Tag Archives: EVE Aether Wars

Friday Bullet Points About Aether Wars, Stadia, and Other Things

It is Friday and, as often happens, I have a few items which I want to note but which I do not really want to create whole blog posts about.

  • Aether Wars

Tomorrow is the day, the time for the big attempt at the world record for most players together in an online battle… or so CCP and Hadean keep telling me.  They have had a count down all week on Twitter.  But it is tomorrow, Sat 23 Nov 2019 at 20:00 UTC.

Aether Wars Tech Demo

As I mentioned in my previous post, the client is available on Steam.  It is a quick and easy download and you don’t have to register or sign up or anything, just launch the game when the time for the event comes up.  The event itself has not changed much since the summer version, which I wrote about here.

See you there tomorrow?  What if I told you there was a Steam achievement for joining it?  Because there is.

You could also win an all expenses paid trip to Fanfest 2020 in Iceland by just showing up, but I am betting the achievement will have more influence on who plays.

  • Stadia Launches

Google’s cloud gaming service, Google Stadia, went live this week.  Reports were that the phone app required to configure the service and buy games was downloaded 175,000 times, which doesn’t exactly put the launch into the realm of unqualified successes.  However, the launch was only for people who pre-ordered the $129 Chromecast Ultra package.  Numbers will no doubt go up when the free version is released next year, but the press has not been kind to it and data usage could still be a problem for some.

Like some others, I don’t really get why Stadia is even worth considering relative to any of the possible alternatives, which might just mean I am not the target audience.  Still, there was an excellent long Twitter thread comparing Stadia to a similar product design from the past that stirred up my own lingering feeling that Google was doing this more because they can than because they believed there was a market.

But the real pessimists have started a countdown clock to Stadia’s expected demise, a number reached based on the average life of Google products.  And they do have a point.

  • Minecraft Plans

I was going to mention this previously… and then forgot.  Such is my life.  But back at Minecon it was announced that the next update for Minecraft will focus on the Nether, adding new biomes and structures and mobs.  There are some basic details here  However, if you put a bed down in the Nether and try to sleep in it, it will still explode.

As usual, the update will only affect new worlds or areas explored after the update drops.

  • Pokemon Sword & Shield Sells Big

I mentioned last Friday that Pokemon Sword & Shield was launching.

The core RPG line continues

While I wasn’t buying a copy… we don’t own a Switch… it turns out a lot of people were on board with the new game as it sold around six million copies in the first week, making it the fastest selling Nintendo Switch title so far.

Announce you’re making a real core Pokemon RPG game and people will line up.

  • Mobile WoW When?

Bobby Kotick was up talking about the idea of perpetual franchises, which I guess is the line you take when you cannot make anything new that outsells the stuff you already have.  Seriously, the Activision Blizzard big money makers remain World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush Saga.

As part of that he said that the growth would be staggering once they brought all of these to phones.  That makes me want to ask where Diablo Immortal is, but never mind.  However it sure sounds like we’re going to get some flavor of Warcraft on mobile.  Maybe.  Some day.

EVE Aether Wars is Returning via Steam

CCP and Hadean are back and eyeing another attempt at a world record as they test technology to enable huge multiplayer spaceships battles beyond the scale of what EVE Online has managed so far.

Aether Wars Tech Demo

I am still not sure about their plan to get to that world record number, surpassing an actual EVE Online in-game battle, the Keepstar battle at 9-4RP2 (the “million dollar battle“), which saw 6,142 players involved and was recognized for a Guinness world record.

The first attempt fell well short and the second run to surpass that number only got about half way to the goal.  But they are giving it another shot and they have some new ideas.

The first idea is to get people involved by doing two preliminary runs before they go for the record.  So the events will be:

  • Public Stress Test 1 Sat 9 Nov 2019 19:00 UTC
  • Public Stress Test 2 Sat 16 Nov 2019 19:00 UTC
  • World Record Attempt Sat 23 Nov 2019 20:00 UTC

That is basically the next three Saturdays.

The second idea is to put the whole thing on Steam.  So if you want to join in there is a page up on Steam for the EVE Aetherwars Tech Demo.

Being on Steam will make it easier for people to grab the client and get it launched and logged in for the events.  However, Steam could also be another barrier as well.  Just try finding it on Steam if you don’t know it is there for example. (I found that searching on “Hadean” was a reliable way to get to it.)

CCP published a blog update on the plans the goes into detail as to what they have in mind.  We shall see if they can hit their goal this time.

EVE Aether Wars Round Two Event

Back in March we had the first EVE Aether Wars tech demo when CCP and Hadean got together during GDC to try and get a bunch of players into one big space battle and maybe set a world record.

Things learned from that went into round two, which went off yesterday.

For the second run the event grew somewhat in sophistication.  Previously players just logged in, were given a ship, and spent their time spewing missiles at each other.  This time there was an objective beyond explosions.

The setup

We were also given a selection of ship types this time around as well.  There was the Worm frigate:

The Worm

The Gila cruiser:

Gila Description

And the Rattlesnake battleship:

Rattlesnake description

In EVE Online all three of these hulls are focused on drone combat, but in the tech demo things were more simple.  As the control scheme shows, the combat was much more dogfight oriented than the EVE Online “lock and shoot” method.

The control scheme for the event

One thing missing from the controls was the fire button.  Unlike last time, where much time was spent pounding a button to spew missiles.  I only noticed that once had locked some people up that there was no way to shoot.

Early in the fight

I quickly figured out that the your ship fired automatically, launching missiles at a fixed rate.  They appears on screen marked with red triangles.

It took me longer to figure out where to find the zero point condensate, or ZPC, which was the scoring focus of the event.  I flew around for quite a bit before spotting a black cloud in space.  That a bunch of people were flying around it was the give-away.

Go to the cloud to harvest

I flew into the melee to collect some ZPC.  As it turned out, despite what the ship descriptions said, if you were blown up you lost your whole cargo load, so when I went boom I came back empty.

I tried the different ships.  The Rattlesnake was a popular hull, I saw a lot of them.  However, despite having a lot of hit points it was also slow and something of a missile magnet, being easy to spot and close in on with smaller ships.

Out with the Rattle

The Gila was better, and probably the best compromise.  But I ended up favoring the Worm just to be able to zip in and out of places and to chase down targets.  At one point I spotted a Gila glowing with a golden aura.  Figuring that was a sign, I went after it and, after a long chance blew it up.  The golden highlight was a sign that they were carrying a bunch of ZPC, so I went from zero to 31K pretty quickly.

Suddenly rich in ZPC

I did figure out that you could exit the game and come back in a fresh ship if you were in need of repairs without losing your ZPC.  However, I wasn’t going to play it safe and hide with my little stash and went looking for more golden tinted ships.  Unfortunately I was also likely highlighted with a golden tone, though it did not show at my end, so quickly became a target as well, losing all my ZPC.  Easy come, easy go.

One of the goals, as with the last event, was to try and set a Guinness Books world record, which would have required them to get somewhere around 10K people into the battle.  Mid way through the test they announced that there were over 3,000 of us battling.

Over 3K battling they said

At that point they were going to load up some AI ships in order to push the load levels.

Send in the clones

Once again, they fell far short of a record.

The summary from Hadean at the end put the total just under 3K players involved.  Still, with us and the AI they said they got new data to evaluate from the test, which was the point of it all.

Unlike last time, it wasn’t obvious to me when they added AI pilots to the event.  People were able to spread out in the dark Abyssal Deadspace environment chosen for the battle.

That dead Leviathan was just scenery

The event wrapped rather promptly an hour after the announced start.  At the client end this wasn’t immediately apparent as the server going down didn’t kick people out.  You just ended up flying around in space by yourself.

The final scores showed some people managed to scoop up a lot more ZPC than I ever managed.

Who got the ZPC?

As for how the whole thing ran, it did not seem to tax my system very much.  But the whole thing seemed designed to keep from doing so.  Unlike the missile spam of the last attempt, which dragged down the frame rate on my system, there were never more than a couple dozen ships or missiles on my screen at any time.  Maybe we were all too spread out or maybe the client was set to only draw so many objects before stopping.

Communication was also spotty.  You had to be on the Discord for the event to know what was going on, and even then there were times when they should have mentioned things in the Announcements channel rather than dumping info into the public channel where it often scrolled off quickly.

Overall, from my side, it was a Sunday morning distraction.  There wasn’t a lot to it, though it was built as a test not a game, so that is to be expected.

CCP promised us prizes, but I haven’t seen any follow up on that.  Everybody who joined in is supposed to get some SKINs for the effort and somebody is supposed to win a paid trip to this year’s EVE Vegas.  I’m sure we’ll hear about that soon, as EVE Vegas is just over two months away.

Other post event reports:

Addendum:  Hadean released an infographic for the event.

Aether Wars Phase Two Reults

 

EVE Aether Wars Round Two, This Time with Prizes

The EVE: Aether Wars testing is back for round 2.

Back in March CCP teamed up with Hadean to do a tech demo during the Game Developers Conference to show what might be possible in the future when it came to huge space battles with thousands of players involved.  They promised then that there would be more such events, and now the second round, slated to take place on Sunday August 18th, is just a week away.

Phase two, round two, whatever…

The first round back in March had some lofty goals, including an attempt to set a Guinness Book World Record by getting 10,000 players into the demo.

CCP had been previously recognized by Guinness for getting 6,142 players into one online battle back during the “Million Dollar Battle” in January of 2018.  CCP and Hadean wanted to shatter that record decisively.

However, they fell well short of that goal.  As the CCP Dev Blog about the demo spelled out, the total live player number topped out at 3,852, with a mere 2,379 being the peak concurrent number of players. Null sec can get more than that in a system just to shoot an undefended Keepstar.

Hadean helped push the stress aspect of the event by dumping more than 10K AI clients into the demo, but those don’t count.  Guinness wants to hear about live people

The event did have some things going against it when it came to that 10K player goal.  It got some press coverage, but not a lot.  CCP wasn’t big on asking people to help spread the word.  It wasn’t clear to some if you needed an EVE Online account in order to participate. (You don’t)  And, probably worst of all, the event was held at 11am Pacific time on a weekday, so people in the US were at work and people in Europe were just getting home from the office and people in Asia were probably still asleep.

I was lucky.  My boss let me work from home that day and take some time out for the event, but it wasn’t the sort of thing that people would take a vacation or sick day to attend.

Locked On!

For the second round the test will use more visual assets from EVE Online.  It looks like we’ll be tooling around in an Abyssal Deadspace environment in something like the Caldari Merlin hull.  The first test was clearly setup around EVE Valkyrie assets.

The image suggesting what the coming test will look like

In addition to a more EVE Online feel, CCP is throwing out incentives in order to get people to come participate in the test.

People who sign up for the test will get a special set of EVE Online ship SKINs and somebody will win a free trip for two to EVE Vegas.

So, adding it all up, we have a new test with more familiar art assets taking place on a Sunday instead of a work day with CCP throwing out some gifts to those who participate as well as a travel give away.

It sure sounds like a plan to get more people involved.

Whether or not it becomes a Guinness Book level event remains to be seen, but it seems like they are trying harder this time around.

The EVE Aether Wars Tech Demo

If I had been a good blogger I might have mentioned this before it happened, but as I have been pretty much injecting nostalgia straight into my veins with EverQuest, Diablo, and Lord of the Rings Online for most of the month, this sort of slipped by.

Earlier this month CCP put out a dev blog about EVE Aether Wars, a tech demo they were going to hold during the Game Developers Conference, which is also running this week.

Tech Demos get Splash Screens

The basic idea was that CCP would be working with a company called Hadean to use their Aether Engine for a huge space battle tech demo to help demonstrate the possible usefulness of the engine for supporting such mass battle content… and maybe pick up a Guinness Book record along the way.  The target was to get 10,000 players together to drive this tech demo.

CCP and EVE Online are, of course, no strangers to mass battles.  Huge player battles and people behaving badly are the two things that have traditionally gotten EVE Online their press coverage, though the latter has tapered off somewhat in recent years.  I think Judgement Day was the last big newsworthy bit of betrayal.

But big battles, those are more common and yet still manage to get coverage in the gaming press, coverage which often leaks out into the mainstream press.  And CCP has received recognition from Guinness for last year’s Million Dollar Battle which peaked at 6,142 players.

That number, however, was about all the game could handle… and I use the word “handle” in the most liberal fashion.  Being in that battle, like any such huge battle, means playing in molasses with time dilation slowing things down to 10% speed and controls becoming unresponsive and people being disconnected regularly.

So CCP is clearly an ideal customer for anything than would make this better.

On Hadean side, their Aether Engine is a cloud based system to rope together servers to support the processing power needed to keep a huge battle going.  The details are scant, as one might expect, but some of the information about their operating system is covered by, or linked to, in the FAQ about the event.

People could sign up for the test, which was set to go yesterday at 17:30 UTC.  I signed up, grabbed the 700MB download for the client, and awaited the promised login key.

There were plenty of warnings about this not being a full fledged game.  The controls were very simple, being pretty much “press W to accelerate” and “click the mouse button to shoot” with mouse input to steer your way.  But I still wasn’t sure what to expect.

After a bit of delay I was able to get into the demo at 18:00 UTC and found myself in space.

In with ~1,500 other players

The feel was very much that of EVE Valyrie.  You were dropped into a single player ship and used the mouse to point where you wanted to go.  There were shield and armor indicators to right and left that showed your ship’s health.  The backdrops in space were from EVE Online, but the action itself was nothing akin to that.

You had to find other players… that blob in the upper right was some sort of mini-map/proximity guide but wasn’t much help… get them in your targeting reticle until they were locked, at which point you could launch a missile at them.  Then rinse and repeat.

Locked On!

Not exactly exciting.  It was a mass of people shooting at each other.  To aim it was much better to slow down to get things in your sights, and if you started taking hits it was time to accelerate and turn to avoid the incoming.  I managed to get a few kills.  You had to pound somebody with quite a few missiles in order to kill them outright, so I am sure some of my targets had been softened up by others.  Likewise, I am sure I served up some ready kills to others as it seemed to be the usual routine of the killing blow getting the credit.

However, after about 15 minutes it became clear that we were not going to get 10,000 people in the demo.  The numbers stopped climbing past the 3,500 mark.  So Hadean dumped in some AI pilots to make up the balance.

At that point the sky was alive with missiles, oddly seeming to flow in the same direction like a school of fish.

So many missiles

I suspect the uniform missile behavior was related to the AI players.  They seemed to have guided missiles, judging by how they would all turn together mid-flight.  When the AIs decided you were a target it seemed likely you were going to die.

They moved as one

Not that being blown up was all that painful.  You just respawned back into the match in a fresh ship.

When the AI players became active, that was when the client actually began to get bogged down.  At least that was like an EVE Online fight.  The FPS meter, which had been into three digits for much of the time, fell way down, running between 15 and 45 FPS depending on where I was pointed.  The client also crashed a few times, though launching and getting back in the game was quick enough.

In the end it wasn’t much of a game… perhaps too simple for my jaded tastes in this day and age… but it wasn’t meant to be.  As a tech demo it was interesting.  The game itself seemed to be able to keep up with the mass of players without having to resort to slowing people down in order to keep up.  I have no idea how much hardware was required behind the scenes to make that possible, but I imagine that it was not trivial.

Hadean put up an op success post about the test.  They only ended up with a total of 3,852 live players in the demo. (It would have been more if there had been a Keepstar at risk.)

CCP also posted a follow up Dev Blog with some further details including:

  • 3,852 human pilots engage in glorious internet spaceship combat.
  • A total of 14,274 pilots engaged in combat including AI pilots.
  • A peak concurrent battlefield population of 10,412 pilots, including AI pilots.
  • A peak concurrent population of 2,379 human pilots on the field.
  • A total of 88,988 ships destroyed.
  • A colossal 14,710,908 torpedoes fired.

There is a promise of more play tests to come in order to help test out the technology.   We will see if maybe, some day, this tech will trickle down into EVE Online in order to make fleet fight there less of a slog.

Other views of the event: