Monday, August 24, 2009

Game Design Day Three: Groups

Welcome to my blog. I will be discussing “A” list Massives aimed at the American and European market, such as EverQuest®, Dark Age of Camelot®, World of Warcraft®, Lord of the Rings Online®, Eve Online®, Warhammer Online®, etc. I will be discussing game design from the abstract to the specific. Today I will be discussing experience groups.

Day One. Define a Niche and have a very rough idea of gameplay.
Day Two. Determine the intensity levels of the player game experience.
Day Three. Determine the experience (including rvr, pvp) groups your game will have and a rough idea of the tools your players will have to form and join these groups.

It is the nature of Massives that a player requires other people to have fun. Therefore early in game design we should think about how we are going to get players together.

World of Warcraft (WoW) is fairly typical in its experience groups:
· Basic Experience Group, up to five people
· Small Raid, up to two groups
· Raids, up to five groups
Warhammer (War) adds realm vs. realm content that may include five or more raid groups. (Note: guilds are not experience groups and I will discuss them and social groups at a later time)

The Basic Group

The basic group is used as:
· a chat channel,
· a gameplay component, such as heals or buffs that effect everyone in a group,
· a method to share rewards, and in some cases penalties.

Grouping up is fundamental to not only the Massive experience, but the Human experience as well. This is one area of design I’m just going to accept, humans group up, in game and out of game. It’s how we work. Our challenge as designers is to implement systems that let people group up easily.

Group Size.

In WoW the basic group is maximum 5 people, in Warhammer it is maximum 6 people. Massives have a fixed maximum level on their group size. If more than one group is required, like a small raid, then two groups are linked together. Some gameplay such as heals, may remain on the group level, and some gameplay such as buffs may extend to the raid (or super-group). A raid can be thought of as a super-group, with again, some gameplay components remaining on the group level and others on the super-group levels.

Let’s look at the basic group size. Keep in mind that a maximum group size limit is a legacy mechanic, it is not necessarily the best way to design your game. WoW (a beginner game) has a group size of five. Blizzard’s game design philosophy seems to be focused on controlling a player’s experience. In vanilla WoW, content such as instanced dungeons required a full group of five. One of those five slots had to be a tank-type character, another a healing-type character, and a third a crowd control (cc)-type character. This left players just two slots to fill as they desired. By restricting groups in this fashion designers got a two-fer; 1. they pretty much knew the composition of the group and could tune (adjust difficulty of) their content and 2. made it easy for players to figure out optimum group composition.

A larger group size offers players more flexibility but may make tuning encounters more difficult. Personally I would accept that a group size of no smaller than 5 has a solid foundation, especially if the alternative was to actually open one of my Sociology books and do some research. A quick search on Terra Nova did not find any discussion about minimum viable group size. For now don’t worry about basic group size, it is important, but let your design dictate the size. Keep in mind that optimum player vs. environment (pve) and player vs. player (pvp) group sizes may be different.

Groups & Tuning Content

Groups are also used to tune (adjust difficulty of) content. For example, instanced dungeons in WoW only allow one group to enter at a time. In this fashion developers can tune the difficulty of the content to a known group size and have an idea of its composition. In vanilla EQ, non-instanced dungeons did not limit number of players. Personally, I led my 40+ guild of lowbies into Upper Guk in a vain quest to find the Ancient Crocs and got em all wiped. It was a blast. Anyway, in non-instance dungeons, players tune the difficulty of the dungeon by how many characters they bring. The risk-reward mechanism is: the more characters along on a run, the less likely any one particular character will get loot. Contrast with WoW restricting the number of participants but rewarding everyone in the run.

So, the first thing to throw up on the white board is: “Who is tuning content: developers or players?”

Public Quests. Warhammer Online introduced a new feature which I feel is greatly underappreciated, the Public Quest. This is content that is open to all, no need for groups, and everyone who participates in the content has a chance at reward. (The reward system was buggy at release, which does not detract from how innovative this system is.) The rewards of the public quest scaled depending upon the number of participants. Thus the risk reward mechanisms is: high participation equal high number of low level rewards and low participation equal low number of high level rewards. Different groups and/or individuals can participate in the Public Quest, thus solving some looking for group (LFG) issues as well as letting players tune the content.

Looking For Group (LFG)

The number one player complaint is: down time waiting for a group.

You don’t like waiting in the doctor’s office, or standing on line in the grocery store. Players don’t like standing around trying to get a group together. Grouping is essential for players to experience content. Therefore it is the designers’ responsibility to design in systems to make looking for group a quick, easy, fun, experience.

Pick-Up-Groups. (PUGs) A pick up group is a group of people that aren’t in a formal social group, such as a guild that join together temporarily to experience content. A typical forum complaint about LFG in WoW is similar to my own experience. That is, a player logs on with a play-time of two hours, and wants to do an instanced dungeon with an expected duration of one hour. Yet because of the difficulties of finding a group, getting it together in the proper place with the proper potions (expendable buffs), replacing the guy who had dropped group without saying a word or replacing the character that did not have the proper gear, takes too much time. None of this is fun.

A lot of you may be shrugging at this point and thinking players should join guilds and just run groups with their guildies; that finding a good group of people is part of the challenge of playing a Massive. We could chase the blame around, designers not giving players strong enough tools, players being too lazy, or in the immortal words of a Stars War Galaxy (SWG) designer “players are not playing the game correctly.” Let’s agree that a lot of players are sitting around LFG and not having any fun.

I started writing out in detail what causes people to sit around and be bored LFG. The problem is, well, complicated. In WoW, some of the causes are: server population, time of day, player expectation, not enough of a particular class (some servers don’t have enough healers, others not enough tanks), the fact that rewards are easier to get in arena’s and battlegrounds than instances, players logged on alternate characters, guild progression, solo content and basic risk vs. reward calculations. And these are just some of the factors. A lot of these problems are created by other parts of game design that are “working as intended.”

For example, a small fixed group size is consistent with Blizzard’s design philosophy (as deduced from their games). This small fixed group size leads to needing a tanking-class and a healing-class as essential members of the group. But there may not be enough tanks or healers on a particular server. Players are given no guidance when creating a new character and may not realize that there is a shortage of needed classes. It may also be that playing a tank or healer is not as much fun as some other class. These are problems that we as designers can solve.

In WoW, arenas give some of the best rewards and are arguably easier to get than other content. That may in fact be working as intended, but the side effect is that players with limited playtime will get their arena matches out of the way first, and then LFG for instanced content. In a similar manner, battlegrounds, which offer superior rewards, take people out of the LFG pool. The easy availability of solo content, such as daily quests, also take people out of the LFG, especially the people with limited play time who need it the most. So a player with limited time may decide to engage in a game activity which is not much fun but is guaranteed a reward, such as daily quests, rather take the risk of entering LFG.
(Note: as I am sitting here editing this Blizzard has announced they will patch in cross server LFG, in effect expanding the LFG pool.)

Some quick fixes for LFG. I’m just going to throw out what I see as some quick fixes for LFG in most DikuMUD-based, instanced Massives. Keep in mind that I’d rather see non-DikuMUD, non-beginner games being developed, but here we go.

Problem: Not enough needed classes. Solution: notify players at the character selection screen, offer rewards for playing needed classes. Give needed classes additional rewards in PUGs.

Problem: Creating and leading a PUG group is a pain. Solution: give leader a reward, such as 10 percent additional experience, or leadership tokens to turn in for special gear. (Note: Blizzard just announced they will patch this in. I would have looked a lot smarter if I hadn’t held off publishing this until I went over it one last time.)

Problem. Players not committing to joining a PUG until it is almost full. Solution: give the second player to join a PUG a bonus, the third player a smaller bonus, etc.

Problem. Under-geared characters and players not familiar with the content. Solution: under some conditions allow the maximum group size to go up. Alternatively, give all other members of the PUG a bonus reward for taking a sub-optimum player.

Well you can see where I am going here. And my need to appear clever has ended. So let’s move on. I feel that looking for group is so important that I would design a LFG system and then build a game around it. I can’t tell you how to do that, but let’s discuss optimal LFG features.

Optimal LFG. To me this is a real no brainer. As a player I want to log in and have the game find me a group. Now I don’t want to be unreasonable, let’s say I’m willing to log in beforehand and schedule a time for my group, and accept penalties if I do not show up for my appointment. I’m also willing to be flexible in what content to explore. Finally, I want to group with people on my friends list and avoid people on my ignore list. This is all doable with data should already be in a game’s databases.

By being able to schedule content, I believe we can broaden the appeal of Massives and bring more people in, particularly self-described casuals. I think scheduling would encourage people to extend their subscriptions, even as they have less time due to real life, and/or take up a new game.


I talked about giving rewards for joining a group, or playing a needed class. Let’s talk briefly about tools for group, raid, and realm leaders. WoW lets group leaders mark enemies. War let’s the group leader designate a main assist and every player has a button to target the same enemy the main assist has targeted. Leaders can also kick out a group member, and arrange groups. That’s about it for tools in current Massives. Obviously there is room for more. For example, when joining a raid, perhaps a new chat tab should be opened up for just raid and group leaders only. Groups are important, think about what you can do to make them easier once formed.

Warhammer (War) has some content (realm fights) that need multiple warband (raid) groups to accomplish, such as fort pushes and city fights. The problem starts with the fact that leadership is hard. While a lot of people can teach themselves how to lead a small group, fewer can lead raids and even fewer can lead multiple warbands. The good news is that leadership can be taught. A good place to start is The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual. Having a pool of good leaders makes our games more fun. We could address this as an industry, but since that is unlikely, think about how you can address this in your game. Perhaps an optional mini-game that teaches leadership basics, perhaps quest lines, perhaps just rewards for leadership. Designing games that require leaders to evolve and not giving them training or tools, is sorta loony.

Once you have leaders they need tools. Some of these tools should be communication tools, to automatically create channels just for leaders. You might allow raid leaders to hand out cosmetic rewards, for duty above and beyond. I had one raid leader who had the raid vote on best healer for that particular raid, and then give that person a reward from the guild bank. Another thought is to institutionalize the dragon kill point (DKP) system into your game. Players join groups voluntarily, we need to give leaders some tools to motivate players.

To Sum Up

Groups are good. Players want to join groups. Players don’t want to wait to join groups. This is the game designers problem.

Groups need leaders. Designers need to help create leaders and give them tools to work with to motivate players.

If your design requires players to fill certain niches in groups, then you must also put in methods to motivate players to do so.

Day One. Define a Niche and have a very rough idea of gameplay.
Day Two. Determine the intensity levels of the player game experience.
Day Three. Determine the groups your game will have and a rough idea of the tools your players will have to form and join these groups.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Game Design Day Two: Penalties

Welcome to my blog. I will be discussing “A” list Massives aimed at the American and European market, such as EverQuest®, Dark Age of Camelot®, World of Warcraft®, Lord of the Rings Online®, Eve Online®, Warhammer Online®, etc. I will be discussing game design from the abstract to the specific. Today I will be discussing Player Penalties, such as character death penalties.

Why talk about Penalties early in game design? Game play influences character penalties and vice versa. For example: in Planetside® a character is expected to die a lot. Therefore the character death penalty is very short, and a player is back in the game quickly after dying. EverQuest (EQ) was originally designed so that a character death was a rare occurrence, which influenced EQ to have a very severe death penalty.

Interesting read: Chris Bateman on Time and Punishment.

Early in the design process you should have a foggy picture of both game play and penalties. The problem comes in if you assume consciously or unconsciously that your penalties should be similar to World of Warcraft (WoW) or some other game, and let that assumption drive your game play design. Easy penalties make a lot of sense for a beginner game such as WoW. There are good reasons to have hard penalties, see my discussion “Casual vs Hardcore.”


We are all familiar with death penalties in Massives. At the level cap in vanilla EQ the death penalty for a caster was 20+ minutes. In vanilla WoW this penalty was reduced to just a couple minutes in most cases. The death penalty is the most noticeable and most important influence on game play. There are other penalties in Massives other then the death penalty. Any restriction in game play can be considered a penalty of sorts.

Bag Space. The ability to carry and store items is restricted in most Massives. In Planetside this meant a character could run out of ammunition, so had to be aware of ammo expenditure. In WoW a character has to balance the desire to carry beneficial items such as food and potions, additional gear, and still have empty bag space to loot items.

Movement Speed. Vanilla EQ had a weight associated with items. Once items in a player bags went over a certain weight, a character moved slower.

Instance Lockouts and Resets. Some Massives have restrictions on how long a party can take to complete an instance, and how soon a new instance may be opened.

Gold Sinks. This is a bit of a grey area. To me a mount in WoW is a gold sink. While mounts are not technically necessary for game play, it is something most players want. Another example would be potions. Potions are necessary to be competitive in War. Some players feel penalized if they must take time from their preferred form of game play, to acquire game-money items such as mounts, or potions.

Spawn Location. After death, a character typically spawns (comes back to life) in a different location from where he died. In WoW, a character spawns in the nearest graveyard as a ghost and must choose between running back to their body or paying a fee and accepting a stat loss for a few minutes. In War, a character spawns at the nearest camp with a stat penalty that he can remove for a bit of in-game money. In vanilla EQ a character spawned at a location a player previously set without gear and spells. A character had to run back to their body to retrieve their gear. The further a player is from their spawn point when they die, the longer it takes to get back to where they were, in addition to other death penalties.

Experience. Getting an experience bonus for a character being in a “rested state” has become the norm. In WoW beta a “tired state” with an experience penalty was tried, but not implemented in the live game. A quick side note, penalties can have intended or unintended consequences. Rested experience makes leveling up alternate characters much easier.

Other Penalties. There are lots of other less obvious penalties in current games, such as weapons that can only be used by a certain class or race. Another example is level requirement to enter content. On a personal note, my first Massive was EverQuest. When I took my level four character to Najena, one of the guards said “We don’t like your kind” and beat my character into the ground. That actually hooked me on EQ. Imagine, if instead I got a message, “Level 12 is required to enter this content, access denied.”

Penalties drive Macro Game Play

In vanilla EverQuest the death penalty was severe. Players would lean forward in their seats, one-hundred percent focused on the game during combat. [Of note for another discussion, this focus was balanced by an even larger time of inactivity after combat.] In WoW, with its less severe death penalties, players often multi-task during routine game play; such as watching TV or surfing the web. In Warhammer with its minimal death penalty, players deliberately suicide to quickly get from one side of the zone to another.

Another way to think of macro-game play is to compare it to a workout at the gym. EverQuest would be heavy Interval Training with a trainer yelling at you. WoW and Warhammer would be a light aerobic workout while reading a magazine and listening to mp3s.

As this point is so important, I’m going to try one more time. Dying in EverQuest is like having a bowling ball dropped on your foot. A player gets completely focused in the game so their character will not die and they will not have a bowling ball dropped on their foot. Dying in WoW or Warhammer is more like a housefly briefly landing on your arm.

The death penalty is the overall intensity setting of your game. It is not the only way to set intensity, but it is the most pervasive. The intensity of your game dictates other design decisions. Vanilla EverQuest’s formula (for grind mobs) of two minutes intense combat followed by four minutes recovery, was either inspired design or just lucky, but the combination helped make EQ popular.

Rereading the above I’m sorta wandering around. I’m going to let it stand as I think penalties should be part of the core design process rather than added in as a method of modifying player experience. Let me throw out one example of penalties used to create gameplay in WoW-like massives.

Penalties in WoW-style Dungeon runs

The goal in a WoW-style Dungeon run is to kill a Boss mob, as the Boss mobs drop the best rewards. Blocking access to a Boss is an array of Trash mobs, which drop inferior rewards. After fighting through the Trash mobs, a group stands in front of a Boss and the intensity level goes up a bit as the Boss mob is more challenging to fight than a trash mob.

In some dungeons the trash mobs do not respawn, and so have no impact on intensity level. Other dungeons have trash mobs that respawn behind the players, so that if they fail a Boss fight, they have to fight back through the Trash mobs. This respawn can up the intensity level of a Boss fight a lot, the longer it takes to fight through the Trash Mobs the higher the intensity. As killing Trash mobs is not fun, a player is effectively faced with a potential time penalty when killing Boss mobs.

To me, varying intensities during gameplay is a good thing. Using respawning Trash Mobs as penalties seems… uninspired. Instead
· Have the Boss get harder to fight after each failed attempt,
· Have the Boss drop lesser quality rewards after each failed attempt,
· Have the Boss get into a snit after a failed attempt and retire to a player inaccessible Fortress of Solitude, for a period of time. This penalizes the player while not dictating his subsequent game play.

The point I’m trying to make is recognize when you are penalizing players, why you are penalizing players and review how you are penalizing players.

Penalties drive Micro Game Play

Penalties can drive players to or from content. Consciously or unconsciously players are always evaluating risk vs. reward when deciding what content to experience.

A good example of this is in vanilla WoW. There was only one spawn point in one of the largest zones, “The Barrens.” The content in the very south of the The Barrens involved one of the longest runs from a spawn point in the game. Interestingly enough the content in the South Barrens was in many respects more rewarding in terms of gear and farmed materials than elsewhere in the zone. Yet even though the North Barrens was relatively crowded, South Barrens was under-populated. At some point another spawn point was patched, cutting the run in half, and South Barrens player population went up.

Personally, I liked South Barrens. As a designer I wanted to see the content. As a power gamer there was some gear I wanted from there. As a T-type personality I enjoy high risk - high reward situations. I am not a typical player.

Before a second spawn point was patched in, the content was under used. I think we can say the typical player of WoW (a beginner game) is not only risk adverse, but also seeks a consistent game experience. Therefore, given a choice players will pick the easier area to experience. So as far as content is concerned, a player will rate it by:
· Reward (Exp, Gear, etc.)
· Encounter Prep (Travel time, how long to get a group, acquire appropriate potions and such, etc.)
· Encounter Time (How long to finish a quest, get to a dungeon boss, etc.)
· Difficulty (This is very subjective, and a moving target as it changes as a character gears and/or levels up, but let’s consider it the percentage chance of failure.)
· Risk (Penalty or Penalties for failing the encounter)

Penalties are not fun! Or are they?

Talking about penalties may make you a bit uncomfortable. After all penalties are not fun, and who wants to make a game that is not fun? Look again at the bullet list above. Now, let’s say you got the best reward in the game for a quest that requires a character to walk for 10 seconds and talking to a non-player-character (npc). Not much fun right? Now, let’s add the requirement of grouping up with five of your buddies and traveling through every area in the game world. More fun, yes.

Consider two versions of our revised quest. First, if a character dies while on this quest, he respawns in place after ten seconds. Here we have (High Reward + High Encounter Time + Low Risk) = a low intensity encounter. By putting in whatever time it takes to travel around, a player character is guaranteed to get the reward. Contrast this with a second version, where if a character dies while on this quest he respawns at the start of the quest, and has to travel the world again from the start. In this second version we have (High Reward + High Encounter Time + High Risk) = a high intensity encounter.

Game design is more art than science. Just making an encounter more intense does not necessarily make it more fun, but in this particular case I think you would all agree it would. So in this little example we have made an encounter more fun by adding in a rather severe penalty. Now our encounter still isn’t tuned. The best reward in the game should require the group to at least fight the biggest, badest boss in the game. Tuning is a topic for another discussion.

Penalties and the Game Community

I am a firm advocate of actually listening to your players most of the time. A significant amount of game forum postings are about reducing penalties in some fashion. For the most part this should be treated as background noise. As I have discussed above, penalties are necessary for good game design and tuning of course. Players are human and are prone to want things easier without thought for good design. Trust your empirical evidence and not forum postings when it comes to penalties.

Penalties and My Game Design

I am working on a game design, let’s call it ST. On day one I choose my nitch and roughed out my game-play. At this early point of the design of ST I am more interested in the intensity of the player experience than whether they are fighting orcs with swords or zombies with AK47s. So without getting into specifics at this early date here is the base-line experience I want a player to go through.
· 15 minutes prep time (low intensity)
· 30 minutes maneuvering and skirmishing (medium intensity with short high spikes)
· 15 minutes the big fight (high intensity, with the possibility of throwing a keyboard through the monitor)
· 15 minutes social time (game mechanics that encourage social interaction)

To get the really intense high intensity gameplay I want I need a very harsh death penalty. For this game that translates into a player character’s death equals the character is booted from the encounter. Pretty harsh, but what I want. This penalty brings up another issue. I now have to find game-play for the player whose character is booted out, knowing that most of his friends or guildies are still playing the encounter. This is really something I need to consider very early on in the design process, so the solution can be an integrated, natural part of the game design, and not something just tacked on.

To Sum Up

Well, rereading this it is apparent I cannot separate game penalties from game intensity. I don’t think that is wrong, so I’m gonna let this stand as written. Let me restate it as Penalties set Game Intensity, which is necessary for fun gameplay. My discussion has wandered a bit, let me try to bring it home.
· Understand that penalties are an integral part of but different from other game mechanics,
· Don’t let your game mechanics alone determine your character penalties. A back and forth is needed.
· Penalties are not for punishing your players. Appropriately used they may punish your player’s characters, but enhance game play for your players.

Design Day One is about finding a good niche for your game that can make it profitable, and sketching out your game play. Design Day Two is about reviewing your game play and determining what type of penalties will be needed to achieve your game play, and integrating the penalties into your design.

Bad Idea? 24/7 Servers

Welcome to my blog. I will be discussing “A” list Massives aimed at the American and European market, such as EverQuest®, Dark Age of Camelot®, World of Warcraft®, Lord of the Rings Online®, Eve Online®, Warhammer Online®, etc. Today I will be focusing on whether servers should be open 24 hours a day 7 days a week (except for maintenance).

When a game is in the initial design stage, no one asks, “so what’s our server schedule going to be?” I pay a monthly fee to use my health club, yet I can only do so during certain hours. I have a season pass to my local 6-Flags amusement park, and again I can only use it during certain hours. There are certainly precedents for limited access to a subscription based activity.

Players expect 24/7 servers

When servers in World of Warcraft (WoW) go down unexpectedly, the forums fill up with unhappy players complaining they pay for 24/7 server access. In fact WoW compensates players when their servers are down more than expected.

Why? Obviously players get upset when servers are down during prime playing times. Players get almost as upset at any server down time. There are two broad reasons for this: 1. mini-sessions and 2. a psychological attachment to the server.

Mini-Sessions. The benefit of playing in prime time is that there are more people on-line to group up and explore content with. However, there are a number of activities in Massives that a player can accomplish solo, during off hours. These include hunting for rare spawns in EverQuest, training skills in Eve, crafting in Dark Age of Camelot, playing the Auction House (AH) in WoW, farming for materials in Warhammer, etc. When I was playing the AH in WoW I would log into WoW after breakfast, at lunch from work, and before hitting the gym after work, to look for bargains. These sessions only lasted 10-15 minutes, but were fun for me.

Psychological Attachment. For me, my psychological attachment to my current massive is similar to my attachment to my car (I live in the suburbs). If my car is in the shop I just don’t feel right, even if I am not planning on leaving the house. I feel this same non-rational response when the server is down, even if I was not planning on logging in. I’ve tried and deleted a number of attempts to explain this better. If you have not experienced this feeling yourself, let’s just leave it that a many players feel a disturbance in the force when they are unable to log in.

The Daedalus Gateway is a good read on the psychology of gamers.

Financial Benefits of non-24/7 servers

“A” list Massives give players a choice of different time-zone servers. So even if a server were to be down 8 hours a day, players would be able to choose a server that could accommodate their regular play schedule. With servers down part of the day, less IT people would be required. Additionally less customer support, such as game-masters (gm) would be required. Note: it has been my experience that more player shenanigans, such as exploiting and griefing, occur during off hours. The financial benefits are real. I don’t know that I would like to be the first one to sell non-24/7 servers to players as a means of keeping their subscription prices low.

Realm vs. Realm and non-24/7 servers

In a Realm vs. Realm (RvR) game, one’s opponents can affect one’s gameplay, usually through capturing objectives. In Dark Ages of Camelot (DaoC), this is a statistic buff to everyone on the winning side. In Warhammer (War) access to content is restricted on the losing side. I love these kinds of games and have no problems with the rewards and penalties involved. However, my game-play can be affected by events not under my control. On my server in War my opponents launched an “alarm-clock” offensive. On a holiday weekend, they set their alarm-clocks for the middle of the night, and stormed our city while most of us were asleep. Fun for them, surely. Fun for us, not so much.

There is a certain amount of disassociation between player and game world when events unfold over which he has no control. So we have two competing feelings here, a disturbance in the force when a server is down, and an alienation when gameplay is affected by other players when a player is offline. I believe that an RvR game would be improved by limiting server uptime. I would recommend time-zone servers that open after school gets out and closes down at 2 a.m. That’s ten hours uptime.

Our main object here is to improve gameplay, and ensure that a player has a chance to log in and defend his Realm. I believe players can be made to see restricting server time is an advantage.

There is still the question of players that want to log-in to play mini-sessions, such as crafting, farming for materials and the auction house. Players like these and players who want to log in solely to socialize can be accommodated in War by having the capital cities only, open during off times.

To Sum Up

24/7 Servers are assumed into game designs from the beginning. I believe that Realm vs. Realm gameplay would be improved with non-24/7 Servers. There are potentially new types of Massives that are not based on DikuMUD –type games. When you sit down to design your game don’t assume your servers will be open 24-7. Put high up on your white board “Server Hours?”