The Second Timer in M2-XFE
On Saturday 2 January, both sides of the months-long nullsec war in New Eden gathered for another showdown in the system of M2-XFE. The fight was supposed to be a follow up to the biggest Titan clash in EVE’s history, which occurred just two days prior. This battle did not unfold the way anyone expected it to. A large proportion of the attacking side experienced in-game issues, which resulted in devastating losses for them.
Unprecedented War, Unprecedented Battles
The ongoing war in New Eden has seen some of the largest and bloodiest battles in EVE’s history. The war has already claimed two official Guinness World Records, whilst also breaking many other EVE records, including a record number of battleships killed in one battle, and a record number of Titans destroyed in another.
The second fight in M2-XFE was a next step in the evolution of these unprecedented fights. Three systems in Delve were the focus of the fight: 1DQ1-A (defender staging), T5ZI-S (attacker staging) and M2-XFE (battlefield). 1DQ1-A’s player count topped out at 4226, T5ZI-S hit 6723 and the player count in the target system of M2-XFE went the highest with 6739 pilots, breaking the Fury of FWST record of 6557. The three systems – which were each reinforced – saw a combined peak of 13,770 players around 23:23 EVE time. To put this in perspective, approximately 35% of all online pilots in the game were situated in just these 3 systems.
These numbers are unrivaled - and unrivaled numbers in New Eden lead to uncharted territories when it comes to performance. Neither side of the war, or CCP, can, could or will be able to predict the server performance in these kinds of situations.
Weird events during and after the battle
Of the 3 nodes; attacker staging, defender staging, and fight; 2 were under heavy load: the T5ZI-S and M2-XFE nodes (since both had about 5-6k pilots). As pilots attempted to jump from one heavily loaded to another, they experienced odd and unresponsive game behavior. This was simply a brutal symptom of what happens when there is a great deal of activity between two heavily loaded systems.
Both during and after the fight, players experienced things that don’t happen under normal circumstances. Things like ships disappearing, ships reappearing, ships not appearing in the right systems – even after going through the jump tunnel, ghost killmails, duplicated ships/mods where a wreck with loot was in M2-XFE but the fitted ship was in T5ZI-S, bridging Titans getting moved to the system it was bridging people to, among others.
Many of these unusual events have not happened in recent times (although some veterans will remember that they have been seen before), and that is largely because the increasing size of large battles has been more gradual over the last 10 years. However, this fight dwarfed any previous engagement in New Eden. Had every player who was trying to get into M2-XFE successfully done so, it would have nearly doubled the current Guinness World Record for concurrent players in a single fight with approximately 12,000 players.
Population cap and players entering the system
There has been an ongoing discussion regarding a “population cap in M2-XFE.” The only system in the game that has a population cap is Jita - to avoid the system going into Time dilation. There was no population cap set for M2-XFE.
What players were seeing in their client call log was a standard call that is an everyday occurrence. The client will call every jump – and when logging in - to check if there is a population cap on the destination system – in this case it was not receiving a reply from the heavily loaded system (the population cap being one of the different calls it was not receiving back).
While there was no population cap, players did have trouble entering the system – which was an unfortunate symptom of the sheer scale of this fight. This caused a great deal of unexpected outcomes, and has, understandably, been the cause of great frustration for many players.
Another discussion has revolved around whether all players could have loaded given enough time. Due to the unprecedented circumstances, any discussion on that is theoretical – what can however be said is that we’ve received reports of players that waited for their jump tunnels ended up traveling, but to the same system as they originally were in.
As per our usual policy Customer Support won't be reimbursing any losses or moving players between systems. It is our policy to not get involved with fleet fights, and that policy has been upheld during this war – for both sides.
We will be intervening as little as possible in the repercussions of this battle. We will not be taking away any insurance payouts for ships that are still alive, removing looted duplicated modules, or going into hangars to destroy ghost titans that survived. We will only consider moving players who are completely unable to log into the game, if there are any such cases. Players that can log into the game will have to move themselves.
CCP and the pilots of New Eden have long been engaged in a perpetual arms race. Players push the envelope of what is possible, and we continue to improve performance with improved hardware, software, and changes to the mechanics of the game. As EVE players continue to create larger and larger wars, with bigger and more epic battles every week, these battles continue to bring the game into unknown territory. We salute all the players for their efforts and their ambitions – this ongoing war, which at times has had unfortunate moments for both sides, is continually reshaping the landscape of New Eden and adding new and exciting stories to the history of EVE Online.
Note: This article will be available in other supported languages later this week.