Spinks has brought up the topic of pre-dawn gaming, and how much different the game feels when there are few people playing and it got me thinking.
Last month, after being abruptly awoken early, I found myself logging into the STO beta at 5am. It was still as full as it had been when I logged in 10 hours previously. Having (during my hard-core WoW days) played all night and witnessed first-hand the darkness creeping in and the quietening of the server, it was slightly jarring. Previously, servers went to sleep when I did, and awoke when I did. The thought that the server never sleeps made it seem kind of alien.
Star Trek Online is a one-world game.
The One-world model is growing in popularity. Games like Fallen Earth, Eve Online, Champions and soon to be Star Trek Online use it. There is no late-night wind-down of the servers. They always have people playing.
Although, it is hard at any time to describe Fallen Earth as ‘busy’.
Regardless, you’ll get exactly the same number of people online as you would at your local peak time (possibly more if you’re in Europe and logging on when the Americans are playing, or less if vice versa).
It certainly makes finding a clan difficult. You might wind up in one that’s 50% American, 50% European, and never the two will meet. Or one that’s predominately on when you’re not. You end up looking for regional clans, normally country based. As nice as playing with other Brits is, some of my best friends I’ve made through MMO’s have been continental Europeans, but they’re all joining country-specific clans too, so they can speak their own native languages. In a horrible irony, by uniting the world in one, they’re forcing players to create artificial means of separation.
So aside from the failed attempt to unite the world in harmony, why have companies like Cryptic and Icarus et al. chosen this model of allowing anyone to connect from anywhere?
Maybe it makes more economical sense to have these servers running constantly at full capacity. You may be replacing the server sooner than if you’d gone with a traditional architecture but you’d likely be using half as many servers as normal so it might balance out. In the long run it may well be cheaper. When you’re not sure of your subscription numbers (Like Fallen Earth), thus your income, such cost-cutting measures may be prudent and financially sound in order to break even quickly enough.
Did games like WoW have enough financial backing that the default model (that they really cemented) was worth it, or was it just that it was the *only* model. If WoW is anything, it’s not innovative. If WoW were coming out now though, would they have implemented the one-word model, or would circumstances and rapid growth have forced them into the realm model?
The one-world model, once the realm of the small indie gamer, is starting to hit the main stream. Will it stay? Will more games implement it? We have loads of MMO’s on the horizon that we’ll be finding more out about this year. Bioware’s The Republic Online, the eerily quiet Jumpgate Evolution, Lego Universe, APB – forgive me if I missed your favourite potential-mmo, (unless it was Stargate Worlds, that thing’s becoming like Duke Nukem, give up on it, I have)