City of Heroes Plans for Friendship (Maybe)

A Random Battle from last week fought over why MMOs use servers to keep you from playing with your friends. I have had a couple dozen friends play City of Heroes over time, but being spread across servers was always an issue that kept us from meeting up, joining together, and keeping them from quitting. There have been previous notes that chat and auction houses go across servers in City of Heroes.

When testing server transfers, Cryptic mentioned that they are looking at a potentially server-less game, in which you can team with anyone regardless of server. I imagine this could be done either as putting everyone on one big server or allowing teams to enter instanced missions from the doors on their respective servers. The follow-up clarified that this is a “maybe, someday” idea, not a “next issue, we promise!” idea. If they do it, not in 2007.

That would be really cool. It feels a little like slipping toward Guild Wars or Diablo as a model (big joint chat room leads to instances), but if you can never have an impact on the game world anyway, why not share that game world instead of making little copies of it? Of course, if you all shared one world, you could let players influence it without worrying about maintaining story and development across divergent shards…

: Zubon

10 thoughts on “City of Heroes Plans for Friendship (Maybe)”

  1. I’m a little clueless on why City of Heroes *doesn’t* have a conglomerated server. They already have instanced main zones when population gets high. The biggest issue would be that of names, when half the game uses dictionary words without… creative modification. So, nevertheless, it becomes very similar to Guild Wars in that respect. It just doesn’t have the connections… yet? I hope?

    (Granted, Guild Wars was far, far more instanced.)

  2. Runescape handles this in an interesting way… while they have multiple ‘servers’ there’s only one namespace, and you choose which world you log onto each session, and indeed can switch worlds easily. Your friends list works across all worlds, so you can arrange which world to meet on if you log onto different worlds that session.

    It also allows for dynamic server load balancing in the hands of the players…

  3. Yeah, I’m really curious as to how they’ll handle the naming thing. That’s the biggest challenge I can see, at least in non-technical terms. I’m sure there’s some behind the scenes architecture stuff that’s a bigger problem, but in terms of data layout, I know there’s a character named Superior on at least three servers (because I’ve taken the name), and I suspect that there’s a Superior on every server. In fact, I bet the vast majority of useful real-single-word names is taken on at least two servers.

  4. Look at World of Warcraft’s cross-server battlegrounds. A lot more players get to enjoy battlegrounds, because the player pool is far larger now. Prior to the cross-server battlegrounds, I was lucky to attend one BG a week. Simply because I play off hours. Now I can play back to back to back BGs if I so choose.

    This concept should be increased to all instanced parts of the game. You should have an near unlimited pool of players to pull from for groups. This allows players to form relationships and friends lists beyond their immediate server.

    More interaction is a good thing!

  5. For cross-server work, I am expecting something like “Zubon of Virtue,” presumably using some symbol that cannot be in names.

    For a fully merged server, umm… I have Zubon on every server. I would be shuffling some names about there. Now would I keep Zubon as my Empath, since Zubon is a healer in every game I play, or should I let it be one of my other Defenders?

  6. Another issue with a fully merged server would be character slots. How many would we get? Conglomerating the current number just wouldn’t be feasible.

  7. That’s an interesting point about the character slots. It might not matter too much, tho. They could still keep the server names for login/character delineation purposes, so that you’ve basically got all your characters in separate “drawers” that hold 8/12 each.

  8. Toontown has multiple characters with the same name on the same server. Not sure how they handle that, but they do.

  9. Toon Town does this sort of. I am of a mixed mind about it still, but that’s because I am pretty much a self-described bitch =) Basically you can jump between “neighborhoods” if one is too crowded or not crowded enough. Essentially it works because you have an estate for you account that acts as a bank, so I would assume that all of the estates are on one server and it really doesn’t matter what server you jump to. Of course it helps that the main form of currency is a jelly bean and nothing is bought from other players.

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