by Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle
November 5, 2007 - While digital distribution is nothing new, EVE Online (which was once available at retail but now is solely distributed via download) has some significant hurdles to jump in order to offer the gargantuan Trinity patch simultaneously to over 200,000 subscribers. CCP's Berglind Gudmondson and Oddur "2kay" Magnusson were on hand at EVE Online FanFest 2007 to detail the problems and solutions with regard to delivering Trinity.
Berglind and 2kay
Depending on the quality of your rig, the download could potentially double the download of the entire current game client, which currently totals around 600 megabytes. The reason: a complete Shader 3.0 art and graphics revamp of the game plus some new content for those computers that can handle the upgrade.
Since not all players have a system that can use the new graphics (those with graphics cards pre-dating the Nvidia 6600 series in Windows and the new Linux and Mac users cannot), it didn't make sense for everyone to have to download the art and coding assets needed for the high-end version of the client. Therefore, starting with the first Trinity upgrade, two patches will be offered, confusingly termed Classic and Premium (though, regard the expansion is free with your EVE Online subscription). Both versions will utilize the same codebase, both will receive the same bugfixes; the only difference is graphics.
Keeping players in the game during the lengthy download was a priority for CCP. While all users will patch to the Trinity classic version, EVE Online will offer the option to use the Windows BITS protocol for a bandwidth / CPU throttled download of the art assets and graphics engine. Due to increasing ISP hostility toward torrents, CCP opted for the alternate BITS method, though downloading from a server via a web page will also be an option. The patch will be distributed through the Limelight Content Delivery Network (CDN), so players around the world should have near equal opportunity for good download rates.
Users will also benefit from a new, decluttered login page with access to graphics options for the first time. Additionally, with Trinity, Vista users will see EVE Online in the games explorer for the first time. However, mirroring problems with other online games running under Microsoft's latest OS, Vista users will have a few additional install steps to dodge the User Access Control (UAC).
For details on this and everything you need to know about the technical delivery of EVE Online's next expansion, check out the full-length "Delivering Trinity" session video from EVE Online FanFest 2007.