Maybe not the best post title, but I figured I already had two literary allusions for titles so far this week, so why not run with the trend.
The Ragefire Voting Time Locked Progression Server, or whatever its full title is, carries on and remains more popular than expected. There were problems from launch, but Daybreak has been working hard to accommodate all of those who want to play. They have tweaked the zone instancing, they have put in code to log off players who go AFK for extended periods (the big problem last week), they have upped the capacity of the server so that Ragefire can now handle more players at once than the old progression servers, Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak, combined. They even added a queue to the login page.
And still I couldn’t get on last weekend.
Okay, I admit, I did not try that much. My daughter wanted to go to FanimeCon, which is just over in San Jose, so we spent most of our waking hours down at the convention center. (80+ street passes on my 3DS XL!) But during those times when I was home and had some time to log on, I was left looking at the login page and wondering where I was in the queue.
It is great that they put in a login queue, but it is primitive enough that I immediately longer for something better… like a queue that told me how big the queue might actually be. I will sit patiently if there are only a dozen people ahead of me, but if there are 900 I might just choose to go and do something else. Even the ArcheAge queue, which would just say “more than an hour” beyond a certain point would at least tell you how many people were ahead of you. (Which led to at least one person telling me that the ArcheAge queues were not so bad because they never said anything beyond one hour, so the trick worked.)
Anyway, for all of the work Daybreak has done, the problem remains; the draw of nostalgia has gone far beyond what they expected. The time has come for them to roll up a second server.
And so at some point soon we will get the Lockjaw server, that being the second place name from the poll. It will be otherwise the same as the Ragefire server. If you want to play on Lockjaw you will have to start fresh. There will be no transfers from Ragefire.
That works for me but, as noted, I haven’t been able to get on much, so I don’t have a lot invested in Ragefire yet. Others who have more invested may be reluctant to swap.
And this will likely lead to another issue in the longer term. Daybreak has been very reluctant to simply roll up another server to deal with the load. That is because the history of EverQuest progression servers shows that the enthusiasm won’t last.
Some people will get their fill of nostalgia quickly enough. A few days or a week or a month or two of playing in the original content will sate them and they will leave. Others will hit the wall somewhere in the 30s when areas for exp groups start to thin out and finding a free camp or a group that will take you starts to become a chore. That will change when Ruins of Kunark goes live and opens up the world considerably, but that is six months and a successful vote down the road.
Eventually things will die down and we may end up with two sparsely populated progression servers, with one the poor relation in that regard, and there will be calls for a server merge that will never come. (Although there will inevitably be the person declaring that they like an empty server, because you can find support for any point of view if you look hard enough.)
Of course, Daybreak could help keep this from happening, or happening sooner than it should. The starting point would be to not forget that they have these servers. The last time around, with Fippy Darkpaw, SOE was great guns about the whole progression server idea until about two weeks after it launched… and then it never mentioned the whole thing publicly again.
Seriously, Daybreak should make a big deal out of the servers beyond launch. If nothing else, the opening of expansions should be noteworthy, especially Ruins of Kunark with its new starter zones, new race, and all that. Played right, each expansion could be a rallying point to get people to come to these servers, or return to them, as they progress.
But that is another one of those corporate culture things I bring up now and again. An ingrained corporate culture can keep a company from doing what seems easy and obvious from the outside. Blizzard will never roll up a WoW nostalgia server because their culture cannot fathom why people would want such a thing. SOE’s corporate culture included a recurring habit of hyping something up, then totally failing to follow up and letting things go silent for ages. Progression servers, The Agency, EverQuest Next, whatever, they make a big splash, then let things sit until the last ripple has faded.
So I suppose we will see if Daybreak is really a new company or just the old same old SOE with the same old habits we’ve come to know so well.
Daybreak has announced that they will be instancing some additional zones to accommodate the blob of players moving through the leveling curve. The list right now is:
- High Keep
- The Liberated Citadel of Runnyeye
- The Western Plains of Karana
- The Northern Plains of Karana
- The Southern Plains of Karana
- Eastern Plains of Karana
- The Gorge of King Xorbb
- The Lair of the Splitpaw
- Kithicor Forest
- The Lavastorm Mountains
- Solusek’s Eye
- The Qeynos Aqueduct System
- The Feerrott
- Temple of Cazic-Thule
- The Rathe Mountains
- Lake Rathetear
- The Lesser Faydark
- The Castle of Mistmoore
- The Estate of Unrest
- The City of Guk
- The Ruins of Old Guk
- Dagnor’s Cauldron
- Erud’s Crossing
- Freeport Sewers
- North Desert of Ro
- South Desert of Ro
- Highpass Hold
- The Ocean of Tears
That is quite a list. You can get pretty far into the original content on that list. We’ll see how it plays out.