Tidbits from EVE, WAR, and PlanetSide 2

One of thosen informational time stamp post.

New EVE Online Milestone

CCP apparently told Massively (oh, there is an official press release now too) that they passed the 500K subscription mark, which puts them into the range of EverQuest at its peak, just before the launch of World of Warcraft.  Certainly the total players online has been up when I have been logged in, hitting close to 60K during the weekends. (The record is currently 63,170 online at once.)  The longer term numbers show an uptick as well.

Not bad for a game that started off badly.  The game has come a long way in a decade.

Early Raven in Combat

Early Raven in Combat

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much

(Early game pictures from this CCP forum post.)

Also not bad for a studio predicted to go bankrupt… well, by one person at least.

Yeah, I’m not letting that one go yet.  Financial reports do not lie, but people projecting their internal wishes about games they dislike…

Warhammer Online Trail of Tears – MOBA Edition

Meanwhile, the Warhammer Online team cannot seem to catch a break.  While League of Legends roams the internet landscape as possibly the biggest online game ever, and certainly one of the few with what seems like a license to print money, EA/Mythic’s attempt to take Warhammer Online assets to create their own MOBA game, Wrath of Heroes, seems to have fallen flat.

EA has announced that the game, still in beta, is closing up shop because it did not meet its financial goals.  I love how we use the word “beta” in the 21st century.  Oh, and if you spent any money on it… well… no refunds.  How about a couple of drink vouchers and a free month of Warhammer Online?

My own feelings remain mixed on the original game.  There was a lot in it that I liked… but there was also a lot there that turned me away.

Most developers agree, the quest log should be mapped to "L"

And not all of it was this trivial

In the end, I simply stopped logging in about two months after launch, which is the real sign of whether or not a game has grabbed me.  I can kid myself, but I won’t log into a game I am not enjoying.

PlanetSide 2 Bot Thoughts

I haven’t logged into PlanetSide 2 lately, but I still keep an eye on the news.  And one thing that keeps popping up is the proliferation of aimbots, unauthorized add-ons that make sure you are shooting to kill every time you pull the trigger.  This gives the user/cheater a huge advantage in the game.

Smed has been quite vocal about how they are working to fight aimbots, including banning the accounts of anybody caught using one.

But in this war, SOE is fighting without all the tools it once had.  With a free to play game that is free to download, does an account ban keep a player out of the game any longer than it takes him to create a new account and maybe grab an updated version of his aimbot?

How do you fight the aimbot blight under those circumstances?

You cannot just ban IP addresses, as a lot of people do not have a fixed IP address.

You might be able to tag the client so that it won’t log in again if an account using it has been banned.  That would at least make cheaters have to download a fresh copy.  A minor inconvenience for anybody with a faster internet pipe than mine… and most people seem to have faster pipes than min.

In response to all of that, it sounds like SOE might be lawyering up to go after the sites that are creating… and selling… the bots.  Certainly there are EULA and DMCA aspects to exploit as well as making money on an SOE game.

But does that have any real chance of success?  Will that do anything more than slow down the aim-bot menace?

In the end, will SOE just have to include auto-aim, a built-in aim assist… or aimbot… which some console shooters use to overcome the problems of aiming with the analog stick, and just nerf accuracy to simply remove the viability of aimbots in PlanetSide 2?

I know that mouse aiming is the long established norm on the PC platform and can be a skill differentiator.  Should we give that up in order to make teamwork and tactics even more important?

11 responses to “Tidbits from EVE, WAR, and PlanetSide 2

  1. Unfortunately, the uptick for EVE account numbers and server CCU numbers includes DUST players, which CCP has taken some pains to hide. Since DUST is F2P, those additional player numbers are not actually subs.

  2. @Anonymouse – But how many people are even playing DUST?

    Do we have a number for that anywhere?

    You can get DUST on the PS3, but it is still in beta. I have been dubious of DUST being a success up to this point, so it is tough for me to imagine that DUST is somehow responsible for a big portion of the 50K lift in “subscribers” and the 10-20K additional players online at peak hours.

    But you do hit at the ongoing topic of “what counts as a subscription?” I suspect that DUST will be primarily be used by EVE players… EVE subscribers… and so if CCP counts DUST accounts as EVE Online subscriptions… something I can neither confirm nor deny at this point… then there will be a good deal of double counting.

  3. As far as aimbots go, the likely solution will end up being some variant of the classical PunkBuster or other 3rd-party software. Hell, I load Ps2 through Steam anyway, so maybe they could just use VAC? It might eat into some of SOE’s sales figures to require a Steam account, but there are benefits, such as out-sourced anti-cheating tools.

    In any case, I have always found it weird how these companies cannot simply put some code in that automatically flags any accounts that get more than, say, two headshots in a row within 3 seconds. A week ago or so, about 20 of us were killed inside a shielded spawn point with a single headshot apiece. Maybe SOE can’t track where/how deaths occured, but otherwise I’d say accounts that manage multiple impossible kills should be auto-suspended until further review, at a minimum.

    I would think it’d be easier to track an aimbot user’s actions than tracking what software is loaded in their RAM (or wherever), but I’m not a programmer.

  4. @Azuriel

    The problem is that some players can be scary good. It’s entirely possible for someone to get 2 headshots in 3 seconds. Maybe it’s skill, maybe dumb luck.

    The other problem is that no matter what you detect on the server side, the cheat software can try to take advantage of that. 2 headshots within 3 seconds? Fine, the aimbot takes a 3.01 second pause between activations. Detect that? Then the aimbot adds a slightly random duration to the activations and puts a graphical overlay to tell the player when he can get the next guaranteed headshot.

    Time the developers spend trying to detect cheats is time they’re not spending on actual improvements to the game itself. And, there’s never an end where you have decisively stopped the cheaters.

    Even something like Punkbuster or WoW’s Warden just raises the bar, it doesn’t make cheating impossible if someone is committed enough. The best solution is to not trust the client, but when you’re talking about a fast-paced genre like FPSes, waiting for server confirmation to see if you really did get a headshot is tough to do accurately and at a pace necessary to keep the action going.

    Why, yes, I have dealt with this issue in my own game back in the day. ;)

  5. I have been playing for a weeks now. I do miss that there’s no info on active player at the login as is in EVE. I’ve tried to keep somewhat check of the numbers by checking local. It’s definitely below 1000, with mostly 200-300 when I login (Pacific Time Zone).

    I can’t wait for the next updates. The EVE tie-in is most noticeable through EVE players providing Orbital strikes. And that has gaining increased popularity since I started playing.

  6. SOE has always had a problem with the design of their games. They allow the client do too much. That was one of the issues with EQ, using a packet sniffer you could find all the rare spawns in a zone by entering the zone.

  7. @Wilhelm – CCP is being cagey about releasing DUST numbers, but we can probably assume that most of the 50K “new” EVE players are indeed DUST players, and that the DUST players do indeed account for the increase in CCU.

    If you think about it, there is really no other answer for the steep increase. The increase in CCU occurred right after DUST was moved to the Tranquility server. And, I think you’d agree that Retribution wasn’t so awesome of an expansion that it would account for a 10% increase in EVE subs. :)

    Unfortunately, though, 50K DUST players, with 10K active, isn’t really all that impressive, for a new MMO FPS, esp. a F2P. CCP will need much better numbers, and quickly, in order to recoup their development costs, let alone turn a profit.

  8. @Anonymouse – Well, there is always a jump in subs after every expansion, good or bad. Incarna had a jump and that had absolute crap. Retribution had the update to bounties and kill rights that seemed pretty big for some people. Plus CCP put out a “3 months for $30″ offer to lapsed players just a while back.

    Plus if you look at the charts, the online concurrent numbers start to rise significantly before DUST was even integrated into EVE. They don’t start adding to the total until after January 10th.

    So your guess may be that DUST accounts for the increase, but I’d like something a little more firm than a dark CCP conspiracy theory before I accept that as the truth. I am not saying it is zero impact, but I can’t buy that the change is all DUST.

  9. Ah, Nosy Gamer posted about the 500K milestone as well. I’ll ask him about the DUST connection. He’s more likely to figure it out that I am! He is diligent about his posts, while I am further down the lazy side of the curve.

    [And in the comments there, it was claimed that DUST accounts are already beyond 1 million so are clearly are not being counted, and that CCP_Fozzie said that DUSTies were not being counted as part of EVE concurrent, at least as late as Jan. 21st. Your mileage/skepticism may vary.]

  10. I may have an answer about the DUST bunnies. I asked Chribba when CCP moved DUST to TQ whether the numbers on Eve Offline included DUST accounts and he said he didn’t know. But I don’t think they do. And CCP Fozzie is a pretty straight shooter, so I do trust what he says.

    However, how much of the increase are DUST players with Eve accounts trying to get ISK to transfer over once the game’s merge economies? I’d guess rather a lot. A DUST bunny I work with was asking me about AFK activities he could do in Eve while he played DUST.

    One other thing you may find of interest is Chribba’s new website, dustboard.com. According to that there are 1.7 million DUST mercs, with only 3 allowed per account. So according to that there are more DUST players than Eve players and the game is still in beta.

    Sorry for the length of the comment so I’ll just end with the raw average concurrency numbers I got from Eve Offline. Remember, Retribution launched on 5 December, DUST moved to Tranquility on 10 January and Retribution 1.1 launched 19 February. Those dates may tell you something.

    2012-11-22: 27,533
    2012-11-29: 27,984
    ————————-
    2012-12-06: 32,012
    2012-12-13: 32,104
    2012-12-20: 31,436
    2012-12-27: 33,786
    2013-01-03: 34,317
    ————————-
    2013-01-10: 33,626
    2013-01-17: 34,549
    2013-01-24: 34,254
    2013-01-31: 34,779
    2013-02-07: 35,537
    2013-02-14: 35,007
    ————————-
    2013-02-21: 36,308

  11. CCP Fozzie says that there are no DUST 514 players included in any of the EVE Online numbers.

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