Puttin' on the foil coach

No, we’re not hiring the Hanson brothers to deal with RMT threats. As there is no one better at beating up targets than EVE pilots, we thought we'd enlist your talents in slapping EVE Gate into shape.

As CCP t0rfifrans outlined on his blog introducing Tyrannis, we will be delivering the very first iteration of EVE Gate in the upcoming expansion. It is my task to oversee the technical direction of the Web side of things with EVE Gate, and I wanted to take the opportunity to announce a public “Alpha” test we are planning for EVE Gate and the steps we are taking to make sure we have a very sound foundation to build upon. What we don't want to do is just turn all the traffic completely on the first day and pray it doesn’t break under load. Instead we plan a measured approach that will make sure we have a solid architecture and enough hardware in place.

The process we are following is as follows:

  • Develop and prototype an N-Tier web application with scalability in mind from day one (See my first blog on "Cosmos" ) - DONE
  • Release and stress an internal alpha to identify and address weakspots - DONE
  • Build and utilize load testing and application profiling tools to find and fix bottlenecks - DONE
  • Release a public "alpha" stress test to apply real world load to the application to check our hardware needs against estimates and monitor it under real conditions
  • Roll out a "beta" launch
  • Ramp up to full access in increments

On March 23, we will announce access to a public stress test version of EVE Gate which will be connected to Singularity for all of you to log into and look around. What is critical for everyone to understand is that the intent of this test is to stress the underlying hardware and key architectural components. This will allow us to identify and address bottlenecks and weaknesses well before launch and to make sure we have adequate hardware in place for all the pounding you folks will put on it once you are all browsing EVE Gate routinely from work (when your boss isn't looking). We will be watching your comments closely for feedback as well as closely logging and monitoring the behavior of the software and hardware under load. You can help us out greatly just by logging in, browsing around and trying the application out.

It needs to be emphasized that while it gives you an early glimpse at EVE Gate, the primary purpose of this test is a technical one. The features included in the test are still heavily in development and we wanted to get an early version up and available for you to beat up the hardware well in advance. There will be elements that are not yet done or which are presented as a simplified version for testing purposes. To make this clear the application will be labeled the "EVE Gate Alpha Stress Test"; it will be pretty hard to miss. I am not going to go into depth here on the features that will be included; we have an additional Dev Blog that will be presented soon which will focus on the web based functionality which will come with EVE Gate at launch (calendar, mail, contacts, profiles, broadcast logs, etc).

EVE Gate Alpha Stress Test

When EVE Gate does go live with the expansion it will be released as a Beta launch. It will be fully functional and connected to Tranquility for access to production data however it will be a Web site that we will continually modify and enhance. As it is a Web site, we have the benefit of not being tied directly to client releases and can continue to upgrade the site as quickly as we can get improvements completed. Once access is fully ramped up and we are comfortable that it is fully stable and production ready we’ll rip off the Beta stamp.

When I mention an incremental ramp up to full access, what I am describing is a measured increase in the number of players that can access the site when the Beta version goes live. We will do this with a basic signup page on launch day and we will give X number of additional players access each day depending on how things are going. Rather than turning the faucet fully on we are going to open it up a bit, check that all is well, open it up a bit more, etc… until we have it fully open and everyone has access.

Obviously we will open it up as quickly as is feasible as we have a lot more features we want to get to work on (>cough< forums >cough<) but our emphasis is on doing this the right way. Hopefully the ramp up will be quick, and this "Alpha" test I have announced here will play a big part in getting us as much information as possible so we can be ready. The better the info we get out of the "Alpha," the more accurate our hardware setup will be, the quicker we can ramp up full access when we go live.

The team is really looking forward to rolling out EVE Gate for you to use, and we will have greater detail on the features it will include in a future Dev Blog.