It’s time we stop pretending that there’s no upper limit to the number of ships on a grid.
Eve is an amazing, one of a kind game - a shared, global, persistent game universe. The potential for massive scale is it’s biggest appeal (for me), but when it overpromises and underdelivers on that scale it’s incredibly disappointing. See this video - False Advertising - for an example.
It’s ok that there’s an upper limit - we live in a finite universe! But CCP needs to have the bravery to measure that limit and communicate it well to the users. For any online service, you need to measure your load capacity and have a strategy for when you hit that limit. I think TiDi is an incredible innovation and works well - it can scale server resources 10x over normal, but it isn’t magic. There’s a limit to the number of clients, beyond which things just break.
Instead of giving a frustrating, broken experience, what about this?
- Use existing server logging and mass test events to determine the number of pilots in system that causes 50% Tidi in a given system.
- Create a mechanic to allow for population caps. Make it clear when it is or isn’t possible to enter a system. Obviously this is tricky (what happens if someone tries to log in to a system at cap? Maybe they can pick a jump clone in an uncapped system for free?).
- Communicate that cap clearly in the UI and API, so that everyone is aware of how close we are to the limit.
Obviously the maximum number of clients depends on what those clients are doing. But picking a limit that does well at 50% Tidi allows for variability - if everyone undocks and it spikes to 10% that’s fine, as long as big fights are able to proceed normally.
What are the advantages of this?
- Players can incorporate population limits into their strategies. Will people stuff systems to block them? Yes, but this already happens - just no one knows the limit.
- Ensuring the server can handle load properly eliminates frustrating experiences (stuck in tunnel, unable to log in).
- Extreme Tidi can be fun, but not knowing whether you fired, or whether you undocked isn’t.
- Instead of stories about the largest, biggest scale fights in Eve talking about how broken the game is, they’ll focus on what the players actually do.