Critical Regional Chat Server Accessibility Issue After August Update

TLDR:
After the August 10th update, Chinese players now have around 50% packet loss when connecting to the chat server. The main game works fine but most players now have to use third party “game accelerators” to reroute the connection to use chat properly.


When new Chinese players join my corp, the first thing we usually teach them is to “identify enemies’ presence using local chat”, and the second thing recently became “you gotta pay $10 a month for some game accelerator otherwise chat don’t work.”

Chat not working is a critical issue for nullsec and lowsec gameplay. After testing and pingtracing, it appears that live.chat.eveonline.com had either moved server location or server provider around August 10th, which was why connections started suffering for IP addresses in China. This is likely not an issue with the Great Firewall as we first suspected. this is because the game’s main server tranquility.servers.eveonline.com and test server singularity.servers.eveonline.com both work perfectly fine for those reporting the chat server packet loss issue.

The above issue is in fact widespread but extremely underreported since most who are affected do not post here in English nor are able to use English effectively for support/bug reporting. I have raised the issue in a support ticket but received no practical solution. On CCP’s end, however, it can be easily fixed by making the chat server use the same location/provider as the main game server, or consider backtracking whatever change was made to the chat server around August 10th.

I am unsure if the same issue may be affecting players in other regions, but if you interview a few Chinese players, you would be surprised to find that now a majority of them are forced to use the aforementioned ‘game accelerators’.

Why is this in assembly hall and not one of the technical issues forums?

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GM from support ticket redirected me here and told me to post to get CSM attention.

@Brisc_Rubal @Mike_Azariah

Given that Chinese players aren’t supposed to be playing on TQ in the first place, it’s unlikely something CCP can fix.

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Wait what? I thought Serenity didn’t come along with a ban of Chinese players on Tranquility, or has thousands of FRT players been violating EULA since they joined? I am pretty sure that is not the case, otherwise CCP could get sued for discrimination.

It’s not CCP - it’s the Chinese government who prohibits their citizens from playing on non-licensed servers. TQ is not licensed for play in China. Serenity is. The Chinese players who are playing here are doing so through VPNs generally, and CCP, because of Serenity’s license, generally can’t do anything to make it easier for Chinese players to play on TQ.

I did get a chuckle out of the sued for discrimination line though.

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Thank you for reading and replying, but please do read on:

This is a common misconception. Unlike Facebook or Twitter which is actually banned in China, TQ has never been and is perfectly accessible for Chinese IPs even now, just not the Chat Server since August 10th.
We have ruled out Great Firewall as the potential cause during testing, because the issue was found to be some 50% packet loss instead of non-access.

Nord or whatever VPN we may be assuming for bypassing the GFW do not fix the packet loss issue either, most Chinese players are now using third-party re-routing service for connection to specific servers known to them as ‘game accelerators’, these do not allow access to legally banned content, only more reliable connection to already accessible servers.

No offence but this is a serious issue which the Chinese members of my corp are frustrated about, please do not dismiss it just by suggesting the ‘China=ban internet bad luck’ stereotype. I am here because I am among the only few English-speakers in my corp, hence I know how underreported the issue is. I believe it is also affecting the entire Chinese playerbase on Tranquility now, which is at least most of FRT thus a significant proportion.

The solution is quite obvious, by making the chat server use the same location/provider as the main game server, or consider backtracking whatever change was made to the chat server around August 10th.

They need to play on their own server.

It may have been accessible, but when Brisc says:

He is talking about the SART/NRTA in mainland China, which is the regulatory body that requires publishers to obtain a license for video games to operate in mainland China. Presumably Serenity is the licensed version of the game. If CCP Games does anything to skirt around the unlicensed content, the SART/NRTA (edit: technically the Ministry of Commerce issues the license) has economic leverage to force CCP Games to comply by revoking the Serenity license (losing money in the Chinese market) and/or further action (ex: GFW). This has long been a core strategy of the CCP (Political Party) to both entice foreign investment and influence foreign companies.

Just because the GFW in practice has let folks connect to TQ servers and unlicensed games in the past, does not mean TQ has been blessed by the Chinese government.

edit: I am very sorry you and others are in this predicament, I am sympathetic to getting the problem fixed. I would not hold my breath though.

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There are a lot of assumptions in what you’re writing, but you’re ignoring the primary implication of what I said - it is very unlikely that CCP is going to take any steps to fix this problem, as it could put their license for Serenity in jeopardy and they aren’t going to take that risk.

Chinese players have their own server for a reason. Obviously, we’d much rather have them on TQ than on their own server, but their government doesn’t make that possible.

I’m not dismissing their concerns. I’m dismissing your line about “suing for discrimination” because that’s laughably absurd.

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Thank you for all your attention and responses. To clarify, I am not asking for CCP to implement a ‘loophole’.

This whole issue in fact has nothing to do with a presumed Chinese government ban - they did not change their policies or practices during August 10th game update. The GFW is not involved either, or there would be total inaccessibility instead of packet loss. The issue may as well be affecting Japanese or Korean players, though I have not interviewed them since I do not speak their languages.

Something was simply changed to the chat servers, on CCP’s end, during the August update. This change has been causing packet-loss for regional connections, and can be fixed by returning to the circumstances before August 10th update which CCP has been fine with for the past decade or so.

Unless it is CCP’s intention to ‘discriminatively cause packet loss but not make the game entirely inaccessible for specific regional players’, which cannot be the case as Brisc Rubal and I would both agree, I believe asking for a fix to this is entirely plausible.

The chat - system runs on Amazon servers. It’s possible that the issue is between Amazon and China and that CCP has no part in the matter beyond using Amazon servers.

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Sure, but when you say things like:

I don’t think anyone is presuming a mainland China government ban. We’re simply asking you to recognize the larger regulatory ecosystem at play that CCP Games will have to juggle in addressing this issue – or not.

The uncomfortable question is: let’s say you get your way for this issue and all future similar issues. CCP Games addresses this issue, you’re happy and on your way. But at some point in the future, the CCP (Political Party) regulators notice the pattern and come to CCP Games anyway with a hint of displeasure – let’s treat that possibility as a when and not an if – what do you believe the long term consequences will be, and will you be able to adequately deal with them? Do you think CCP Games would try to protect Chinese nationals playing on TQ, or protect their investment in Serenity? Does the future look like game accelerators, VPNs, getting bans/migrated to Serenity, or other significant loss of access? What does that long term plan for TQ access look like?

While I am curious of the answers, I offer the questions more for private reflection and introspection due to the uncomfortable nature of them. Also, I’m not trying to inject a value statement here – I’m actively trying to avoid geopolitics – I just don’t want y’all to be disappointed further.

Nice, I looked it up and verified myself:

$ ping live.chat.eveonline.com
PING live.chat.eveonline.com (76.223.92.61): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 76.223.92.61: icmp_seq=0 ttl=119 time=2.630 ms
64 bytes from 76.223.92.61: icmp_seq=1 ttl=119 time=3.582 ms

Then I went to https://ip-ranges.amazonaws.com/ip-ranges.json (from their docs) and verified they have:

{
  "ip_prefix": "76.223.0.0/17",
  "region": "GLOBAL",
  "service": "AMAZON",
  "network_border_group": "GLOBAL"
},

And 76.223.0.0/17 is indeed a CIDR that contains 76.223.92.61.

It helps a to use communist party of China CPC rather than the Chinese communist party CCP not only is it the correct name for the controlling party it causes less confusion on the forums.