August 3, 2013

CREST is King - Or Well, it COULD Be

On July 11, 2013, CCP announced they were going to release a portion of the CREST API that allowed developers to do interesting things with stats from Alliance Tournament XI.  CREST was originally announced in December of 2012, but to my knowledge, there aren't any applications created solely with CREST until today.

Nullsec.com released an amazing web application today that shows in-depth replays of the ATXI fights, including ship position, status effects, and health.  The process itself isn't revolutionary or even unexpected - we see almost this exact same thing on the official stream itself, and we pretty much knew this would be possible based on the official announcement that CCP released regarding the temporary API information sharing.  What's great about Nullsec's efforts is that it's the first large undertaking regarding the CREST API that's been released to the public, and it presents fight data in a clean, easy to understand GUI.

To keep Nullsec from "one upping" them, CCP showed what they could do with the same information, and released the Battlespace Simulator XI.

Both applications show essentially the same information, which is a replay of a fight between two sides, what ships they flew, their positions, their negative effects, and their health.  They're displayed in slightly different ways, but that is largely just an aesthetic difference that doesn't really matter in the end.

So what's so great about this?  Well, CCP has stated that they'd like to release this information after the tournament is over in a more permanent state, and that they even plan to release it for DUST 514 usage. In its current state, the data is in basically real time.  What that means is that if you're watching one of these web applications that's linked to a live match, you see what's going on almost as fast as it happens. Of course, EVE being EVE, this would be too powerful, if released into the wild.  But it could be an amazing tool, nonetheless, and exploitation free.

When someone streams EVE on Twitch, a delay is almost always in effect.  If it weren't delayed, people would use that live, up-to-date information as an intelligence tool, and who can blame them?  The same principle can be applied to this battle API, as we'll call it.  If it had a sizable delay, just a few minutes would be fine, in fact, the information would be worthless as a live intel tool, but would still be invaluable for analyzing later.

Every single person in EVE that is concerned with PvP could benefit from it. Whether you're a solo pilot, a group of friends who are flying in assault frigates, or a major corporation/alliance, being able to analyze fights in such detail could be critical to improving and adapting.  The data collection itself can't be very taxing, certainly less so than trying to FRAPs everything (look, another 2GB file from my last 30 second recording!).

Right now the graphical quality is very barren, which is fine, don't get me wrong.  But imagine the future where a fully realized battle can be replayed later - not only would the quality of pilots increase, but the opportunities for budding EVE movie makers would explode!

Of course, CCP has to be extremely careful about the information they release, and they're unsurprisingly keeping this battle API very close to their chest, but now that in-depth, complex apps are starting to appear from the community, it will only be a matter of time before CCP is more comfortable with taking the next step. And what a glorious step it could be.

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