Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 25, 2008
WAR clones servers

The population of Warhammer Online is growing, and in response Mythic opens new servers. But instead of just making new, empty servers, they have a novel approach: They clone old, overpopulated servers. Thus players on the old servers can choose whether they want to continue playing on their old server, or whether they want to move to the new server *without* having to do an irreversible choice. If your whole guild moved and you only realize that days later, you can still switch and find a clone of your character with the level and stuff from the moment of the split there.

Really good idea, why has nobody else thought of that before? This not only reduces the population pressure on the old servers, but also jump-starts the new server with higher level characters, so the newbie zones aren't too crowded. Better to distribute the new players over two servers than have them all on one server. Of course guild moves still remain a complicated affair, but the clone method is way better than the old server split method, where you had to decide whether you would move or not in advance, and somebody always was left behind.
The idea sounds really good but has flaws, which has been discussed on other sites also which I'm sure you read about.

Few people want to make the move because of fear of ending up on a near deserted server. Yes they can go back but depending on how long until you decide to do that you might have lost a lot of time.

Also in many cases order doesn't have that much need to move since they don't have, or have short queues so the new server will probably be even more unbalanced between factions.
When I first heard about this I thought it was a good idea too. The problem is most people started on the high population server because they wanted an active server and were willing to put up with a queue to get more and larger scale rvr. I know I did, which is why I am staying on the high population server and not moving as I believe the other server will be dead.
The concept of the server clones is great, however Mythic should add some incentive for playing on the cloned low pop server. I'm sure most players would rather wait 10 minutes to log on as oppsed to play on a server that is neigh-empty.

I actually had my server cloned when I was level 8. A box popped up while I was playing and let me know I could move to another server, but at that point I had already reached level 12 so I wasn't going to waste 4 levels to move. I checked out the clone server and sure enough my character was the same as before I logged in for the day at level 8. The server had almost no one on it, but that was the first day of the clone so who knows?

I think incentive can be an increase in XP for a few levels, or a unique item, but they really have to give the player something if they want them to consider moving.
This is great idea on the surface but the problem is that most servers only have queues on the destruction side. I feel sorry for the destruction guild that wholesale moves to a new server only to find nobody to fight against.
Clones Wars, begun they have!
I also thought this was a great idea, however, it does seem to need some type of incentive for folks to actually make the move.

For example, the guild I am in was formed during beta. We also established an alliance with 2 other known guilds. Obviously this required us to preselect our server. When the clone occurred, almost no one in the alliance was interested in trying to coordinate the move for 200+ players across 3 guilds.
/gmotd if you can read this you are on the wrong server

Another thing to consider, although it may be a minor point is naming. Cloning an overpopulated server to a new server would mean that most of the potentially "cool" names are taken.

As a new player, why would I want to join a server where most of the neat names are taken by players who aren't even going to play there?
One of the answers to the question "why has nobody else thought of that before" is maybe they did think about it but decided against it because of the cost. That cost has been coming down over time. The cost I am talking about is storage of a lot of characters that may never be played. I megabyte of hard drive space is a lot cheaper now than 10 years ago.
It doesn't solve the ongoing problem of population imbalance.

What is the advantage of logging on instantly to then que for RvR and wait 30 minutes for one scenario to start versus waiting 20 minutes to login but having to wait 5 minutes for the que to start?

Essentially if you are looking for RvR you are still going to come out ahead even if you have to sit in a 30 minute que to even get in game.
Not sure this would work in WoW because people would just transfer the cloned character to another account, then transfer that character back to the first server, hence doubling all their cash and possessions...
This misses the point that the idea of actually having multiple servers or 'shards' as they are known on UO is so very very old school.

I'm sorry but there is no reason for this given today's technology (play a little Guild Wars if you don't believe me) no matter what I should always be able to play with my friends, without being forced to choose between one server or the next. My characters should be able to freely move and meet up with whomsoever I like.
I would imagine just to be practical WAR has to have seperate servers. If players were free to log in "wherever" with their characters how can you have cross faction characters?

And I feel sorry for the first server to sack a city because they will have 20,000+ players all looking to jump in there.

In a highly instanced PVE game seperate servers seems a bit reduntant. WAR is neither.
Sounds a good idea to me, but frankly I think it'll be at its most useful when characters are at the stage where they have hit max level already. That's when guilds are most likely to move, rather than in a new game where few players are at high level and are more focused on just working their way up the ladder.
@centuri - how does server determine faction? I don't play the game so I know nothing of these cross factions that you speak... I'm assuming, at this point that its some kind of server vs server PVP given your comments - please correct me if I'm off the mark, but to my mind that is the limitations of the separate servers driving the mechanics of the game. There are perfectly valid mechanics to achieve similar results in a single server setting, which I believe would better reflect a world ravaged by chaos and war rather than artificial server vs server battle. I'm thinking more along the lines of player alliances (like Eve) that consist of multiple guilds joined together. A more realistic and less homogeneous approach to factions in my book.

As to the 20000+ people jumping in to sack a city, once again that's thinking in terms of current design - which is hampered by the artificial constraints of separate servers. The population control of single log in is more fluid and dynamic it shuffles players around automatically to ensure stability across the server farm, you would not get 20,000+ all on the screen at the one time. Think dynamic and seamless instancing (although that is a bad description) that keeps you together with those you are playing but keeps the other 18,000+ out of site but still impacting the game. The flip-side benefit is that you also don't end up on an uninhabited server.
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