Now that I've grabbed your attention with this incredibly dramatic headline:
I'm an active commander and guild leader on a German server. Through regular raids and presence, me and my guild aim to preserve some fun for public players, and try to counter the sullen atmosphere towards public raids. Our server has the structures and number of active guilds to be able to schedule and provide decent coverage… in theory. Unfortunately, many guilds that are willing to take on new members have their growth stunted by low population.
This thread isn't supposed to be a snapshot of our server's situation though, but to serve as general discussion about the causes of declining interest in our favorite game mode, and possibly a brainstorming for countermeasures.
We've talked to several guild leaders of guilds with wildly different approaches to the game. Additionally, we've tried to capture the preferences of a representatively large number of public players to uncover key points that are vital for both of these group's enjoyment of the game:
These rather obvious points need to be verbalized as basis for finding solutions.
A majority of the server see the calculations of server population at fault. To counter uneven distribution of players, the linking system was implemented, but unfortunately this system does not work efficiently enough, which means imbalances that hamper the enjoyment of the game persist.
Our server is labeled as 'full', which means that according to ANET we should have enough active players to compete against other servers. In reality, except for the two to three hours of head start raids, the maps are hardly ever full. That means that it is often the case that our commanders active during the mornings and afternoons have to face enemy zergs of up to 50 people with 10 to 15 team mates. As stated above, that wouldn't be a problem if it were a temporary thing, but it's been a consistent picture for weeks now.
There are different approaches to combat this but I'll stick to the issue of population since the linking system is a result of the very same problem.
1. The first measure could be to increase the accuracy of determining the active population of a server.
a. Players that spend two to three hours in WvW during head start are falsely counted as active WvW players, even if they don't support the server during the rest of the week.
b. PIP-farming players spend time on WvW maps instead of the edge of the mists and inflate the population numbers further.
c. Servers with a high number of secondary accounts have to deal with players logging into WvW for a few hours before moving to their primary accounts again.
I'm not trying to insinuate bad intentions to anyone, and having old faces and voices around is an enrichment to the game, but in regard to the population, it's adding to the number of pseudo-active accounts.
One possible solution would be to only count accounts above rank 150-200 as active WvW accounts. That's not a high bar for someone doing active WvW for an hour a day.
This isn't a post to highlight the fate of specific servers, but to try to look for solutions that can preserve the enjoyment of WvW for all of us. I'm aware that some of the approaches I've outlined above would lead to sociocultural, partial losses, yet in my opinion, that is an acceptable price to pay to preserve fun, the only true element connecting us all.
Without intervention from ANET, I see three ways to deal with this, and I'll list them free from judgement:
1. Go on strike to artificially skew the population count.
2. Accept the server's fate and come to an arrangement with it.
3. Go to the forums and draw attention to the issue.