Monday, June 24, 2013

Small Server Blues

Imagine the crackle and click of a record player as it plays a classic Blues vinyl. Pull up a rocking chair and a dewy glass of iced tea with an old friend and look around 'town' (your server). Does it look like it used to? Do you look around and see the shadows of people you used to enjoy playing with? Is it the lively party town it used to be or has it become, like mine, a ghost town?

Names of people I used to play with, see in trade chat, undercut on the auction house or just see dancing on the fountain in Stormwind just aren't there any more. Georgebailey, a trade troll of the highest order, doesn't even spam his "If the Lich King's mount is Invincible, why can I still see it?" any more. Vannawhite's seemingly endless supply of vanity pets has dried up and quietly faded away. Awesome raiders like Floe and Culi have their pictures on the back of the pearl milk cartons. Heck, even Promade has stopped raiding Stormwind and making our RP server life generally miserable by camping the AH or the flight masters.

I have to wonder. Is this a case of memories being better than the times actually were, or is my server really going the way of the dodo?

It's no news that subscriptions are down right now. Nor is it a big surprise to me. We've been in MoP for quite some time now, and the oohshiney of the new expansion, places to explore, things to do, and bosses to conquer has dulled. People come and go in MMOs, attracted back by new and novel things to do. Seasonally I see changes too. Summer is always a struggle to hold on to raiders when the sun is shining, beaches are calling, and family vacations take priority over your digital life. 

The blues sometimes kick in wandering about The Scryers. I don't see the faces I used to...and I don't really see many new ones either. We've never really had a large population there, but at least we had 30-40 guilds competing for the raiding crown. There's maybe a dozen left now. 

If it was still the era of hitting Vault of Archavon or Tol Barad after a PVP victory, I don't know if I'd even know what the inside of the raid looked like. When I do my Isle of Thunder dailies (I prefer the PvP ones simply because I don't want to spend two hours on it), I rarely see anyone else there. I stumbled upon an AFK Belf Mage the other day and ran out of there as fast as my Wintersabre could carry me (I'm awful at PvP). It occurred to me - in the relative safety of the Kirin Tor Offensive quest hub - that it was the first time I actually saw someone else there.

Cities and Trade aren't much different. Forget the days of Dalaran lag; the main cities are at best lightly populated. True, that means there's far less lag and targeting vendors is a non-issue. What it also means is people looking for some pugs to fill in gaps in raid groups or to kill world bosses can sit there for an hour or more, spamming with little to no response. Also, there are far less /popcorn moments of watching arguments or yo' momma jokes break out in trade. 

Thank the stars I'm part of an established guild with an established raid team - if I weren't, I don't think I'd have the heart to try to pug on my server. LFR and LFD have made the LFG channel obsolete. There is so little server interaction that I see any more. Many established guilds have closed their doors, or even worse simply disappeared. So what keeps me here in a land of ghosts instead of searching for greener fields?

The Scryers is home. 

My toon was born and grew up on The Scryers. I have a lot of memories with the server, with the different guilds I've interacted with, and with the people here. Not to mention my guild - MY guild. Co-GM and charter member, my husband and I built it from the ground up over the last four years.  I couldn't walk away from it.  

It's hard though. It's hard to watch our server fading into the sunset.  It's hard to replace raiders who burn out, stop playing, or even go on vacation when the pool of players has become so shallow. It's hard to look out across the fence and see greener grasses and not want to hop over it. 

The recent server transfer sale was dangerously tempting. The only thing that kept me where I am is not wanting to break up our people. We have people who we've raided with since WOTLK. With each person that steps out - for whatever reason - it feels more and more like we're gripping the edge of a cliff with nothing but the tips of our fingers. We're willing to keep hanging on, and our people are the only things keeping us from slipping. There are fewer and fewer there - how many more will go, and how long until we fall in to the gaping chasm below?

Luckily, when we think we're about to fall, suddenly new hands reach out to ours and help us hang on and keep on climbing. 

Why do you stay on your small server?  Or, alternatively, what made the decision to jump to a larger server for you?  Share your experience in the comments!

Until next time, long days, pleasant nights, and happy Raiding.


  1. I've had experience on both large and small servers. Smaller servers do come with the challenge that you've described. At the same time you are less likely to meet as many volatile players that you'll find dozens of on the larger server. However it is because of so many players in such a close quarters that the interaction happens. When players spread themselves around areas you are less likely to see their influence in the game. When it finally reaches the point of "hello?" and the only response you get is the wind...that is when players decide to move on to other places. They aren't looking for the green grasses you described. They are just looking for anything. When players play in a mmo they are looking for that massive multi-player experience. Plenty of games already exist with lots of hours of solo content...and most of them don't have a monthly subscription fee.

    1. "When it finally reaches the point of "hello?" and the only response you get is the wind...that is when players decide to move on to other places. They aren't looking for the green grasses you described"
      Excellent point well made. Thanks for your insight!

  2. I feel that servers are like cars. Some people get attached to them, others don't. For me, I just view it as a tool and whether or not it serves my needs at the time. Sometimes, the current car you're driving just isn't cutting it for you anymore and it's time to trade up.

    1. I've always gotten attached to my cars...
      Interesting viewpoint. I've always thought of the server as a community rather than a tool. Things seem very different from your standpoint. Thanks for sharing it. :)

  3. I stay on my server (kirin tor-us) for many of the same reason you do. this is my home. This is the place where i have my memories. there are still players that i know by name. how could i leave these people that i have spent so much time with?

    what do you think of the new virtual realm thing? Im hoping this will kind of be a "best of both worlds" thing. you still have everyone you know and care about (and heck maybe some people who had moved away previously depending on which realms are combined) but have the advantages of not always logging into a ghost town.

    1. I'm cautiously optimistic about the virtual realms, and with you in the hope that it will be the best of both worlds. However, since they introduced the cross-realm zones, I haven't seen a noticeable impact even in those zones. I think it has a LOT of great potential, both on the front of logging into a zone with other people around (it IS an MMO after all) and for meeting new people (maybe even new guildies?). I have my fingers crossed but am not necessarily holding my breath.