One of the things I wanted to bring up in the last post, but then completely forgot when it came time to write, was the mechanic in EverQuest II that allows the game to spawn additional versions of a given zone if the population of that zone gets to a pre-defined threshold.
I would link to one of my character histories on EQ2 Players to show that I leveled up in zones with names like “Antonica 3,” but you have to pay for access to that sort of data on EQ2 Players, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Anyway, given that multiple versions of a zone mechanic, theoretically you should be able to run all of the EQ2 servers as one consolidated server. Theoretically.
Of course, I know nothing of the actual mechanics and limitations of server usage, database operations, network traffic, and all the other fine details that generally gang up on theory and bring it back down to reality.
But let’s just sweep that aside for now. Let’s assume that SOE could and would consolidate all of its servers down to four. One standard PvE, one PvP, one Role Play PvE, and one for those Station Exchange people, call it the RMT server.
So now if you roll up a character on a standard PvE server, like most people do, you know that any of your friends who join the game or are already playing the game will be on the same server as you. If you meet fellow PvE players at, say, fan faire, you will know they are on your server almost immediately and you can find them later in game. And if you are a real jerk to people, your reputation will span the whole game, as it is played on your server.
Would all of that balance the zone based world of EQ2? Would having six, or eight, or a dozen versions of a popular zone running make knowing that, with a little work, you and your friends could always link up because you are all on the same server?
Is this preferable to the sharded existence? Would you give up a “seamless” world for that?
If your answer is “no” or “maybe” what issue or issues stand in the way?