Last year, across multiple tests, thousands of human players and AI pilots duked it out in an EVE Online tech demo, Aether Wars. The first battle saw around 14,000 pilots trying to blow each other up, and thanks to some wizardry, it didn’t become an intolerable slide show. Hadean’s Aether Engine was responsible, and today the company announced it’s being made available to more developers, starting with Minecraft’s Mojang. 

MMOs and online games usually impose player limits, separate them into instances or use tricks like EVE Online’s time dilation—which slows things down to give the server time to work through its massive queue of tasks—to keep lag under control. Using distributed computing, however, the Aether Engine spreads the load and is able to dynamically scale to stop performance from tanking. 

In places where there are lots of players, physics or other things that might put a strain on the game—like a busy starting area in a new MMO or a mindbogglingly huge space battle—the engine allocates more servers to keep up with the demands of the simulation, while servers are taken down for quieter areas, keeping things consistent across the game world. 

(Image credit: CCP Games)

The applications for the Aether Engine seem to be quite broad, with it also being used to help model protein interactions to improve drug design modelling, as well as simulate the spread of the coronavirus, but gaming is Hadean’s focus at the moment. It’s a good place to test and prove new technology, says CEO Craig Beddis.