Commander: Stay logged in! Whatever you do, cap the system to keep enemy out!
CCP has since long advertised the fact that they have all of their players playing on the same server.
While this is close to the truth it is not the entire truth.
Lets investigate this further.
Infact CCP has a large number of servers all interconnected which runs the EVE universe. A so called clusterer.
Its infrastructure built so that players and systems are loadbalanced over a large number of fast servers and always striving to maintain an even balance to handle playeractivity. Some systems are less prioritized and these systems can get to share one server. It's when a sudden change such as warfare or special events occur that sudden lag occurs in these systems which can all be affected when one of the servers handling many systems get hampered with workload for one particular server.
So, what is known:
1 system cannot be run over several servers, but many systems can be run on one server.
This kind of architecture is limited by the coding practises implemented by CCP from start which in turn relies on the hardware to give a smooth experience for us players. CCP dedicated countless hours on improving the coding and squashing bugs which may decrease performance. The other measures CCP has taken is to upgrade the actual hardware to sustain more and more players in one system. Perhaps CCP never envisioned a thousand players in one system, but counted on them being spread out over many systems which they could split up on multiple servers but at the moment it seems like CCP has hit a wall. They simply cannot improve the code fast enough to get more players into one system, and the current hardware available only manages to handle as much as a couple of hundred in the same system.
We've seen the word "reinforced" used by players and CCP when dealing with lag. It has been CCP's methods for years to handle systems with high workload. Simply to dedicate one server in the cluster to that particular system. But now it seems that this wall that CCP hit can't simply be helped by: reinforcing the system on a dedicated server, improving code and getting new hardware.
Their final option to avoid cluster crashes is simply to put virtual limits on the system as we've seen in the recent war. This is not an ideal situation for either of the sides since it will have many implications which I will come to soon.
CCP has to solve this either by finding a way to improve the architecture of their game. Making each system more decentralized or to rely on super-computers readily available within the nearest future. Or perhaps some option which I've yet to see CCP come up with.
Another aspect of this problem is the network-traffic outbound from each system. All the traffic sent to players will cause lag since each calculation, weaponfire, shipchanges etc will have to be propagated to each client.
Multiply this with a couple of hundred players and you will see that players will get issues clientside with networktraffic (limited by their own network access & computers for calculating _everything_).
This virtual limit CCP chose has been to limit the system to a max-amount of players. This limit has been put in place a bit randomly previously but seems to become the norm now to avoid crashing the node entirely. Perhaps this will save one nights sleep for a sysadmin on call but in the end it will cause a bigger headache for CCP if it turns out as I think.
The following will happen:
- Warfare tactics will change. The people with the most players in system during a long period of time will win. If you manage to lockout your enemy with the help of the virtual limit the battle is won even before any turrets are fired.
Simply smack up a POS just as you put the enemies POS into reinforced. Have it outfit as a deathstar with lots of strontium with just enough time to survive until you can remove the enmies POS.
During this whole time you strive to maintain the largest amount of players in system. Doesnt matter how much forces you got outside the systems. Just as long as you can cap the system you're trying to defend/attack.
Just imagine the login-queues and "Login battles" during these days! Both sides will have their forums spammed with "Make sure you keep your pilots online even if you're afk! Fit a cloak, go to our pos. Just be online to keep enemy out!!!" .
Result: BIG headache for CCP when either of sides complain about this new tactic. More serverload, login-queues and all that crap associated with high playernumbers.
CCP must realise that these virtual limits are the worst kind of tactic they can chose. They must remove these virtual-limits and try to keep the servers running even if the playernumbers are in the thousands on the same server.
The lag will even-out the amount of players in a system and put the forces in a ratio matching each sides amount of players available. This should be a far better solution to virtual limits until CCP has come up with better coding practises, hardware or another solution.
Virtual caps is bad m'kay?