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Eve: Aether Wars invites pilots to next month's 10,000 player dogfight

Whew, hard to believe it, but this will be my last news post for RPS for the foreseeable future. Fitting, then, that it’s about going large and loud and blotting out the heavens themselves with explosions. Eve: Aether Wars is a collaborative tech demo/stress test run by Eve Online developers CCP and cloud networking techies Hadean, researching new ways to cram even more players onto a single shared MMO server.

The first Aether Wars event ran during Gamescom earlier this year, and squeezed 3,852 players into a messy free-for-all dogfight, resulting in an impressive 88,988 spaceships exploding. This time they want a full ten thousand on August 18th. Players are invited to sign up and join in free on the appointed day of the rumble. Below, a video about exactly what CCP and Hadean are trying to achieve here, plus my own farewells.

The previous Aether Wars was, unquestionably, more a tech demo than game. Players casually spawned, exploded and respawned within moments of each other, getting a chance to lob a few surprisingly huge missiles around each life. The impressive thing is that it ran smoothly, even with massive walls of missiles streaking across space. Shots danced and stuttered a little, but that felt more like the server back-end buckling than anything on the user end. It was a far cry from Eve Online’s time-dilated mega-fights, where it can take ages for actions to bear results.

As they say in the video, they’ve proven that they can cram that many players into a single live instance. “The focus now is much more about making a game that’s fun to play” says Hadean’s serious suit-man Rashid Mansoor. If nothing else, the clip they show of Aether Wars: Phase 2 has me intrigued, with combat this time taking place in a smoky nebula littered with Titan-class ship hulls. I’m hoping for a slightly more structured team-fight. Of course, this being space combat where everyone’s in the same ship, it’s still a numbers game, but a potentially spectacular one.

The Greatest Outdoors Fight begins on August 18th, 6pm BST. You can sign up for your (free) ticket to the rumble on the Eve: Aether Wars page here. Shoot a few ships for me, would ya?

And as for me, it’s been a great nearly-two-years manning the RPS news desk, and I’m glad so many of you have enjoyed my work. I’m not going to be disappearing entirely from RPS – my Modder Superior column will be continuing, and I’ve got some extra features waiting in the wings. Still, if you can’t get enough of me, or just want to see what I’ve got planned next, give me a follow over on Twitter. It’s been wild, and I’ll be back on Monday with a deep dive on Half-Life mod-turned-monstrosity Sven Co-op.

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Dominic Tarason

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