Saturday, January 5, 2013

Virtuality Sux…

or~ Even Minecraft Does VR Better…

This is another post that began as a comment and, well, got the better of me… I love my Muse, I hate my Muse… but I think my Muse just hates me.  This is a very pic heavy post… seems I have an artistic muse too and both of em are conspiring ‘gainst me… Plus this post was far longer in the making than is usual for me and may be indicative of an overall slowdown in my future posting frequency… The new job is a good one and I am vesting heavily in it and enjoying myself immensely in that regard. So while I may not post as frequently good reader, I am not gone…  =]

Anyhoo, I responded to Seismic Stan’s post, “Do Capsuleers Dream of Electric Ships?” over on Freebooted… give it a read and the comments too… they brought me here…

Reality, Virtual Reality, Virtuality… What Stan is ultimately talking about is ‘Immersion’. A sense of ‘pseudo- reality’… the longed for ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ one gets only with the best movies and books and games. The Suspension of Disbelief allows us to ‘suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative...’, this in turn allows us to have what we gamers call, “Immersion”… (I was gonna copy-n-paste a nugget of truth from that Wiki page… but DAMN they use some long words… lesson for the student, go read it yourself, take some Motrin, then come back…    I’ll wait…       go on… )

OK, sufficiently smarter now? Good, and YOU, in the back… quit giggling and wipe the drool off your chin… OK, so, we have Stan going over some of the instances of ‘Reality Breaks’ as he perceives them in EvE… places and incidents that, for him, break his Suspension of Disbelief, then I post a few comments on some of these ‘Breaks in Virtuality’ as I see them ingame that are, to me, far worse as they break ‘my’ personal Suspension of Disbelief.

I love EvE… if you’ve ever read my Profile you know that I am a 52 y.o. married father of 2 (step-father to 3 and pseudo-step-father to 1 more)… I am a career IT Tech of 16 years, and a SciFi fan since I was 6. I watched Neil Armstrong (and the lucky few as followed him) walk on the moon LIVE… and then watched as the politicians of the ‘70s took away my birthright… so Virtuality is the only chance I have left to go to space… and EvE is the best Virtual Space SIM currently available… plus as a game, it is for me, completely engrossing and is the cerebral equivalent of Internet Crack… BUT… (<-- and it’s a BIG one)…

There are SO many trade-offs made in Reality/Physics/Immersion just to keep things ‘MOVING along’… I am very much of the opinion that the ONLY reason we don’t have to dock by actually FLYING into an opening in a Station, and why we undock in such a haphazard and completely unbelievable way is because they (CCP Executives & Devs) are afraid players will get bored if they go for too much ‘reality’… plus I will grant you the need to keep the code as clean and straightforward as possible so the game can run well in real time. All of us know of the “War on Lag” CCP has been fighting practically since day one… but…

Inside the Dodixie Station Dome, the view from the fifteenth floor. Don’t you just WANNA live here?

We live and die in one of, if not THE, most visually stunning and captivating virtual environments ever created. There is of course a cost associated with this and when you add detail and pile on the players as in Jita or during a major Live Event or a great battle deep in Nullsec, I full well realize CCP has its work cut out not to just keep things ‘moving along’, but to do so while maintaining the very high level of visual ZOMGness they have set for themselves. But there are 2 parts to ZOMGness… “Look”& “Feel”.

I think we can all agree that CCP has the “Look” part down pat. With the request from MoMA (New York Museum of Modern Art) for exhibits from EVE Online, and with the addition of new backgrounds and nebulae that move in relation to our travels across the starscape, with the changes to Stargates so they are now oriented towards the stars they send us to, all these give us a greater “feel” for positional reality in the New Eden star cluster which in the end all adds up to more “Immersion” in the game environment... a more convincing virtual ‘Reality’.

Now afore I move on to the body of my main rant, a little something about Warping…
For your edification I give you “Warp Drives and depleted vacuums…” over on “Once Upon A Cycle”, a blog by Dave Damian. This is a nice write up on the theory behind the Warp Drives used in New Eden (I know not where he got his facts but it’s on the Internet, so it HAS to be true is my rule). He also has a nice graphic of the Warp “wave” effect extrapolated for the Star Trek ‘verse, (he got that from a good Wiki post on Warp Drives here).

To sum up, in effect both the ‘depleted vacuum’ warp effect of EvE and the ‘gravity wave’ warp effect of Star Trek basically theorize the manipulation of Einsteinian 3space to produce a gravity curve the ship ‘surfs’ on. Increased gravity in front, decreased gravity to the rear and you basically ‘fall’ forward. This manipulation of space also effectively cuts off your ship from outer space/time influences so that as you increase your acceleration objective to the outer world, your inner world all accelerates at the same time/vector so you do not splat your crew all into the ass of your ship making crew gumbo in 0.0000001 picoseconds. This quote from the Wiki post above however backs up what Ima rant on next…

…warp drive technology creates an artificial "bubble" of normal space-time that surrounds the spacecraft (…). Consequently, spacecraft at warp velocity can continue to interact with objects in "normal space". Keep this in mind as you read what follows.

Warping THROUGH “PM&S” [Planets, Moons and Stations]…
This is, for me, the single biggest Immersion breaker of them all… I have been a voracious reader of SF since I was 6 and as soon as I started understanding Asimov, Clark, Heinlein, Niven, et al, I became a die-hard fan of “hard” SF. SciFi rooted in, and extrapolated from, as much cold hard science fact and accepted current theory as possible.

I have an extensive library, I still read voraciously and I have a vocabulary that has, upon occasion, marked me as a geek… (I however, also have a taint of a southern accent and I speak colloquially so it gets a little strange sumtimes… sorta a geeky Mark Twainish kinda thing… I get weird looks)… but my point is, in over 46 YEARS of reading a staggering amount of SF, non-fic science, military history, martial based SF, alternative military histories and all things militaria in general… well, do we see a pattern here?

In all of this time I have YET to read any SF story or non-fic science theory wherein the narrator describes warping THROUGH anything… as a matter of fact the generally accepted ‘theories’ in the vast majority SF and non-fiction literature on future Warp Tech is that “mass”, IE stellar, planetary, junior planetary bodies, ‘roids, etc., etc., IE masses ‘large’ enough to damage the ship (penetrate or overwhelm the shields at warp velocities) are DANGEROUS to the ships passage while in warp… IE YOU cannot warp ‘through’ shit, (see Wiki quote above). If you try you will experience the E=mc² version of ‘splat’… IE a multi-(your ships mass here)-kiloton (multiplied by your objective ‘C’ velocity)  SPLAT… pretty for them as watching from orbit, not so much fun for the locals.

Only in New Eden has this been extrapolated as a part of Warp Tech lore… AND I believe this is just so players don’t have to deal with at least a nod of the head to Einstein, Newton, Plato, Hawking (& ElRandir dammit!!). Sooooo… I suggest that you undock, and due to the nice NEW Larger Undock you (1) no longer find your ship buried deep in the ass of the “Fenrir” who clicked undock 2-10ths of a second ahead of you, and as you accelerate out you (B) find you are basically aligned to a “Station Warp Beacon” [SWB] dead ahead and in warp range… but you have been aligning and warping off right at the undock since you were but a wee nubbins inna your bran new Thrasher of Deth… so you select your destination and are surprised to see your first waypoint is that weird new SWB out there in the wrong direction… huh. So you manually override and select the gate you want to go to and begin your align only to have Aura tell you, “You cannot initiate warp to that destination as you are a blocked by the mass of the station, please select another destination.” Uh WHATTHEFRAK!?!?!

After you dock back up and read the patch notes and spam some forums with your emo rage against The Man…  you calm down and undock again and there’s that damn beacon… so you warp to it at ‘0’… you now have clear “Warp Lanes” to ALL Gates in that system… warplines that are free of all ‘PM&S’.

Now let’s say you undock and have to do the standard  ‘warpto, land, realign and warpout’ at the SWB as is normal in EvE… you are freaked out again screaming and whining that you are now at risk of a ganking AND you can’t play dick, er… uh… I mean ‘dock’ games anymore right? Hmmm… ok, so? In Hisec no-one can put up bubbles… so make some Quick Warp BMs off the undock and use them instead of the SWB to do your aligning and warping as usual… If yer lazy or AFK or in a heavily tanked ship or a cloaky… mebbe you’ll decide to use the Beacons… if you’re on autopilot though, it will use the SWBs same as it does any required waypoint on a trip… the rest depends on you… it’s EvE… but NO MORE warping THROUGH masses too big to ALLOW it.

[JIC it’s brought up, the Jump Gates also use line-of-sight, but they circumvent local spacetime/gravity/mass constraints, IE we are ‘translated’ (probably dimensionally around Einsteinian spacetime) from one gate to the next where we are ‘caught’ and brought back into normal space... interstellar warping not the same as interplanetary warping.  =P]

Landing is, of course, the reverse… if you select a Station to warp to the next to last point you will warp to is the SWB, and then align and warp to ‘0’ at the dock… only now you will land a LOT closer and when Aura tells you that you have clearance and will be tractored into the station… well, it will be a bit more believable than now when landing and at “0” seems visually to be at least 5km from the nearest physical point on the station AND can be on the complete opposite side from the dock… and TBH tractoring the ship around the outside of the station and then into the dock from there would take HOURS… but it is no more asinine then just going “poof” and suddenly being inside the Station.

So the way things stand now when we land at a Station what really happens? Does this Scotty person ‘tractor us into the station’? All I ever see is my ship doing the stoopid “poof” thing… I can only assume from the visual evidence that Scotty is a liar and lazy (and probably a drunk too) so instead of ‘tractoring’ he actually “BEAMS” us (and our fully loaded ‘Providence’ or ‘Fenrir’ or ‘Venture’ or noob ship) into the station and then, when we want to leave, he “BEAMS” us ALL to the exact same undock regardless of how many are undocking ATM. If we’re bring  transported in and out and not actually being ‘tractored’ around… then why do we undock? Why not just ‘poof’ us out the same way we land at a gate… randomly inside a 15k radius and under an ‘undock cloak’… Hmmm, now that could significantly change the nature of Dick, er, um I mean Dock Games…  =]

If we were undocked same as a gate landing, with the undock ‘center’ point at 5km out from the undock. We would materialize outside of the station in a ‘undock cloak’ with the same effects and timer as a jump cloak. Aside from the “physical’ station itself we would materialize randomly anywhere inside the 15km radius described above. This make for some interesting possibilities…

#A – you are 15km from the station and unable to insta-dock… and deep in gankers paradise…
#B – you are roughly 8km from the undock, close enough for a run for it… mebbe…
#C – you are as far behind the station as randomness allows, possibly far enough from the gankers, and if needed, also able to insta-dock too…
#D – you are at the undock and can insta-dock with ease…

Irregardless of the above (let’s say no one’s out a’ganking today…) you CAN’T warp away anywhere unless your initial waypoint is on a clear warpline in which case you will warp as usual… if not, then you will have to warp to some clear warpable first . So… “But! But! But! Thas IMPOSSIBLE!!” you spit out (all over your Cheetos, Quafe and sweat stained Caldarii T-shirt) “Player made BMs intersect too many ‘PM&Ses’!” OK, if any ‘PM&S’ is in your warpline, as long as it is off-grid from where you initiate warp, you do the warp tunnel thing… happy now?

Uh… wait, what’s this about a nice NEW Larger Undock?
A couple a thoughts… Embiggen the whole damn dock sizewise… I watched an Obelisk freighter pop out at Dodi and IT DINT FIT in the hole vertically. Oh effin PLEASE. Make the damn port big enough for the biggest ship that CAN use it for one then divide the port into say, four quadrants so four ships can exit the dock at a the same time for anything of a certain size and down, say BC’s and down, then when Battleships and up are undocking the server splits the dock space in two, and for Freighters, it uses the whole dock. This would be a queued system, you would undock in order based on basically first come, first served but the sever would combine BC and down into routed quads, BS sized ships into pairs and Freighters etc. would undock singly as based on SIZE, See graphic below.

Would this cause “lag”? Depends on the system, traffic and coding… but I do believe CCP is collectively smart enough (technically at least) to figger something out, I mean they did create EvE in the first place… Something like mebbe Jita 4-4 could have many docks instead of just the one... that would make things moar interesting for gankers and prey alike.

Embiggen and/or use MORE of the current dock exit.

Also if these were real stations, same as with plants and factories and houses on a planet, the ‘lanes’ of access should make sense. In space these 'lanes' are usually lines curved point to point by the need to avoid gravity wells and splatting ‘gainst rocks and Flaming Crushing Deth (Suns). But when a station is built it seems only reasonable that the docks would be placed in a manner copacetic with the primary directions your traffic with be coming from and going to. Sit over any station at say, 100km and look straight down and you can quickly determine the base traffic pattern for any reasonably well visited station so, CCP, please place the Docks more realistically. This could mean a station with the dock & undock side by side, top and bottom, on opposite sides or some other pattern… but make it for a reason… not just esthetics.

The Proposed New Entry Dock faces the Sun at Dodixie Station to ease traffic congestion.

You can’t put THAT in THERE!! (that’s what SHE said…) (sorry, couldn’t stop myself…) OK, I know not about you but this one irks me raw. If you think the mechanics of Empire Stations are a wee bit off try living in a Planetary Orbital Station!

The following contains nonsensical and fantastical numbers you may find hard to believe and thereof my refined reader you may feel an unstoppable urge to say mean things about my parentage and urge me to perform impossible acts of auto-surprise-buttsecks upon myself… and mebbe even feel compelled to shootz at me in space… please don’t gentile reader… it’s ALL true.

OK, in a POS you can use several Modules for storage space. You can store pert near anything including packaged and unpackaged ships in any of the Ship Assembly Arrays. They have Corp Hangar Tabs [Corp Bays] and are the best balance of available m3 to POS Grid cost. Instead of Corp Hangar Arrays we use one Lrg SSA for our main General Storage needs. All packaged ships, modules, Loot & Salvage, POS Fuels, Ores, etc. are stored there. We also have a Sm SSA anchored but not OL as a back up and for long term storage. We have two Ship Maintenance Arrays anchored and OL for the member’s ships, one is for the Directors and the other is for general members. Now, take a good look at the graphic below, the numbers are just effing weird….

A Mammoth has a ‘volume’ of 255,000m³… in other words, she ‘takes up’, or ‘fills’ a quarter of a million cubic meters of space. A Ship Maintenance Array has a ‘volume’ of only 8,000m3 of space… and yet, I can store  78 Mammoths INSIDE that measly 8,000m3 module… because it has an internal ‘volume’ of 20,000,000m3, uh huh, you read it right, TWENTY MILLION cubic meters of SPACE are inside a module that is only EIGHT THOUSAND cubic meters in size. Oh effing PLEASE!

To put this into perspective, the “Macharial” is the largest non-capitol ship in New Eden. A Battleship of truly amazing proportions the Mach masses 121,700,000kg with a volume of 595,000m3 and you can fit 33.6 of them in there… So let’s talk Capitals… In the ol C2 we built and flew a Hog (A “Nidhoggur” Minmatar Carrier) which masses 922,500,000kg with a volume of 11,250,000m3 which means we could ALMOST fit 2 in there… 1.7 to be exact.

Another “funny thing” and not ‘ha ha’ funny but ‘WTF’ funny is this pic…

Why is it that a Capitol Ship… a Carrier… with a mass of almost 1 BILLION kg and a volume of 11.25M m3 looks to be shorter and is definitely slimmer than a Battleship (as impressive as the Mach is, it is still just a BS, NOT a CAPITOL) with 0.132 the mass of the Hog’s… and a volume that is almost exactly half that of the Nidhoggur. Now, can SOMEONE… ANYONE… PLEASE explain the physics of this picture to me??
Well?  Uh huh, dint think so…

Interestingly enough some of the best work on this particular subject I have seen on the web is found here on “Interstellar Privateer”, in a post from back on Oct 9, '11 called, “The Hangar – Ship Sizes”. There are several very good links to graphics and vids that try and impart some of the ‘reality’ of the sheer size of ships in EvE… for instance, the lowly “Rifter”, that indomitable and oft destroyed ship, one that is sometimes sacrificed in waves in battle… is similar in size to… a Boeing 747… A jet plane which was once hailed as the “Queen of Skies” on old Earth and held the title of the Largest Passenger Jet Airliner on thaat world for 37 years. The 747 carried from 416 (3 class layout) to a max of 660 souls (in the single class configuration).

I made a pic of my own from some of these showing a more accurate scale representation of a “Hel”, a “Nidhoggur”, a “Macharial”, surprisingly this shows the Hog as only slightly longer and still much more narrow, which means it simply still cannot out mass the Mach, a “Mammoth”, which shows a substantial and reasonable reduction in her size from what we see now in EvE, then a “Thrasher”, surprisingly larger than I had ‘felt’ she was, a “Stabber”, about what I expected sizewise, and lastly… a “Rifter”, a “Boeing 747”, The Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and… a single pixel representing 2x2 meters square (the Damsel in Distress)(well, actually it would take three or four Miserable Maidens (depending on how skinny they was) two meters tall standing shoulder to shoulder to ‘fill’ that 2m square pixel in…

A more accurate scale of some of the Ships of EvE

Now this little tidbit brings us to my last bit of physics breakdown… As you can clearly see above, in a commercial configuration the 747 was capable of carrying upwards of 660 people… but if we are to compare this airship of similar size to the warfrigates of New Eden then we must see if there is a military variant of the venerable 747, and there are several… but there is one that really stands out to me, the Boeing YAL-1, the “Airborne Laser Testbed”, (formerly Airborne Laser) weapons system. This airship carried a megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) mounted inside a modified Boeing 747-400F airframe. It is primarily designed as a Missile Defense System to destroy tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), while in boost phase. The aircraft was designated YAL-1A in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Defense.

What better ship to compare a Rifter against than the first ever in history LASER armed flying warcraft?

CCP… as the years pass and the expansions roll out, please consider giving more of a nod at least to Newton, Einstein and General Relativity in your upcoming expansions… I love New Eden, but I hate it every time I warp through something I know I should go SPLAT against. Other than that… good job!  =]

3,750 words, 13 graphics (some stolen some created, all edited and messed with)… whew! 

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=


  1. Wow, that's a low of words and graphics. Go you! Yeah, there are immersion breakers aplenty in EVE Online. The computing power required to overcome them though is staggering (and may not exist at this point in space/time.) One tenant of SF as a genre has always been you have to get enough of the science right for the reader to then suspend disbelief when you stray from the known science. The really big between-the-lines question here is: is EVE Online real enough in all those other ways for you to suspend your disbelief concerning the immersion breakers? When CCP gets to that point for you, can you accept it and immerse? Where is that point? That's for each of us decide. Thanks for the thought provoking read!

  2. Yea... this was actually a hard one for me to write... by this I mean for me to edit down to a reasonable post length. That's right, DOWN to a reasonable length, it was a lot longer after I had said all that was really on my mind... sheesh. =\

    Anyhoo... yea, I really enjoyed this one. I loved diving into the deep end of the logic/rational pool and I came up, I feel with a decent foray into the physics and possibilities inherent in our beloved 'verse. I tried to come up with suggestions where ever I saw issues so as to clarify my point and hopefully generate some debate even if internal between the reader and hisself...

  3. Oh wow big post. Great ideas and lots of stuff to ponder.
    For me the main thing breaking immersion is, spreadsheets in space.
    I have optimized and worked my way around the UI for months now and still i only see maybe 50% my ship and whats happening in space. The rest is covered with the tables, charts, tools you need.
    This gets worse if you get into an actual fight. And most times one is zoomed out to see whats going on.

    And you never really sit in the ship anyway, you never really fly it. So even for a space simulator its not nearly there. Its more a fight in space simulator, like being a commander of a space fight maybe.

    I wouldnt mind some hands on actual flying for once.

    1. I have oft pondered the 'removed' aspect of our gameplay in Eve. but, I can deal with it because as the Captain of a massive starship you are not the one flying it anyway. You are most likely buried deep inside in a darkened Command Center with multiple massive screens giving you the 'big picture' tactically and strategically. You are sitting in your Capt Kirk Chair (special ordered) barking out orders and making the BIG DECISIONS of LIFE and DEATH... so, yea, I can accept the current way-we-play because this is not a fighter game... it is far more a tactical game and I like that.

      But I am playing around with a programmable mouse and joystick to see if I can make the stick generate the mouse clicks in space needed for manual flight. If I ever get it working right you can be sure I will KEEP IT TO MYSELF!!! =P Manual flight in PvP can be the difference between me looting his wreck or him looting mine.

      I get my RvB on occasionally and have found if I can keep my head about me in a fleet fight when flying support tackle (which is all I fly ATM in RvB) and MANUALLY fly my ship avoiding orbiting, direct approaching, etc. I have found I can actually last longer on the field. I have been able to break off warp out and re-engage when I was sure I was gone... and I believe it was because I was not predictable.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thanx... always pleased when my word impact others. Very cool feeling. =]

      I often make BMs inside the dock of the stations I frequent (Rens, Dodi, Jita, etc.) and BMs out past 1000, 2000km as insta-warps from and into the dock and so I avoid the stoopid warping THRU a station thing.

      And I agree, too much Immersion 'could' slow down the gameplay... but only if it was ALLOWED to by CCP. Deeper Immersion features could be made a player choice. Oh you would still be in the same verse and live, and die, by the same rules such as they are, but YOU could choose to dock or undock in a more detailed manner, or not... its a radio button in the Esc Screen.

      I, for one, would love a small cut scene style rendition of my ship actually being tractored into the station and through the vast corridors with other ships moving about until I am settled in at my dock. Then a cut scene of my Pod ejecting and landing on the porch... but this would be in my local client only, everyone else would see me just land at the station and go "poof" as usual.

      Customised gameplay options... =]

  5. Warping is FTL travel therefore if you want to respect Einstein you should perhaps refrain from warping.

    I'd guess that the trope dates back to Star Trek and the idea is that when you warp you're not quite in space. (Later this was shown more graphically with Star Wars' hyperspace imagery). So if you're not in space, you don't have to worry about hitting planets.

    1. LOL I never said I wanted to respect him, I believe in my skeevy heart he is as wrong about the speed of light as all those who said the world was flat, the sound barrier would destroy any plane attempting to cross it and man will never walk on the MOON!

      You do realize the whole light speed limit is mainly based on the fact that we have never "seen" anything yet that goes faster right? I wonder what else in this expanding and amazing 'verse we also have not seen yet... =]

      Man is am amazing animal... tell him it can;t be done and step back and watch the naked ape go! He'll figger it out... just you bet he will! Especially if there's a buck to be made innit!! LOL I will bet on Man's ingenuity everyday and twice on Sunday!

      To the point, I really liked the BSG '04 warp effects... especially when Adama hot dropped the Galactica inside the atmo, began falling like a million tons of death, launched fighters and BOOM! Warped out!! Man that still gives me shivers!

  6. Don't forget in your Mach vs Hog example, you can also fit a Mach inside the marginally longer Nidhoggur =P.

    The eggheads of New Eden must have found a way to work with folded space like in the Ultraviolet movie!

    -Baljos Arnjak

  7. Its kinda related, for your consideration, regarding poses:

    Make our voice heard to ccp.


I have opened my blog to Anonymous Users... I hope I will not come to regret this. Please identify yourself when posting and read my Blog Disclaimer and Comment Policy.

All posts on my blog are moderated by me. I will post em as soon as I see um...