I played some more Eve yesterday. I want to be nice to Eve, because I've known for over 20 years that an MMO space game would be tricky. It's tricky not to get into bun-fighting with the doofuses who've pointed at Eve as a demonstration as proof that WWII Online is doing things wrong; the most common is the update system so I'll speak to that for a second. And then I'll rant like a monkey :)
Eve doesn't provide fly-by-wire controls, only fly-by-autopilot. You can set a course with the mouse, but its still an autopilot, and if you're paying enough attention to make criticisms like this, you should have noticed how Eve has a window between changes for these. So how does Eve manage to have a battle with 300 ships in the same area? By making battles very simplistic, and making most of the player activity localized, stuff that other players can't readily see.
In short it goes out of its way to eliminate updates. I'd guess that 60% of the traffic in an ordinary Eve session is chat, 30% is item related (markets, searches, etc) 5% is mission related (agent conversations) 4% is "static" one time stuff (position of stuff in a system, ship configuration when it first comes into range) and only 1% is actual update stuff.
There's no physics loop, the few things that you can collide with have very simplistic box colliders with no cut-outs (there are some fancy looking space stations which you can't fly thru the empty sections of because of this). There's no visual damage model info to transmit, they don't send turret data (although you do rotate people's turrets to point where they fire). And they certainly don't send updates as often as they could. Because its skills-and-targetting based PvP, it really doesn't matter too much whether fred is within +/-50m of where he actually is.
So they, presumably, use a simple vector system, like we would for convoys and fleets.
Very simple, very efficient, and completely suited to the style and nature of the game.
It wouldn't work for our game, we have to try and be precise, and in a big battle, that means a hell of a lot more updates than a full starsystem in Eve.
I think CCCP probably made the right decision in taking this route because it makes a truly, truly massive system possible without collapsing everytime you get a few hundred people in the same star system. Which means you can fill up a massive galaxy with enough people for it not to be "occasionaly multiplayer". Imagine putting 16 people into an Elite sized galaxy and letting them have at it… Not gonna be a lot of fun ;)
At the same time, imagine 300 WWIIOLers in 1-death-kill spaceships at the same station… Mayhem?
Personally I just find the game too much like makework. The parts that require human intervention feel too much like its done just so you have a reason to be there.
For instance: I can add waypoints to a dozen star systems and it will automatically work out the best route. A single button click and off I go, crossing each star system automatically, entering the gate automatically, and zipping across the universe.
Similarly, from anywhere in a starsystem I can press a single button and have my ship fly itself to a space station, request docking permission and dock for me.
But – I can't ask it to fly to a particular station in a particular system. Why? Because then I'd have no reason not to fly & forget. So this daft "oversight" is probably deliberate.
Learning skills in-game takes real time – it takes 30mins to learn a level 1 skill, but you can only learn one at a time. They recommend the first skills you learn are the ones that reduce the time it takes to learn skills (memory, intelligence and 'learning'). Learn those up to level 4, they suggest.
Level 1 skills take 30 minutes. Level 2 take 1hr 30. Level 3 take 8hrs. Level 4 takes ~2 days (assuming you're not bolstering your stats first).
And that's real time. One skill at a time.
Fortunately not dependent on you being online. You can program it to train a skill and log off for a couple of days.
When I first tried Eve, I'm pretty sure you could sequence training – so you could tell it to learn X, Y and Z. But that meant that people were progressing in-game without ever actually firing up the game, which isn't so great.
Presumably once you've gotten past the initial "fast" learns, it becomes less of a nuisance, but during that first stretch its a bit annoying to log off knowing that the 18 hrs you'll be away from the game aren't working for you like they could be.
Once you get to the 1day+ times tho, it probably doesn't matter so much.
One last thing that drives me nuts with Eve. Their attempt to provide every UI format possible – right click, left click, click and hold, ctrl-click, etc, means that its really frigging hard not to activate something.
Eve lacks an automatic camera system. The camera points where you point it, and stays that way. So if you fly into a station watching from behind your ship, you will exit from infront of your ship, with a face full of station, making it impossible not to click "on" the station. And there's a lil' bit of UI lag there sometimes, which means that before you know it, you're warping off to some place you didn't want to go.
Well, not "before you know it", everything in Eve is slow. From requesting a Warp to actually starting to warp is about 15-30 seconds. Sometimes it gets confused and doesn't actually warp., which can be hard to get out of it seems. (This could be a recently introduced bug, I've run into it a good 8-9 times yesterday but only a few other people seem to have seen it)
Similarly the very simplistic collision cages they use make it really difficult to click on stuff if you have your spaceship zoomed to a decent size like you'd expect in a space sim. Instead, I find I travel around most of the time with my ship represented by a single glowing pixel (or, because of the deadweight camera system, more often than not I don't even bother to zoom in that far).
Well, bah, I was going to take a screenshot to demonstrate but in doing so I lost my tutorial window which removed all of my UI actions and commands, leaving me stuck outside a space station with no way to dock, and no way to get the tutorial to give me back UI functionality because "The ship must be docked at a space station before continuing" (and there's no "dock" command because it took that away).
When it works, the Eve tutorial is very nice. But its incredibly delicate, you can break it in so many ways.
Oh, and did I mention focus stealing? Well, its not so much stealing as lazy. The mouse wheel periodically seems to stop working, and eventually you realize its because you closed a window and the focus went … elsewhere. So you've been mouse-wheeling something over there 2 windows back behind some UI component that recently popped up, probably because of some mouse input you didn't realize was going to that (mostly hidden) window.
I think if you're not an over-analytical control freak (i.e me), you can probably get a lot of fun out of Eve. Especially if you have something else to play while it's doing its own thing. It's a great game for a busy parent to have running on a laptop where you only have a few minutes occasionally to dabble, most of the time.
I'm sure some of the big fights are fun, and sheer mayhem. You're no doubt trying to operate a dozen ships systems like a nutcase. Shields this, repair that, ecm this, jam that, fire the other, turn on the EM pulse beam, load antimatter shells into turret 3, target that guys drones, etc, etc.
But there's a hell of a lot of grind first.
Yes, yes, I know – I know another game a bit like that ;) But its subtly different. If I can find action, I *can* just jump into WWIIOL and be in the heat of battle. If I want to do that with Eve… Well, maybe I should try one of these guilds offering a big ship and a mil credits for joining…
Nah. I think I'll pass.
Some Eve Videos for ya