Tobold's Blog
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.
I think having separate servers is fine and it somehow reflects what happened during medieval times where strongholds were stormed mainly during the night. It is night for both the attackers and the defendants after all. I'd consider much worse the opposite.. having to defend a stronghold 24 hours a day from a never-ending horde of blood-thirsty players..
ping time is another big issue at moment. Who plays PVP a lot knows that .2 secs can make the difference between life and death and I am sure that a constant ping of .2 secs from one side to the other of the world is an optimistic assumption. I played from Australia in a European server for a long time and more realistic values were .6-.8 secs
I also play from Australia to the European WoW region and long for the chance of having a proper localized server for our neck of the woods. It's crazy, why don't we have access to servers more local to AU/NZ?

Generally, though, the European server I'm on is busy most of the day and most of the night, even when it's day and night for me. There are plenty of college kids playing in the day time but I completely miss out on the more mature "office worker" crowd because when they get home, I have to go to bed.
In EQ2 you can play on any server you want, by selecting "your" zone before each login. Thus it is possible for Europeans to play on PvP servers, which are American only.
On the side note, I met many Americans on European servers, who told me that they prefer them because of more mature playerbase.
I don't see any reason to restrict the selection of a user. If a Euro wants to play on a US sever, let him. Why not?
When I played PSO, which had international servers, a lot of Japanese players didn't want people from outside Japan in their teams (You would see teams set up with 'JP' written on them, which meant no foreigners welcome).
This was because, in the Challenge Mode games, time was crucial, and so lag was completely unwelcome.
I don't see any reason to restrict the selection of a user. If a Euro wants to play on a US sever, let him. Why not?

Imagine user Joey Cross-Ocean. He starts with an MMO unknowing about the importance of lag or giving a crap about it, he doens't care about prime population times, cause he can solo all the way. Joey choses a cross oceanic server. Joey has fun. After some weeks Joey enters endgame. Suddenly he realizes the value of lag in someway or another and all of a sudden he can not solo anymore, he needs co-players, wich aren't available for his sessions.

Joey has two options now. Starting from scratch on a new local server, or quiting the game. In both options the game will suffer for Joey. Worst case scenario is, the game loses a customer, based on his own wrong server choice. When you deal with millions of users, there will be many Joeys. To lower this risk, you restrict server choice. There will be more players cry about a bad choice made, than there will be players moaning about the restriction, not to play with cross-ocean people.
Not only will Warhammer have different servers, but they will be run by different companies. EA Mythic in America and GOA in Europe.
Yep, what ikuturso said. GOA will run the servers in Europe.
I used to play on a EU Shadowbane server because it fit my playtime. In smaller games that is the way to go, but in larger games like WoW, I've never had a point where playing in the early mornings has been bad. Sure there isn't a zillion people grouping, but there is still usually groups going on. It only really hurts when you want to get into guilds that schedule raids almost always during primetime. More reason for WoW to have cross-server instances :P
PvP is something in which lag plays a huge part, and a game that focuses on pvp is going to disadvantage a huge number of players by having international servers.

For WoW, people local to the servers frequently have pings in the 100 range. People playing in Australia (which has no local servers) frequently have pings of 800+. The difference between the two for pvp is huge, as it affects EVERY SINGLE ACTION the high latency player takes.

Having vulnerabilities like DAoC did due to off-peak RvR activities by organized guilds is bad, but handicapping hundreds or thousands of players per server by allowing international servers would be worse.

Someday we may have a worldwide backbone capable of rendering latency over terrestrial distances insignificant, but we're not there yet.
I played Wow for 2.5 years from Australia, I raided, did PvP and did grouping. On a great day i would get below 300 ping ( and the bar was actually green ) but normally it was in the 400 - 600 range.

You just get used to it and adjust your play accordingly. It was fine 95% of the time. As long as you where paying attention you would be fine. I prob couldn't have done and touurnement games but i can live wih that.

There's a whole army of players out here in aus/nz and in other parts of the world that play these games long distance from the servers.

PS - I used to get annoyed when someone used to complain when there ping got over 100, try dealing with +500 as the norm. Yes you can still play the game
When we were pricing out our T1s, at least one of the vendors was willing to offer guaranteed pings on their network worldwide. Now, once you left their network you were on your own, but the implication is that if you kept the server setup all on one provider, you could get acceptable ping times.
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