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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

How hard is it to offer different server types?

Posted by BadSpock Friday July 10 2009 at 2:13PM
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There are lots of posts on MMO forums about a game's features. Interestingly enough, to many the inclusion or exclusion of a single feature can be what they call a "deal breaker" or reason enough for that person to not want to play the game.

In essence if the player found 9/10 features appealing but that final 10th feature was so unbearable to them as to be a deal breaker, they wouldn't play.

Does anyone else see this as alienating a vast number of potential players? 

One of the biggest deal breakers I have seen posters mention is PvP.

It's either full FFA or it's a deal breaker. It's either consensual or a deal breaker. Full loot or a deal breaker.

So I ask the very obvious question:

Why not server types?

MMOs as far back as Ultima Online have offered choices. When they added Trammel, the PvP-free mirror of the world they also created the Siege Perilous shard, which had NO Trammel facet as well as additional "hardcore" features such as restrictions on the number of skill ups per time period and even offered "Red" healers to bring PK's back to life.

Look no further then the king of modern MMOs, World of Warcraft, and you see PvP servers versus normal servers, and also the role play equivalents.

One of the biggest games coming up soon in terms of hype and peak interest and especially forum activity is Aion.

This game is sold as a "PvPvE" game with elements of PvE and PvP mixed together to form the "end-game" of raids and RvR style conquest.

To many, the forced PvP the game system allows is a deal breaker. They want to peacefully level from 1 to 50 without engaging in PvP other then when they want to, and they want to participate in the large PvE raids and dungeon content without being forced to PvP the opposing faction.

You know what? 

Offer an alternative server rule set. The PvPvE system as the "normal" or intended way to play the game, and servers where all PvP is 100% consensual through a flagging system.

Let players decide what they want to do. I garauntee you that you will see plenty of interest in both.

Again, look at World of Warcraft server selection. Fairly even split between PvP and PvE servers (at least in NA) and both kinds of realms are very popular.

Why alienate a potentially huge segment of the population that would potentially play your game with a feature considered by many to be such a deal breaker? 

This isn't just true of Aion or World of Warcraft.

I ask, is it that hard to offer different server types? 

Obviously, there are some technical or systematic considerations to make. For instance in Lord of the Rings Online you really couldn't have open PvP because the entire focus of the Lord of the Rings intellectual property is good versus evil, the fellowship versus the evil of One Ring, the free peoples of Middle Earth versus Sauron and his forces. etc.

You couldn't have FFA PvP in WoW or WAR or Aion because they are games built upon the idea of factions that are at war. But also there are systematic considerations in terms of content. You can't make Orcs and Undead at war with each other because you'd be cutting off a large portion of PvE content to either side by doing so, etc.

So what do you think? 

If you could offer multiple server types to appeal to different kinds of players, and thus greatly increase your target audience and the draw of your game to these different demographics, wouldn't you? 

Over00 writes:

In this question...

If you could offer multiple server types to appeal to different kinds of players, and thus greatly increase your target audience and the draw of your game to these different demographics, wouldn't you?

... you are assuming that doing so is an automatic win situation for the owner of the game (maybe, I don't know). It is from the player perspective but I believe that the question is not "is it that hard" but "do the benefits are worth the trouble".

Big studios are usually good at finding ways to make money so if doing so was so beneficial, I'm sure we'd see this already. For now, we can only guess that PvP / PvE / Roleplaying servers are only really worth it for them.

Why alienate a potentially huge segment of the population that would potentially play your game with a feature considered by many to be such a deal breaker?

Again you are assuming the segment is huge. Don't ask me, I don't know and that's not the point anyway. We can only take guesses at the "potentially" part.

The only thing I know is that if it was really huge, studios would jump on this to make more money and the requried changes would finance themselves. They aren't doing so, so I guess the segment isn't "huge" enough. They are the one who can define the "potentially". We'd need to ask them directly. Maybe they're just lazy but when there's money at the end, it's usually not a problem.

Fri Jul 10 2009 3:00PM Report
t0nyd writes:

 I believe that big studio's dont really give a shit about what the players want. WoW for example, I have hear a lot of asking for a pre-BC server. I guess I would call it WoW pure. I would even ponder re-subbing if such a server existed. Of course this server will never be due to Blizzard possible losing money on boxed sales of expansions.

 You can look back at games like DAoC. DAoC has offered varied server types to try and satisfy the masses. I see this as a good business practice. Everyone is looking for specific things in a game. Some PvP, some light PvP, some PvE, some hardcore PvE, and some a mix of everything. How hard can it be to try and cater to everyone simply by using server based content.

Fri Jul 10 2009 3:27PM Report
Hathi writes:

 I read Sanya's blog (RP servers are Hard) and it may provide some insight why there is not such a drive to have a variety of servers.

Implementing different server styles are hard work and may not be as rewarding.

::shrugs:

Fri Jul 10 2009 7:04PM Report
Trucidation writes:

Hathi, the only hard work I can see is having enough manpower - assuming the company can afford the servers and have enough bandwidth.it's not like offering different options will suddenly double the population - would be nice on the balance sheet though.

This is the main problem I see with most games... bear with me, I'm talking about F2P companies here, since I live in asia and don't have practical access to the popular western pay MMOs. These games largely have only ONE kind of server - multiple channels though - and they can't even police these well. That's why I say the idea of offering multiple server types, although good, is impractical now.

Companies need to get it into their heads that servers need to be run not just on the hardware side, but to have actual in-game GMs active. Of course it's easier to set the free-for-all PVP flag, sit back, and let players weed each other out. That's why you get the current crop of assholes who swarm like locusts from one game to another, grind to the level cap, get bored and start griefing everyone else, and then move on to the next game, repeat. I can't totally blame them either, since most of the time there IS nothing to do in these crap games other than grind, and the mindless no-holds-barred pathetic excuse for PvP merely encourages this. REAL PvP would have ladders and ranks and tournaments and fame and prizes, but oh noes that's impossible to code so let's let everyone gank each other kthxbai...

Something the author said is worth repeating here.

[QUOTE]Let players decide what they want to do. I garauntee you that you will see plenty of interest in both.
[/QUOTE]
 

Fri Jul 10 2009 9:39PM Report
Ephimero writes:

In Aion's case, a PvE only server wouldn't work, considering the ammount of content focused towards pvp, playing on a pve server would be like playing half of the game, which, in Aion's case, would be like wow's pve server (raids and instances for endgame), but still, it would be a waste.

Fri Jul 10 2009 11:24PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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