Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: EVE

3,000 Strong EVE Battle Slowed Down Time

Last week a major battle unfolded in the massive online game EVE Online that involved about 3,000 players. It was all an accident though. Reddit user Kiresays explains what happened here and you can watch a video of the battle below.

So basically, boat is in his titan getting ready to bridge a full fleet (~250 dudes) onto this small pirate alliance. Except he makes a mistake; he clicks JUMP instead of BRIDGE. That sends his $3,500 ship right into the middle of this pirate corporation with nobody nearby to support him. And then all hell breaks loose.

The Penny Arcade Report talked with CCP (makers of EVE) and found something pretty neat. The way that they deal with server overload from too many players is to alter the speed of time!

“It’s basically a very graceful way of handling ‘lag’ produced in these situations where other games would have their servers melt,” Veritas told us. “It actually slows down time in the system to make sure the server calls and responses are both carried through and done in the correct order. In this case, as people jumped in it slowed down gradually until it hit the cap at 10%, meaning a pretty slow experience, but one that is still meaningful from a game play and ‘tactical’ perspective.”

I love it when the solution to a problem is to alter time. Instead of making it so players experince lag they use time dilation to have that lag essentially happen on the server. It must also help the game experience from a player’s perspective as a battle with 3,000 people and involving almost every alliance in the game can probably get confusing real quick.

That timey wimey stuff can get confusing.

Economics in Video Games

“For all intents and purposes, this is an economy that has activity equal to a small country in real life,” Guðmundsson says. “There’s nothing ‘virtual’ about this world.”

A recent article in the Washington Post on economics in video games is a great read. The way economists and video game makers can work together is fascinating. It’s a perfect cycle from the digital into the physical as economists can learn from game worlds while game makers can learn from economists. The thing is, as the author points out, the two groups of people don’t always get along.

Some companies like EVE, Valve, and ArenaNet have already hired economists as these companies have realised the importance of in-game economies. I’m often shocked when I see things like how smaller companies can really mess up their business plan because they don’t know basic economic theory (although the Wired article is on freemium, you get the idea).

In Eve Online, Guðmundsson oversees an economy that can fluctuate wildly — he says it expanded 42 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, then contracted 15 percent by the summer. His team will periodically have to address imbalances in the money supply. For instance, they can curb inflation by introducing a new type of weapon, say, to absorb virtual currency — not unlike the way a central bank might sell bonds to shrink the money supply. (In theory, Eve Online’s currency has real-world value — the highest-level spaceships, the Titans, are worth the equivalent of $5,000 to $8,000.)

“We’ve even seen large alliances trying to manipulate aspects of the market to control the supply and affect prices,” Guðmundsson says. “It’s a lot like OPEC.”

One of the great things is that the in the digital world a lot more can be recorded than in the physical world. As a result, economists can perform more detailed analysis to help our understanding of both virtual and physical economies.

“In real life, if you want to know what’s happening with car sales, you might call up a handful of car dealerships and ask what their sales are like this month,” says Dmitri Williams, a researcher at the University of Southern California. “In a virtual world, you just know everything. There’s no sampling, there’s no error. It’s perfect information.”

The article also mentions at the work Yanis Varoufakis is doing at Valve, lucky for us he keeps a good blog on the economies Valve is currently running.

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