Server Merges & Society
It has come to my attention over the weekend, that Everquest will be merging some of the lesser populated servers. This merge has peeked my interest because it raises a few questions about the non-design elements of the game – community. Although the game is designed with the idea of community and society, people can still play the game without actually forming cohesive groups of friends and foes.
Within each server, there is a social hiearchy containing your one or two “uber guilds”, a few top tier guilds and so on, down to the casual gamer guilds. The top tier and “uber” guilds usually work out a system that allows them to compete for the same end-game resources. In the case of a merger, essentially, you are doubling the social structure – I wonder how that affects the competition and ego levels of the top guilds.
When we played Horizons, they also merged their servers, and there was alot of complaints within the game about property allocation and community balance. Essentially, the height of the game was to buy hot property and build on it using the resources and skills of players. Each server, being a carbon copy of each other, each had the same scale of best lots down to the commonly empty lots way out in the middle of nowhere. When the merge happened, there had to be a compromise between lot owners, since they went from two worlds to one, someone inevitably lost out.
So in the case of the Everquest merge, they state that earlier mergers were more successful then they had hoped but besides server population, how is that success measured.
Although, it does allow for a ‘shake up’ of a potentially stale server. There was a conversation over at Terra Nova that talked about how to keep a game fresh over long periods of time. From character wipes to server wipes, perhaps this is a decent solution.