EVE Online’s Project Discovery to help find real planets

It seems everything has science in it these days. You can’t even enjoy the simple pleasure of eating an apple without some Frankenstein telling you that actually, apples are made of science. Get back to your chalkboard, nerd. Even space isn’t safe from science! Spaceship MMO EVE Online [official site] is bringing back its “citizen science” scheme Project Discovery, this time using real astronomical data to help find actual exoplanets. It’s probably more a minigame than any sort of virtual exploration, to be clear, but that’s science for you: less glamorous than it initially sounds.

The first Eve Discovery project, in 2016, let players classify pictures of human cells in a minigame to win virtuacash and credits. CCP say that it saw players submit over 25 million classifications submitted for the research of the Human Protein Atlas.

As for this second project, CCP say:

“Within EVE’s virtual universe, players will interact with real-world astronomical data provided by the University of Geneva through a fully integrated part of the EVE Online game experience called Project Discovery. Once enough players reach comparative consensus on classification of the data, it will be sent back to the University of Geneva for use in refining the search for exoplanets.”

CCP say this’ll launch some time this year. They’ll say more about it at the EVE Fanfest in early April so, er, after that at least.

EVE being a game with plenty of idle time, it might be fun to have a poke at for a bit. I’m guessing it’ll be another case of analysing images looking for specific shapes, patterns, signals, and whatnot. Perhaps a bit like Planet Hunters, where you can poke at data from NASA’s Kepler observatory to identify potential planets. Humans aren’t good for much anymore but we are sometimes better at pattern recognition than machines.


  1. PointyShinyBurning says:

    Shouldn’t all ‘mining’ activity in MMOs be this sort of thing?

    • Sound says:

      It’s a compelling idea.
      Unfortunately, the precedent is a decade old: Mining is a mostly hands-off, mostly care-free, low-attention, low-interaction activity. Many people mine precisely because they don’t have to do ‘work’ like planet-analyzing.

      It’s tempting to try out something like “advanced mining” where a mini-game like this is introduced. But that’s double-edged: it’d upset the economy, and create dubious incentive systems.

      I’d love to see mining changed into something that I’d find more compelling… But unfortunately, there’s legions of people who want precisely the opposite.

  2. automatic says:

    Science contributions aside, when you need a different game inside your game because the activities available on it are too boring to play it’s time to start asking yourself some basic questions.

  3. Sin Vega says:

    I really hope they add a fuctional tutorial this time, because the existing one is abysmal and explains absolutely nothing. It’s not even clear what the hell you’re supposed to be doing, let alone how.

  4. waltC says:

    Unfortunately, much of what passes today for “science” in the popular community isn’t that at all, but brain-dead politics, unfortunately.

  5. racccoon says:

    Having gone back to see the limited free play mode, I still think this game is such a bore. The skills still take forever and never seem to stop going on and on, and the game play is so dreary and repetitive. This game is not great at all, the only thing that creates an awe of attraction is the over glorified trailers of game, which when you return because of these, you find the game is still stuck in time of ten years past. A total waste of time.

    • Sound says:

      That doesn’t sound like my experience of Eve Online at all. Practically the opposite – skills and access, activity, repetition and all. It’s almost as if you’re seeking these conclusions in advance.