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7 months ago (1.13.4)
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So in the years between the Classic announcement and it's release, there were tons of discussions around how the game should be handled to give the most enjoyable experience for the most people. All in all I would say Blizzard hit a nice balance and the game is overall a success.

Something that seems to be completely overlooked by most people however is how many people each server fits at any given time. This is something that Blizzard increased dramatically, from what I've heard it was at least doubled.
This seems like a good idea on paper, we have the technology to let more people play together at once without too many performance issues. However, I would argue that it changes every aspect of the game in a major way.

I am aware that many people want to play on the biggest server out there, to not miss out on the fun and always have other people to group with. That's fine and is up to personal preference.

My personal opinion is that these massive servers are to an extent contradictory to what makes a game like Classic World of Warcraft what it is. If there are always hundreds or thousands of other players to play with, there is not much reason to be social or nice to the people you're playing with. You can always just find a new group who most likely would never know about your previous interactions with people.
That is exactly the type of thing people stopped playing retail WoW for, the anonymity and the ability to just get your loot and leave that we see in systems like the dungeon finder.

I personally intentionally went for a smaller realm when Classic came out, which was enjoyable at first. But then I took a break from the game and came back a few months later, and this in my opinion appropriately sized server had turned in to another massive one because of free transfers.
If you check out any website that tracks how many players are on each server, you'll find that 90% of the servers are massively populated, to the point where you'll have hundreds of players in the major cities.
There are 1-2 realms available without massive overpopulation on my region, but I fear that Blizzard will open up free transfers to those from the major realms with 4-5 times more people on them than they should have at any point.

Anyways, that's my rant over. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but this is just my opinion on it. Clearly Classic is very popular and I'm not trying to say that people are wrong to enjoy their big servers, this is just my perspective on it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter! Do you happen to play on a smaller server, or a big one. And what is that like?

   Perdition
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7 months ago (1.13.4)
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I play on fairbanks, a server large enough to have layering turned back on. We had 2-3 hour queues before the layers were put back in effect.

There will always be faceless people on every server, even in my own guild with people I know as they create alts that I'm not familiar with. However, I still see a large majority of the same people in town every day, see people I've never played with before often enough to see them progress through the game. There's the shirtless human paladin who dances on the ironforge bridge every night with his hand of ragnaros on his back. There's the row of bear druids lined up next to the Ironforge bank. There's the same guilds I saw from when I first came up through launch. I notice when people who weren't pushing PVP before start pushing high ranks. These are all people I've never played with, but know who they are since it's a living breathing community. It's one of the largest servers around, not the largest, but large enough to have layering turned back on.

Regarding people not being nice due to anonymity, I have rarely come across this problem. As a community driven game, I added every good player that I met while in dungeons to my friends list and actively stuck with them and built my own community. At some point I completely stopped relying on random players and was able to fill dungeons with friends I had met while levelling. As we all hit level 60, we all collected within a single guild, found a raid team that was assembling, and all claimed spots on it. Now all the new friends who I didn't know 7 months ago are people who I consider to be close friends and we all raid together and push progression as a group.

I still value being in town surrounded by the random players that I've never played with. Seeing the same names, same people, same guilds as the game pushes on makes it feel like home. I'm not in a position where the behavior of others will impact me as I actively grew and cultivated a group of new friends in game. I can count the amount of random players I've had to invite to groups over the past 3-4 months on two hands.

I've been playing since launch. I didn't pick a high population server, I just picked a server in my time zone and started playing. It became high population and I had no say in the matter. I really don't care either way, because I have invested over 50 days /played into this server and it is my home. I made it through the Phase 2 hellscape with my group of friends intact through the magic of raid logging. I survived that shit show so I can't imagine anything being worse.

No matter what the game does, there will be ways to get your loot and leave. You can pug all levels of content released to-date. But I believe that is the least enjoyable way to play this game. If you're playing for gear then you're going to have a bad time. The community aspect of this game is what draws me in, specifically the immediate community of my raid team and inner circle of friends. Playing on a mega server does have the added benefit of having a larger pool of players to recruit from as players slowly drop off due to the usual attrition. Being on a very high population server does allow for PUGs to behave like PUGs, but that is unavoidable and you don't want to play with them anyway. It does give higher odds of finding high quality people that you enjoy spending time with and inviting them to join your raid team. I like it. A smaller server would give smaller recruitment pools, and could result in situations where you are forced to bring in shitty people to raid with just to keep your numbers up. In retrospect, even though I didn't choose to be on a high population server, I am glad that I am because it raises the likelihood that my team will be able to keep recruitment at replacement levels so that we can stick together and accomplish our goal of clearing Naxx and moving into TBC together.

Just like in real life, there are plenty of garbage people on every server. Player attrition is the real raid boss in this game, and playing on the highest population servers helps combat this by having a larger player base to recruit from. Being able to maintain a full roster on my raid team keeps me from playing with the dregs of the server. I appreciate being on a large server for the higher number of quality people we can bring in over time.

   Dirtnose Gorio
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7 months ago (1.13.4)
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Personally I’m with OP in that I prefer a lower pop server, but it is very difficult to find the ideal balance between “every zone is full of people” and “it’s just not possible to form groups for lower level content”. The two servers I play on are Grobbulus which is currently a locked realm, and Deviate Delight, where I haven’t been able to form a group for lowbie dungeons yet. While I prefer the lower pop, not being able to form a group is extremely demotivating so I ended up heading back to Grob.

   Perdition Gorio
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6 months ago (1.13.4)
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I agree with both of you that there are certainly benefits of having more people around, but there is a balance to strike. If you can't possibly do some of the content because of a lack of players, then that is not how the game was meant to be played. But I think you have to be careful to differentiate convenience and even the possibility of doing something.

Having a massive amount of players to pick from when it comes to doing whatever content you feel like promotes anti social behaviour like only inviting the perfectly geared person for the task, or the exact class or even race of that character. If there is a smaller base of players to pick from, then perhaps you'll have to bring along somebody who isn't perfect for the task, maybe even a hybrid class playing an off-meta spec.

Or for example if you're out in the world questing. If there are always 5 other players doing the quests you're on, they'll quickly become annoying and feel like they're just in your way. On a smaller server, you might only meet somebody on the same quest every now and then, and you'll take that opportunity to work together to do the harder quests in the area perhaps.
Then. if you were hoping to do a dungeon in the future, you would remember playing with that person a few days ago and ask them if they wanted to tag along for it, since you couldn't just invite one of the fifteen gnome mages waiting outside the instance.

These are the kind of things that personally I found great about older MMOs, and I think that the realms that bypass the original limit (the vast majority of them currently) work to remove these elements, or make them much rarer.

   Dirtnose Perdition
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6 months ago (1.13.4)
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It's an interesting topic and one I've been thinking about the past few weeks. Server caps are for sure much higher in classic than vanilla, multiple sources (including Blizzard themselves) have confirmed it. Based on the ironforge.pro numbers (which isn't an official thing or anything but the best we have to really see from a player perspective) it's at least double what vanilla was.

Like with most things there are downsides and upsides to bigger and smaller servers. I also gravitate to the smaller servers as that's more like what vanilla actually was. I think servers like Firemaw or Mograine are absolutely a case of overpopulation and people that use server sizes like that as a standard for what is healthy are totally overestimating what it was like or have been deceived by popular private servers in the past that had super huge numbers. I've definitely seen it a lot on forums and whatnot that anything that isn't super overpopulated is "dead" which is something I totally disagree with. Reminds me of people that would claim any MMO that didn't match WoW's insane numbers was "dead". I know that's only a subset of people though.

Saying that, in terms of safety and long term health these bigger servers are most likely the best bet imo. Unlike original WoW, Classic has finite content. People know what's coming, they know that eventually content will stop...which means unlike vanilla, the player base will go down over time, not up. My biggest worry with the smaller low/medium servers is that once this pandemic goes away and once Naxx is out for a while, there is gonna be a big drop in players. This means these smaller servers have a much higher risk of dying off compared to the larger and overpopulated ones. Of course we most likely have TBC to come but then we just repeat the issues.

I totally agree that the super large servers have less of that close tight knit community feel and it's why I prefer the smaller servers too but on the bigger servers it feels like a better long term decision, at least from my view. Of course there's all the other aspects too like finding dungeon groups, and community identity etc. it's a deep topic with no real wrong answer. You take the good with bad no matter which you pick. It's just a case of what good you want the most.

   Gorio
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6 months ago (1.13.4)
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Dirtnose wrote:
6 months ago
It's an interesting topic and one I've been thinking about the past few weeks. Server caps are for sure much higher in classic than vanilla, multiple sources (including Blizzard themselves) have confirmed it. Based on the ironforge.pro numbers (which isn't an official thing or anything but the best we have to really see from a player perspective) it's at least double what vanilla was.

Like with most things there are downsides and upsides to bigger and smaller servers. I also gravitate to the smaller servers as that's more like what vanilla actually was. I think servers like Firemaw or Mograine are absolutely a case of overpopulation and people that use server sizes like that as a standard for what is healthy are totally overestimating what it was like or have been deceived by popular private servers in the past that had super huge numbers. I've definitely seen it a lot on forums and whatnot that anything that isn't super overpopulated is "dead" which is something I totally disagree with. Reminds me of people that would claim any MMO that didn't match WoW's insane numbers was "dead". I know that's only a subset of people though.

Saying that, in terms of safety and long term health these bigger servers are most likely the best bet imo. Unlike original WoW, Classic has finite content. People know what's coming, they know that eventually content will stop...which means unlike vanilla, the player base will go down over time, not up. My biggest worry with the smaller low/medium servers is that once this pandemic goes away and once Naxx is out for a while, there is gonna be a big drop in players. This means these smaller servers have a much higher risk of dying off compared to the larger and overpopulated ones. Of course we most likely have TBC to come but then we just repeat the issues.

I totally agree that the super large servers have less of that close tight knit community feel and it's why I prefer the smaller servers too but on the bigger servers it feels like a better long term decision, at least from my view. Of course there's all the other aspects too like finding dungeon groups, and community identity etc. it's a deep topic with no real wrong answer. You take the good with bad no matter which you pick. It's just a case of what good you want the most.
I think what you're saying is very much accurate. The fears of dead realms is probably the exact reason why Blizzard went with this path to begin with, they decided that it's easier to handle a relative few amount of servers that are initially really big rather than having many of them that they have to try to merge or otherwise to "revive".

Classic will most likely see a fairly significant decline during the last 5-6 months of it's original timeline, but we will certainly also see big spikes yet to come, such as the launch of the last two major content releases as well as TBC. Considering they had to bring back layering already, I do find the future a little bit worrying.

I do think that this is in part a problem that comes from how players think, not just the decisions of Blizzard. Like you say, over the years people's perception of a dead or alive server has changed, and they're much more critical about it.

The same goes for the issue of faction balance, which in my opinion is a growing issue that we will see more and more discussions about, especially once TBC comes around. We've already seen alliance players complaining that they have very little chance winning some battlegrounds, in particular AV, and TBC is notoriously horde favored in the eyes of players if private servers are anything to go by.

   Perdition
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6 months ago (1.13.4)
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OP, i am entirely with you and actually have attempted to draw attention to this on Blizzard's forums. (Heresy, i know. i'm ashamed of myself) xD and all it did was server as troll food & got dissected to death by the Blizzites. Unfortunately, i don't think many realize how much of an issue it causes, as far as taking away from the authenticity of "Vanilla reproduction". I really don't like feeling like i'm playing retail while playing...not retail? LOL i legit think this needs more traction on Blizz's forums tho, they really need to think about the impact it has. Personally, i'm really tired of the lazy decisions being made and get the impression if they acknowledged this, they'd have to acknowledge there's merit to opening more servers, which for some reason, they're resistant to. (That's for a whole nother post tho). It strikes me that perhaps one of the reasons is that they're using the Legion engine, and they didn't want to recode it just for Classic to change server sizes? That's the impression i get anyway.

Thank you for your well articulated post. It's a relief to not being the only one who sees the bigger picture. That's why i love this place. So many great minds everrywhere you look.

Edit: i hadn't really delved into the websites for pop info until today, as i realize they aren't fully accurate. Ironforge shows active Raiders only but wowclassicpopulation i *think* it is, shows a bit better picture, but still not complete. Either way, some of the numbers are curious to say the least. I too, was trying to find a least populated server and it's tedious to wade through.

   Gorio
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