Friday, October 19, 2007
RvR and server location
World of Warcraft has US servers, European servers, Asian server, and they are all strictly separated. For example with my European client I can only access the European servers, I can't play on the US ones. For a PvE game with a raiding end-game this makes perfect sense. Most people are online in the evening in their time zone. So if everyone on the server comes from the same time zone plus/minus one, it is easy to organize a raid together. If I bought a US WoW client and account (which is only possible via an intermediate broker) and joined a US raiding guild, their raids would start at 3 am in the morning for me, which wouldn't be very practical. I left a very nice multi-game US guild once, just because I rarely got to see the guys.
So localized servers have the advantage that most players play at the same time. The disadvantage is that most players play at the same time. :) That means that during certain times the server is more or less dead, because everyone is sleeping. Not only does that mean the game company is having costs for resources that aren't used half of the time, but it also becomes problematic if the game is a realm vs. realm PvP game. If a game like Dark Age of Camelot has PvP objectives like castles which in the absence of player defenders are only defended by weak NPCs, guilds whose players need little sleep start staging raids in the middle of the night. Imagine your realm/faction/nation captured a castle during prime time at immense effort and heavy losses, only to lose it at 5 am to a small bunch of guys sneaking in through the back door against little resistance from NPCs.
Anyone know whether Warhammer Online plans to have localized or international servers? I think for a RvR game international servers would be better, because it is always prime time somewhere in the world. When the players from one continent are sleeping, the players of another continent are playing, and defending the realm. And whenever you play at unusual times, you meet people online from foreign countries, which is nice. Another advantage of international servers is that you can find groups even at odd times. The only disadvantage is that the servers have to be physically somewhere, so the ping to the different continents is never the same. You'd think that fractions of a second difference in pings wouldn't matter, but in Final Fantasy XI the forums were full of Americans complaining that the Japanese had an unfair advantage in grabbing rare mobs, because they had 0.2 seconds faster ping.