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The Battle of Asakai and Poinen Must Burn by the numbers

Hi I’m CCP Quant

In June 2012 I decided to take a break from banking (Quantitative Research) and joined Dr. Eyjó’s team, Research and Statistics, as a Data Analyst. I’m mainly responsible for predictive modeling, statistical research and general data analysis. 

This past weekend EVE Online saw two major player events, The Battle of Asakai and Red vs. Blue’s: Poinen Must Burn – Mass FFA #3. The sheer scale of these events has really gained the interest of a lot of people, both players and non-players alike. Despite the nature of these events being very different from each other, one planned for weeks, the other not so much at all, both share a ton of explosions and a lot of happy “I was there" moments. 

You can read more about these two events and their context in “A Weekend of Epic Destruction in EVE Online” by CCP Manifest, also published today.

While not really a part of my job description, I couldn’t resist on jumping on this one when requests came pouring in this Monday morning for statistics on these events. After all, who doesn’t love numbers and fancy graphs when it comes to EVE Online?

First, a little data backstory before I go into the juicy details. We here at CCP collect data, lots and lots of data, in the form of event logs. There are about  100GB of logs generated every single day. Until recently, this data had mostly been useful for developers, game designers and GMs.

  • GMs need to puzzle together events for helping to solve petitions and investigating exploits (although sorry, not EVERYTHING is actually logged)
  • Game designers need to make decisions on game balancing issues based on actual numbers and hard facts
  • Programmers need to identify issues with their design and understand what exactly causes some bugs and other unintended game mechanics
  • Producers need to make calculated decisions on what to focus on for the next expansion based on feature usage statistics as well as community feedback

Going through the huge amount of logs had become computationally very intensive. This all changed after it was decided it was time to get us into Apache™ Hadoop®, allowing us to process logs on a scalable computer cluster using map/reduce. We now not only have a Hadoop® cluster processing our logs, but we have our own high level framework built around it, thanks to great development efforts of our inhouse experts.

For those of you who play other online multiplayer games and love the wonderful, detailed player stats pages, Hadoop® is the technology that makes it possible for us to offer similar features for EVE Online. Although I’m definitely not promising any progress on that end any time soon, I can promise you that we’ll have some wonderful time-lapse statistics of New Eden to show you on Fanfest. We’ve already utilized Hadoop® in preparing data for rendering that kind of visualizations for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) project, where we captured server data of a specific day in EVE and requested players send us their stories and media of that day to weave together for an installation piece there. You can read more about it here: (Dev blog, announcement).

Now, since all the data is available, all it needs is a little bit of processing, mappin' and reducin', a little bit of cleaning up, and a bit of fancy graphing. Let’s get down to business, starting with the Asakai event.

The Battle of Asakai

We won’t be showing any alliance-, corporation- or character-names. That information is mostly available already on the internet so we’ll focus on ships, modules and destruction. With  717,033,768,274 ISK worth of ships destroyed here is the break-down by ship class:

Total losses in ISK by ship class

Top 25 total losses by ship types

But how many ships were destroyed of each class and group?

Number of lost ships by ship class

Since there were 845 Sub-capital ships lost in this conflict I think it’s only fair to look at what types of ships were destroyed the most:

From all these graphs we can see that 3 Titans were destroyed, along with 7 Supercarriers, 36 Carriers, and 53 Dreadnoughts. Interestingly, a LOT of rookie frigates were destroyed in the process. Since the system had a station, it is likely people docked after losing their ship, grabbed a rookie ship and came back again to get on as many killmails as possible. Some might’ve just wanted to watch the event from the front row.

That’s interesting and all, but this is already available on the kill-boards and nice community-made info-graphs on e.g. Reddit. Let’s look into the value destroyed of each ship class by time:

These graphs tell some of the story now; they show when the super capitals were killed, when the fight actually started and when it ended. But what kind of sorcery lies behind all this destruction? Let’s look at the total effective damage applied by weapon class from 02:00 (2AM) eve time to 07:00(7AM):

This might surprise the average player; Smart Bombs came in second in the total amount of damage caused. In fleet fights, the damage of Smart Bombs, usually used for anti-drone- or firewall- tactics (footnote: firewalling are ships fitted with Smart Bombs that are placed between friends and enemy ships that use missiles, to take out the missiles before they hit their target), is considered negligible compared to the focused fire of all the main weapon platforms. But Smart Bombs are an AOE (area of effect) type of weapon, which means, their damage is applied to every single ship within their range, friend or foe. With this in mind, we can begin to understand how this much damage can be coming from Smart Bombs. Now let’s see the accumulated amount of damage applied from 2:00 to 8:00:

Here we can see how the applied damage accumulates during the entire fight. Fighter bombers really played their role of being capital ship killers, seen here as around 50% of the total effective damage applied. The damage coming from Smart Bombs evenly stacks up throughout the fight and next in line come Energy weapon platforms, Hybrid weapon platforms and so on. Dreadnoughts played a big role there with a lot of Revelation and Moros class dreadnoughts fielded, followed by Phoenix and Naglfar.

Poinen Must Burn - Mass FFA #3

On to the next event, the Poinen Must Burn - Mass FFA 3 by Red Vs. Blue. This great, planned event had the one goal of ensuring the destruction of 28.000 frigates in the solar system Poinen. Everyone was instructed to warp to a POS in Poinen, board a frigate and go warp to the nearest gate or celestial to go down guns blazing killing fellow corp-mates. Despite Red vs. Blue being two corporations at war, they are in fact one corporation split into two teams. The team spirit can be seen by these graphs, note that Red on Red and Blue on Blue kills are identified as Purple Deaths:

The majority of deaths are purple so if the RvB pilots had been favoring killing the other team, the purple number would’ve been lower. 

With just over 350 pilots on each side losing on average 40,19 frigates, each worth 1.107.140M ISK on average, a total of 28.487 frigates were destroyed, totaling 31.500.364.752M ISK!  It’s interesting to look into the details on which types of frigates did the most damage on average, had the most effective hit points and cost the most:

The Incursus can be considered a winner when it comes to average DPS and EHP over cost ratios. The Venture, although a fine new addition to the line frigates, is not the most efficient when it comes to DPS (Damage Per Second) and EHP (Effective Hit Points) over cost ratio. Note that the data collected is restricted to all Frigate kills made in Poinen by Red Federation or Blue Republic within a given timeframe.   The last graph shows how many frigates were destroyed by type:

Lag in Asakai

Now to address the lag in Asakai, here's CCP Masterplan with some relevant details:

Compared to fights in null-sec, we’ve long known that the overhead of the Crimewatch system in low-sec adds a significant amount of load to the server. We have to check the legality of every offensive action (along with all the edge cases for wars, criminals, outlaws and personal flaggings), follow remote-rep chains to penalize assistance, and apply security-status punishments as necessary. None of this is necessary in null-sec. In Retribution we released Crimewatch 2.0. One of the stated goals of this feature was to improve the performance of large fights in empire space. This weekend’s events gave us the first chance to see how the new system would stand up.

For comparison, the last time we saw a fight in low sec that was anywhere near the scale of Asakai was in Uemon in February 2011. During the Uemon fight, we sustained a maximum of 1250 players in local over a period of several hours. This fight was staged on a reinforced server node and consumed all available server resources. It is worth noting that this was before Time Dilation was introduced. Whilst many ships died in Uemon that night, the primary sentiments in the battle reports were of lag and black-screens, rather than people having fun blowing each other up. There were reports of ghost ships that died and then came back after downtime, characters getting completely locked out of the game, and very unresponsive modules.

Whilst we won’t claim that Asakai was completely perfect in performance, we’ve seen much better feedback from those who were there. At its peak, there were 2754 players in local  – more than double the number of Uemon. What’s more, because the spontaneous trigger meant it could not be predicted, the battle was hosted on a regular non-reinforced server node. Even though Time Dilation was pushed to its configured limit of 10%, it still allowed a more graceful degradation than the unpredictable battles of old. We’re pretty sure that without the recent efforts on the software and hardware front, such a fight of this scale would simply not have been possible.

That will be all for now, hopefully, before you wonderful, creative players make more events of this scale happen, we’ll have some tools in place to make automated fight reports. Soon™


-CCP Quant


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A Weekend of Epic Destruction in EVE Online

The Battle of Asakai, Poinen Must Burn and more…

I’m CCP Manifest, the Public Relations and Social Media Fleet Commander for EVE Online. I work closely with both development and the community team on messaging, gathering feedback and helping to magnify the accomplishments, dreams and actions of the EVE playerbase to the lamer places in life outside the boundaries of its virtual universe. Often I get a front row seat to player events as they are happening thanks to communication with the CSM, podcasters, bloggers and #tweetfleet members, so I’m here to talk a little bit about this past weekend and try to help put it in some sort of context. 

If you follow EVE closely, like we do, it would have been pretty difficult to miss news of the Battle of Asakai that happened this weekend when one unfortunate Titan pilot misclicked and sent his massive, gorgeous and expensive spaceship cascading into an interesting situation in a tactical position he hadn’t planned on. He’d planned on being with his fleet interrupting a small skirmish between two much smaller groups. Soon he was essentially Forever Alone in a low-security solar system… well, actually he wasn’t alone for very long, and the ship… well.

At one point Asakai looked like this: 

Since you may just be starting out in the EVE Universe or a DUST 514 merc here trying to figure out what’s going on overhead or simply EVE curious but not yet heavily involved in EVE’s mega-meta-game and internet conversations, I’m going to try to take it a bit slow.

Expert EVE ubervets should already know where to go to get the real gritty details, as it was all over Reddit, Twitter and various gaming and non-gaming media sites around the world—most of which funneled their original source material from TheMittani.com and Reddit, but some of which came thanks to tips, recaps, comments, blog posts and videos by awesome pilots amongst you. Special thanks to those folks and to everyone who joined in conversations and hotdropped their own comments and thoughts about EVE and living inside it.

If you want to dive a bit deeper than this blog covers, I’d humbly suggest the pretty amazing write-ups of the battle and its lead in thus far in the “Breaking: Massive Super Fight” and particularly “Asakai Aftermath” articles on TheMittani.com, and scouring Reddit and some other write-ups on gaming sites, some of which have been curated with original source material from in game and out of game communication.

As a quick side note, this wasn’t the largest single battle in EVE. That still belongs to the one in LXQ2-T. It’s number 1 on this list made in October of last year.

So back to Asakai in the Black Rise region. The escalation ramped up pretty quickly, for once passionate desires to destroy spaceships are aroused by a target of this magnitude, they simply must be satiated. It is an immortal truism. Pilots around the globe were woken up from their blissful slumbers to take part. Lots of large player alliances (whose ranks swell into the thousands of players) and their even larger coalitions committed serious firepower to the fight early on, essentially doubling down. Reinforcements were called in from all parts of the EVE Universe and quick diplomatic moves brought more players, in real time, to the fight.

The pot sweetened. Shields and armor melted under the weight of lasers, smart bombs and drones. Logistically, it’s actually not too far off from a true modern-day military conflict in terms of communication, coordination and even duration of conflict, where squads and fleets adhere to combat doctrine and coordinated movement. In some ways the scale is larger; in others, smaller. An interesting conversation for those interested in both the history and evolution of military conflict.

(Image courtesy of http://www.themittani.com)

Ultimately hundreds of spaceships, including some quite large ones that can take months to build, exploded amidst an impressive final participant count that would rival entire servers of other instanced MMOs. Basically, EVE’s “sandbox” universe design allows absolute freedom of movement and persistence over time. That system is fueled by the collective imagination of the EVE community that makes the conflicts—well—“real”.  9 straight years of subscriber growth in EVE has meant for a rich history and a population size that allows such tremendous things to happen.

Asakai popped off without much warning because even the littlest action can have repercussions for thousands in EVE. It’s one of the first big lessons people learn about the universe—each decision has a consequence (usually handed out by another player, which is why we named our last expansion Retribution). In this case, literally a single botched ship command. A butterfly wing flutters a monsoon. A lone droplet of blood invokes a feeding frenzy. Part of the reason why EVE players love stuff like this story is because they can, at some level, imagine themselves accidentally doing it.

Coincidentally, this weekend a massive completely player-run event left over 28,000 ships destroyed in the Poinen solar system in another part of the EVE Universe during a preplanned RvB (Red Federation versus Blue Republic) Free-For-All event aptly titled “Poinen Must Burn”. Burn it did, with some of the most flagrant disregards for frigate safety we have ever seen. TWENTY-EIGHT THOUSAND SHIPS—a simply staggering amount—added to the weekend’s tally. In many ways it’s a shame it happened at the same time as the Battle of Asakai, as it is truly amazing in its own right.

Here’s the promo video for it:

Throughout all this, happening on the planets below, warfare was raging in DUST 514’s beta. One universe. One massive war in real time. Yes, DUST 514 the PS3 MMOFPS does share the same server as EVE (Tranquility), yet I must set the record straight that this weekend’s battles did not in fact bust DUST 514 connections to the beta. You’ll have to just try harder space pilots!

And, really around the rest of the massive universe, tens, hundreds and thousands of smaller-scale events were each part of this larger web—from economic decisions to construction of spacestations to the outcomes of smaller skirmishes between smaller groups. Will their threads lead to an equally unique event like this in the future? Would a night spent mining Kernite with friends lead to larger ambitions?

This is the scale of the EVE Universe, these are the stories with meaning which in some cases have weeks, months and years of planning, diplomacy and history behind them—and in other cases happen within a few minutes filled with unimaginable panic as suddenly you are thrown into a pitched battle to simply Save Your Ship. The best part is they are all completely player created and aren’t solely limited to the participants. I hope that gives you context to better understand why the Battle of Asakai is a big deal. Why “Poinen Must Burn” and player-driven events like it shape the universe in unexpected ways.

Pause for another picture.

I asked my good friend CCP Masterplan to feed me some Crimewatch information, since it was recently revamped in our latest free expansion.

  • Number of unique chars that received a Suspect flag: 2472
  • Number of unique chars that received a Criminal flag: 236
  • Total amount of security status lost: -3027.29 by 2240 unique characters – An average of -1.35 per character that committed a crime
  • Total amount of bounty claimed: 1,182,126,320  ISK

While that’s a fair chunk of naughtiness, I’m going to leave the real sweet sweet graph porn to my good friend CCP Quant, who works in the Research and Statistics department here at CCP. He was quick on the ball with numbers. Fascinating numbers! You can find all that great stuff in a devblog published here.

Below a pretty amazing video of it in action (click to up to 1080p) thanks to FATE being there early on and recording. The voices are the fleet commanders issuing orders to the rest of people in their fleet, using strict military-style comms to direct squads of different types of ships towards targets using real-time threat assessment. The Leviathan mentioned is the Titan.

Pretty Lights of Asakai Video

Woah. Right? If you just glossed over that to read the rest here, trust me and check it out. It’s 18 minutes of neat looking stuff.

So those of you who encounter lag in much smaller server situations in other games might be wondering what happens to the EVE servers during that time? There are a few options on our end, courtesy of explanation via CCP Veritas.

The customer service duders (GMs) keep an eye out for gigantic fights like this.  We’ve got a cluster status webpage that shows big red numbers when a node gets overloaded like it was by this fight, so it’s pretty easy to see what’s up.

From there, a few things can happen:

  • We do nothing.  Either we expect the fight to be short or the load is manageable.  A large majority of fights fall here thanks to our hardware investment. Yay technology!
  • We move other solar systems on the node away from the fight.  This disconnects anyone in those systems temporarily, but spares them from the ongoing symptoms of being on an overloaded server.  It helps the fight system a little bit as well, especially if a reinforcement fleet is traveling through those other systems.  This was done for the Asakai fight over the weekend, but is rare.
  • We move the fight system onto a “supernode”.  We’ve got a couple machines that are crazy-good hardware, well above what the rank and file of the cluster is.  This is the machine that systems get reinforced on when players request that for a preplanned fight of this magnitude.  Unfortunately, the same thing above applies – anyone in the system when the move happens gets disconnected.  Because of this, it’s basically never done for a battle already in session.  In this case, the fight broke out because of a Titan put out of position by accident.  Had we gone this route and moved the system, the Titan and his friends simply wouldn’t have logged back in, killing the fight.  So, yea, this just isn’t done.

Past that, there’s really nothing to be done.  The machines run full speed all the time, so Scotty’s not kiddin’ when he says she’s givin’ ‘er all she’s got cap’n.  We have Time Dilation in place to cover us going over what the machine can handle, and that’s all completely automated, so I get to sleep instead of being called at 3AM.

What kind of twisted man is CCP Veritas that he can sleep while this is going on is beyond me. But a quick explanation of “Time Dilation” (aka TiDi) might help.  Basically that’s one way to deal with a massive server load that would crush other games. We actually “slow down time” on a node so that all server calls happen in the right order and the fight becomes fair. If we didn’t do that, the sheer amount of data traveling back and forth (people, modules, positions etc gathered and rebroadcast out to each of them) might mean one side’s modules and commands wouldn’t go through and all of a sudden it is just a game of flip-the-coin. So for this fight, it was still able to happen because time dilated to it’s server saving cap of 10% to deal with the massive amount of people coming in and shooting spaceships. It’s slow, but it still allows for gameplay—a sort of managed lag. Since the system itself slows down but others around the server do not, it actually also helped reinforcements arrive from non-dilated nodes quicker.

So there you go. I hope the overview helped. When thinking about Asakai, I smile to remember that, while it provided direct participation for 3,000 or so people, it actually involved tens of thousands of people in the long run – industrialists, transporters, diplomats, other sleeping alliance mates, spies, random passersby etc etc. Even I and my humble characters feel it reverberating in their much quieter lives several regions away.

And my favorite thing: the common theme echoed again and again in comments about the weekend (with the exception of maybe 1-2 pilots) was that the EVE Universe may be serious business, but it’s also randomly and hilariously fun and that fighting people around the globe whether over a Titan, in a mass of frigates or on the planets, is a good time as long as you are doing it with the EVE community.

--o7, Manifest (@CCP_Manifest)

As always, stuff you’d like us to see (that might appear on EVE social media) can be sent to share@eveonline.com . Don’t be shy!


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In the latest episode of Massively.com's podcast, the crew sat down with Executi…

In the latest episode of Massively.com's podcast, the crew sat down with Executive Producer Dan Stahl and Community Manager Brandon Felczer to talk about our 3-year anniversary and the future of Star Trek Online. Listen to the interview now through the link below.

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