Monday, August 18, 2014

Eve as an eSport?

The Alliance Tournament is in full swing. I'm watching the odd match. A monthly bandwidth limit is not conducive to streaming video. However I am hopping onto Twitch once every so often to catch some of the "excitement".

I was watching a match over the weekend when I realised I wasn't actually looking at any spaceships.... and this is the thing. Is combat in Eve Online fun to watch for an external observer?

We have a big problem with our beloved game and that problem is space. You see, "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

Douglas Adams quotes aside, this is a major issue. The arena used in AT12 is 125km radius around a central beacon. That is shade under a whopping 8.2 MILLION cubic kilometres in volume. I hope I've done my maths right there. 4/3 x pi x radius cubed right?

Now take the Worm. A popular ship this year from the few games I've seen. That is 16,500 cubic metres of important internet spaceship. Or to put it another way, its 1.65 × 10^-5 cubic kilometres. Which is 0.0000165 cubic kilometres. More depressingly, you can fit 495,580,808,080.81 Worms inside the tournament arena. Obviously uber Tetris skill would be needed to accomplish that!

Space is huge and each ship is a speck in the arena. Its a tiny blip. Now you might have a lot of tiny blips, but they are in the end just tiny blips.

Now what are these tiny blips doing? They are firing missiles, guns or "layyyyysors" at each other, OK we can see that. However, what about eWar? The effects in game are good when you are focusing on your ship. NoS and neuts, webs, target painters etc. All nice visuals when you are focused closed in to the ship. Zoomed out, you haven't a clue. In the Alliance Tournament you spent more time looking at the graphics in the bottom panel to see how people are doing and what effects are being applied. You soon are spending more time looking at the bottom panel than the "action" above.

Before you know it, you are totally focused on that bottom panel....

And ladies and gentlemen, we are back to proper Eve Online....

You are excitedly looking at a spreadsheet in space!

Basically nobody but an Eve Online player is going to enjoy the AT. You put that on in a bar and some people might be initially interested in what this is. For 60 seconds. Then they realise space is big and dark and then only way to find out whats going on is to watch the bottom panel and then you are watching Spreadsheet Sports!

Now, the 100 billion ISK question. Can we make Eve Online Tournaments fun to watch for non-Eve Online players?

Lets have a look at popular eSports games. DOTA2, LOL, Starcraft and Counterstrike:-

Yeah.... Eve is Eve and I'm not sure it can ever show that level of detail in a eSports format. I wish I could come up with some good ideas to make Eve more visually interesting and informative to watchers, but I cannot. I've had a good think and I have no idea how things could be changed to make Eve an interesting spectator sport. Anyone got any good ideas how Eve could be done as a proper eSport? No?

Shame as it would be a great marketing tool to draw new players in. For now I fear it is only for Eve Online fans and for non-players it only reinforces the negative views of Eve Online.

Spreadsheets in space.


  1. "Can we make Eve Online Tournaments fun to watch for non-Eve Online players?"

    First AT I watched I was listening to commentators say things like "There's just a kitsune and a hyena against a Vindicator and an Ashimmu" and I had no clue what it even meant. At that time I'd been playing Eve for a year.

    Not only do you need to enjoy watching spreadsheets but you also need a pretty sound knowledge of Eve ships to enjoy it, otherwise much of the commentary is meaningless babble.

  2. Just like regular's all IFR (Instrument Flight Rules).

  3. I'd agree if it weren't for's 3d match viewer.

    In all actuality, I think EVE as e-sport would be leagues more compelling if the live feed was done in a similar in-client look. Rewatching the matches play out in the 3d space, you can really see the masters rise above the amateurs.

    In a greater e-sport rant, I really believe the medium needs to transcend the youtube/broadcast methodology and use the interactivity of the client instead. Highlighted broadcasts with experienced commentators is nice, but there is no reason why the true fan can't "see what the e-athlete sees".

  4. Unfortunately Eve PvP is terrible and even worse to watch. Is it fun for the people participating, sure it is, you are making stuff go boom. But the reality of the situation is lock, orbit, shoot. Just look at the games that you have linked pics of that lend themselves to being E-sports, there is more visual depth, the ability to broadcast down to the player supports it and it doesn't take a lot of time to understand what you are looking at i.e. First AT I watched I was listening to commentators say things like "There's just a kitsune and a hyena against a Vindicator and an Ashimmu" and I had no clue what it even meant. At that time I'd been playing Eve for a year" .. vs ... man with assault rifle kills other teams player.

    CCP needs to drop the AT and focus on creating a title that will keep the COMPANY in business, not just focus on Eve.

  5. The use of visuals and 3d-model versions has been acceptably done for America's cup where the use of multiple live cameras coupled with computer overlays and a separate 3d-model view to provide strategic information.

    For the AT, we have a main camera that follows a single ship at a time, commentators who have some additional views, their own knowledge and and those actually very useful bars at the bottom. Also a 3d display which is less useful.

    An EvE battle of 24 ships plus drones has a lot more going on at one time than an America's Match race. TV coverage of the match racing covers a great deal of what is going on, but even still does not cover the whole.

    Plus, the matches are only 10 mins, which is not much time to do analysis of what is going on at the same time as showing it off. During the match races, there are times of low dynamic change (long tacks), where replays, other camera views, 3d model views etc. are used to call attention to the finer points and demonstrating the skill of the sailors. The current AT format is simply too fast to do this during the match.

    Other stop-start sports (American/Canadian football, basketball, baseball, golf, hockey ) have numerous moments where the game is halted. At this point, analysis and replays can provide information to the viewer. Games like rugby, soccer, road racing, sailing, have periods of slower pace/less dramatic action which allow the broadcast team to highlight special things.

    Golf was impossible to watch, until TV made it work. Sailing is great to participate in, just too far away from fans until TV was able to focus on the pinch points and 3d modelling was able to show the strategy from a bird's eye view. Same with motor racing.

    It would be very interesting to see what a sports broadcast team would suggest to alter the AT format to increase its appeal as an e-sport.

  6. Gotta love it ... from the leadership to the front line griefers :

    James315 for CSM - QUIT
    Erotica1 for CSM - QUIT
    CODE enters AT - QUIT

    Chicken Out Deny Everything (CODE) ... what a policy

  7. They shouldn't even try to make EVE more interesting visually. What they should do is multiply the ranges and vocities for everything by 1000 (meters become kilometers) so that we aren't stuck with internet spaceships that are too slow to even orbit a planet.