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.