Saturday, October 27, 2007

Server Mergers

Several people, including Tack, have suggested server mergers as a solution to the problem of consolidating talent. I don't think this will solve the problem. I've been watching the show Numb3rs lately, and I feel inspired to make an analogy which may not actually reflect reality or mathematics.

<Professor Charles Eppes>

Imagine that a WoW server is like a bucket with a hole in it. The people on the server are like drops of water. If you fill up the bucket, water leaks out, and the bucket eventually empties.

A high-end raiding guild is like a plug. You put the plug in the hole, and the bucket stops leaking water.

Merging two low population servers is like pouring water from one leaky bucket into another leaky bucket. The amount of water increases, but the increase is only temporary.

The bucket still has the hole and, without the plug, the bucket will still eventually empty.

</Professor Charles Eppes>

Might work a little bit better with blurry visuals and random fluid dynamic equations being written out with chalk.

The analogy is crude, but you can see why I believe server mergers won't fix the problem. If you're lucky, a server merger may result in the creation of a hardcore guild which revitalizes the server. But that's not guaranteed, and the option for the hardcore to transfer is still very attractive.


  1. Just having a few high-end raiding guilds may not work, as those guilds need a talent pool to recruit from. A guild running Hyjal and Black Temple needs to recruit from a player base geared in Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep gear at a minimum. Those players are in guilds that recruit from people wearing Karazhan and Gruul's Lair gear, and those people are in guilds that recruit from fresh 70s.

    Likewise, a variety of guilds are needed at each level for a variety of raiding schedules to maximize the number of players running those instances and thus getting geared up for the next level.

    What is needed isn't just a couple of high-end guilds, but a culture of raiding and progression on the server, and several guilds working to move further in the game and be one of the better guilds on the server.

    High-end guilds may motivate other players to push in high-end raid instances, but that motivation won't guarantee the recruitment pool needed to sustain and grow their ranks as time passes.

  2. I disagree. Healers are in low supply. Low-pop servers have a low supply of people. Therefore, there is a big demand for healers in general, but it is even greater in low pop servers. Big servers are fine with healer exhaustion because there's a big pool of applicants who dont know the horror of BC raid healing.You don't have that on low servers.

    For example, I'm from Darrowmere. it was a big server (25k people) in september 06. Over time it dwindled down to a total of about 8k. Our leading guild is basically stuck on Prince Kael because they don't have enough reliable healers who are not burned out. This is because all the reliable ones already got tired and left for a break.

    By merging low pop servers, you create a much bigger choice of recruits. You say that it's not guaranteed, but anything is better than nothing and the chance of such a guild being made increases exponentially.

  3. Though I was just ranting, thanks for the link!

    I see exactly what you are saying and agree. Two low population nearly ghost town servers won't do it.

    However, part of my theory relied on Blizzard using their server statistics tech to match up medium and low population servers.

    To change the analogy... taking a half full bucket with a decent plug in it and tossing in some extra water to make it a more than half full bucket.

    Like Augustian said, low population servers are going to have people that become fresh recruits. Existing raiding guilds can get reinvigorated and etc.

    Also... a server merger will become huge news. I think the act of merging servers itself will make those low population server people have a new reason to play, build their own guilds... go out stronger for recruitment... etc etc. Sometimes all you need a beacon of hope and a bigger server.

  4. a better method would be to destroy the low pop server and redistribute players to 5 or so different medium pop realms.

  5. Given the WoW software instability problems that our household is enduring since patch 2.3, and looking for help on WoW Forums, I am lead to wonder if "improvements" like messing up the sound* will further reduce the server populations. I work software support for a paycheck, and now have a 'second job' trying to make WoW stable on my wife's PC. I got it down to a crash every few days, but since 2.3 the sound will randomly 'go crazy', and crashes are back up to a nearly-unbearable level (sometimes taking 4 or 5 crashes to get out of a major city or fly between points).

    *I read in the forums that a blue said that "just 10%" of the customer base was hosed by the sound "upgrade" in patch 2.3! (One wonders about Blizzard's standards if rendering the game soundless and/or unstable for 10% of the player base is acceptable...)

    Sorry for the rant, but truly there will be more and more 'WoW server population issues' if Blizzard wastes resources implementing unneeded and somewhat poorly-executed things like voice chat that introduces serious game instability and playability issues...

  6. Merging servers would work much better than "destroying servers and spreading the population over 5 medium pop servers" as some anonymous poster said.

    If you spread a community you are breaking existing links, which is not good.

    Also, I am pretty sure that the sound features will improve with time. After all, it's just a first release

  7. I'm all for server mergers. On my server the population is low on the alliance side and almost nonexistant on the Horde side. Gimme a server rich in horde and I'd be quite happy.

    I agree with the previous poster. Don't split up the servers. Try to just merge two servers so you don't break up the community.

  8. @gallada

    Allow me to clarify a bit...

    Yes, sound will probably get better, but people on the WoW Forums are asking why users must take big steps backwards in the meantime. And posters are asking why such a big impact item was so poorly tested and implemented into a big-time paid-subscription game that is 3+ years old.

    For most people who are experiencing problems right now, we're not only having problems, but have lost stability or sound quality to "gain" voice chat - something the community already had access to, and wasn't (to my knowledge) asking for! My issue is primarily stability and having the sounds 'go crazy' (not sure how else to describe it). Others (including those on a 105-page, 2000+ poster closed thread on WoW Forums) are reporting loss of hardware acceleration and loss of surround sound from high-end cards that worked beautifully before. And Creative Labs is openly skewing Blizzard by name on its tech forums.

    Which seems to tie into an earlier discussion about wasted development resources -- why is Blizzard wasting time and resources on in-game voice chat anyway, when I have never seen that even as a choice on "what do you want in WoW" polls?

  9. @doeg

    Is 2.3 out in the US then?

    Europe has not seen 2.3 yet..

    Unless you're talking about 2.2 where they introduced the voice chat.

    Personally i think the voice chat was a great idea! I've used it and its improoved PuG's no-end.

    Being able to explain to people what you're doing, or what you want them to do is brilliant.

    No-one i know who plays the game is having problems with the sound crashing their pc's. Maybe you should do a complete windows rebuild. Also it may be worth you running a complete memory test on you pc.

  10. I remember back right before BC was released, they were working on implementation of a server split to reduce high-population realms to smaller sizes. This was back before the hardware improvements and addition of a third continent made queues a thing of the past. Pretty sure they never used it.

    Before, high-population servers had good economies and raiding progression, but you had to put up with the queues and lag. But now, the problems are gone... everybody wants to be on a high population server. I'd definitely be in favor of server mergers.

    @alex - aka firelight: No, 2.3 is not out yet, much to my frustration :P I think deog meant to say 2.2.

  11. Yeah, 2.2 not 2.3

  12. "High end" raiding guilds pull many of their recruits from server transfers anyway. The problem is that on low-pop servers there are only a few guilds who can work on SSC/TK. That's what mergers would improve.