Crowd Control Performance
In CCP’s latest blog they informed players on the technical changes to missile weapon systems. These changes will enable significant performance increases in situations where missiles are heavily used.
Missiles are not optimized as well as their turret cousins according to CCP:
“Insufficient optimization for the nature of the objects has left them using more resources than other similarly sized, frequently encountered objects and because missiles stay in space until detonation or fuel exhaustion, they had the potential to become a drag on client resources in scenes where launchers abound.”
Much of the problem came from the fact that the client had to render each missile individually. The new changes stop rendering missiles at distances where the player cannot view them anyway; rendering only the trail of the missile once zoomed out.
Alliances often avoid using missile doctrines in time-dilated systems due to the fact they sometimes do not work correctly with the node bogged down, particularly in extreme cases. From a technical perspective, they are likely entirely separate matters and their issues with tidi will not be affected, bearing in mind the following disclaimer included in the post:
“Please be aware that these changes do not affect the application of missile damage, or the related code for calculating velocity, flight time, explosion speed, and other related values. Only the visual appearance of missiles and missile explosions in the space scene are affected.”
Why CCP are doing this
If the positive results shown by CCP in the dev blog prove to be consistent across server nodes, and player clients, the change will hopefully enable players to engage in even bigger fights with fewer issues for players. Perhaps more importantly, the patch shows a renewed focus by CCP to deliver performance fixes to a 15-year-old game which is becoming harder to run as graphics technology changes and CCP add new features.
In the largest battle, player count wise, of 9-4RP2, The Imperium and Panfam struggled to engage each other at all due to the sheer amount of lag, and the unresponsiveness of the players’ respective clients. After the fight, and spurred on by the significant amount of mainstream gaming media attention surrounding performance issues, CCP committed to making large fights perform better on the game’s servers, and on the players’ clients.
Addressing Player Concerns
Despite the stated goal to make big fights perform better, the technical performance of missiles was not the main issue raised as a cause of players’ frustration at 9-4RP2. Instead, the inability to properly load fighters (the usage of fighters being the primary method of applying damage to the Keepstar) into tubes was. This error meant that the attacking force was unable to continue their assault once the defenders destroyed their initial waves of fighters. Furthermore, fighters are notorious for being particularly harsh on both server node and players’ clients even in comparison to pre-patch missiles. While patching other issues affecting performance will no doubt help with this we can only hope that fighters will be addressed more directly in the future due to the large prevalence of fighters in time-dilation.