Over the last weekend, EVE Online's player war, dubbed World War Bee 2, escalated, seeing the largest Titan engagement in EVE to date. A battle following the Massacre at M2-XFE, however, was less compelling, as the servers running CCP's spacefaring MMO buckled under the "unrivaled numbers" of players attempting to access the battleground.
The battle, which according to CCP Games, saw over 13,000 pilots attempt to enter the fray, caused the system where the battle took place to simply stop functioning, causing pilots to lose ships, appear in the system without their fittings, and more. CCP Games put out a blog post on after the battle, explaining, from their vantage point, what happened in the fray, reiterating as they have in the past that they cannot predict server performance when the wars players wage push things to their limit.
"These numbers are unrivaled - and unrivaled numbers in New Eden lead to uncharted territories when it comes to performance. Neither side of the war, or CCP, can, could or will be able to predict the server performance in these kinds of situations."
It's not a shock, either, to long time EVE pilots that servers buckle under the weight of the scale players are fighting at, with many major wars in EVE's long history also having to deal with the servers breaking as well.
CCP Games broke down some of the weird things they noticed when the second battle of M2-XFE was going on, such as ships disappearing or not appearing in the right system itself when moving from the staging area to the battlefield.
"Both during and after the fight, players experienced things that don’t happen under normal circumstances. Things like ships disappearing, ships reappearing, ships not appearing in the right systems – even after going through the jump tunnel, ghost killmails, duplicated ships/mods where a wreck with loot was in M2-XFE but the fitted ship was in T5ZI-S, bridging Titans getting moved to the system it was bridging people to, among others."
CCP notes themselves that while these events haven't been seen as much in recent times, veteran pilots will remember this type of server issue happening during some of the older battles. However, much of the problem with the load seems to stem from the sheer amount of players attempting to reach the battle. CCP states that about 35% of the total online pilots were situated in the three systems involved in the battle.
Had all those players been able to enter the system, it would have dwarfed the current World Record of largest PVP battle in video game history - with over 13,700 pilots engaged.
"Three systems in Delve were the focus of the fight: 1DQ1-A (defender staging), T5ZI-S (attacker staging) and M2-XFE (battlefield). 1DQ1-A’s player count topped out at 4226, T5ZI-S hit 6723 and the player count in the target system of M2-XFE went the highest with 6739 pilots, breaking the Fury of FWST record of 6557. The three systems – which were each reinforced – saw a combined peak of 13,770 players around 23:23 EVE time. To put this in perspective, approximately 35% of all online pilots in the game were situated in just these 3 systems."
CCP says there are no population caps on the system, listing Jita, perhaps EVE's most significant trading hub, as the only system with a cap.
As a result of the issues, when PAPI, one of the coalitions engaged in World War Bee 2 against the Imperium and its allies, notably the Goonswarm Federation, redoubled their efforts to get into the system, there were already about 4500 Goonswarm pilots ready for the kill. This turned the fight into a turkey shoot as Titans were sent into the system, only to have them become "ghost Titans," easy pickings for the organized Imperium forces. Imperium News has a fantastic update post showing how the battle unfolded as it happened, which you can check out here.
CCP Games announced in this same post that they will not be reimbursing players for ships lost during this fight due to the server issues themselves, citing their ongoing policy to not be involved in player conflicts.
"As per our usual policy Customer Support won't be reimbursing any losses or moving players between systems. It is our policy to not get involved with fleet fights, and that policy has been upheld during this war – for both sides.
We will be intervening as little as possible in the repercussions of this battle. We will not be taking away any insurance payouts for ships that are still alive, removing looted duplicated modules, or going into hangars to destroy ghost titans that survived. We will only consider moving players who are completely unable to log into the game, if there are any such cases. Players that can log into the game will have to move themselves."
Some players are expressing that they are okay with the policy of non-intervention, while others on the official EVE Subreddit are saying that the team at CCP should reimburse as it was their servers that caused the issues.
One thing is certain, as World War Bee 2 rages on, will both sides adjust their strategies, or will we see more attempts at a large-scale knockout blow like we saw after the Christmas Truce ended? The better question moving forward might be how will this second battle of M2-XFE influence how CCP Games handles server performance as the war continues to escalate and reach even higher unrivaled heights? Time will definitely tell.
Featured image via Razorien