Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Has WAR just a technology problem?

When reading the various comments yesterday why people said they quit WAR, a thought struck me: What if Mythic had had the technology, hardware and software, to allow and handle ten times more players per server? There would have been enough players around for public quests, there would have been enough players around for open world RvR everywhere, scenarios would have shorter wait times, and big PvP battles would have less lag. In short, are WAR's problems caused by game design, or are limitations to technology the core issue here?

I remember various stress tests during the WAR beta, through which Mythic decided at how many players the servers would be capped. So that cap was set according to what the servers and code could handle, not according to how many players it would take to properly populate all areas of the game. I do think WAR does many things right from a design point of view: Things like public quests and open world RvR are a lot of fun when enough players are around to do them. Only, as many of you said, often there aren't. Some people are stuck on low population servers, while others, on high population servers, only see enough players around during prime time. And when lots of players gather at the same place, for example for a big fortress battle, there is bad lag. All that looks to me as if the server capacity and ability of the game to handle large groups of players is more of a problem than game mechanics.

In spite of some people saying that they would play a single-player version of their favorite MMORPG if it was available, that obviously applies only to the part of the game that is soloable. Content like group PvE (dungeons or public quests), and of course PvP relies on there being enough players to play with or against. Splitting up the game in too many different servers, each with a too small population, kills all that multi-player content. I don't know if the technology exists that would have allowed WAR to put many more players on each server, but I'm sure that if they would have had that technology, the game would have succeeded a lot better.

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