Thursday, May 17, 2012

Your Forty-Sixth Assignment: Dried Up

It's a ghost town, cipher.

Where did everyone go, Kaliyo?

I don't know, agent, but I don't like it.

It's too quiet.  Guns out.

Lock and load, agents!  Well, at least those of you who are left.  Before this week, I was disinclined to hear the naysaying that 'servers were dead' and 'no one is on!'  I thought to myself, "What poppycock!  Surely there may be some servers who are a little lighter than others but the merest idea that people have left the game in droves?  Unthinkable, I say!" all the while adjusting my monocle and dusting my top hat.

But this week, the absolute truth has hit Shien like the goddamn hammer of the heavens.  Folks, I hate to say this ... but yeah.  They're right.  It's a damn ghost town.  I was on Tuesday night, operation re-set day and our standard weekday raid.  We start at 8pm Eastern.  There were a grand total of 5 people on guild, including me.  The Imperial Fleet housed only 23 souls (although that number would balloon to a whopping 34 half an hour later!) and there was absolutely zero interest in PUGing.

I am now legitimately afraid for the health of this game.

We can't muster enough folks to raid.  Our main tank may be leaving the game and going back to WoW because of PVP imbalance.  My officers are off playing Tera or Rift or Diablo 3.  I knew times would be lean when new games came out, especially D3 as there are more than a few Diablo fans in my guild.  And maybe I'm paying the price for my laissez faire attitude to guild management; for the most part I left the guild to its own devices and didn't pester them too much.  I valued their time and made sure they knew that they could spend it anywhere; S&V would always be open for business.  Heck, even I wandered off to play 360 or go outside occasionally - I logged in only 2-3 times a week.  Maybe my attendance and attitude has driven S&V to this sorry state.  I can't be sure but I sure feel guilty.

I think the course for us is clear; we may suspend raiding, we may switch to the Republic side (which is about twice as active), but I think S&V will always exist in some form or fashion.  We may have to mothball it for a while, but Targeter will live on.  He may just not be used for a while.

Either way, things are looking grim.  So, I turn to you fellow GMs and bloggers ... what can we do?  What can we do to preserve our guilds in the face of these trying times?  We've got Guild Wars 2 and Mists of Pandaria coming soon as well ... can the Scummers, can your guild, can any guild survive that?  What are your plans?


  1. Maybe I'm jinxing us, but our server seems to be stable - maybe because it was one of the earliest online, had a lot of guilds assigned to it, whatever.

    Hrm, as for guild participation, outside raid nights it's not uncommon to see only a few people online. That's not due to other games, but because we have real life obligations.

    When we started Snark Side, we had been burned by a guild that was just all over the place with casual people, and people parking alts... this time we tried for a very tight team. We wanted a person's PRIMARY toon in their PRIMARY game. And I think that we've succeeded in this. Nobody's going to tell you what you can and can't do, but if it's not your primary toon in your primary game, you're not gonna be in our raiding program. This philosophy may seem draconian, but it has kept us focused on our raiding content, and we've only had to cancel raids when a lot of people had to cancel due to real life issues (family in town, illness).

    I can see that a less populated server would be boring, as people jump ship for a more populated server, thereby adding to the problem. I can see that the fewer people login to the guild, the fewer people WANT to login. Our last 2 recruits to Snark Side were people whose old guilds fell apart due to people wandering off.

    I guess my point is that things tend to domino once a weak point happens. It might not be what is happening to ALL servers and ALL guilds, but these things do happen despite your best intentions.

    Blah blah... I'm just stoked that we were able to fill up both raids this weekend comfortably.

  2. A lot of what Jessi said. Let's face it, the game will grow smaller in the coming weeks until it stabilizes. I've seen the same thing happen with Lotro and that game is still kicking and strong.

    But yeah, there's a rough patch ahead. I don't see the game dying, but I see a lot of switching around

    1. I guess the game will stabilize around 1 million players or so ... to be honest, that's not a bad number to be at. Big enough for the "F2P!" crowd stays away and small enough so that we can keep the community tight. We do need to cut down on the servers though - it's getting rather ridiculous. My fleet was just at 2 people at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon!

  3. I think Njessi has it right in that both guilds and servers need a solid core of people who focus on SWTOR as their main game and aren't worried about the quiet times. Unless you have a very large guild, someone has to be the first to log on, and they have to be able to happily play on their own for a bit until others join in. Else you can end up in a vicious circle where people log on, see nobody else on and log off again, without ever meeting each other.

    From that point of view I'm not worried about my own guild's survival right now, because while we have quite a few "floating" members, we also have a staunch core of about half a dozen people who love TOR for what it is and aren't interested in pursuing any other games.

  4. It's been a quiet week. I didn't feel the "subscriptions down" until Tuesday night... basically, when Diablo released. It's been very quiet ever since, and so many people qqing that Diablo is gonna be the SWTOR killer (except, um, they aren't the same type of game. I believe lots of those people will come back).

    Long queues suck but it could be worse. I hope that BioWare will offer some free server transfers - our server is lucky to have a healthy PvP community but at the same time, we could use more. Seems like all week long there's only been one game going at a given time - one pub team, one imp team. Which means going with 7 after waiting 15 minutes, and then fighting the same people you fought last time. A smaller number of larger servers would help alleviate the pressure and make people feel like the game is healthier-because when they log on, there are people to see.