Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sultans Of Swing

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,
and that is not being talked about."
Oscar Wilde

Yesterday I received a little bit of traffic to my blog. Tobold is one of the most respected bloggers on all things MMO. I am regular reader, even though I only have a passing interest in the other games in the MMO genre. I am a monogamous WoW player except for a brief liaison I had with Diablo.

Tobold was very supportive during the New Blogger Initiative, and helped me to create a focus for the Blog. The gist of what Tobold said was "The world is full of WoW Blogs, if you are doing this for purpose of attracting visitors, then pick a different subject, something in Vogue".

I have no interest in playing another game just I can write about it, just because it is a hot topic that is not a subject that is 9 years old. I consider this to be like a football supporter who supports Bolton Wanderers writing a blog about Manchester City, just because they are the next big thing.

This was however suitably thought provoking, and made me consider what I was writing about and why? I am still writing after 18 months and I hope I am getting better over time. Occasionally I write a post that is suitably thought provoking to appear elsewhere as a link and that is good. I was not expecting a negative response, and I already apologised yesterday.

Yesterday I received triple my usual traffic to the site, and it shows how astute Oscar Wilde was writing in 1890. The thing I noticed was that with all the media talk of cyber bullying and trolling, nobody left abusive comments and I thank you all for your politeness.

Moving on to the post I was trying to write yesterday.

Another weekend over and I am just trying to catch up with WoW news and associated Blog stuff, and I re-read the comments from R on the post about Connected Realms. This got me thinking about load numbers for the Realms and how many Realms are likely to be connected.

The first place to look was the Realm Status page on the European Battle Net server. I chose Europe based on the fact that there are probably slightly less players and it is home turf. The Realm Status page allows a certain amount of filtering so I continued down the route of what I know best.

Status = <All>, Realm = <Blank>, Type = <PvE>, Population = <All>,  Locale <English>

42 English speaking, PvE Realms in Europe of which only 4 are highlighted as High. All the rest are indicated as Medium.

The issue that Blizzard have is not the number of accounts on a server, because the primary concern is the average number of concurrent users and in particular the highest number of users at the peak of the day. If you merged an Australian Realm with a US Realm would it achieve anything if the peaks are at different times of the day.

I previously questioned why we are not given more details about the Realms that we reside on, what does High or Medium actually mean. I am not interested from the point of being able to calculate how many people are on all the US realms and the European Realms, so that we can breakdown the fact that Spanish Realms are seeing higher levels of people leaving the game. I am merely wanting to know from a game experience, am I better on a High population realm or a medium realm? the Grumpy Elf was right of course that any detailed information would be used against Blizzard to denote the collapse of the WoW brand, pretty much like I did last week.

If all the PvE servers in Europe are medium population at the least, what kind of population do Blizzard think we should be playing on. Do we need to connect 2 medium realms? or 1 high with 1 medium? or 2 high = 3 medium? My point is we don't know and to be honest this is not the kind of testing that can be done a PTR. Are we all going to change our hearthstones to Dalaran, Shattrath or some place else, because Orgrimmar and Stormwind have become lag central. I am sure I don't need to remind some of you what it was like in Shattrath and Daslaran at peak times.

Are connected Realms going to be permanent connection or are they going to be free flowing depending on realm populations over time. What happens if a a connected realm starts to have large combined losses of subscriptions?

Blizzard are being rather vague on many of the issues and the generic Blue post did very little to answer anything but the most superficial questions.

This function is in development now and once Patch 5.4 hits the live servers, then all attention will be on Connected Realms. Blizzard have staked too much on this for it not to go ahead.


  1. This comment is based on how the world appeared before the CRZ, so please do not take the CRZ into account as explaining the difference in servers. Now to the comment.

    My main alliance server is labeled as medium. It is not medium. It is low. Not dreadfully low like when you who stormwind there is only 1 person there, but low none the less.

    When I would level a new character I could go all the way to northrend before I saw another person anywhere.

    On my main horde server, also labeled as medium I experienced what seemed like people in every single questing zone I went to. From start to end there was always someone out in the world in the same questing area I was in. Not a lot, but upwards of 4 or 5 in nearly every zones and even 1 or 2 at the lowest, but there were always people around. This is a true medium.

    So do not take their labels to mean anything. Most of the medium servers are probably low servers but low does not look good, so for appearance sake they list them as medium.

    Now, as to what they consider medium, your guess is as good as mine. Does the fact I have 15 characters on one server mean that counts as 15 toward pushing it to medium? I think so but I can't say for sure, no one can but them and they are not talking.

    1. I have gone back and check the Realm status and all the low population servers are PvP and I surprised to find so many of them.

      If Blizzard wanted to trial the new technology this is where I would start. I am guessing that they could run 3 or 4 connected servers for the European PvP realms.

      If a medium server seems empty then I am guessing that the concurrent users is low but the number of players qualifies it for medium status.

  2. Personal opinion only, I suspect that it will be roughly 5-10 medium realms combined into one connected realm and any number of low realms (pretty sure you could combine the bottom 100 and not have a top 5 equivalent). I think the goal will be to join as few realms as possible to hit the required population numbers with the possible exception that the low-level PvP realms could all be slammed together to simplify the process.

    Comparing a current but casual hang around location (the Vale city) between a top 5 server and my usual medium population server, the number of toons running around is, if I had to guess, 20-25x higher on the top 5. Somewhere like standing in front of Nalak on a Tue, it's probably 200-500x. Those aren't exaggerated numbers. That server is TOO busy, it's somewhat laggy even when questing so I wouldn't aim close to that high but I think 5-10x would be a good number to start with. Have to say, though, it'll be a major shock to folks who are used to their "medium" pop servers when they see what things are like with more players around.

    Having spent time on a top 5 and an ~80th ranked server, in general I prefer the ~80th ranked server experience but wouldn't mind more activity. So, somewhere in between would suit my purposes. Maybe aim for a ~20th ranked server experience for the connected realm.

    That PvP info is damned interesting... a large majority of the top 10 (8/10) and top 20 (13/20) are PvP according to realmpop.com but the bottom 30 or 40 are ALL PvP. I don't even have a theory for how that happens. PvP servers without a population make no sense, some sort of move is way overdue for them.

    One note - last I heard connected realms won't be active when 5.4 hits, it'll be rolled out slowly at some point when it's ready to go but not at 5.4 release. I'd be a bit surprised if they don't wait until 5.5 to release it, doing it during a maintenance rather than a content patch would seem to make more sense from a timing perspective.