EVE Online is one of the world’s most unique MMORPGs. It’s not the most popular MMORPG in the world, but those who like EVE tend to like it a lot. EVE is famous for its use of real-world currency, massive spaceships, and battles between hundreds of players.
This past week, EVE Online broke yet another MMORPG record – the largest virtual fight in video game history. In a battle of epic proportions entitled “Battle of 6VDT”, over 4,000 players came together in an explosive last stand. The battle was possible because, in EVE Online, players all occupy the same server, which means all 500,000 or so players are all fighting for the same territory.
The Battle of 6VDT put a strain on EVE Online’s servers, but the game’s developers, CCP Games, were well prepared for the event. CCP Games recently revealed exactly how it manages to control that much traffic on a single server without creating unbearable amounts of lag.
Having one central game server – called ‘Tranquility’ – means all players are playing in the same world. However, that single central game server also puts a massive strain on resources and pushes PC gaming hardware to new limits.
The Tranquility central game server for EVE Online features an astonishing 4,000GB of RAM and 2,574GHz of processing power. The server is based in London.
Even with all that hardware power, Tranquility needed to use a unique ‘time dilation’ system to handle the recent EVE Online event. This time dilation system slows down gameplay and the in-game clock instead of forcing users to deal with crazy amounts of lag.
EVE Online also uses a three-tiered hardware architecture that allows smaller star systems to run on smaller servers while devoting the most powerful parts of the server to major commercial hubs – like Jita – and large fights – like the 6VDT battle.
Since the 6VDT battle was seen coming well in advance, CCP Games was able to devote the battle to the highest performance tier, which is why the game servers didn’t crash.
So what was the 6VDT battle all about? Well, it was the final clash between two of EVE Online’s largest alliances: the Cluster F*** Coalition and Test Alliance Please Ignore. The two alliances had clashes twice before, with CFC winning the first battle, while a timely server crash spared Test from utter defeat in the second battle. With this third battle, Test knew that it was near-death and decided to wage one final assault on its bitter rivals despite being horribly outmanned.
Test and its allies TRIBE and N3 were fighting over a vulnerable station in the 6VDT battle. The war, called ‘The Fountain War’, had been going on for over 2 months by the time this fight occurred. For the first one and a half months, the war was a total stalemate before breaking through in CFC’s favor. To get an idea of the chaos of a battle in EVE Online, check out this video:
In any case, the two alliances gave EVE Online players a show for the ages – and broke video game history in the process. PCWorld.com did a more detailed writeup on the technology behind EVE Online here, including interviews with the developers.