why.  If you're that Titan pilot, you might think your ship safely out of the system.  Meanwhile, it's exploding.  All you see is a black screen until it's all over.  And despite the dropped calls being CCP's fault, they'll reject any petition you make to replace that Titan.

The replacement of this capricious mechanic with one that is simple and predictable is making my null-sec sov warfare friends very happy, and understandably so.

So why are they also happy that drones are being removed from dreads and super-carriers?  Because that's another major source of lag.  A ton of people have looked at this, and two big sources of lag are jump-ins and drone launches.  Both actions involve adding a bunch of new database entries and models to the grid.  A big fleet fight can easily have thousands of drones per side.  Fewer drone-capable ships means fewer drone launches means less lag in a big fleet fight.  It's really as simple as that.  Without those cap drones, TiDi should be invoked less often than it otherwise would.  And it's really not something that anyone not involved in sov warfare would ever think of.

When I say TiDi is as close as Crucible will have to new EVE Online game play, this is what I mean.  It's just not a sort of "game-play" that you'll think of if you haven't been involved.

9 comments:

  1. Ripard, what do you think of people that say this will only result in bigger blobs to "fill the lag?"

    I gave up any desire for nullsec years ago, hundreds of people on grid is epic to watch, but a worse grind than mining to participate in IMNSHO.

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  2. @madhaberdashers - the comparison between mining and large fleet fights is only valid because lag breaks things at present. After TiDi, fleet fights will become worth playing through!

    @Jester - TiDi fixes broken gameplay. What would truly change fleet fights forever would be line-of-sight weapons fire along with damage being dealt to whoever the weapon actually hit.

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  3. Wait - does this mean they are removing complexity from large fleet battles? ;)

    Re: fill the lag - I'm sure they'll hit other limitations as blobs get even bigger, such as client (overview) overloading, but as I understand the TiDi mechanics, they shouldn't ever drop actions again, unless they coded some upper limit on the amount of time dilation that's acceptable, and to revert to the old behavior after that.

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  4. @Wizarth

    OMG! CCP is coddling nullsec players!!1!

    Jokes aside, I hope that Time Dilation helps as much as much as it seems it could. I'm sure there will still be an upper limit to how many people can be active on a grid before all lag hell breaks loose, but if TiDi is powerful enough maybe (hopefully) it will be a while before anybody breaks it.

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  5. Drones are a nonissue - nowdays dreads are only used for bashing undefended poses. And moms would be lanching bombers or fighters anyways - if they don't launch anything, why are they in a fight?

    TiDi would be great - if it works. I'll believe that when I see it. Implementing it properly is, ahem, above the level of competence usually displayed by CCP programmers.

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  6. "What would truly change fleet fights forever would be line-of-sight weapons fire along with damage being dealt to whoever the weapon actually hit."
    Now that would be made of WIN, smothered in an awesomesauce reduction glaze. But of course would add infinite complexity, which, as we've learned, is a bad thing. ;-) Besides, in the end what would happen is even more of the "Revolutionary/Civil War" doctrine where 2 sides line up on opposing sides of the field and take pot-shots. One thing about those times: if you took a bullet, you could die certain in the knowledge that it was your enemy who shot it. ;-)
    I would, however, find it fantastically funny to have a large proj or rail round go astray and vaporize a friendly tacklefrig or Inty... "oops, guys, mah bad!" lol Now that would make EVE "REAL".

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  7. A funny thing happened on the way to Placid just a minute ago -- lol I passed you in Cistuvaert. Was gonna give a o/ but ya jumped out too fast.

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  8. Heh, yup. Places to be, things to do. ;-) If I'm not obviously in a fleet, feel free to open an in-game chat with me.

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  9. One thing that not everybody takes into account with TiDi: you will get all that DPS from the fleets.

    That and a good target calling will ensure that those targets WILL pop, so in the end the events will last a lot less than they do now.

    This is important to take note, since I already saw people reaching the conclusion that by slowing down the simulation fleet battles will take even more time.

    One feature that I would like to see is drone grouping. This would help both to reduce the lag and force your drones to FF on a single target (what you want them to in most cases).

    @Jester: do not forget about "system remaping" (changing the solar system to a reinforced node without needing a DT). It is another thing that can help fleet fights.

    It is still not a "hot system remaping" (one that happens without the players' connections being dropped), but they will get there eventually.

    @Anon 1223: TiDi is being coded by team gridlock and they already demostrated enought competence.

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