SWTOR Server Plans Discussion

Keith Kanneg posted quite a lucrative post recently about Star Wars The Old Republic’s Server Plans. While he has hinted in the past (the Bad Feeling Podcast Interview in particular) that they have been actively considering their options in regards to Server populations, this post implies that they may actually be doing some kind of server consolidation. But, they still have a few issues they need to resolve.

So let’s break down Keith’s post and discuss various considerations in regards to Server Merges and then I’ll give my verdict on what the Developers should do about the Servers.

Here is the post I am referencing below (click on the image to enlarge).

Keith also made a second post a couple of days later which addressed Guild specifics and Character Names which I’ll also discuss.

Understanding the reason players don’t want to move

Well, it seems there are a few reasons that some players do not wish to move servers.

  • They don’t want to lose their Character names.
  • Various in-game ‘things’ (as Keith listed, I talk more about these below).
  • Distrust of the Developers ability to implement a server merge (even if they fix all the issues).
  • Not wanting to leave their server communities.
  • They like playing by themselves on a low population server.

These are some of the more common reasons, from what I’ve seen. But in my view, there are solutions to a lot of these complaints (I discuss some of them below).

Hardware, Software and Database considerations

Well, I’m no expert in any of these fields. But Keith did talk about a couple of these things in his interview with Bad Feeling Podcast (Server Merge Discussion starts at ~25 mins).

He implied that they certainly have the hardware capability, given all the hardware upgrades they’ve done to one of their data centres, to be able to implement server merges (should they choose to do so). They just need to implement more upgrades to their other data centres.

He also stated that it is impossible for them to implement cross-server due to database limitations. So Cross-server is completely out of the question.

So it seems that in terms of hardware, they have the capability to merge servers together. There are just some database issues they’ll need to overcome in regards to in-game things which I’ll discuss next.

In-game ‘things’

Keith listed a lot of the in-game’ things that they and the players have concerns about.

  • Legacy Cargo Holds slots across multiple servers.
  • Decorations and Strongholds.
  • Currency Caps.
  • Merging of Legacies.
  • The number of characters on a server.
  • Keeping Guilds and Guild assets intact.
  • Area Respawn Rates.

There are quite a few hurdles to overcome in regards to the various in-game things. I can fully understand why they wouldn’t want to implement a server merge until they had fixes/solutions for these issues. Some of these are particularly tricky especially the merging of Legacies, Character limits, Legacy Cargo Hold slots on multiple servers and Currency caps. For most of these, they’d have to increase the limits and caps, to accommodate for server merges which would then put pressure on their database.

Perhaps for currency. If you’re over a currency cap, it could go into escrow or something similar? Like it’ll still be there but not accessible until you go below the cap again?

The simple solution to Area Respawn rates (I’m assuming he’s referring to open world missions) would be to add instancing to some of the more frequented ones. Especially Heroics! There are certainly quite a few notable heroics that could use instancing or more frequent spawn rates. [Heroic 2+] Possessed Hunter on Dromund Kaas comes to mind.

Conquest and domination of large Guilds

Honestly, the only way to fix this would be to rework the Conquest system. Conquest could certainly use an update to freshen it up. Obviously, the main aim would be to prevent large guilds from constantly winning Conquest. Maybe something they could do is have separate leaderboards for conquest depending on the size of the Guild? But base the size of the Guild on the number of active accounts. This would give smaller Guilds the chance to compete in Conquest.

Having separate Leaderboards, however, won’t resolve the mega-Guild problem the Harbinger has though. That I’m not sure how to fix. Either way, having separate leaderboards would be a good starting point (especially given the number of Guilds there would be in the event of server consolidation).

Keeping Guilds Intact

I can certainly understand the developer’s desire to help keep Guilds intact (even though it has never been a consideration with previous Server Merges). But to be fair, a lot more assets have come under the tenure of Guilds since the last lot of server merges (Guild Flagships, Strongholds and their Decorations). Assuming the developers can overcome this hurdle, it will probably make server transfers more agreeable for more players.

Character Names

This is a topic that is particularly near and dear to everyone’s heart. No one wants to lose their character names! But I think I have a couple of solutions which could work well.

One solution is to allow us to have more spaces in our character names ideally up to three (like in ESO). That way, people would easily be able to keep their character name but they’d have to make up a couple of middle names. Additionally, they could make it so we can hide the extra names if we wish. That way, you can only show the names that you want to show! If that would prove technically challenging (to be able to hide part of a character name) than just allowing for extra spaces alone would be okay.

Alternatively, add an extra ‘Legacy name’ but call it a middle name that is unique to each character that you can then choose to not display. But, it would still be visible when you click on a character (or some other way) for Mailing and Whispering purposes. This would probably be the most agreeable option. You could keep your character name even if someone else has it as the middle name would act as the unique identifier.

So yes, there are solutions that ensure everyone gets to keep their character names! Whether they can be implemented, however, is another matter entirely.

How I would do a Server Merge

Assuming all the technical and in-game stuff could be resolved, how should they go about merging the servers? This is what I think they should do.

First step: Offer Free Server Transfers

Have the server designations already announced and easily visible so that players can plan where they want to go if they wish to move.

Merge PvE and PvP Servers together

Since the introduction of PvP and PvE instancing, there are no longer any PvP designated servers. Therefore it makes sense to merge these two server types together.

Merge all the EU Servers together

Merge all the French, German and English Servers together. All of the non-English speaking servers have low populations and the vast majority of those players have moved characters to The Red Eclipse (English-PvE). All that would need to be done is to make official French and German channels then everything should be golden.

Leave the Roleplay Servers (Ebon Hawk and Progenitor) Alone

Roleplayers and solo players are among those who are the most opposed to server merges. Therefore I think they should be left alone. Roleplay servers should also become the recommended servers for solo players as RP servers typically have lower populations than PvE Servers. For the US region, it would make sense to merge Begeren Colony and Ebon Hawk together that way there is only one US Roleplay Server and one EU Roleplay server. Obviously, the French and German Roleplay servers would get merged into the Progenitor.

One East Coast and One West Coast Server PvE/PvP Server?

This is the one thing I’m not 100% sure about. I’m don’t know the exact player population numbers on the East Coast and across the US overall. So it’s hard to say whether there should be one server on each coast or just one server for the whole region. If they did go with one central PvE/PvP Server then wouldn’t they have to move the server centre to somewhere more central? Also, if they did do just one server, if it’s not on the West Coast then APAC player latency would end up being even higher than it already is (and that wouldn’t be a good thing for the players in that region). So perhaps it is more likely that they’d have one server up on each Coast and have the Roleplay Server on the East Coast?

Concluding Thoughts

One last thing to remember is that Keith said that if they do Server Merges that everyone will be moved to new servers which will have new names. Maybe once they sort out the number of servers and their designations, maybe they can give the players the opportunity to vote on the name of their new server?! I also like this suggestion from Pallais on Twitter.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what they do (if they do anything). Hopefully, we’ll know more when Keith reveals the next Road Map (hopefully later this month?).


Do you think the Devs are actually planning Server Merges? What do you think of my ideas/solutions?

 

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  • Shaun Salisbury

    Remember there are no server titles anymore so RP servers do not exist they are all pve servers now and should only be merged based on server location.

    • Technically there are just servers. PvE is just an instance option, the same as PvP.

      Assuming Bioware was willing to enforce the rules you could have RP Instances alongside the PvE and PvP instances. The same could be done in the EU with regards to languages.

    • Indeed there aren’t any official designations anymore but Roleplayers in particular seem to be overly attached to ‘their’ server (at least the Ebon Hawk players anyway). So letting them have a roleplay designated server would make them happy as they would feel more protected from trolls and they could keep their server community intact.

      • Shaun Salisbury

        Problem is that isn’t fair to the majority of players who don’t RP as maybe 5% of the players on those servers RP.

  • MindTricked

    They should look to how LotRO handled their server consolidation a few years ago. It wasn’t perfect – a lot of people lost their names and such – but it went pretty well, overall.

  • As I mentioned on Twitter, I think one thing Swtor could do to make server mergers more palatable would be to make an event out of it. Combine bits of DvL & the old PTS titles for leveling (no character copy back then). Hand server specific titles for leveling a toon to, say, chapter 3 on a server since leveling is so easy. This would also stop people from just creating toons on every server. Have titles for doing it across multiple servers (say 5).

    Some people are going to complain no matter what, but give them a goal to achieve and they will play the game to get the reward. Instead people possibly only looking forward to disruption, have them feel like they are an active part of the process.

    If they wanted to avoid name collisions they could use our account names as the ‘base’ name in the style of [Toon name] @ {account name}. That would solve the issue. People would have to get used to seeing different folks with the same name, but we already do that in the real world. ^_^

    Also, if they added the option to ignore someone based on their account name it could reduce the amount of harassment people had to deal with. Following Blizzard’s lead you could also add a friend on the account level and be able to whisper them on any toon, even cross faction. (I’m surprised Origin doesn’t push this into each game for cross game chat…)

    Done correctly, server merges could be spun with a number of nice features.