Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your Forty-Eighth Assignment: New Servers?

Pack up, Kaliyo.  We're moving.

Where to agent?

I can't divulge that yet, Kaliyo.  Operational security and all.

Oh piss off, agent.

Lock and load, agents!  Some ... well ... strange news today.  Server merges may be coming, but not in the way you're thinking ...

So I was perusing Massively today and saw this.  Interesting, to say the least!  So I pulled up the source article with Lead Designer (who thankfully is still attached to the project!) and saw this little quote:

PCG: Will they be cross-server at launch? Is that planned for the future?

DE: They will not be cross-server as we are coming up on a huge move to servers with massively higher population caps than we have today.

Massively higher population caps than we have today, hmm?  Oh realllllly?  Are we maybe staring down the barrel of mega-servers?  And is this a good thing?  Let's explore the ramifications.

So, the elephant in the room regarding SWTOR is the population density on most of the servers.  It's pretty low.  Last night I was on Shien at 8:45pm EDT and the Imperial Fleet was at 51.  Now, that sounds low ... and frankly it is compared to where we were two months ago ... but it's improved by quite a bit since last week.  The fact that 51 folks on is an 'improvement' is not a good thing, and BioWare knows this.  They've been talking about server transfers, both free and paid, for a while now.  And I always assumed it'd work just like WoW or Rift ... get a free transfer to another server and call that place home from now on.  But, is this what BioWare intends?

I just checked the server list (at 1:15pm EDT) and my server is light.  As are the other 8 RP-PVE servers in SWTOR.  As are every other North American server not named The Fatman and Jedi Covenant.  And then I checked myself ... holy shit, do we REALLY need 9 RP servers?  And that doesn't even count the 3 RP-PVP servers!  Do we really, really need 12 RP servers total for a game with only 1.3 million subscriptions right now?

This talk of a move to huge servers comes at the right time.  The perfect time.  Look, it's going to get bad press no matter which way you spin it (and believe me, this is spin) so why not actually fix the problem while you're at it?  Combine servers into megaservers and let us play with a metric crap-ton of folks!

Here's how I think it will break out.  We'll have our home servers basically 'merged' with other servers.  Although you will still hail from your server (Shien for me), you will be able to see and play with other folks from your server group.  The reason you will still hail from your 'home' server is so that Legacy and character names can remain unique.  Trying to sort out whose Legacy name gets to stay and whose has to be changed would be an epic clusterfuck of monumental proportions!  So by retaining original home names, they avoid all that.  That being said, I'll never underestimate BioWare's ability to completely fuck shit up, so be prepared for the great QQ storm of 2012 if it happens.

Now the LFG tool is a rather different animal.  Will it pull from your 'home' server or will it pull from your megaserver group?  How many servers are being merged into each megaserver?  What's the timeframe on this type of move?  End of summer?  End of year?  How much notice will we get?  Are they going to completely eliminate some servers altogether?

BioWare, as is their wont, provides us with a nugget of information wrapped in a hundred layers of vague posturing.  Please, guys, we've been loyal.  Just tell us what's going on, what to expect, and when to expect it.  I think we, the few who have decided to stick by you guys, deserve at least that.

Fly safe, shoot straight!  For the glory of the Empire!

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