Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Warning: World of Warcraft post

World of Warcraft was architected as a "sharded" system. There are probably over a hundred servers, each with a unique realm. There are several different types of servers like Role Playing, Player vs Player, Player vs Environment, etc. The rules are slightly different, but the games are essentially the same. The problem is, each world is unique and players can't move between the servers. Therefore, even though World of Warcraft is "the new golf", it very unlikely someone you meet in real life will actually be on a server where you can play together.

The other big problem with this sharded system is that some servers are very underpopulated and some are overpopulated. The server that our guild was on, Khadgar, became overpopulated. We often had to wait in a queue to log in, there was terrible lag and worst of all, new players couldn't create characters on our server. This meant that we couldn't invite real life friends to create characters in our guild. This quickly put a halt to the growth of our guild.

Note to self: When I make a MMORPG to beat World of Warcraft, make sure it is one world like Second Life is.

Recently Blizzard announced that they would be allowing people to transfer characters from Argent Dawn, Bloodhoof, Khadgar, and Zul'jin to a new server called Eitrigg. Transfers would start at 3AM PST on February 1st and end at 3PM PST February 8th. Transfers could only be requested from 3AM to 3PM each day.

A long discussion ensued on the mailing list and in guild chat. Many of us had built relationships with other guilds and other players. On the other hand, many were fed up with the lag, wait and inability to invite our friends into the guild. Several friends from other guilds said that they were ready to move. As I was being wishy washy trying to get consensus, Slashar aka Don Park, pulled what we call a Leeroy Jenkins and move his main character to the new server. It is a one-way transfer. Slashar is probably the most respected officer in the guild and his lead by example started an avalanche and we are now on a one-way street to our new home.

Interestingly, many great players from other guilds have joined the exodus and are joining our guild on the new server. It looks like our guild will be larger and possibly more unified after our move. However, I think several of our core guild members won't be able to leave their friends and family and many of those who are moving will be leaving their best friends. Watching all of the sobbing and heartfelt goodbyes to our friends on Khadgar reminds me of some sort of mass displacement... like a whole clan deciding to move to the New World...

Eitrigg will be closed for new character creation until the transfers are complete. If you are transferring to Eitrigg or want to create a character there and join our guild, let me know. There should be "We Know" people hanging around who you can ask for an invite. We have a healthy batch of low level characters, but also have enough experienced level 60's to probably be running MC shortly. See you there!


That was completely totally thoroughly entirely utterly fascinating.

Lately my friends have become dissatisfied with the performance and flavor of their regular toothpaste. They are fed up with the same old mint taste every morning, and their subsequent inability to motivate themselves to brush regularly. After lengthy discussion within our toothpaste guild, I have convinced some of them to follow me in transferring their allegiance to the hot cinnamon taste of CloseUp Gel.

Joi, if you make a unified world, you miss the possibilities for controlled experiments.
(You did say all this WoW was research, right?)

Joi said:
Note to self: When I make a MMORPG to beat World of Warcraft, make sure it is one world like Second Life is.

Let me know when you are ready to start on this. I'm ready to make a world better than Second Life!


on a side note, I must say, the controlled experiments thing is pretty compelling. I often think of all of the grassroots community wireless networking groups in the world (over 300) and the amazing innovation that has happened (both technically and in terms of sustainability models) because they are not unified.

but that doesn't address the main point. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

Wow, this really is amazing. Diaspora.

So, a few things:
1- no need for the disclaimer ("Warning: World of Warcraft post") at the top anymore. This is a valid topic, and those who still feel the need to make childish fun of it just demonstrate how nearsighted they are, to be polite. You should not feel the need to censor your thoughts here.

2- the more I hear about how things work on WoW, the less interested I am in being part of it. I don't accept unreasonable constraints in my "real world", no way am I going to pay for the "feature" in my virtual world. (Aside from my personal disinclination to deal with arcana for little reward, i.e. learning curve too steep for reward I am myself not interested in, e.g. questing, levels, etc. Not to say I can't accept and understand that others like this.)

3- I do hope you start your own immersive environment project (notice I did not say MMPORG... this isn't just a game anymore) and when you do I hope it will be outside of any enforced mythological/storytelling framework and that tech-wise you support open standards from the get-go. Just saying. ;)

Oh. Now I understand why the guild seemed empty lately on Khadgar! I'd better move...

I wonder what behavior we'll see as people move to the new server. I'm guessing that folks who have some interest in community (guilds, etc.) will be more motivated to move and maybe the new server will be a "better place" for it. Dunno - might go the other way, too. It'll be interesting to watch.

The "realm" model is practical, if only from the programmer/host point of view. But if the goal is best social user experience, how would it be implemented differently, given server constraints, etc. ??

Darius (Chris, aka Docadus)

"Note to self: When I make a MMORPG to beat World of Warcraft, make sure it is one world like Second Life is."

Joi, I have a great idea for a MMORPG, if you are ever serious about building one. Of course, I don't know the first thing about game development, but it's a killer idea for a game. Combines the best parts of Second Life with the best parts of WoW/EQ.

Instead of charging a monthly fee, or charging to upload images and textures, just put a tax on goods sold, and run it like a government. The game would have to sell ingame currency for real money, the taxes would just be to curb ingame inflation. Then it would also be possible to have people sell ingame currency for real money, and make money off of what they do ingame. Just like Second Life does, there would just be a more market-based system for controlling the ingame economy.

If you want to talk about doing research in a game, I think that would be fascinating. It would be a small enough economy where it would be possible to tweak things and see what happens, see what economic theories hold.

There are some good papers on WoW economies. I'll try to find them.

I enjoy reading these WoW posts. I don't know much about WoW but I feel like I am 'hip' to the happenings by keeping up here, especially from a respected and unbiased source like Joi. Thanks for a good read.

One of the benefits of 'sharded' worlds are that they are relatively easy to create and maintain. Build a world, replicate, repeat. In addition there is a limited community so you have the possibility of forming true connections and create a 'community feel' based on geographic limitations. One of the fascinating things about SL as it experiences rapid growth is the community formation has to occur somehow and belonging to a group seems to be an effective way to accomplish this. Unlike guilds groups represent a simple affinity. Ergo you can belong to multiple groups and I doubt that multi-guild system would fly in WOW.

I fear the transition won't be that easy. Like what happened to those who followed Leeroy into the Hatchery, it'll take about a week before the whole 'party' is up and back on the trail.

"What are those red egg things? Can I open it?" - Noob #2582

Another point about sharded worlds is that although Azeroth is large, it's hardly large enough for 5 million people. I went questing in the Eastern Plaguelands last night, hunting for the first kill quest you get there. I commented to a friend that I hadn't seen that many Alliance grinding in the same place since the starting zone. I can't imagine what it would have been like with millions of people on my server.

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Joi writes: Note to self: When I make a MMORPG to beat World of Warcraft, make sure it is one world like Second Life is. You have to be kidding me, Joi. The comparison of Second Life and World of Warcraft we’ll let slide, this time, but the gener... Read More