A mmorpg unborn

Here’s how you manage the situation when you know what a mmorpg is:

Final Fantasy XI may have a retarded billing system, an horrid interface and a crappy Windows client but the game is rock solid, deep and interesting. Despite the dubious choice of requiring “world pass” to join a specific server they have done a wonderful work to build a strong and vibrant community with no boundaries between the players of different origin and language. It’s a mmorpg near to its ideal concept: a community trascending the limits.

Right now the game is being launched in Europe and the success is affecting the servers since the population for each “world” was already beyond 4000 players during peak times. But the European release isn’t hindering or messing the plan. Instead it’s helping the game to improve on its success:

The commencement of European FINAL FANTASY XI service has increased the overall population during peak times. Though the servers are able to cope with the added load, we have noticed that the peak population at 7:00 (PDT) has increased drastically, with more Japanese and North American players joining the game.

This is why Squaresoft is launching three new worlds, allowing characters to migrate without paying a fee.

The fact of having players, in the same server, from all over the world helped a lot to mantain the community vibrant. As you can read directly from Squaresoft:

FINAL FANTASY XI provides players with a rousing, non-stop 24-hour gameplay environment. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, you are apt to find the Worlds of FINAL FANTASY XI bustling and active with players, no matter what time you enter the game. This is the result of the FINAL FANTASY XI Global World concept, which has not only melded the PlayStation 2 and Windows PC into a multi-platform environment, but has also successfully bridged continents together while breaking down language barriers between players. Previously, MMORPGs have always had “on” and “off” peak times, which could make finding a fellow adventurer to party or trade with quite difficult. The Global World concept has provided a solution to this issue, and was devised as a means to avoid the depopulation of minor Worlds (servers), which can occur when smaller Worlds are created in different regions around the world.

Taking in the total number of logins from a broad perspective, it is easy to see how this balance is achieved. The workload on the servers generally undergoes a significant increase the longer a peak time lasts (and the shorter the off-peak times are), with the number of simultaneous logins at more than 4000 users during peak time. However, even with the addition of the North American peak times, this does not represent an increase in the maximum number of logins, since the North American and Japanese peak times do not overlap. As a result, the overall operation of the servers is maintained at a consistent high, with the logins spread out evenly over a long period of time. As an additional note not displayed in the chart, the total number of logins across all Worlds is more than 140,000 people during peak times.

You see? This is a major point that for Squaresoft is the heart of their game. The increasing success of the game, despite its flaws on other aspects, is the concrete demonstration of how powerful is this concept.

I’m sorry but WoW performs awfully on these aspects. The game is already quite barren during peak times aside bottlenecks that are created by broken game mechanics that devs are ignoring (like the collect quests). The choice of local servers, the small capacity of each world and the policy of keeping foreign players away will make this issue unacceptable for the normal servers and critical for PvP servers where the sense is to fight opponents.

The perspective is not about a game I’d like to play. Blizzard is doing too many mistakes on the basis of the game. They may realize this or not but it won’t change the result. After a few months everyone will be capped and raiding the high level content.

The new players will find an empty world and an hostile community. The old players will discover how pointless is to play in a mmorpg where the community has no relevance. After a few months the boredom will be the most diffuse feeling.

For a game that didn’t understand how to become a mmorpg.

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