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Server Merges - Is the Plan GOOD ENOUGH?

JahlonJahlon Member, Intrepid Pack, Alpha One
I put this video together because I am a little concerned about the overall server merger plans. I think that one group of people losing everything and being forced onto a server already in progress may be so disruptive that players quit once their server is merged.

As bad as Archeage was, I think the idea of taking 2 or more dying servers and putting them together to make a fresh server may be the better idea

I put a poll together here to gather data, if you don’t mind clicking on a link and then voting. Otherwise, leave your feedback here if you

1: Liked the Server Merge Idea
2: Don’t like it
3: Need more details
Make sure to check out Ashes 101


  • The server merge idea is flawed. As it stands there is no perfect way with all the variables involved but there may be a way to make it more fair for those involved and give people a chance to see more evolution. I do like Jahlons idea of merging, however, when it takes months to evolve things how many server mergers are you willing to go through if your server starts to die out again?

    Intrepids current idea would probably work fine for most games but I think for AoC there would be a lot of pissed of people feeling they got shafted. I feel if you are trying to get people to quit, that's a great motivator.

    I do like the idea of merging small servers to a fresh server but I think a better way is to merge the big server to a small server. Right now there are a bunch of heads collectively exploding. For other games I would say this is a bad idea, but stay with me.

    When servers merge in this game people are going to lose big. The small server people will lose castles, freeholds (depending on the final design), the cities they built, etc. Upon arrival of the new server, they are facing, most likely, better developed cities, larger guilds, freeholds already maxed, less untouched land and so on. What chance do they have at getting any of that back? I would argue little to none. In this game you basically have a lose/lose situation for the small server people.

    If you flip this scenario, you are displacing far more people but at the same time I would argue this is a better option. The large server group would arrive and be at the same disadvantage the small server group would have been except, they have the numbers. Strategy is a huge factor in this game and big guilds can make a big difference. If some of the bigger guilds are willing to go after it there's a decent chance they can overthrow a castle, topple a big city and/or start their own. In my experience guilds on a small server tend to be smaller in size and typically not nearly as well coordinated or good at end game raiding, high level pvp, etc. In this scenario the small server is at a disadvantage population wise but at the same time they have the chance to defend what they have instead of it just being taken away with no chance at all. I feel most of those guilds will still lose their castles but at least they had a chance to defend it.

    On the flip side how many people do you think at launch are going to contribute to node progression near starter areas and get invested in those zones? Whether it is intentional or not, those zones will take off and people will try to grab what they can. I don't feel this will lead to stagnation but I do think it will slow the growth of many servers. Housing, freeholds, profession development, trade, etc will become anchor points for many even if it's for nothing more than convenience. If a large population comes to a small server with no chains attached they have a much better chance of spreading out over a wider area and developing those zones especially after seeing the pros and cons of their initial sever zones. This would also lead to more world events being triggered and a much larger power dynamic shift across the whole map. Lets face it, when there is a big shake up, it creates opportunity.

    There are a few caveats with this idea.
    1) Limited quantity. Most likely there will be far more small pop servers than medium servers so this will only work for so long before 3 or 4 small servers have to merger together. At that point I'm with Jahlon, they should move to a fresh start server. If possible maybe have the more common zones semi leveled up to help progress move faster. They will either be occupied and continue or die out.

    2) Choice. Should you be forced to move to a new server you didn't pick? Upon log in they are notified of the impending merge a few weeks out. They are given the choice to stay with their server or they can pick another server to transfer to free of charge. It isn't their fault things went south. People can get very dedicated to their server and if it's merged with another that they didn't want it can leave a very bad feeling. Having a choice to go elsewhere could mitigate that and possibly avoid losing people.

    3) Names. For the people merging into a different server it should boil down to who reserved the name first, who reserved at all, who started a character with that name first. A little crude but first come, first served.

    4) (Using freeholds as an example) Phasing for limited quantity areas. When servers merge the original people that control the freehold continue to own it. The merging people that have a freehold continue to keep theirs as well but it's phased. Should the original freehold become unowned, the phased freehold would immediately take over and be the only freehold from that point forward, barring another merger. This would fairly, albeit slowly, allow everyone to keep what they had and possibly get down to the original server quantity size.

    Anyways, that's what I'm spitballing at the moment.
  • akabearakabear Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited October 2022
    Regionalized transfers
    • solid idea

    Pairing weak and strong server merges
    • Intrepid's idea good in intent
    • NW approach of not merging server to server but distributing clans among healthy servers worked well
    • Paradox idea of pairing a non-healthy server with a non-healthy server may create the same sentiment. Far more productive to move players to a healthy environment.

    Losing gear, status, achievements when changing
    • Intrepid set the expectation early so players know the consequences of change.
    • Not really a big deal.. been through similar in past games.. not the end of the world.
    • The benefits of a health server outweigh the losses.

    Name changes opportunity
    • good, but prefer perhaps regional name placeholders

    Note low population may not mean not fun.. a close, active low population server may actually be more fun than a high population of disengaged players

    Back story of a new server lost to players joining later. Same issue with new players and returning players Make the history of the server part of game to be found.
  • akabearakabear Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited October 2022
    Own preference, but not going to happen
    • Create several server map types.
    • Create a stitched map crossing several servers
    • This would create a (master map ) mega-server made up of several sub-servers (sub-maps - ie size of what is currently proposed)
    • Let land regions open or close off limits as the population rises and falls via bridges, tunnels (connections that can be easily opened / closed)
    • Regulate the max population in any given region at any given time. (same mechanic as castle seiges)
    Instance the connections
  • akabearakabear Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited October 2022
    @Jahlon your poll appear quite bias.. suggest a broader range of choices that encompass views that may be different to your own.

    Any results from your poll may only result in response of those aligned with your view as there are few options the other way.
  • edited October 2022
    This is a hard topic to get prefect, imo. But here's an idea that Intrepid could consider.

    1. Give players a 45 day notice to when a server will no longer exist and needs to be merged. (when it hits a low population threshold.)

    2. Give players 2 options to choose from once they get the 45 day notice:
    a.) Provide players on that server a "server transfer" token, that includes a select list of servers they can
    transfer to. This is inline with the "player agency" theme they have been advocating. Plus this gives
    friends/guilds the choice of which server they want to go to, together. Token is only good until server is
    b.) For the players who don't willingly transfer, they are subject to whatever decision Intrepid makes for that
    server. i.e. merge into larger one, merge multiple smaller ones into a new server, etc.

    As far as gear/money/freeholds/housing/etc. I'll let others give their input into that, as that's a very touchy subject to discuss because nobody likes to loose things they worked hard for. But maybe provide those players who choose to willingly transfer, the option to retain much of the resources they used to build freeholds/housing via a certificate they can obtain by initiating the destruction of their freehold/house/etc. within the dying server via a special NPC, before they transfer.
  • To add to server mergers regarding player transfers, it's important that intrepid maintains a list of server info divided by region. In that list would be a breakdown of server pop, how many nodes are level 6 and 5, where they are located, what type they are, the highest level of raid progression cleared and any world events that may be a 1 time deal. Those would be the baseline metrics to help people when considering a transfer. These are the ones I would consider paramount to choosing a new server.
    Other stats could be useful, such as economy, pvp deaths, ship fights, etc, but at some point it's up to the player to play and not data mine meta servers.
  • They need to merge weak + weak into a new server. Servers will likely have a natural attrition due to players just wanting a fresh start every once in awhile. Having occasional fresh start servers that begin with 2 or more weak servers merged together will provide the highest satisfaction given the circumstances.
  • Voxtrium wrote: »
    They need to merge weak + weak into a new server. Servers will likely have a natural attrition due to players just wanting a fresh start every once in awhile. Having occasional fresh start servers that begin with 2 or more weak servers merged together will provide the highest satisfaction given the circumstances.

    As long as they give people the option to opt out and do a free server transfer instead then it works. If they force people to stay in that merger then it sucks.
    It sounds good on paper but from the guilds that are on that server, is it? They stand to lose everything they fought for with no guarantee they will be able to defeat the people from the other server they are merging with to reacquire what was taken from them.
    I understand sometimes they may not have many options for server merges but an opt out plan should be mandatory for any merger and fresh start servers should be strictly optional.
  • Jahlon makes some excellent points regarding server mergers. Dropping players into a living server that they have not invested in I believe is bad business. You are taking a situation which is bad and just making it equally bad for everyone involved. That's not a solution and guarantee's a loss of part of the transferring population recreating, or at the very least contributing to, the problem you are trying to fix.

    A much better solution would be to take the servers (2-5 depending on population) deemed as dying and create a world ending event that is then part of their worlds story. Those involved would have an opportunity to experience a unique event and attain additional and perhaps unique loot prior to their world being destroyed. In this way, having the unfortunate distinction of being "imploded" would actually have some positives. It may even encourage player who originally quit to come back to their servers to experience the event.

    After the world ending event those players then take their amazing loot and the fantastic stories of their world ending and move to a new server with their character. When the new world starts, give a bonus of experience to vertical level progression to encourage new players to try the "fresh start" server and join the existing population. Because the exp bonus is vertical it would not really impact existing players and would encourage new players to give the game a try. If there is one thing people have shown a willingness to pay for it's a "fresh start" server experience.

    This idea takes what would be a horrific experience and turns it into something that people would brag about being apart of and people who didn't get to see it happen on their world would watch on streams. Instead of feeling like it's a good time to quit, people would feel the need to get ready for that crazy rush that occurs when a game first launches.

    In addition give people who paid for name reservations reserve the opportunity to reserve their name on the new server (maybe a week before launch of the server, then at launch names are fair game.)

    I personally would HATE being dropped into a progressive world to which I did not feel invested. I would also feel disadvantaged compared to the people who already know the layout, alliances, safe trade routes, bad actors etc. It would be akin to picking up a book, opening it to a random page 1/2 way through and then starting to read. It ruins the experience as well as the core principle concept of being apart of a story.

    Intrepid has always surprised me in their willingness to listen to their player base and look at data. I strongly encourage them to do this here. Look at player drop off of the merge player base. Look at the numbers of a certain unnamed game that offered a chance at a fresh start to an old product and were able to put up very respectable numbers. It would be excellent for retention, encouraging returning players as well as incentivizing new players.

    It is absolutely more work for Intrepid to do things this way. However their is a right way and a wrong way to treat people. If you invest in people they will invest back and that is good business.

  • SantanicoSantanico Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    After giving it some thought, watching the the video, I believe Jahlon's approach might be the best. As long as the servers that are starting over are the ONLY ones able to join it, then I think a new experience would be a lot of fun. Fresh starts in a sorts can bring a lot of new experiences even though the levels would be the same.
  • JahlonJahlon Member, Intrepid Pack, Alpha One
    akabear wrote: »
    @Jahlon your poll appear quite bias.. suggest a broader range of choices that encompass views that may be different to your own.

    Any results from your poll may only result in response of those aligned with your view as there are few options the other way.

    I'm not quite sure you understand bias, since the poll as presented is absolutely not biased in any way.

    There is a maximum of 5 options. When asking a question, you have three basic answers: Yes, No, I don't know. All three of those options are there and able to be selected.

    Of the remaining 2 options I used 1 for people to say they aren't happy with Intrepid's plan and they prefer my plan and the 5th for people to say they aren't happy with the plan and to suggest their own. [Which ironically is exactly what you asked for]

    There only needs to be one yes option because its still Yes, No, I don't know.

    The only trick is now we have Yes, I Don't Know and then we have 3 options for no with sub data.
    Then we have sub data for the Nos.

    Make sure to check out Ashes 101
  • I strongly endorse your idea over the one shared by Steven in the AMA. If a server needs to die because of low population - fine. End that world and put them on a new server. Or give them an option of transferring to some other existing server(s). I bet a lot of people would be excited for those opportunities. But don't upend the perfectly good gameplay/history that's happening on a strong server by resetting everything as part of a merge.
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