Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EVE needs server merges

"Server merge" is the worst possible PR for a video game. They mean that people have left the game in large numbers. It's acknowledging that the game is not successful. However in an MMO where other people means content to players, not merging servers can be even more problematic. The remaining players who are happy with the game content can leave due to being unable to find groups to play with.

EVE Online is in a special case. At first - unlike the other games - it gives data of users online. The third party site EVE Offline tracks this data and can give good graphs about how many people are playing. There is no need or place for PR here, the raw data speaks loud. The average player load on Tanquility, the western server is around 28K and slowly decreasing. The Chinese server Serenity has around 16K, fairly stable.

What is wrong with these numbers? There are around 7500 star systems in EVE, about 2000 of them are high security where PvP is limited. Reports are saying 80% of the pilots are in highsec. So in an average non-highsec system there is almost exactly 1 pilot on average. It means that finding opponents to fight isn't a trivial task. It also means that there is absolutely no competition for non-highsec resources, which creates the strange thing that mining veldspar, the most "newbie" mineral for an hour barely pays less than mining the highest level minerals for the same time. When I circumnavigated the galaxy in nullsec, I found most systems empty.

In EVE Online you must meet other people to have a game at all. The PvE of EVE is pretty shallow and without competition and conflict there isn't much point for playing. The conflicts over star systems are rather conflicts over personalities than over materials. We hunt -A- because we hate what they praise and not because we care about their systems (most of them are still in -A- hands because we couldn't be bothered to take them).

This isn't good at all. There should be combat in EVE Online, "dock up and wait till he leaves" shouldn't be a way to handle PvP and there shouldn't be star systems ignored by everyone.

The solution is obvious for all other games: server merges. However EVE Online has one western server, Tranquility. Merging with Serenity is probably impossible due to financial reasons (different paying method, prices and the infamous "Chinese goldfarmer" issue). Also merging with Serenity wouldn't solve a thing. Assuming the same 80% being in highsec in China too, the average population per star system would rise to 1.6. Hardly a fix (though would be an improvement).

The solution is realizing that Tranquility isn't really a server, rather a login system. The servers are the star systems. There are way too many star systems for so few players. I would suggest to shut down 80% of the star systems. It should be done equally, so every region and every class of WH would lose 80% of the stars (except highsec, as they are populated). It would be the best to look in the long-term data and remove the least populated 80%. Announce these, give a month for the players to evacuate, then during an extended downtime switch off the stargates/wormholes of these systems, move the players logged out in these systems to the nearest non-deleted. Their assets can stay, so their jump clones, just make it impossible to activate these clones. If the server population would increase, this would make re-opening the stars easy. New stargates can be necessary if some stars become inaccessible due to the way to them is removed.

Such deletion would increase the Tranquility population to 5 players/stars making combat more frequent and resources more competed over. What do you think?

Important note to fellow logistics and capital-only pilots: if you thought that the incoming battlecruiser and destroyer skill changes only affect Drake and Talos riders, you are wrong. Capital ships will no longer need faction battleship 5, don't train that. Faction battleship on the other hand will need frigate, destroyer, cruiser and battlecruiser 4 to train, so if you want to fly the capital ship of a faction, learn their battleship to 1 now, saving faction destroyer and battlecruiser learning. If you are worried that it won't allow you further training with missing faction destroyer and faction battlecruiser, get destroyers and battlecruiser to 4 now.

Tuesday morning report: 169.7B Did some liquidations, hence the lack of increase. Also put 0.6B a wrong container, fixed. (8.6 spent on main accounts, 7.1 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.8 on Ragnarok, 5.3+0.1 on Rorqual, 3.4 on Nyx, 3.4 on Dread, 37.4+20 sent as gift)


C.A. said...

This makes a lot of sense Gevlon, but it shall be done very wisely since wormhole and sov null corps are going to take a hit that I believe they won't want to since there are costs to move everything from a location that's being deleted.

For a WH corp it'll be even more complex that might make some people threat to quit the game although the change is for the best.

Anonymous said...

for wormholes it could be simply to get rid of the empty ones in the first place :|

Johnicholas Hines said...

A significant amount of Eve's lock-in is the brainmatter that people have already devoted to thinking about Eve's peculiarities. To some extent, that's combat, but honestly, Eve's combat is not that peculiar - it's squarely in the DikuMUD tradition. Mostly, its the terrain.

Changing the terrain would cause a player staying with Eve have a similar experience to that player switching to a new game - they no longer have their familiar routes and hunting spots, and need to learn new routes and hunting spots. I think CCP would expect to lose players.

What if instead of removing something, there was a drifting focus, a spotlight resource spanning a few star systems, occasionally flickering out and reappearing somewhere else?

tangurena said...

Merging with Serenity is probably impossible due to financial reasons...

Actually, legal reasons.

The Chinese government requires access to all the chat logs in every game offered to players in China. Consequently, the privacy issues of doing that mean that you will violate European data privacy laws for every European player. So CCP has taken the only rational move possible: quarantine the Chinese players onto their own server where they have no privacy from their own government. In the West, we like to pretend that our governments at least require court orders before doing the same thing.

I'd sure like to know where these empty systems are located, as my experiences in high sec show that there are typically about 1.5 players per asteroid belt in the afternoon (GMT). I don't have any character capable of tanking sleepers. And with so many gate camps, there isn't any reason to go to low sec, I may as well save the time and self-destruct when undocking in high.

bandsaw1961 said...

EVE is fine as it is thanks very much. If people want to pew pew they can easily go to the systems where pvp happens: Amamake, Old man star, hed-gp or any of the other null sec entry points and hotspots.

If people choose to dock up rather than fight then that is their right, it just makes it more fun when you do manage to get them.

Tanen said...

Still the best way would be to make null and low appealing to the hi-sec players. Getting even a quarter of them to move into low/null would greatly improve the player ammounts there. Removing systems would hurt a lot of smaller alliances, all of the null would be controlled by the major power blocks if the space was reduced.

Anonymous said...

80% seems a little high, but I also thought that reducing the number of star systems might help for PvP.

I do need to correct you on one point and merging Serenity with Tranquility. You are correct it won't happen, but for the wrong reasons given. CCP will never get permission to have Mainland chinese players on the same server as the rest of the world because of Government regulations in China.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the average number of pilots per system but rather : is finding fights difficult ? And clearly no, it's easy to find pvp : popular low sec system, NPC null sec and hot regions in general... Of course if you are in Fountain, Branch or Delve it's another story but heh there has to be some consequences to the number of blues, right ?

Purplehazey said...

How about this for a blog post, propose ways in which EVE can obtain new users without losing any values that EVE has

Sugar Kyle said...

@tangurena - Where are all these gatecamps?

Debra Tao said...

@ sugar kyle : go in Forge between Ikami and EOA it has been camped pretty much 24/7 by Brick Squad. It's really amazing to see 6-7 dudes per system trying to kill 2 frigates per hour and hiding when a 20 men roam come by.

P.S. yes i lost quite a bit

Péter Zoltán said...

Increasing the player density is a very good idea, that would remove most of the timesink from solo pvp I guess...

Gediminas Rapalis said...

Problem is that LS and NULL is not that profitable if it is not owned by blues. The time you will spend running, hiding compared to potential earns has bad ratio. Plus you need more than 1 toon to be efficient for majority of sites.

Not to mention shitty bubbles with cans around, which really makes a pain moving around in any other ship than interdictor.

Putting delayed local would boost pvp beyond your imagination. Imagine 20 dudes jumping in from wormhole to a camped system and noone having any idea. If that would be implemented, to avoid fights would be super difficult and would increase number of hunters vastly.

Try playing starcraft with maphack and see how much fun it gives. Local is basically same thing

Anonymous said...

Who said you have to pvp in nullsec?

You can do pvp perfectly well if you want to in the current system. You can do a zillion other things which are not pvp in the current system too. Reducing the number of systems would reduce game complexity.

Deleting the majority of systems would force every player to play pvp all the time, even if they don't want to.

Want to mine? No, you will have to pvp.
Want to explore? No, you will have to pvp.
Want to rat? No, you will pvp.
Want to haul? No, you will pvp.

Cramming everyone together into densely populated systems would just lead to constant frustration of those players who are uninterested in pvp. It will also lead to a market crash.

Every gate would be camped, and every space patrolled, so fights would break out all the time. Miners and ratters could spend less time mining and ratting, as they would have to divert resources to defend themselves. Also, ship losses would increase. So a higher demand for equipment would meet an eve-wide production shortage.

I actually like the idea that you can find empty places in space if you want to in the current system. Also, stating that there is one player in average in every null sec system is a typical statistical mistake. Payer distribution is not even in these systems. Some have huge blobs and high pvp activity, others barely see any visitors. Yet others have POS-es and corporations minding their own business.

If you want to increase player density in null sec (say twofold) that should be done by bringing more players to EVE. This can be done by introducing new features to the game and backing that with an efficient marketing campaign.

New features could include an expanded lore, new game elements, minigames or resources.

This way there would still be plenty of empty systems, but also a few more with groups of players in them.

Anonymous said...

A better idea is to decrease the security rating of all zones by 0.1 except for the 20% most populated 1.0 zone.

This will cause NULL sec and LOW sec to expand.

tangurena said...

@Sugar Kyle
Autaris to Jan is one that I and my corpies encounter. Vuorrassi to Nalvula is less common. These are in Lonetrek. These camps are generally evenings US time zone. When I've logged on in the mornings (about 10 AM Eastern), I find that the camps are not there, but the high sec belts are jammed with miners. Evenings US time (about 10 PM Eastern), the high sec belts have about 1/3 the miners that are present during the mornings.

Anonymous said...

> A better idea is to decrease the security rating of all zones by 0.1 except for the 20% most populated 1.0 zone. This will cause NULL sec and LOW sec to expand.

Which will, in turn, further lower the player/system ratio for low and null sec. Or do you really believe high-sec dwellers will stay and embrace low/null sec just because you changed borders?

Anonymous said...

The better idea would be to make Sec-Status dynamic with player activity. It seems perfectly natural that if 10 people run sites in the same constellation every day that the truesec should go up from -1.0 to -.1, whereas on the other hand systems that get ignored by players should decrease in sec status.

This would encourage people to leave their home systems and seek out good truesec for their operations. A dynamic system like that mitigates the power block truesec grab (since they'd burn the space out in a few days) while encouraging people to head for the borders to PvE, triggering a lot of smaller gang fights.

It would even help Empire space as well, the largely deserted Lowsec would become much more attractive, as the value of each system increased.

In Highsec a more even player distribution would occur, quite potentially encouraging more people to try out Low or Nullsec because of resource scarcity in Highsec.

Try mining productivly in a 1.0 system, you don't make a ton, on the other hand mining in a .1 lowsec system a few jumps from high-sec is lucrative enough to tempt a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

I think we've already seen how this post lacked experience or perspective. In retrospect we can see that some expansions/patches have injected new lifeblood, which wasn't hard to predict.

But had the poster played a little longer, he might know that Eve had far fewer players in previous years, and know that this didn't eliminate conflict, but rather changed it's nature. It did not make the game any less attractive.

Unlike other MMO's, eve didn't start with one server of landmass, then double to twice as much with a second server, and so on. In most MMOs, to restore servers to their virgin state in the sense of population density, you have to merge them. But in Eve, in fact the only new area additions in the entire lifetime of the game have been wormhole space. All of the extra players have been filling the same space that existed from the very beginning. You could cut 4/5ths of the playerbase, and still not be restored to Eve's virgin population density.

Even were eve truly on the decline, which it isn't, it would take a much more massive decline to drop beyond levels seen in 2003/2004. And the game was plenty of fun, even then.

Subscribe to the goblinish wisdom