Warhammer Online: Server Merges?!?!

Big Post Edit Dated 07 September 2010: This article is getting linked to a great deal of blogs and forums quoting this article as proof to rumors for server merges.

I want to clarify, the ‘talks’ I was referring to, were the questions and responses on the forums asking for it. I have not seen where Mythic has officially responded. I and we the community do not yet know if merges are coming. This issue isn’t with loss of overall population, rather that populations are shifting on their own (IE Re-rolling). A call for server merges, or rather my suggestion below, is what is in talk.

This is not at all a representation that the game is dying. It’s an issue of server balance. 

There is talk. You know it, I know it; let’s not beat around the bush. We can see we have Q&A on the last testing vent suckup-athon directly addresses merges for Iron Rock. And then you have other issues trying to address the over-populated servers (Badlands and 2 Euros) and how to overcome the possible future instability issues. I address this issue from a North American stand point. I don’t know much about the Euro servers, and have no opinion … yet. I would like some more Brits on my server though.

Basically, I’m fairly concerned on what action Mythic might take. I was not at all please with the decision in the last mergings. I felt that Phoenix Throne finally had a decent population and removing  the sole role-play server from a lore based genre game was really just a bad move.

So in the NA servers we have 4 servers left. It seems that in the last 6 months, many players like me, re-rolled, came back or started in for the first time in WAR. And when they did, their choice wasn’t like mine, they wanted a heavy pop server; IE Badlands. I wanted the opposite, and wanted a server that had 80s, that played them. To each their own. So as more and more players came back or came into the game, it seems that Badlands population exploded.

According to Pauser.com, the current zergometrics show the following online R40+ average populations for the last week’s online players as of August 2nd, 2010:

Server          Total     Destro    Order

Badlands      470         218         252
Gorfang         207         119          88
Iron Rock    201          93           108
Volkmar       225        113           111

From a simplistic standpoint, we have not only an issue where Badlands is growing far disproportionate to every other server, but we have the 2 bottom servers showing heavy imbalances. Gorfang averaging 30+ more Destro on average. And Iron rock showing a ~20 average more Order.

You could have Iron Rock and Gorfang merge, giving the Gorfang/Iron Rock server not only numbers slightly less than Badlands, but as well balance the 2 servers’ imbalance. However that puts 2 servers at 400+ pops and Volkmar at ~220. You could further merge Volkmar into the rest, leaving only 2 servers, but also making those 2 servers possibly unstable. You could also shut down one server and do like we did last time, allow anyone to move where every they wanted. Surely another cluster fuck action like that would balance itself out again, right?

To me, the best answer is to give Badlands a population reduction. Not a shutdown, but an option for players to move out.

There really isn’t a great way to merge the bottom 3 without either creating a super server, more populated than Badlands, or without making a second version of Badlands with yet still 1 depressed server left. You could shut down one, open merges to either of the bottom 2, and hope for the best in balance after its done. However, ignoring Badlands doesn’t fix the possible instability issues to come. I see on the PTS server, they are planning to take out friendly collision detection to reduce lag. Let’s take out mechanics that keep players from exploiting so that zergs can zerg. Hmmmm … that’s not a good answer.

Really, if Badlands populations are too large, then diversify those populations. If I could have moved my Warrior Priest out, I most certainly would have. Instead I re-rolled.

If you give Badlands a move out option, most likely over half the population will stay; most likely a 15 to 20% will move. For Gorfang you offer a bonus renown for Order, for Iron Rock you offer it to Destro, for Volkmar you offer it to both. This will skim about 150 off of Badlands and add about 50 to each other server. If it distributes correctly, you put each of the 4 servers at ~300 managable populations. To go about making sure that you can evenly distribute, you take these actions in piecemeal, and not as a one week event as though it was some large extravaganza.

In the first week, you could simply go, “Hey Yo, Badlands Order, if you like, you can go move your toon to Gorfang Order and get a Renown gain bonus for the next month.” Leave that option open till you see some balance coming to both Badlands and Gorfang. Then the next week go, “Yo all of Badlands, for 2 days, if you like, you can move your toons to Volkmar for a renown bonus and some stupid pocket items.” A couple of guilds leave on both sides, and then in 2 weeks, “Yo Badlands Destro, I hear Iron Rock has Witch Elves that have real life boobies, maybe go there and emote whistle or something. Here’s some renown while you do that.”

Little bit by little bit, you take each of the 4 servers to 300 average populations. And while doing it in small division opportunities, you allow guilds and players to make conscious decisions that don’t force a mess of crap that causes people to re-roll or rage log.  But that’s just my thought. Crazy as it is, maybe a server reduction in spread out options, could be the balance the game needs to be managed under.


14 thoughts on “Warhammer Online: Server Merges?!?!

  1. I like it. Good plan.

    And I think we share the same concerns with removing friendly collision…

    Last I checked, part of a good tank wall was using the opposing numbers to help you block them out.

    • Without Friendly Collision Detection Tank walls could be even harder to penetrate. As enemies push on each other they gradually slide past, sometimes through the cracks in a tank wall. If two friendly tanks’ models are overlapping each other a bit then that should make it more difficult to push through. At least that’s the theory.

      It would be interesting to see some tests of this from the PTS, and then a similar comparison on Live as it stands in 1.3.5. It wouldn’t even require tanks, just two friendlies and a non-friendly to try pushing each other around for a bit. :)

  2. Cross-server scenarios would help to alleviate some of the concerns about moving characters to servers other than Badlands. I like my insta-pops on Badlands. On the other servers, it takes noticeably longer to get through the queue.

    But, if we moved to a cross-server model and queue times were roughly equal across all servers, then I’d be more willing to transfer off.

    Without that though, I’ll stay where I am. :)

    • I can’t speak for IR and Volkmar, but we have no Queue issues on Gorfang. If you are waiting its usually because the other side is about to zone lock, so you might sit in limbo for a couple of minutes. Lower tier pops do suck though.

      I kind of like the idea of cross server SCs; however, and this ‘however’ is the reason it won’t happen, SC contribute to VP, and by a good deal. I don’t want moronic PUGs from some other area contributed loss in my VPs on my Server.

      So how do they do Cross Server SCs, while not f’ing up VP contribution? That is the problem. If they could figure that out, I would love that to see that.

  3. I think it would be dangerous to consider merging servers, without considering where returning players would go, if there was an expansion.

    Which we are kind of expecting to hear about in the next couple of weeks.

    • eeehhhhhh …. that’s true. Saying its an expansion.

      It could be a giant new LE. Which it most likely is.

      Or it could be an announcement of plans to make an expansion.

      Or they could ninja us an expansion next month. I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen.

      So most likely, nothing immediate. Short of a major expansion being ready next month, you have months to a year do deal with your current issue in NA:

      3 low low population servers, and 1 that likely to start crashing like a fort capture if they don’t do something.

  4. I really like the idea of giving a specific faction a bonus to move to another server and watch how that plays out.

    Example: Allow Destro from two of the busiest servers to move to say IR for a renown bonus, and offer it on a first come first serve until numbers are met for balance. Then send those accounts a “Libram” of Renown gain or something that lasts a week or two…and then continue watching balances and play this game all over when one side tilts..

    That could be awesome.

  5. I’ll let you guys know what they do with toons that are inactive at server merges because my main order dudes were all up on Phoenix Throne.

    Haha although they are mostly useless as the time when I quit was before all the upgrades to the client and my computer just scraped into the min req’s, so I didn’t do much orvr. My knight is probly r32 rr20, if that.

    • Well PT toons can move where ever they want.

      Also, if you have an inactive account for 3 months, you can move your toons as well. If you re-sub, you can go where you like.

  6. Before doing a merge, it is really important to take into account the time zone of each faction. For example, Volkmar seem really balanced. But it is one of the worst server to go. The big guilds or Order are Australian. It means, if you’re on east coast and want to roll order, you will get your butt kicked mostly everytime because they’Re like 12 hours after you.

  7. Pingback: 2010 in review « Mr. Meh's Supplication

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