EVE Online: A Look at Singularity
MMORPG.com EVE Online guru Andrew Wallace writes this look at Singularity, the test server for CCP's EVE Online.
So, what is Singularity?
I'm glad you asked; Singularity is the main test server for EVE Online. All of the EVE servers have codenames: Tranquillity is the main server, and Multiplicity is the secondary test server, but just forget about those two; this article is all about Singularity.
The main purpose of Singularity is, of course, the testing of new content and patches by the players and bug hunters; essentially an open beta for what's coming up in EVE. Updates are released weeks, and sometimes even months ahead of their official launch date as CCP tries to iron out any bugs or issues that arise. That's the general idea, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun too. Hundreds of players descended onto the server to take part in the testing of the Factional Warfare feature last year and it was glorious as we all threw free ships into the chaotic melees that broke out across Black Rise.
Wait a minute, did you just say free ships?
Oh, yes, that's right, kind of; all of the ships and modules on Singularity are dirt cheap. Since this is a mirror of just the characters on Tranquillity, the whole player created industrial backbone of EVE isn't present, so instead almost everything is seeded onto the regional markets in mass quantities, and for a mere one hundred isk you can by any single item in the game. Even someone with a few million is instantly mega rich on Singularity; it's even possible to earn more money by insuring a vessel and then having it destroyed by players or NPCs, as the insurance payouts don't take the miniscule ship prices into account. Factional Stuff is hard to get a hold of though, as the market for that is entirely player generated and, unsurprisingly, CCP aren't going spawn faction equipment just for you, unless they are part of an upcoming patch.
Alright! I'm going to log on right now and start shooting stuff!
Whoa there, space cowboy. You can't just go in guns blazing; there are some rules to stop the server from descending into anarchy. First, and most importantly, NO PODDING; destroying someone's pod is a very quick way to get yourself petitioned and kicked off the server, maybe even permanently. Try to be really careful when using area of effect weapons like smartbombs as well. All combat has to be consensual, no matter where you are, so engaging people outside of the defined free-for-all zones is against the rules, and the spirit of the test server. These are the main ones to keep in mind, but a more specific list of rules can be found in the Game Development forum on the official EVE Online forums.
Ok, I understand, now how do I get started on Singularity?
- Make a copy of your EVE folder.
- Download the correct Singularity patch from the official website; this can sometimes vary depending on the version number of your client (which can be seen on the login screen).
- Apply the Singularity patch to the new copy of the client, NOT your normal EVE client.
- Boot it up and enjoy
When you arrive in game you will be in the location your character was in when the last "mirror" of Tranquillity took place, which can vary and isn't always up to date. For example: the current mirror of the main server was taken back in early January. Your character will be in exactly the same state as it was when this happened, so any skills and money that you've gained won't be there; you'll also be in the same corporation as well. This can be a bit annoying when you want to check out a new ship you've just trained for, but the mirror is a month out of date. Which brings me to another of the downsides: being a test server, it will experience random downtimes and crashes, especially during the testing for a big patch, as they will constantly be patching the server with minor tweaks and fixes.
I want to help out and test too!
Of course you do; we all go on there to "test" the new stuff, but really it's about getting ahead of the game. Obsessive PVP pilots like myself want to fly the shiny new ships before they become available to everyone else, and will spend hours on Singularity to check out how they perform, or how the new nerfs/boosts will change combat in EVE.
Seriously, I want to test the new patch for bugs and help CCP make a better game.
Well now, aren't you an idealistic young thing. Ok, if you really want to help then check the Game Development forums for updates, and information on how to file bug reports. Usually if CCP needs a particular feature tested, or are stress testing new server upgrades, they will put a notice up in the forum, or on the news feed that appears on the character select screen as you log in.
I logged in, but Singularity is empty. Where is everyone?
You may have noticed that the population count for the server was a little low on the login screen. Tranquility may be breaking records, with tens of thousands of players online, but Singularity rarely has more than a few hundred online at any given time. Now, finding people to test stuff with on a server this size would be madness unless everyone went to the same system, and that system is FD-MLJ.
FD-MLJ is THE place to be. It's where the new ships and modules will be seeded, and where most people looking to fight/test congregate. There are marked areas for consensual fighting and even free-for-all zones for those that just want mass brawls. For all you wannabe testers might, you can probably find some CCP employees or bug hunters in local running tests with players before a new patch. Usually, the first thing to do when you are getting started on Singularity is to jump into a shuttle, set FD-MLJ as your destination, and go AFK until you arrive.
One last thing before you go: You might have your third party fitting tool, but theory and stats will only get you so far. No amount of calculations and theory can match actually testing out your ship setups in real combat, and the best place to do that is on Singularity. If nothing else, you'll get to experience some of the new toys that will be released with Apocrypha. Given the mad prices that t3 will probably reach, you'll be able to buy them direct of the market for almost nothing and try out the different combinations to your heart's content, provided you've got the right skills. Although exactly what we can expect from the new expansion is very much a mystery (at the time of writing), I'd hazard a guess and say that we'll see the Apocrypha content hit Singularity sometime in early to mid-February.
See you on the test server.