Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
2012 - The year of queue solutions

During prime time on an average day in an average subscription MMORPG between 10% and 20% of active subscribers are logged on, as an industry rule of thumb. During prime time on release day, the number is much closer to 100%, and only slowly declining from there over the first few weeks. Thus MMORPG servers are usually overcrowded at launch. When this phenomenon was first observed, it took some game companies by surprise. Anarchy Online tried to get everybody who wanted onto the server, leading to the worst launch in MMORPG history, because servers just completely lagged out. Other games had their login server crash. Once game companies realized they had a problem, they invented the login queue, a solution that has been used for many years in many games now. Some companies tried to quickly open more servers, but that inevitably leads to server mergers once the first rush subsides, with a lot of bad press on how the game is failing. So up to SWTOR no game has come up with a better solution than queues.

But it seems that 2012 is the year where developers are rethinking that approach. TERA announced handing out xp bonuses to you while you are waiting in the queue. And now Guild Wars 2 announced overflow servers. Meaning that you get the option to play on a temporary server while there is a queue on your main server. Obviously that limits your options of guild / friend interactions as well as server vs. server warfare, but to level up your character this should work well enough. I'm looking forward to trying this. To me this appears a much better solution than to ask people money for waiting in a queue.
100% agree this is a brilliant solution. I am curious if the tech involved might also allow them to claim that 100's of folks will be able to play on the same battlefield in GW2's rvr.

My anticipation for GW2 went up a couple spots after the server queue announcement. I litterally see dev exec's hitting their foreheads going "d'oh!"
Awesome idea. :)
One thing to keep in mind is that GW2 servers are setup in the same fashion as GW1. More akin to EVE than WOW/EQ/SWTOR/etc. You are placed on a server based on your physical location, but if you wish to group with friends on another server, you can either switch to their server (they use numbering in GW1) or go to the International one when you need to group with others in different countries.

Its very similar to how EQ2 will spawn extra zones when one zone gets full, but still allow you to switch if you have friends doing a task but you are in "Freeport 1" and they are in "Freeport 4". What you won't see is a server setup typical of most MMO's, where you have friends scattered across multiple servers that, without a transfer, you will not be able to play with them.
"So up to SWTOR no game has come up with a better solution than queues."

This is incorrect, City of Heroes solved this problem nearly a decade ago by adding new instances of zones each time one filled up (Atlas Park 1, Atlas Park 2, etc.).

Which is the same solution as GW2 is using. Weird how GW2 is getting massive credit for being innovative...
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