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A Server Held Hostage by its Population


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Dear forum,

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:

  • In the long run, fun is dependent on the balance of match-ups
  • The balance of match-ups correlates with large differences between the number of players between servers
  • Temporary inferiority does not kill fun or motivation
  • Balanced match-ups increase the attractiveness of WvW tremendously
  • A minimum of players is needed to persist in a match-ups
  • Players see the end of WvW coming, and try to transfer to servers with more activity

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.

  1. Another thing that needs to be addressed is that Guild Wars 2 is aging, and people are moving to newer and shinier MMORPGs. Therefore, I think it's essential to consider reducing the number of German servers from 7 to 4 or 3, and soon. Same thing applies for servers from different countries. All servers need to be adjusted to avoid just shifting imbalanced population numbers. Although I frequently lead during head starts and am aware of this creating the potential for large queues, I for one am willing to accept longer queues during that single day to increase the quality of WvW during the other days of the week, especially during night time and earlier in the 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.

Original post in the German GW2 forum

Best,B.

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Thanks for making the community aware of this serious matter. Basti, here is my advice; accept the truth for what it is and deal with the consequences. Accept the server's fate and deal with its consequences.

Here is a another clear example of Toxicity.

Toxicity doesn't only affect one person but it effects everyone including servers

In the end... everyone suffers

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@Basti.3698 said:

  1. Another thing that needs to be addressed is that Guild Wars 2 is aging, and people are moving to newer and shinier MMORPGs.

This is an ongoing myth. There really are no "newer and shinier MMORPGS" out there. The entire MMO industry is utter crap right now. Worse I've ever seen. People are leaving GW2 in droves no doubt. But it's more case of either going dormant or playing other game genres.

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Aren't there also more accurate algorithms and data systems to use to determine population? Pip farmers shouldn't be calculated. It should be active players who are moving, moving out of keeps/towers into open field, using skills, using supply, and engaging with actual targets whether inanimate, NPCs or enemy players. Along with ppt and other results. All of these should feed into data and the calculation shouldn't be population but activity based, measured over a week and averaged. I'm pretty sure Anet has access to extremely detailed data and can devise appropriate smart algorithms to calculate.

As far as I'm concerned, when a player makes an account they're asked to choose a server and it only matters for WvW. This means Anet needs to update and fix up it's wvw system because this server selection is really misleading if it doesn't mean much and has inaccurate data

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@Hexalot.8194 said:

@Basti.3698 said:
  1. Another thing that needs to be addressed is that Guild Wars 2 is aging, and people are moving to newer and shinier MMORPGs.

This is an ongoing myth. There really are no "newer and shinier MMORPGS" out there. The entire MMO industry is utter crap right now. Worse I've ever seen. People are leaving GW2 in droves no doubt. But it's more case of either going dormant or playing other game genres.

The MOBA and Battle Royal genres are top notch for PvP action. The survival genre is really good for RvRish action. But yeah it's starting to seem that companies are giving up on the idea of producing MMOs for PvP or RvR oriented type gamers.

That being said the single play RP genre and the social chat rooms. Completely fulfill other two things, that the current MMO genre has going for it. Well except Eve Online. Which is in a class of it's own. And in the future so will Star Citizen.

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As far I can see, the game has now less players. So WvW has less players. And each server has also less players. Specially if we compare number of players before PoF and now, many have stopped playing.

But the problem is, players still think FULL server means server with queues in every map through day. Because that once, years ago, we had so many players. Now we do not. FULL now simply means the server has more players compared to the others. If other servers are TOTALLY empty then FULL server could be just 20 people above empty. It is still more players, specially if those players log on different times of the day, and enemy server only logs in for primetime to form that happy blob.

I do not have good solution either. You can not spread less players into same amount of servers, there just is not enough of them to create fun experience. Maybe Anet was expecting PoF to bring back lots of WvW players and pushed back all the difficult changes. It did not. And now we facing even worse situation.

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This is the same issue happening on Desolation.It's been 'Full' for months here and never has been linked for a year or up to six months, that I can't remember when we were last linked either. Meanwhile other International EU servers regularly get linked and at the same time, one or both of them are open to transfers.

It makes no sense what so ever and doesn't reflect what is really going on in WvW.I know I could move Server myself, to find a better quality of WvW, but I will not use any of my Gold to convert to Gems, until they actually give a damn about the state of WvW.

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For anyone that doesn’t know he’s talking about Elona reach and to be clear he’s mainly talking about Kodash/Deso that bring the 50 man blob when they have 15 people. I find it kind of funny someone saying this is happening to Deso when last week Deso absolutely destroyed Elona and Ring of Fireside Surmia (the 2 medium and high servers) together.

As for the OP I think some of the problem emanates from there being better offerings for a German national server and in some ways I think you’re right in condensing those servers into smaller but more permenant servers. However I have also heard that Kodash thanked themselves to open up and get more transfers, I don’t know if it’s true but it highlights the other issue, that populations can and do shift quite dramatically during links. This means that while it may have generated decent links at the beginning because people decided they didn’t like it they move or even worse bandwagon over to another server that takes the time to tank its pop.

It’s time ANet instigated ways to slow down player migration, it’s been one of the biggest causes of problems in WvW and has been a barrier to properly balancing out populations for years. I’d recommend either a limit on number of transfers a year or only allow transfers for 2 weeks 4 weeks before relinking happens during which time all servers are locked.

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  • ArenaNet Staff

This is something that we are having chats internally about quite often. Essentially server population is a self perpetuating problem and layer on top of that problem region specific time zone population density and you end up in a situation like we have right now. It's not an easy problem to solve, and not a quick one. I can't yet comment on potential outcomes of the internal discussions, however I can comment specifically about this situation in EU.

With BB topping participation and Kodash surging this week, the difference between the Worlds in 3rd and 9nd (for participation) is only between 5% and 15%. That's actually a good spread if those worlds matched up against eachother... however.... BB isn't listed as FULL and Kodash is. The idea of "Full" server status can mean a number of things, but mostly it's in attempt to balance WvW populations so that servers that get matched together have a equal paying field of participation. That's clearly not working if BB isn't FULL atm when it should be.

I'll dig into it significantly more over the next few days (on the population/Server Status situation as a whole). Ideally I'd like at least server status updated (and working properly) before the winter break, but it might happen after. Solving the overarching self perpetuation of population unbalance is a larger issue to tackle, that's not a "soon" thing.

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A permanent fix is to have 3 factions. This removes population imbalances because there will always be players to play.

The hard fix is to remove linking and merge servers, increase pop cap. This also ensure timezones are covered.

The easy fix is to manually adjust pop cap based on this calculation. Every week.

count 1 player per skirmish, which is normally 2 hours. 80 map cap. 4 maps.

12 x 80 x 4 = 3840. so if a wvw server does not have an average player of 3840 a day for 2 weeks, manually open it for a week. then recalculate. Auto lock only if in a day = 3840 x 1.05

If wvw stats can count it, anet has a more intricate way to do it.

The irresponsible way to fix this is to do nothing and say nothing. because the player base is in need of answers.

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i dont play much wvw. it basically comes down to my being a solo pve artist. the problem i encounter when i join a wvw map is this terrible feeling of being lost.one of the obstacles to new players is learning how to engage the entire wvw game mode.

are there any plans to help players bridge this gap in understanding how wvw works? it often feels like nothing is happening out there. in the mists.

or maybe the solution is as simple as wvw exclusive skins as a way to entire some players into wvw. after all players love fashion in gw2.

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@setdog.1592 said:i dont play much wvw. it basically comes down to my being a solo pve artist. the problem i encounter when i join a wvw map is this terrible feeling of being lost.one of the obstacles to new players is learning how to engage the entire wvw game mode.

are there any plans to help players bridge this gap in understanding how wvw works? it often feels like nothing is happening out there. in the mists.

or maybe the solution is as simple as wvw exclusive skins. after all players love fashion in gw2.

hi, what time do you play?

wvw is a community game, thus you have to find friends there.

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Let's not make this seem like it's all ANet's inability to find solutions or inadequacies. This whole issue can be traced way back to the very first open transfer. Agreed that was a move to make large amount of money for ANet but it was ultimately the player's decision to transfer into about 3 stacked server at that time. The servers that bled those guilds eventually saw the remaining guilds stopped playing or transferred to one of those stacked server and made things worse. Some guilds left to actually find fights compare to a vast majority of guilds who used that excuse as a false face to leave a server they deemed not worth their time. ANet is a business and it's players asked for this open transfer mess so they saw a way to make money. It is partly their fault for allowing this small cut to grow into an infection but the majority of the blame rest on the player base. If ANet is serious about fixing this mess then they need to actually force players off specific servers and even out the servers because their are way more of those who want easy wins than those who want fairness. Make it so you have a penalty of zero loot and progression in WvW for 6+ months if you're transferring to top tier servers. If the players are serious about fixing this mess then they need to accept the terms. Guilds are sitting and waiting for the ability to transfer to stacked servers when they open as this thread rages on. No one is innocent in this mess.

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@setdog.1592 said:i dont play much wvw. it basically comes down to my being a solo pve artist. the problem i encounter when i join a wvw map is this terrible feeling of being lost.one of the obstacles to new players is learning how to engage the entire wvw game mode.

are there any plans to help players bridge this gap in understanding how wvw works? it often feels like nothing is happening out there. in the mists.

i think every server in EU has a TS3 server probably same in NA. the teamchat is for all WvW maps, so if you ask there for the IP you have a great chance of getting it. if go on this TS3 server (preferably when there are actually people, in EU most servers sleep at night) you find mostly someone who is willing to give you a little introduction to WvW and help you if you have questions. in past month i was on 3 diffrent servers and in that time on each was an event to introduce new players to WvW. WvW is a mainly player driven content so communication is very important, but if you dont want to use TS3, you need to look for a guide i guess as there is too much you could possibly not know to just tell you everything in a chat.but yes new players get scared away easily by toxic chat or situations where you leave spawn to run straight into a little gank party, that then do nasty stuff to your dead character.

@Chris Cleary.8017 said:With BB topping participation and Kodash surging this week, the difference between the Worlds in 3rd and 9nd (for participation) is only between 5% and 15%. That's actually a good spread if those worlds matched up against eachother

is in this 5-15% diffrence in participation the sum of all participation during the weak or is it the average participation diffrence on all skirmishes, cause the participation sum is not as good to measure the coverage as looking at the participation for each skirmish.for example we got 672 players on a server, playing average 4 hours a day. that is an average of 16 players online. lets say half of them play from 18:00-22:00 each day(336 players on prime time). then there is an average of 9,6 players for the rest of the day so probably only like 3-4 at night from 2:00-6:00.if at primetime we only got every 3rd player playing (224) we get an average of 12,8 for the rest of the day thats 1/3 more then with 50% on primetime. so while the one mainly on in primetime might have a little advantage in 4 hours, they probably still will lose as the other server has a great advantage during 10/12 skirmishes a day. but the participation would be same.now if you value every skirmish same as its done with victory points and try to get average diffrence. it will be (10x7x1,33+2x7x0,66)/84 = 1,21833.. so 2nd version with 30% only playing prime time has a 21,83% better coverage while the participation sum is the same.

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@Sovereign.1093 said:A permanent fix is to have 3 factions. This removes population imbalances because there will always be players to play.

The hard fix is to remove linking and merge servers, increase pop cap. This also ensure timezones are covered.

The easy fix is to manually adjust pop cap based on this calculation. Every week.

count 1 player per skirmish, which is normally 2 hours. 80 map cap. 4 maps.

12 x 80 x 4 = 3840. so if a wvw server does not have an average player of 3840 a day for 2 weeks, manually open it for a week. then recalculate. Auto lock only if in a day = 3840 x 1.05

If wvw stats can count it, anet has a more intricate way to do it.

The irresponsible way to fix this is to do nothing and say nothing. because the player base is in need of answers.

Previous RvR games have shown that just two or three factions lead to one faction being stacked and dominating the other ones. No one likes to be on the losing team. Populations aren't a fixed thing, new players join, old one takes break or retire. Unless you manually assign populations, this will remain a likely problem, and manually assigning populations come with a heap of problems of their own.

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@"Chris Cleary.8017" said:This is something that we are having chats internally about quite often. Essentially server population is a self perpetuating problem and layer on top of that problem region specific time zone population density and you end up in a situation like we have right now. It's not an easy problem to solve, and not a quick one. I can't yet comment on potential outcomes of the internal discussions, however I can comment specifically about this situation in EU.

With BB topping participation and Kodash surging this week, the difference between the Worlds in 3rd and 9nd (for participation) is only between 5% and 15%. That's actually a good spread if those worlds matched up against eachother... however.... BB isn't listed as FULL and Kodash is. The idea of "Full" server status can mean a number of things, but mostly it's in attempt to balance WvW populations so that servers that get matched together have a equal paying field of participation. That's clearly not working if BB isn't FULL atm when it should be.

Since you mention my server Kodash I'd like to give an experience report which maybe deviates a little from the TO's excellent more general post. While I can only try to give some insights on Kodash I think it is pretty representative for some other German servers like Elona and lately Riverside too. NA readers feel free to skip the post. ;)

One should keep in mind, that Kodash's surge this week is a direct result of getting an influx of new players after being open for a week. Before that, the server was closed for over a year and has never gotten a partner-server since the introduction of linking. Being out of the transfer game completely, guilds couldn't replenish their ranks and players left for greener pastures letting the server slowly bleed out until it dropped from a longstanding stable tIer II position to the last place of the EU ladder. We couldn't even dream of competing with (some open, most linked) upper-ladder worlds.

In such a situation I think it is understandable that a lot of Kodashians asked: why is server X open, when we in the last place are not? There are of course valid arguments that currently total equality between servers can't be achieved, that you can only try to balance a specific bracket - escpecially in the EU with it's mix of national and international servers, timezone activty disparities etc. and that locking a server is just another tool in your box. Nevertheless, a lot of players still were frustrated (wanting to have the same set of rules apply to all in a game is human nature I guess) and either left the server or the game completely.

Trying to game the system in order to open a server is not a sustainable answer of course and i think we can agree that we need some kind of solution for the problem in the near future.

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@Pretty Pixie.8603 said:

@Sovereign.1093 said:A permanent fix is to have 3 factions. This removes population imbalances because there will always be players to play.

The hard fix is to remove linking and merge servers, increase pop cap. This also ensure timezones are covered.

The easy fix is to manually adjust pop cap based on this calculation. Every week.

count 1 player per skirmish, which is normally 2 hours. 80 map cap. 4 maps.

12 x 80 x 4 = 3840. so if a wvw server does not have an average player of 3840 a day for 2 weeks, manually open it for a week. then recalculate. Auto lock only if in a day = 3840 x 1.05

If wvw stats can count it, anet has a more intricate way to do it.

The irresponsible way to fix this is to do nothing and say nothing. because the player base is in need of answers.

Previous RvR games have shown that just two or three factions lead to one faction being stacked and dominating the other ones. No one likes to be on the losing team. Populations aren't a fixed thing, new players join, old one takes break or retire. Unless you manually assign populations, this will remain a likely problem, and manually assigning populations come with a heap of problems of their own.

There can be only one winner in the end

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@Sovereign.1093 said:

@Sovereign.1093 said:A permanent fix is to have 3 factions. This removes population imbalances because there will always be players to play.

The hard fix is to remove linking and merge servers, increase pop cap. This also ensure timezones are covered.

The easy fix is to manually adjust pop cap based on this calculation. Every week.

count 1 player per skirmish, which is normally 2 hours. 80 map cap. 4 maps.

12 x 80 x 4 = 3840. so if a wvw server does not have an average player of 3840 a day for 2 weeks, manually open it for a week. then recalculate. Auto lock only if in a day = 3840 x 1.05

If wvw stats can count it, anet has a more intricate way to do it.

The irresponsible way to fix this is to do nothing and say nothing. because the player base is in need of answers.

Previous RvR games have shown that just two or three factions lead to one faction being stacked and dominating the other ones. No one likes to be on the losing team. Populations aren't a fixed thing, new players join, old one takes break or retire. Unless you manually assign populations, this will remain a likely problem, and manually assigning populations come with a heap of problems of their own.

There can be only one winner in the end

I'm not sure what you mean with that. Are you're saying you're fine with one Faction being the dominant one? that seems to go against the general argument.

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@Pretty Pixie.8603 said:

@Sovereign.1093 said:A permanent fix is to have 3 factions. This removes population imbalances because there will always be players to play.

The hard fix is to remove linking and merge servers, increase pop cap. This also ensure timezones are covered.

The easy fix is to manually adjust pop cap based on this calculation. Every week.

count 1 player per skirmish, which is normally 2 hours. 80 map cap. 4 maps.

12 x 80 x 4 = 3840. so if a wvw server does not have an average player of 3840 a day for 2 weeks, manually open it for a week. then recalculate. Auto lock only if in a day = 3840 x 1.05

If wvw stats can count it, anet has a more intricate way to do it.

The irresponsible way to fix this is to do nothing and say nothing. because the player base is in need of answers.

Previous RvR games have shown that just two or three factions lead to one faction being stacked and dominating the other ones. No one likes to be on the losing team. Populations aren't a fixed thing, new players join, old one takes break or retire. Unless you manually assign populations, this will remain a likely problem, and manually assigning populations come with a heap of problems of their own.

There can be only one winner in the end

I'm not sure what you mean with that. Are you're saying you're fine with one Faction being the dominant one? that seems to go against the general argument.

yes, just like now in the current setup. bg outshines all other servers.

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