A short saying oft contains much wisdom - Revelations III and you
We're all returning from summer vacations and getting back in gear. It's time for Revelations III preparations, the highlight of which is the rewrite of our graphics engine, Trinity 2. At the same time you will see the release of the visual update of all Ships, Stations, Stargates and Starbases.
Our Need for Speed initiative is driving Revelations III and we've removed a small number of planned additions from this expansion to give us more time for improvements, optimizations and fixes for EVE's current functionality and gameplay.
EVE has had 2 free expansions per year for almost 3 years now, each one bringing some new functionality. It's now time to improve what we have and address the most pressing issue of performance.
But why make a new graphics engine? Won't that make more bugs?
It certainly isn't going to be painless - but what must be kept in mind that this isn't being done only to improve the visuals in EVE. We're doing this to fix inherent problems with the current graphics engine. Many of the problems today, both in terms of performance and bugs exist because Trinity 1 is showing her age.
We've been working on the new engine for almost 2 years now and to see all this work finally coming to fruition is exciting. I can't count the number of forum posts which are requesting us to fix the engine and ask why we're not doing anything about it.
Perception is reality here and it's difficult to explain how truly massive and time consuming this undertaking is. We're hoping for serious improvements and stability, but to decrease risk we'll be releasing the engine in multiple parts. The User Interface framework itself is so large an undertaking that it will be delivered seperately from this year's rendering release.
When it's ready, hopefully in a November or December timeframe. There is a wealth of other improvements and rewrites coming in. Our core technology group has been working on a new network layer for the server and client which should also be ready for Revelations III.
They're all a part of the Need for Speed initiative. It's ironic that all the projects which were started last year in the initiative are anything but speedy to create and all the more reason to rejoice immensely over the fruits of that labor we hope they deliver. What worth is gameplay if the game doesn't work? Yes, that's right, we also think like you, we want our game to work just as much, if not more, as you. ;)
So no new features in Revelations III?
Of course! Trinity 2, our new graphics engine certainly is a new feature. It would be possible to play a text-based version of EVE, but that would be boring as hell! Not only is Trinity being done to put EVE back at the forefront of visuals, it also addressing performance and bugs. Please note, with the the new engine comes also the high-resolution versions of the visuals. This part alone is about 80 man-years which has been performed in the last year. That's right, 80 man-years.
Why didn't we use them 80 man-years to fix bugs?
Well, that's simple. We can't. These are visual artists, not programmers and we want them (and believe me, you do too) as far away from our code as possible. :)
Don't forget we already have a huge team working on improving EVE. What has to be kept in mind that fixing code can also break it, so we have to keep a good pace, where we can also test it all properly and release a steady flow of fixes rather than huge patches. That's why we deploy server-side hotfixes up to 3 times a week.
We also realize this isn't apparent, perception is reality, remember? So in the future we will append to the patch notes when we deploy server-side hotfixes as we did with the last patch. We are working hard on improving EVE all year round and it's only polite to let you know of that. ;)
So no new features, but what about Content?
Certainly, there will be considerable new content. We have 20 designers and content creators, who like the artists, we don't want touching code. We'll take care of some required balancing and are considering new agent missions, exploration encounters, more loot and even new boosters. This is all content which doesn't require programming and therefore can't break code, so it's safer to add. Safer, not safe.
We'll also be improving our current features. Improving is also fixing. It can be broken gameplay, it can be boring gameplay, it can be shallow gameplay which should be deeper or it's gameplay which should be more fun. In the improvements, we're considering Invention, Heat and Drones among other things.
What about Factional Warfare? You promised!
Yes, we did and we will hold to it if we are satisfied with the end result. As underlined in this blog, our focus is to address what we already have and pushing out an incomplete or broken Factional Warfare while we focus on improvements is counter to our goals. We do have a simple version of it we're testing out, one which can then evolve based on how you play it and resulting in the embrace of emerging gameplay. Sorry couldn't help using the buzzwords. :P
I want more!
Even after adding sharks with friggin' laser beams (best corp name ever btw) to our arsenal, we still have lots of room for improvement and to address other issues.
We've been adding millions of dollars of hardware every year, just recently replacing our Database cluster with new IBM X-SERIES 3950 with 64GB RAM, IBM DS4800 storage array and another magnificent beast, a TMS RAMSAN, taking us to 256GB of solid state disk storage on the database layer. We're now running at 18% CPU utilization on peak hours.
Early next year we are looking at replacing all our servers for the third time with some next-generation hardware, utilizing tech such as Infiniband so we can start doing something like RDMA. This is to enable solar systems to scale multiple CPU cores and even physical machines. Get ready to party because this means bastard systems such Jita and Saila should have better performance. We're not harboring any illusions, we know that regardless of the hardware there will be high-load systems, but it's a start.
Our biggest problem to address right now though is the dreaded de-synch. We've attempted multiple fixes to this problem but with little success. If you experience this frequently, please help us out by visiting the Game Development Forum. This is a problem nested deep in our core systems, the recent appearance of a bug that's been living there for a long time.
We never stop evolving EVE, she deserves it, you deserve it. You brought us here and we're not going anywhere. We hope, neither are you, cause the party is just starting.
Pod Pilots, we salute you.