Combining Servers For Instanced Content – Good Or Bad?
MMO technology has evolved at an alarming pace in recent years and although players themselves don’t always see the benefits on the front end, the server infrastructure and techniques used to handle information are almost alien to what they were 10 years ago. However sometimes players are entirely aware of these leaps and even benefit from them. One of the biggest leaps in MMO gaming is the ability to launch instances and group content across multiple servers.
Many MMO games today use this technique, such as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and World of Warcraft, but is it all good news? If you’re not familiar with the subject, let me explain. When you queue up for a dungeon or instance in many MMO’s you’re left with an unknown waiting time as you need to fill other important class roles from players on your server. Now if you’re not playing during peak time, or you’re playing a DPS class, this wait can sometimes be substantial. The alternative uses the entire player base, or sometimes a selection of servers, for the player pool. This means there could be thousands upon thousands of extra players in this random pool instead of just a few hundred.
The benefits to such a system are obvious. Less wasted time waiting to do the content you enjoy and more people to enjoy it with. However these same MMO games don’t always support the ability to chat with players from other servers or add them to your friends list, so once the instance is done it’s unlikely you’ll ever see them again. This means no bonding, no arranging future content, no making friends on the same server.
I think established MMO games prove to use this feature to better effect as the community is already in place but brand new titles that are still growing and attracting numbers quite often leave players feeling alone in such a massive game world.
What are your thoughts?