The Daily Grind: What MMORPG needs megaserver tech the most?

During his interview with Gamasutra last week, Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor told the publication, “I really think MMO is a technology. It’s not a game type anymore.”

Specifically, he means the megaserver structure of MMORPGs that allow thousands of players to more or less game together. “We have an interesting server structure in ESO that is unique in this generation of online game. What we do is we have what we call megaservers, where we instance all of our zones,” he explains. “Once you’re on the North American server, you never pick another server. The game kinda figures out how many instances of each zone to spin up, and which one to put you in….those are the kind of cool things that are happening behind the scenes, in game development, where it takes all of the decision-making out of the player’s hands.”

Someone could probably contest the “unique” part, given how many MMORPGs have employed versions of layered instancing and megaservers over the years, including modern ones, but I wouldn’t argue at all with “cool” — it still seems bizarre to me that any MMORPGs in 2017 are still stranding gamers on smaller servers, to the detriment of the game itself. So: What MMORPG needs megaserver tech the most but still doesn’t have it?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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106 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What MMORPG needs megaserver tech the most?"

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Rolan Storm

SWTOR and SWL.

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MassivelyMacD

Ah, Megaservers… when you want to fight the game itself before you can fight the monsters.

In GW2, the introduction of Megaservers was the first dent in a shiny surface. Before, some bosses were tough for my server, but with effort and coordination we could just do it. After, it was just a matter of winning the fight to join a promising instance.

Look a Dragons Stand these days. Is this the way a game should be?

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Jack Pipsam

I suppose the Rift’s of the world it might help.

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thirtymil

Life needs megaserver tech. Particularly of the EVE style, where everything slows down when things get too busy.

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Sally Bowls

There might be the odd snowflake, but I just assume all of them. A point not mentioned is the evolving nature of MMOs. The boom and bust cycle of MMOs is even more pronounced. Fixed realms just mean long login queues at launch and unviablely empty at the nadir.

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Koshelkin

MMO, well in a sense yes. MMORPG? Not so much.

miol
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miol

From my personal experience in GW2, megaservers actually killed a certain type of lose community, that I think is a very important one!

Before, I saw GW2 having a very good idea to cater PvE communities, building up with every step of the way on each other:

-Non-forced grouped, non-instanced open world dynamic events: These give the potential of socializing with the lowest hurdles possible, as you can step-in or -out at any given time!

-Guilds: you can join up to 5 guilds, making it less of a “big deal” to be commited to only one, encouraging you to join way faster. (Sure, it has the tedency for less commitment, but the most difficult thing: the recruitment, is way easier, which gives guild leaders way more opportunities with new members to bond!)

-Servers: For a majority, who never ever want to commit to guilds, servers were the perfect thing inbetween! You would meet the same people and guilds frequently, be it on hubs, world boss encounters,.. And even a way higher chance on the open world!

When there was a new world boss you got the feeling of accomplishment as a server community, without dealing with any possible guild drama, but still knowing each other! I was lucky enough to have been on a server with the right amount of active players, and the Marionette encounter was certainly the peak experience of relating to my server community!

There was certainly the problem with guesting! Some fuller or renown servers were almost harassed by “guests”! You can think it like how mass-tourism ruins the original experience for everyone, especially for the current residents. (e.g.: Venice) It was really difficult for bigger groups/guilds to stay together, when they changed maps!

Using megaservers, certainly was a big relief for those servers and local guilds, and Anet had promised many many times to improve their algorithm, so players of the initially same servers (which are still relevant to WvW) would meet more often in PvE. But that remained a theory, because the high fluctuations of players (thanks to cheap and instant mass-teleportations, a.k.a Waypoints) on every map, makes it a way higher priority to keep maps filled! If you don’t add someone you’ve recently encountered into your friendslist right away, you forget you have ever met them, as it takes like a month to see someone a second time, even in the main hubs, as there are so many instances of the samehub on each continent!

I rather had wished, they had used the megaserver-tech only for the guesting function, to regulate and deflect “mass-tourism”, but I get it, that with megaservers, you have never ever bad press about server mergers!

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Lethality

Megaservers aren’t always the right answer. Actually, most of the time they’re the wrong answer. If the design calls for a scale of the world an economic structure (i.e. something truly dynamic and not a glorified vendor) then it doesn’t make sense to have unlimited headcount in the same systems.

Not to mention the trainwreck for community it means. Never seeing the same players twice? Not a good look for an MMO!

Bobuliss
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Bobuliss

I was on board until he said instancing. Instanced zones remove the MM from MMORPG. One server, no instancing is what truly sets EVE apart from every other game I’ve ever heard of, and what makes it the best game I’ve played.

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Greaterdivinity

SWTOR, like whoa. The fact that they haven’t even merged their existing servers either virtually or physically still blows my mind.

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Melissa McDonald

well, they DID already have one big server consolidation. I got moved to Ebon Hawk.

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Jack Pipsam

Yeah and closed down the Australian servers with it *grumble*

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Greaterdivinity

You mean the server merges like 3 years ago? Because since then they’ve done nothing to address server population issues beyond selling cheap server transfers from time to time : /

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Sally Bowls

But everyone rolling new toons or transfering to harbinger or a couple of others isn’t as good as a full megaserver but it is close. Want a quiet backwater, there are a few; Want a megaserver, roll on harbinger.

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starbuck1771

Not to mention if the player has already hit the cap on the server they are transferring to. My global cap for characters is 371 in SWTOR and it is growing and that is just on one of my multiple accounts.. :P

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thirtymil

The fact that fleet instances capped out at a mere 250 people is what blew my mind.