Diluting Time Dilation

CCP Veritas has provided an illuminating blog on Team Gridlocks battle against lag.  Some have described Time Dilation as ‘bullet time for EVE’ which I don’t think is particularly accurate.  Is Time Dilation needed? Is it the solution to EVEs lag woes?

I would think that most players will recognise that it is not, it is really only a sticking plaster of a treatment but a welcome one for many.  Whilst the specifics of exactly how Time Dilation will work have yet to be defined I am a little concerned by those who want special visual effects (nebula colour, red shifting light etc).  To my mind this type of approach seems to embrace TD as a ‘feature’ and integral to the game.  When you consider that TD is, essentially, artificial lag, I would think that as little fuss as possible should be made about it.

Strip away the fact that TD will mitigate against lag would you really want to advertise that EVE slows down when it gets a bit busy?

Granted, TD will help to create – or at least enable – fairer battles.  This is in my view its outstanding characteristic.  There is a considerable sense of injustice and unfairness when a battle is lost not because your fleet was out fought but because the game seized up and you didn’t get so much as a chance to fire back.  This TD does come with a price however and we should be cautious before we hail its approach to loudly.  Through TD we can expect bigger fleets, essentially more blobs to form because they will be effective.  For the large Alliances of course this is ideal.  Their success is predicated upon the use of numbers, swarm tactics over all else.  The effects of lag and over loaded servers to an extent acted as a buffer to the extremes of what an Alliance could do with sheer numbers alone.

The use of massed force is a sensible tactic in many respects – overwhelming a foe by numbers, as opposed to tactical skill or shrewd manoeuvring is a blunt and somewhat unimaginative approach but it can work.  My concern is those championing TD through the CSM6 and elsewhere stand the most to gain from TD: their strategy is bolstered by it.

I can recall, some years ago now, a player demanding that CCP provide an option whereby all graphics could be turned off, with ships being shown at best as wire diagrams or just provide an ‘overview’ display.  This view sounds dramatic but the player was deadly serious in his request: the beauty of EVE was an inconvenience to him and EVE really was just a spreadsheet in space.  Is this where we are headed? Should CCP gradually degrade the functionality of EVE to appease those whose answer to tactics is to bring more and more to the fight?

I hope this won’t be the case.  Time Dilation buys time for what must be a game design solution that allows for large fleet engagements but does not demand them to achieve success in a given conflict.  I realise that many believe this is an impossible dream, and an impractical one.  Their argument is that numbers are always better regardless of the environment or situation.  I don’t however believe that this is the case and that with appropriate game mechanics alternatives to ‘just  more numbers’ can be found.


5 Responses to “Diluting Time Dilation”

  1. Pinaculus Says:

    I think Time Dilation is a remarkable mental step forward. It doesn’t pretend to eliminate lag. It attempts to manage it. This is a big step. It involves admitting that there is no solution to a problem, and then working to mitigate some of the worst symptoms to a manageable level.

    Call it the triumph of realism.

  2. -Have you ever lost 500 hours of work to a blackscreen? If not, what makes you qualified to have an opinion on this?

    -Who asserted that “numbers are always better regardless of the environment or situation”? Please provide a reference.

    -Can you provide an example of “a game design solution that allows for large fleet engagements but does not demand them to achieve success in a given conflict”?

    You seem to be opposed to TD in favor of a combat solution based on “tactical skill or shrewd manoeuvring(sic),” but fail to present any way in which this could be implemented, or any tactic which does not scale in effectiveness with increased numbers. Pining after some sort of idealized elite small gang pvp is well and good (or, okay, actually just annoying) but some of us are actually affected by the problems that TD fixes, and are really looking forward to having the game not be broken.

    • Steady there Parasoja,

      I’m looking forward to TD and I’m most definitely not against it. The ‘numbers are always better’ commentary is a common theme from the EVE-O forums, although granted that’s possibly not the best source of reasoned opinion. You’d need to read back through some of my previous blogs regarding large fleet engagements and nul sec warfare to see where I’m coming from with respect to possible game design approaches that could be implemented. I’d didn’t really want to re hash over those views again but perhaps you’re right and I should have expanded a little more in this post.

      I think the approach CCP should, and probably will, follow will be a combination of factors: improved hardware, optimised code, mitigating “mechanics” like TD and game design solutions for sov warfare and the like.


  3. Sterling86 Says:

    I think that TD will have the oposite effect on large fleet fights. The way lag tends to work now definately favors the blob. In high lag the cycle time on moduals all tend to converge. This means that even if you bring more than enough triage carriers to rep the damage from the blob you lose because the reppers get stuck. You get out alphaed because the high rof weapons slow down relative to the high alpha weapons (think 50 hellcats vs 50 alphamaelstroms, the alphas can kill an abadon every cycle, but all things being equal the hellcats should kill the maelstroms faster because their rof is so much higher, but in high lag this doesn’t happen). Also consider bombs. In lag the bombs fly off 80 or 100 km before going off, so the one weapon that should directly counter the blob doesn’t work.

    TD will make it so that you can plan and implement more complicated tactics in large fights ( if properly implimented, which is a big if). It will give a smaller, but well lead force a better chance against a big disorganized one.

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