In less than an hour, a battle of interstellar proportions will break out in the MMORPG Eve Online, a spacefaring simulation with its own politics, economies, and wars — all controlled exclusively by players. Between three and four thousand pilots are set to do battle in one of the largest fights ever on Eve, which you can watch live below or on Twitch.tv.
The battle is expected to rival the legendary Battle of Asakai as one of the most epic battles in Eve history — which totalled equivalent to $20,000 in losses for the losing team. Today's battle doesn't yet have its own name, but is taking place in a system known as 6VDT between two of the largest player alliances in the game, TEST Alliance and the CFC. In order to keep lag to a minimum, since the battle takes place on just one server, Eve's developers will likely slow down time more than 90 percent so its server can process all player actions. This means today's battle could take several hours to reach its explosive conclusion.
Update, 3:20PM ET: The Verge's war correspondent in Eve Online is bringing us live updates of the action about to unfold in deep space. As you can see below, the CFC is preparing to meet the TEST Alliance in battle. Intelligence suggests that the TEST Alliance force is now staging its fleet.
Today's battle could be the culmination of months of conflict, propaganda, and preparation. We'll continue to bring you live updates as the situation unfolds.
Update, 3:54PM ET: The CFC has begun attacking the TEST Alliance's space station, which sits at the main front of their war. Today's conflict is part of an effort by both alliances to establish sovereignty over planetary systems -- granting them resources, travel routes, and other assets. Since everything in Eve Online is player-produced, control of these these stations are of vital importance to an alliance's success.
Update, 3:59PM ET: Over 4,000 players are now in the local system, signaling that the battle is imminent. Eve Online's developers have slowed time to 10% of real-time to allow the fight to unfold accurately.
Reports indicate that the leaders of both the CFC and TEST Alliance have instructed their members to fight to the last ship. Grab some popcorn: it's going to be a long fight.
Update: 4:31PM ET: A view from inside the massive battle between the CFC and TEST Alliance. Here you can see warp bubbles, which prevent pilots from retreating.
Update, 4:49PM ET: Though the battle is raging on slowly, some tactics have emerged. The TEST Alliance is attempting to jam CFC's targeting capabilities, in order to cripple the CFC's logistics (it's ability to heal friendly units.) It will still be some time before the balance of power becomes clear.
Here's another view of the battle from afar, and a glimpse at the craziness of Eve Online's UI, courtesy of Twitch.tv streamer drew_qt . (Click on images to enlarge.)