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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 9:53AM (Unverified) said

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The EVE community is amazing because of the single unified world. No other game has famous people like Mynxee the pirate Queen, Spymaster Mittani or Chribba the honest entepreneur. The level of emergent behavior from 300000 players competing and cooperating keeps me constantly intrigued.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 9:55AM Cendres said

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I like multiple servers that are international with a low transfer fee. To me right now that is ideal. If someone could somehow have one server without too much instancing all over the place I'd be for that too. Or you could like Free Realms and have multiple servers but let players choose where to go for each session, so your character can exists in any of the 'worlds'.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 9:57AM blackcat7k said

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One server models seem to make more sense to me. It's a multiplayer game. It seems like step backward for an MMO if I'm missing potential players that share my goals because of separate servers.

Instances may be less personalized, but developers should do everything possible to get people easily connected in the game and playing together. If the players spend a large amount of their time traveling to enjoy the fun of grouping or just totally missing potential players then it would ultimately affect the enjoyment of the game.

Grouping is fun, but it can also be stressful and when its compounded by the fact that the group your in is most likely the only group you'll get because of traveling time or server player limits it leads to an ever increasing annoyance that may lead to cancellation.

Staying in a group that you hate because of lack of players is not something players should put up with if there a way to get more players into a grouping pool.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 10:07AM (Unverified) said

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WoW and Eve combined would be a potent mix for the space genre. This is what companies should strive for. STO would have been unstoppable if they had took notes on what worked for both and incorporated it.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 10:15AM Stormwaltz said

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While I admire single-shard servers, as a developer I don't currently endorse them - and the reason is biological.

There's a hardcoded cognitive limit in the human brain called Dunbar's Number (popularized as the Monkeysphere). Humans can maintain relationships with a maximum of about 150 people. Everyone you encounter beyond 150 is not a real person to you. In MMORPG terms, they're people you won't care about griefing.

The larger the server, the more prevalent grief. I think that APB, with its very small server populations, is going to be an instructive experiment.

In my opinion, what you need isn't a single server, but sufficiently dense and interwoven content that you always have the constant "background noise" of other people around you.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 10:37AM Stormwaltz said

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Addendum:

By sheer coincidence, veteran MMG develop Erik Heimberg says something similar in the latest post on his blog.

"The smaller your community is, the less anonymous you are. When I was playing EQ2, I would see the same dozen people every day when I played. If one of those people was a d**k to me, you better believe I would remember it. They wouldn’t be invited to my group. Their behavior mattered! Of course, that’s only because EQ2 has a tiny population remaining. If it was WoW where there are literally hundreds of people I can group with at any given level, I couldn’t possibly keep track of all the a******s."

http://www.eldergame.com/2010/01/community-friendliness-size-matters/
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 11:55AM ChromeBallz said

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I think that's one of the reasons people play EVE in the first place. The background noise is more prevalent, even more so when you achieve something that increases the noise. There is a certain sense of satisfaction in working together or against thousands of people rather than just kill a boss with 25 or do alterac valley with 40. The vast scale and 'epicness' is something i personally love to be a part of.

Dunbar's number is more about a person and not a community. The person doesn't need to "know" everyone, only those around him. In EVE, what you hear about other players are doing is just like the news. It makes the world all the more immersive knowing that those humongous wars are happening right on your doorstep rather than in a completely different universe which can never ever affect you in any way. Everyone knows a lot of celebrities, just like everyone in EVE knows a lot of celebrities from the game.

And as corny as it may sound, having a single game world to play in also means that you bring your entire population together rather than artificially trying to keep them apart. It makes the emergent gameplay possible given the vast amount of interactions that happen, and allows for new ideas and theories to be tried and tested which would not be possible on a limited population of say, 5000 since the sample number would be far too small.
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 10:38AM Valdamar said

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My main experiences of single server MMORPGs were: a) Champions Online - which had no sense of community (even with a low population), no sense of a continuous world (a fault of the game/zone design) and selecting which instanced version of a zone to go to EVERY single time I changed zones was really tedious (plus I disliked the gameplay); and b) Guild Wars, which was basically a lobby game with instances attached and felt more like an RPG with multi-player elements than an MMORPG. Admittedly I haven't played EVE.

Most of my MMOs have been sharded and have had really strong communities in immersive/atmospheric worlds - especially in EverQuests 1 & 2, Planetside and City of Heroes/Villains (which I still play), but also in Dark Age of Camelot, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Vanguard, etc. with the only exceptions being World of Warcraft (great gameworld, awful community) and Dungeons & Dragons Online at launch (great community, awful gameworld - the lobby + instancing design made it feel about as much like an MMORPG as playing Diablo 2 on Battlenet).

As long as the game design includes a seamless world (no zoning/instancing), single servers only have 2 problems - lack of a close community feel and risk of overcrowding - and sharded servers only have 1 problem - lack of other people to do group/raid content with when the game population drops low (either due to off-peak hours or lack of subscribers as a game naturally declines), which can then cause the perception that a game is in rapid decline, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that exacerbates the problem. Though if a seamless world was big enough, with no means of fast travel between areas, then I guess communities could form in areas like they do in real life, though the game design would also have to support not forcing players to move to new areas (i.e. not level-based).

I think WoW's newly implemented cross-server LFG system for instanced dungeons (and cross-server PvP battlegrounds/arenas) is a fairly decent solution, until something better comes along - you have all the community benefits of separate sharded servers (seeing the same players in cities and when moving around the world), but few of the drawbacks (not being able to do dungeons/battlegrounds due to low server pop) - it would almost be perfect if WoW had a friendly/helpful community to begin with and combat/gameplay/progression wasn't so dull :p

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 5:54PM Lionhearted said

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I think the problem of really large worlds is a legitimate one, though I don't think people would necessarily have to pick their own corner (though, that certainly *could* be a solution... and a very good one... if the concept was designed well). I think player classes with ports, as well as gate areas and zones, etc. could fill the gap. Norrath is, as you're probably aware, a pretty large world... but players can get around fast because of all the gates and ports. I think you could do that on a one-shard world, even at a much more massive level.

My bigger worry with a gigantically massive, one-shard world is that it would seem very, very generic -- because it would seem inevitable that a great deal of the content would be procedurally generated as you stumble upon it. Now, that may work in a game like STO, where it's in space, but would it work on the ground? It seems, to me, that if there's one world, people who are living/playing in it are going to care a great deal more that the world is unique and has lots of specific character. Can that happen with procedurally-driven content? I really, really don't think so.

That said, some talented developers, with fresh ideas, could probably come up with some solutions to this problem and deliver a genuinely unique entry into the fantasy MMORPG genre, something the genre probably needs more of, nowadays.
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 12:49PM CCon99 said

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So far I haven't been a fan of the single server setup, or at least the way it's been implemented. Shard/over instancing defeats the whole purpose of going with a single server, especially when it's done like CO/STO where they only allow a handful of players per instance. I remember how annoying it was trying to have guild run events in Champions Online because our guild couldn't have all our guild members attend the events because we had more members then a zone allowed. As we're seeing in STO right now, when a sharded game has lots of players on at once, it becomes a mess with hundreds of instances to scroll through if you need to find a specific number.

I still prefer the multiserver setup just because they still make for tighter communities, especially when given the option of having RP or PvP servers as options so it makes finding the type of player you would rather play with.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 1:13PM Duffy said

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With current tech most traditional MMOs should, and I prefer the experience in most cases, use separate servers.

Is EVE's setup awesome? Yes. Is it impractical for something in the style of and on the scale of WoW? Yes. Ideally one world rules, but unfortunately we tend to need to bow to practical application. When your option is heavy parallel instancing or separate servers, I think the latter wins.

And even acknowledging EVE's awesome scope, don't forget that EVE is heavily instanced and filled with loading screens, it's just well disguised. The only unifying point is the chat client and game database.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 6:25PM (Unverified) said

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I think it comes down to your player base. If you have a player base like EvE or FE then one sever will work fine, But if you have a player base like WOW (I am not bashing here) Then many servers work better.

WOW has a lot of people playing it, and even if only 0.001% of the player base is bad, Then you still have a lot of bad people in that game. At lest with many servers you cut that down even more. Also that as many people that play something like WOW or ROM that has so many people in it, The camping for quest would be killer on just one server. It would takes day's to do something that only takes minutes now.
But if you have a smaller player base like EvE and FE then one server works really well and every one get's to play nice with each other as we go about killing

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 5:41PM Lionhearted said

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I think having one, huge server works in games like STO and EVE -- taking place in space -- because space is vast. However, in games like WoW, Aion or the EQ franchise, I don't think it would work... since the games are supposed to be taking place in an interactive, immersive world. I want to be able to go to all the same cities, forests, oceans, and other locations of interest and have all of them be unique and well thought out.

I suppose a gaming company could create a similar kind of engine that's in STO to develop procedural space, so one world would be big enough to service a giant, one-server population, but would that one world feel like a real world? Would it feel like Norrath or Azeroth? Maybe it could, but I'd be very skeptical. Furthermore, such a game would have to ensure great travel abilities -- not just available run speed increases, but a fairly vast player port system. Otherwise, they could be lost in the procedurally-created vast deserts, having to run hours just to get out.

Posted: Jan 17th 2010 3:16PM ChromeBallz said

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Actually, it's been tried in a fantasy game before. Dark and Light may have been a gigantic flop, but it's premise was quite interesting. The world could easily hold about 50k-100k people at the same time and even then it probably wouldn't have felt crowded. The game was designed to be a single-shard sandbox MMO.

The client of the game is still floating around somewhere and it has an offline mode to tour the game. Especially if you have an ATI card (long story) it's worth checking out, while the graphics may not have been very impressive the size of the game world was immense ( easily 100 times the surface of all areas in WoW combined).
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 5:38PM Graill440 said

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Hard to believe these companies are still using these type of configs and what they call up to date equip.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 8:41PM spamero said

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When I was EvE noob, I watched some pirate movie - liked it very much and learnt a lot by watching. I admired the guy who did it.

Next day I am ratting in some system and suddenly I am jumped by some pirate and who do I see? The guy - my hero - who made the movie. I say: "Hey, don't shoot your fans ^^" And he lets me go for mere 3 mil ransom. After that we chat for a while and he gives me some tips.

That was the best game experience I've had in a game. Until then I hardly grasped the concept of one shard or one universe.

It's hard to imagine until you experience it yourself.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 11:16PM Dread said

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One world by far craps all over shards/excessive instancing. I don't think you'll find many who disagree.

Posted: Jan 16th 2010 3:11AM cray said

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I think EVE's one server system works because it's not demanding like other MMOs are. It might seem like massive game but the ships and artifacts are probably 1/24 scale compared to traditionally 3D designed games. The view is made to look as if the ships and docks are huge, when really they are the size of a insect. This allows one server to run smoothly because there's less on screen graphics. I like to think of it as a compressed server MMO.

Posted: Jan 17th 2010 5:57PM spamero said

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"I think EVE's one server system works because it's not demanding like other MMOs are. It might seem like massive game but the ships and artifacts are probably 1/24 scale compared to traditionally 3D designed games. The view is made to look as if the ships and docks are huge, when really they are the size of a insect. This allows one server to run smoothly because there's less on screen graphics. I like to think of it as a compressed server MMO."

Stop thinking plz
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Posted: Jan 16th 2010 6:07AM (Unverified) said

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"less on screen graphics"
Do you actually know the number of triangles an EVE ship consist of?
It is between 2-5 million. I'd like to see a WoW avatar so detailed.

"size of a insect"
Eject from a ship, and maneuver your pod to a capital ship. Then you will see and feel the real massive size of ships. It takes you minutes to fly by a titan class ship in a pod.

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