Server Merges Are Coming

Blizzard is calling them “Connected Realms,” but it occurs to me that in the future, any MMO dev can simply call their server merges “connected realms” to bypass the negative stigma surrounding the term. “We’re not merging, we’re connecting! Which is like merging, except with a hashtag!”

On a different note, this quote from the Connected Realms FAQ is a nice follow-up to yesterday’s post (emphasis mine):

Connected Realms also allow us to link populations in a way that’s not disruptive to players, and that doesn’t negatively impact players’ sense of identity and character. Other alternatives such as merging realms would require us to force character name changes if there were conflicts, and could lead to confusion for returning players who’d log in to find their realm missing from the realm list. Some players also feel strong ties to their realm’s name or history, and we don’t want to erase that.

Let me ask you something, and get ready to have your mind blown. What is a realm’s name or history if not the collection of people in it? What is the difference between Auchindoun-US, the shit-hole I played on for 4+ years, and something like Stormrage-US, one of the highest-populated servers in WoW?

The people. That’s it. Auchindoun’s Lower City looks exactly the same as Stormrage’s Lower City. Arthas looks the same, the mobs look the same, the resource spawns are the same, the quests are the same, every single thing is the same.

While the speed of opening the AQ Gates or whether there was a server first heroic Lich King kill before the expansion comes out differs depending on the server, that is simply due to – again – the people. The AQ gates are open everywhere. Deathwing is dead everywhere. Garrosh will be a raid boss everywhere soon. Remove the people, and every single MMO server is the same.

This is why I cock an eyebrow at “dynamic” and “emergent” anything. EQN is going to have StoryBrick AI in there somewhere. Cool… but is that going to mean Server A has a completely different ecology than Server B? If not, we must have radically different definitions of what those words mean. Player ecologies differ between servers of course, sometimes radically, and make the server distinctions worthwhile. But servers differing on the development side? As far as I know, that hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway: server merges in WoW. Given how my friends bailed out of Auchindoun and to a PvE server during the half-price sale a while back, there is literally nothing to go back to. Should I ever desire to. For Press™ reasons. That $25 a pop price though… jesus. The suits over there sure like making the decision easy.

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Posted on August 6, 2013, in WoW and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Cool… but is that going to mean Server A has a completely different ecology than Server B?

    Now that would be a very interesting thing.

  2. “Some players also feel strong ties to their realm’s name or history, and we don’t want to erase that.”

    This is a nice thought, but that is exactly what they’re doing; erasing that. Imagine a server that has a population of 1000 suddenly receiving transfers of 10,000. The newcomers would completely overwhelm the native population, and that server just wouldn’t be the same.

    I mean, in their defense, there’s no way around it, but there it is.

  3. Well, let me be a beacon of optimism and thnk that WoW is finally going the way all MMO should be, i.e. no servers / transparent servers (= single world / EvE -like).
    Overpopulation can be handled by layers(LotRO)/instances(STO), but this way anyone can play with anyone. No more “we play the same game, but we can’t play together”.

    • Your problem can easily be addressed with free server transfers. Most companies are just greedy. Though, they should limit the frequency of it to once a year or something, so they do not get bogged down with requests all the time.

      I’d rather have a community to get to know. Imagine if every single person on the planet lived in New York City, and it was just an enormous cluster fuck of nonsense, and every face meant nothing to you because they would be replaced by another a millisecond later.

      Communities should mean something in games.

  4. Yeah, i have to agree. Once they started merging battlegrounds into battlegroups i started losing interest in the game. Now, i played the game for years, but up until that point there was a lot of familiarity in the PvP system that made every match sort of “personal”, and once the game went to a battlegroup, where you were lucky to see any of your familiar pvp nemesis’ in the game, it just plain sucked. Suddenly i was no longer playing with friends i had played with (even though i was generally hated cuz i am super competitive) and enemies (who also hated me–you must wonder why i cared about the battlegroup thing).

    Familiarity is fun on a battlefield, and within these games themselves. If i can predict how an opponent is going to play based on having played them a number of times before, that is awesome. If you can’t, you might as well just be guessing about everything.

    This is where you lose that social community feeling. I think they would have better luck just offering server transfers and shutting down realms at that point.

    That’s just me.