GDC 2019: Here’s how CCP’s 10,000 player battle tech demo went down


Developer CCP Games currently holds the world record for the largest PvP battle in gaming history, which was awarded in recognition of January 2018’s 6142-player Siege of 9-4 in EVE Online. The studio wants to push those numbers higher, and recently partnered with Hadean to put on an EVE-themed live demo of its Aether simulation engine that it claimed can handle 10,000 players simultaneously fighting in the same area.

The demo took place last night at GDC as we covered yesterday, with thousands of pilots logging in from around the world to put the Aether engine through its paces. A total of 3,852 real players logged in, and developers then piped in AI connections to reach the 10,000 pilot mark and test the server at that scale. I took part in last night’s event to see how the new server tech held up and assess whether it might useful for EVE Online. Read on for a breakdown of the event.

Yes, the first thing I tried to do was mine an asteroid. It's EVE Online!
Yes, the first thing I tried to do was mine an asteroid. It’s EVE Online!

The event kicked off with a number of technical issues as everyone tried to log in at once and many players crashed, but things eventually stabilised. The test gameplay was simplified to an extremely networking-friendly system, with just the W button for forward, the mouse to aim, and left click to fire. The only weapon was a missile that fired straight forward, with what appeared to be a client-side “lock on” visual effect if you aimed at someone for more than a second.

Firing missiles had significant delay and their positions, movement, and collisions were very jerky, but this is to be expected and a polished game engine tends to hide from the user using slick animations. The game quickly grew until there were around 3,000 players were online, at which point some server issues became apparent. Pings varied wildly from numbers in the single-digits to over 100 milliseconds, and players and missiles would teleport to completely new locations every few seconds as my client appeared to resync with the server (this issue with intermittent).

I tried to fly into that titan in the background, but got forced back into the death ball
I tried to fly into that titan in the background, but got forced back into the death ball

Something seemed to be going badly wrong with the missiles now and then, too. I noticed an extraordinary number of them all flying on the exact same vector even before bots were added, which seemed unlikely. Sure enough, sometimes my own missiles would appear to fly upward or downward from my ship, and I frequently observed every missile on the battlefield suddenly turning and flying in the same direction or all missiles converging on a single point. If Hadean wasn’t doing this deliberately to clear the field, it’s possible that something was going wrong with the physics simulation.

It was difficult to get a sense of the number of players in the fight, but when bots were added, the sky definitely filled with missiles and the minimap in the top right lit up with activity. While this test wasn’t without its problems and it’s a long way from something that could be used in a live game, the server stayed online, and it was a pretty good test of the technology that got thousands of people interested enough to participate. Hopefully Hadean got plenty of data from this on the effect that real world variables from real pilots have on their technology, and stay tuned as further information and tests will be coming down the line.

Finally figured out I could kill people by flying right up next to them and spamming missiles
Finally figured out I could kill people by flying right up next to them and spamming missiles
Hadean’s and CCP have also posted their own reports on the test from their end; CCP counts nearly 90,000 ships blown up. (Thanks, Wilhelm!)

“Taking place live on the first morning of Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, 3,852 players from across the globe battled each other for an hour in EVE: Aether Wars, with AI-connected clients joining the clash and pushing overall ships total to 14,274. Concurrent combatants peaked at 10,412, but it wouldn’t be a battle worthy of EVE Online without an epic list of casualties and EVE: Aether Wars didn’t disappoint, with 88,988 ships destroyed.”


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They wanted 10k players but got only 3.8k players and the rest bots.

If they did the demo during the weekened, they would’ve gotten alot more real players.

Or maybe the GDC date forced their hand?


Its not just that, I was seeing messages of people who couldnt log so that played a big role too. I am pretty sure they would had got easily over 5k if no login problems there


Watched the stream, even though I don’t play, it was still fascinating!


A glance at that minimap tells me that I likely wouldn’t enjoy it. Too many other people, too much happening at once for anyone to tell what is going on.

A battle with thousands of combatants might be impressive, but I would rater limit myself to at most a couple dozen people at a time.


So they did an honest to god test run at GDC?
The brass balls on these guys I love I absolutely love it.

Wilhelm Arcturus

CCP just put up a Dev Blog about the results as well.