All quiet on the EVE Launcher front? | EVE Online

All quiet on the EVE Launcher front?

2013-03-11 - By CCP Aporia

Hello everyone, this is CCP Aporia reporting in from Team Special Circumstances where we are currently working hard on improving the EVE launcher.

The current situation

As you have probably noticed there haven’t been a lot of changes to the EVE Launcher since its original roll out. This is partly down to the team having been somewhat restructured, now consisting of CCP Atropos, CCP Aita and my humble self.

The other reason is that we were not completely happy with some things related to the EVE Launcher and how it handles certain situations. It is at times a bit cumbersome when it comes to updating the EVE client – how many of you had to download a full client install because the EVE Launcher patching failed? Quite a few according to our statistics! Combined with our own desire to be able to push out EVE client updates more frequently and reliably, we have decided to go back to the drawing board and rethink some of the things we are doing; trying to find ways on how to improve the overall user experience.

So, what do our plans entail? In short and among other things we are working on improving the self-update mechanism for the EVE Launcher, as well as its ability to download and update your EVE client, integration with digital distribution platforms like Steam and support for multi-box and test-client installations. Wow, that is quite a list, so let me focus this dev blog on what is probably going to be the most controversial change we are making at the moment. But do not worry, we will provide more dev blogs about our other plans as well as upcoming changes in the near future.

You are doing what?!

After careful investigation of a lot of different distribution and update mechanisms we have decided to base the EVE Launcher’s future download mechanism on the widely used and battle-tested BitTorrent protocol. The main reason why we are doing this is that BitTorrent itself can utilize a number of different transport channels at the same time and is thus less prone to failing on that level. Our current mechanism is built on HTTP 1.1 only, which is a protocol that was not designed for transferring large amounts of data. Sure, it does support partial file transfers through something that is called the Range header, but this header is not always passed through all the way from your internet access point to our servers. This then corrupts a file in your client and, if this happens while running the Repair Tool, it can completely corrupt your client. With BitTorrent we do not have this problem as it can run on top of a number of different protocols. Furthermore the protocol does a double validation of transferred data, ensuring that it is actually what we wanted to download and not some digital garbage. Eventually it is also possible to prioritize files over others when downloading which opens up a whole lot of possible future improvements to the user experience – for instance the ability to create your character while the game is still installing.

Well, don't worry.

Anyway, enough about the technical reasons behind this change, it’s time to address some of the potential concerns you might have. You might be worried about us “stealing” your internet bandwidth. This is a valid concern, especially since there are enough products out there which silently do or used to do this. Now, it is part of the BitTorrent protocol that every participant in the distribution network gives and receives data, and this is something we cannot really change. However, there are ways to limit this, and by default the new EVE Launcher will only make you share the data required for installing the client while you are downloading; once your download is complete you will not be distributing it to others, unless you explicitly enable this in the options – after all it might be useful for sharing the installation across your local network. We are also, by default, limiting the upload rate so that it should not affect your normal internet usage. This can be adjusted within the settings, should you wish to do so.

With this change you should be able to experience more reliable and potentially faster updates or repairs of your EVE client installation. We plan on rolling this out onto a test server near you within the next few weeks (watch the test server feedback forum for an announcement!) so that you and we can gather some more experiences with and valuable feedback about the new way of distributing and updating your client.

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