I was reading Tobold, who finally acknowledge how Warhammer strengths are also its weaknesses.
Nothing new, but it kinda fueled some fancy thoughts:
I suspect that one part of the solution is technical: More players per server. The current numbers worked great when all of us were in tier 1. But now half of the players are in tier 3, and the other half distributed over tiers 1, 2, and 4. With 6 races, 20 chapters per race, and several PQs per chapter, there simply aren’t enough players around to man the PQs. It is really crazy to first have to queue, and then have an underpopulation problem. I can only assume the limit is hardware related, not game design related.
Yes, the limit is technical because, as in DAoC, if you go above the 3000 cap the server will crash.
But I was thinking that, abstractly, Warhammer doesn’t behave the same way of DAoC, and the solution to all this may be technically plausible. If all the players are in scenarios, why you can’t rise the population cap on the world zones?
IF the great majority of players, like everyone is repeating, is just playing into instances, then you can “virtualize” the server structure. They aren’t crowding the same game area, they are instead just playing inside private rooms. So, abstractly, you can separate these private rooms from the rest of the game world. This would allow to increase the population cap per server, since very few players actually play “together”.
The fancy idea would be “clustering” the scenarios between servers the same way Blizzard did with Battlegroups, so that you make sure you never run out of players and that the faction balance is more even. While also increasing the population caps on the world server, since most of players run scenarios anyway and so do not keep it busy.
Split the scenarios servers from world servers so that you can then increase the cap significantly on the world servers. It is plausible, but then it depends on how Mythic is organized and how long it would take to rework things this way.
Then, if you’re willingly to go through this significant change, you may as well take the ball and run with it. Because you can surely increase the cap per server and make tiers 1, 2 and 3 more alive, but you also continue to risk to blow everything up when all those more players crowd the endgame, it’s just a bigger and less predictable unbalance, like a time bomb. The risks increase since you cannot regulate the way the players behave. It may well work 99% of the times when all of them sit in the scenarios, and then blow up the day they all decide to join a big siege.
The other idea is: Virtualize all the server structure like I’ve been suggesting for a long time. Make the population caps zone-specific, like Guild Wars, so that a new instance of the zone only opens up when the previous is full.
Sure, both for clustering and this other, more radical, idea you would also need to rework a lot of things on the design side since the “campaign” needs a degree of persistence. I’m not forgetting this aspect, but I think it can be all worked out.
The drawback is how you bring a revolution to the server structure without fucking everything up. This kind of migration wouldn’t be easy. You can’t bring the servers down and then, a few hours later, everything is different. Or maybe you can.
What if instead of recoding the current servers, you develop the new server structure as an independent cluster. Like a wholly different game. When the work is done, you start migrating some characters accounts on the new cluster, same way they did with the “cloning”. Basically you develop the new cluster, then only copy over, progressively, the accounts. This means that the “old” server structure is unaffected and may as well continue to run, while you can start testing the new game, and progressively migrate to it without the risk of disrupting the players experience.
Fancy, but plausible.
And worth the big programmers’ headache.