Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The second day of the CSM summit kicked off with a 2.5 hour meeting on CCP's lag-fighting efforts. CCP Veritas keynoted an extensive presentation on not only what CCP is doing, but the procedures they have put into place to improve the efficiency of their efforts.

I will not go into great detail here, because I don't want to steal their thunder -- there was enough for several devblogs, which CSM encouraged CCP to produce, of course. However, I will hit some of the highlights so you have some idea of what to expect.

In the short term, CCP is working hard on issues like Session Changes, Module Cycling, performance improvements on heavily loaded nodes (such as Jita), and general performance improvements that provide more headroom (which means a server node can handle more people). These changes have both direct and indirect effects on fleet fight performance, often in ways you might not expect.

In the longer term, CCP wants to ensure that heavily loaded nodes exhibit graceful and predictable performance degradation (as opposed to suddenly falling off a cliff and dying horribly), increase performance limits, and transition to running systems on multiple cores.

None of this is really new, but what made a particular impression on me is the obvious seriousness of the effort being made to address lag; it was serious before, but now it is deadly-serious. The lag-fighters are no longer just an ad-hoc task force, but a full dedicated team.

With respect to the oft-expressed opinion of the player-base that Dominion caused a huge increase in lag, CCP Veritas presented a very interesting analysis of what actually happened that I think everyone will find fascinating when it appears (hint, hint) in devblog form. Was there more lag? Yes. Did it happen for the reasons most people think? Nope. Ah, EVE, "Unexpected Consequences Online" -- gotta love this game.

Ragnarök in Reykjavik

After a truly epic journey involving an absolutely excruciating flight on IcelandAir, whose seats should be outlawed under the Geneva Convention as instruments of torture, your humble correspondent, jet-lagged, sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated, and under-medicated, girded his loins, and, in the brave company of the rest of the CSM (doughty forum-warriors all), descended upon CCP HQ for the first day of our special bonus summit, armed only with his trusty Gallente Navy Tritanium Assault Spork, the Official Weapon of the CSM™.

Three times did we clash with the fearsome Jötunn of Iceland in furious meeting. When the sun set, blood red on the horizon, many were the powerpoints that lay broken and bleeding on the floor of the conference cave. One day, the bards will sing of the many brave deeds of your elected representatives, but that day will only come after expiration of the fearsome NDA's, which even the bravest heroes dare not challenge, lest they be cast into the outer darkness.

Each CSM, in turn, stood at the vanguard, hurling sharp comments at our opponents, and yeah, let it be known that no trolls were to be found on either side of the battle. The fight was fair, the combatants cheerful, and the most skillful blows were rewarded with the applause of all involved.

But what, you ask, was learned this day? What plans do the Jötunn have for the future of EVE? To find out these things, the CSM captured and interrogated King Hilmar himself. We will provide more details later, but in summary:

* Production of shiny new things will be reduced, so that more polish can be manufactured and applied to that which already exists.

* The Jötunn will apply dark knowledge they have wrested from the Camarilla to make possible even more titanic battles in New Eden, and have developed ways to administer additional cures for the mysterious malady known as "Lag" more quickly.

* Player (and CSM) complaints have moved the stony hearts of the Jötunn, and they will endeavor to be more responsive to our desires in the future.

The burning question of the day was, of course, that of microtransactions, which, despite several hours of trying, I cannot cast into faux Norse mythological allusion; therefore the last part of this report will have to be delivered straight. The CSM expressed in no uncertain terms the player reaction to the introduction of PLEX for Remaps, and listened to CCP's rationale for introducing them.

CCP stated that PLEX for Remaps was not the first step of either changing EVE to be a microtransaction-based game, or making additional microtransactions effectively required for competitive gameplay. They viewed it as a very small experiment to expand the utility of PLEX and honestly did not think that it would be considered a significant gameplay change, or be widely used except as a repair mechanism.

The CSM explained why the players believe this was a mistake, and made several suggestions about possible solutions. CCP seemed to take these suggestions seriously, but no commitments were made. However, we will be having a second meeting tomorrow with Count Eyjo, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that will touch upon this issue, and we may be able to report further progress at that time. In addition, King Hilmar asked the CSM to prepare a detailed report upon this subject, which he promised to consider most carefully.

At this point, we released the King from the bonds we had placed upon him, in part because he was being quite reasonable (for a Jötunn, anyway), but mostly because we were getting hungry and he promised to buy us lunch.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bára Gunnarsdóttir and the Menus of Doom

Something interesting has just gone live on SiSi, the EVE Online Test Server.

Over the past few weeks, CCP karkur has been implementing a cunning little hack to restructure the EVE contextual menus, making the groupings more coherent, and reordering the groups in a (hopefully) better way. This is a skunk-works project that the CSM ("Your tax ISK at work") has been helping out on, by generating some rough menu categorizations, and providing feedback as to possible ways to handle some of the issues that arise.

However, at this point, CCP karkur needs your help. If you have the time, please log on to SiSi (instructions here), check out the new menu layouts, and give her feedback in this Test Server thread. The current layouts are just a first draft, and your feedback can really help improve them.

There are more details in the forum thread, so please read it before jumping on SiSi!