18/06/2012

Server Transfer Blues

I have to admit I've been feeling a bit down on the game for the past couple of days. Nothing to do with the game itself really, but this whole server merge "transfer" business has really been getting to me. I hated not knowing what was going to happen to my server. Of course I suspected that it was going to become an origin server like ninety percent of the others, but I didn't really know. It was as if a black cloud was hanging over my usual enjoyment of the game all weekend. It feels a bit silly to get this hung up on MMO business I suppose, but in game it was a really big deal for me, bigger than even the biggest guild drama I've ever had to deal with.

Then the dreaded update finally arrived on the official server transfer thread this afternoon:

Luka Sene --> The Red Eclipse

Less than two hours after the announcement went up, I had an e-mail from Bioware in my inbox with the title "Transfer your Character Now". Three minutes after I logged into the game in the evening, a giant server admin message flashed up in the middle of my screen, raid warning style, also telling me to check out more information about the free transfers on the website. Geeze, no pressure or anything! "Optional" transfers indeed.

My heart sank as I only saw ten people on the fleet at what was usually prime time. A quick /who command revealed less than a hundred people per faction on the entire server. A couple of players were levelling alts and one or two guilds were raiding but that was it. No warzones were running all evening, which didn't really come as a surprise as the well-known PvPers had all been talking about looking forward to the free transfers for weeks. From the looks of it, a third to fifty percent of our active server population left on the first day alone. It was depressing.

I've pushed for discussion of the server transfer issue on our guild forums, and as expected opinions are split. Two or three people are cautiously enthusiastic, others like me are not necessarily completely opposed to transferring but still unhappy about having to deal with this issue at all.

My guild master is adamant that he's not going, as all of his current character names are taken on The Red Eclipse, including his main's name which is also his real life nickname. Meanwhile my boyfriend has worked himself into a rage about how stupid he thinks the entire thing is, how he doesn't want to have to deal with queues and how he's thinking about cancelling his subscription now, simply out of protest at how badly he feels Bioware has been handling this entire situation.

Really? And I'm supposed to be happy about this?

As I was collecting mail on my alts (and not bothering to relist my auctions in case we do end up transferring in the next couple of days, not to mention that hardly anyone seems to be left to buy things anyway), I spotted an out of guild acquaintance near the bank. If the game allowed for more emotional expression, I probably would have run up to him, grabbed him by the lapels of his robe and yelled "Oh my god, someone is still here!" like a crazy person, but as it was I just waved at him and asked him whether he and his guild were going to transfer too.

He said that they were all planning to go, probably even today. I replied that my guild was still undecided, adding a frowny face for emphasis on how I felt about that. He gave me a smile in return. "I think everyone will go." "See you on the other side then," I said, "... maybe. If we recognise each other after all the forced name changes." Again he seemed to be completely unburdened by worries like mine. "There's a Luka Sene chat channel!" I thanked him for bringing that to my attention and logged off.

I'm trying to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and pray that it's not an oncoming train. I hope that my guild master and my boyfriend will come around, because anything else will leave a massive gash in my little circle of gaming friends. I still don't really want to transfer. I don't want to stop being Shintar because the name's already taken on The Red Eclipse, nor do I want to have queues upon logging in, deal with spam in general chat or fight 50 people for quest mobs in the Black Hole. But I like the prospect of staying on a dead server until it's closed and never playing another warzone again even less.

25 comments:

  1. At this point I'd pull out a beer, open it, and hand it over to you. No words needed.

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    1. I usually don't drink but I'd take a pity beer right now, heh.

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  2. I second Redbeard - what a sucky situation! :(
    they've really screwed it for the smaller realms by making transfers 'optional'. I hope you'll find a solution soon and that your partner will cool off, you seemed to be so happy with SWTOR!

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    1. I'm still happy with the gameplay and the community. This is just a situation that I don't really know how to deal with and for me personally it feels like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's perfectly possible that everything will all pan out alright in the end, but right now there are just too many unknowns!

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    2. Before I say anything rash, do you know if EU and NA communities can share servers? Unlike, say, WoW?

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    3. As far as I'm aware it's all under the same umbrella. You can play wherever you want; you'll just have a high ping and people won't be online at the same time as you if you choose a different region than your own.

      (As an aside, that's one more thing that I really like about the game. I find it quite exciting to be able to post in the same forum threads as the game developers... instead of living in the "EU ghetto" like I did in WoW.)

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  3. While I understand that you're upset about the situation and you certainly have my reasons, I can't say I would have such a strong reaction, myself.

    There were too many servers in SWTOR. It was bad for the company having to maintain them all, and it was bad for the players (on the whole) to be so spread out.

    If you like having all that extra space to yourself -- and I'm sure some folks do -- then don't transfer. If you like playing with lots of people, then transfer and be merry because people is what you shall have! I know change can be scary, but it all seems pretty win from where I'm sitting.

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    1. you certainly have my reasons

      That typo made me chuckle for some reason!

      Like I mentioned in my previous post in the subject, I understand the desire to merge servers, but I think the way it's being done is less than ideal.

      And I liked playing on a server with a population that was large enough to keep things running but not overwhelmingly massive. The entirety of this blog up until now is a testament to how much I was enjoying myself that way. On the other hand I'm not keen on playing on a completely dead server or a completely overcrowded one, but these are the only options Bioware is offering me right now.

      It's basically a classic case of where a developer listening to forum complaints has a negative impact on those who were actually enjoying the game as it was. Maybe the people complaining on the forums were actually the majority this time; I don't know. It still sucks for people like me.

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  4. I'd offer a beer too. But go, do the transfer, things will get better.

    My experience is that my guild is pretty much broken up because people got bored and moved on. One of my alts was on a RP server which became an origin server, so I moved it and ... within a couple of hours hanging out on the fleet had found a new friendly guild, gotten a group for Taral-V/Maelstrom, and things were just buzzing. I forgot my sad guild on the PvE server and had fun again and spoke to new people.

    Then yesterday, my PvE server got named as a destination so I'm already wondering if I'll be able to find another guild there too and pick up on those characters as well. This game NEEDS a decent population. Go with the transfer, or start a new character on one of the destination servers; if your GM if being whiny then he was probably burned out anyway.

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    1. Thanks for responding. I have to admit I was kind of wondering how you were doing, as you didn't mention anything about the transfers on your blog and I forgot which server you were playing on.

      With several real life friends and some lovely recently formed friendships in my current guild I'm not willing to abandon it that easily... but I'm hoping that we'll be able to reach a consensus about moving soon.

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    2. I couldn't agree more with Spinks if I tried. She's absolutely spot-on. Do I miss the old Shien? Yeah, I'd be lying if I said I didn't ... but Ebon Hawk has given my game new life. And yeah, my guild may not survive this transfer (I've already got people not logging in again), but at least if S&V (now called Ruin ... fitting, eh?) implodes I'll have lots of guilds to apply to.

      This is the first time since launch that I've logged into the game five days in a row.

      Yeah, it'll be weird, kiddo ... but I promise ya it'll get better. And quickly!

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  5. All I can advise you to do is weigh up your personal pro's and con's and then decide. I had to do the same thing. Is having a larger server population worth the hassle of moving?

    Ultimately for me the benefits of the upcoming 1.3 LFG tool on a highly populated server vs the lightly populated server I was on tipped it over.

    If you can convince your friends/family of those same benefits then hopefully the decision will be easier. Of course none of this would have been necessary with a cross server LFG tool or cross server PVP tool but at least SWTOR is improving and is learning from it's mistakes.

    Anyways I hope to still be reading your wonderfully written blog about SWTOR for many months to come!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words!

      And you know, I think I'd rather have forced transfers to "super servers" than cross-server queueing... so yay for new perspectives!

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  6. I had only positive effects on my playtime due to the transfer. On the other hand, I can completely understand your guildleader. I had to rename only one of my characters but it still sucked. Having to rename ALL of them? Ouch.

    In the end, though, will we really have a choice? Closing down all those bled-out servers is pretty much the elephant in the room that no one wants really to talk about - but which WILL come if we like it or not.

    I wish you and your guild all the best when you transfer. There ARE lots of positive effects, I have been able to finally finish a quest that has stalled the progress of my Sith Inq for months. Took me five minutes of asking for help.

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  7. I agree that it's crappy that they framed it as "optional" when it's anything but optional. We decided to transfer ASAP and rip off the bandaid, so to speak.

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  8. I really wish they'd give us a choice of servers to move to instead of just the one (lol, 'options') because then it might have been possible for both me and my sister to keep our names. Sitting tight for the moment and hoping maybe we'll get another server choice soon.

    (Though, I realize the decision will more than likely be taken out of our hands in the end and we'll HAVE to change our names.)

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  9. That it's probably a fake "option" is what irritates me. Though, at least this gives me time to finish the storylines on my main characters while they still have their names. (And time to figure out what to do about the inevitable renamings.) I do think, somewhat selfishly, that they should leave the RP servers, since there aren't that many of them and the people there are more likely than average to quit if they lose their names.

    They also seem to have tipped things too far the other way. I remember playing on a busy server I had to wait to get onto in WoW and, frankly, I didn't enjoy that. I was glad when the guild I was part of jumped ship for a different - less busy - server.

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    1. I get the creeping suspicion that they create the problem of overcrowded servers to create an artificial initial demand for payed server transfers, once they get to them.

      Me? Paranoid? NEVARRRRR!

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    2. There's always that.

      The selfish part of my hopes you're right. Or at least that my friends and I can hang out on our under-populated RP servers, happily playing the game and not caring if there's no one but us. (Which isn't the case, so far, despite the repeated annoying announcements.)

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    3. Cleeyah:

      That's exactly what they are doing. You're not paranoid.

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  10. The optional transfers have pooled all the players craving a high-population experience onto a few mega-servers. These players love the crowded-world feel and all the opportunities it brings them.

    Those who remain on origin servers are sending the opposite message: that they prefer a less densely populated experience.

    We know that the closing of empty servers will eventually come. My hope is that the inevitable mergers will group the remnants onto servers with a lower population target.

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  11. I totally left you a picture on my blog to cheer you up.

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    1. Did it cheer you up? If it didn't, I swear by all that's holy that I'll put another one up tomorrow.

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    2. Hehe, you're way too sweet for an Imperial agent! I do feel a bit cheered up, also because things are looking up for the guild. I'll have to post an update on that.

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