Time is the fire in which we burn.
Posted on January 28th, 2013 by Jhaer

Every game has to deal with lag. And not just the slowness of someone’s Internet connection. Have you ever wondered why many games limit the number of people who can be logged into a server at once? Or why an area, zone or dungeon gets full? That’s why… in order to give players the best possible chance, the developers put in limits in order to keep the server functioning at an optimal level.

EVEOnlineSo then, what does a game company do when they only have one world server and don’t want to lock players out of an area or spawn instances? This is the problem that EVE Online faced, and developers CCP came up with a novel solution: time dilation.

The crux of the problem was that the server couldn’t keep up with the number of commands the large number of players was issuing, and they simply couldn’t upgrade the server to be any faster. So they did the opposite and intentionally slowed down the players. All of them, by the same factor.

Over the weekend, there was a battle of epic proportions in EVE. 3000 people, give or take, participated. Word is the time dilation was down to about 10%. That means an action which would normally take 6 seconds was taking a minute. But this is the sort of thing that really needs to be seen to be believed. So, check out this video:

My favorite part of this is that time dilation is a perfectly acceptable sci-fi solution for a sci-fi game. I don’t think it is a workable solution for, say, World of Warcraft, but here it is just so cool.

I love reading about EVE. Playing? Not so much, but it does have some of the best stories around.