01 March 2012

This Ain't your Grandma's Telara

So I'm gearing up to dive back into RIFT after having been gone for... well, about six months altogether I would guess.  I've been hitting RIFT related fan sites, playing with the Soul Builder on RiftZAM, and checking out the official forums.  It was there that I made a rather shocking discovery.  The old server that I had called home in the game, Faeblight, was now the ONLY remaining role-play designated server for the North American region in RIFT.  Wow... I know RP is far from everybody's cup of tea, but to only have a single server for it to cover the entire region?  Not even a RP-PvP server to go along with it?  This really surprised me.

I had always known that RIFT needed some server consolidation, even back when I was still playing it several months ago.  So to see some servers eliminated is not what surprised me.  But to go down to a single server of this type... feels like an overcorrection to me.  And in browsing the forum topics on this issue, it would appear that at least in the case of this particular server, there have been some decidedly negative side effects.  Queue times are common during the "prime time" hours, and while normally a queue could be interpreted as a good thing in the sense of interest and population, I would call this more of an anomaly.  There aren't queues because too many people want to play.  There is a queue because too many people were crammed onto a single server that didn't necessarily all want to be there.

In addition players are reporting significant latency issues during raids and zone events.  Considering these are among the game's big selling points, especially the zone events, having poor performance in these situations is not something you want to expose your players to.  To be fair this is somewhat anecdotal as for every player that seems to experience this lag, another player replies saying their performance is perfect.  So in truth, this problem is probably not as widespread as those who are suffering from it think that it is.  But if I were one of those people, I would be demanding action as well.  So I certainly cannot blame them for being agitated or expecting a response from Trion.

So what kind of response can Trion make here?  Well I certainly think that at least one other RP designated server would be a good idea.  Although despite some of the comments, I don't think an RP-PvP server is a good idea.  I really don't think there is enough interest in that combination of rulesets to justify it, and I really don't think it would do much to alleviate the population problem on Faeblight itself.  No a second regular RP server would be a better solution, and place it in the Eastern timezone.  I don't know if Faeblight is physically located on the West Coast, but its "server time" is Pacific.  I think a regular RP server in the Eastern timezone would be the best way to address these issues.  I suppose there could be hardware solutions as well, but as I have mentioned before, I don't understand how MMO servers work and I don't pretend to.  If there are hardware fixes to these problems, great.  But I wouldn't know what they might be.

This hasn't discouraged me from my return to RIFT though.  As I said, I knew the game needed consolidations for a long time, so seeing fewer servers does not surprise me.  Unless I personally experience this latency, I'm not going to worry too much about that.  Queues are potentially troublesome, especially considering how erratic my play time can be.  It would suck to not get to play because I "wasted" the free time sitting in a queue.  But even that isn't going to push me to move to another server unless it happens consistently and repeatedly.  I really enjoy RP servers and RP communities and I don't intend to get "chased off" if this server is the only option for it.

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