"Underflow" Shards - for Underpopulated Zones

"Underflow" Shards - for Underpopulated Zones

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Posted by: Marstead.6430

Marstead.6430

EDIT: Some folks have rightly pointed out that with this idea as presented, everyone would be redirected to an Underflow server and the home zone would never have time to populate. This is a legitimate concern; a possible fix might be checking periodically on the Underflow for players’ home servers and offering to send them all back at once. There are a number of other ways to handle it, I’ve included some at the bottom—post your ideas!

As the game launch is settling down and more and more characters are hitting level 80, the low-level zones are becoming sparser and sparser. The level 1 tutorial zones in particular are almost always empty when running a new character, which subtracts a little from their oomph for a new player.

I imagine that the overflow shards for these zones are underused right now, so here is my proposed solution to utilize them—whenever a player enters a specific zone, the game does a check for the number of players in that zone. If it is below a certain threshhold, a popup appears offering to send the player to a cross-server Underflow shard (really just an Overflow shard), where other players seeing low populations should land. The popup would work the same way as exiting an Overflow (Offer options for Travel, Leave Queue, and Reenter Queue).

While in the Underflow shard, the game periodically checks the home server to see if the population is above the threshhold. If it is, the player gets another prompt asking if they want to rejoin the home server, as usual.

I think this would largely solve the issue of barren low-level areas, especially since most overflow shard party jumping bugs have been fixed. One issue I can envision is where influence cannot be gained for your home server while on an Overflow shard, but this could either be treated as the payment for not playing on your home server, or addressed in a future patch.

Another problem could be that this would be confusing for newer players, so the popup text would have to be very specific explaining exactly what will happen if the player chooses to travel.

Issue Suggestions

Some astute players have noted a fundamental flaw with this idea—if everyone opts to go to the Underflow server, there is no way for the home server to build players. There’re a couple ways to fix this:

1) As mentioned above, intermittently perform a check for the # of players on the Underflow from each home server. If the # is above a certain threshhold, simultaneously offer all players to return to the Home Server.

2) Alternatively, track server/zone population rates with every WvW reset. For that week, zones noted to be “underpopulated” always direct to an “Underflow” shard for that zone. In this version, there is no notification to the player that they are on a shared shard, and they would remain on that shard anytime they visit the zone for that week (unless of course the Underflow actually overflows!). Recalculate the “underpopulated” zones with each WvW reset, for each Server + Zone.

3) Outside of Hub Cities, do away with the concept of server-exclusive zones entirely. Because the Trading Post is cross-realm, the only real meaning of separate servers right now is WvW allegiance. Keeping WvW allegiance consistent (and having consistent hub towns) is still valuable, but other than that, treat ALL other zones like Overflow shards. When players from any server enter a zone, they first attempt to enter Shard #1 for that zone. If Shard #1 is full, they go to Shard #2, and so on. This seems like it would save a lot on wasted server space as unpopular zones cross-realm (like the tutorial area and mid-level zones) might only need 2-3 dedicated servers running at all times. The added benefit would be that you would almost never play in a zone without any other players. Unlike other MMOs the design of GW2 and the dynamic event system really requires many players in each zone, for the experience to be fun. If a future content patch adds zones that are more fruitful for 80+ players than Orr, Orr will be totally useless if it is completely empty on a given world.

(edited by Marstead.6430)

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Posted by: Arewn.2368

Arewn.2368

I like this idea, something similar popped up in another thread on guru, but this idea for it is well fleshed out and I think would work quiet well.
Only problem I can see is that if people are being prompted to move to the underflow shard, how will the regular server get a chance to populate. Though this isn’t a big deal since it really doesn’t HAVE to populate, so long as there’s somewhere you can go to find more people it doesn’t really matter if that place is the underflow or your reg server.

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Posted by: ajpearman.2586

ajpearman.2586

This is a wonderful idea. I love playing through zones and I haven’t even seen half the events in this game, despite having 2 level 80s. The thing is, leveling through zones is usually tougher than it was at launch because of low-mid level characters becoming a minority.

“Underflow shards” would fix this issue and let the game be played the way that the developers intended!

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Posted by: Campalishous.9076

Campalishous.9076

Unless there is a long term goal to remove the zone boundaries and make it a free flow world, then IMO there shouldn’t even be zone instances dedicated to an individual server. I would just create instances as needed based on desired population levels for each zone. Maybe even give players the option to pick the population level they want, i.e. “Do you want to go into a zone instance with a low/medium/high target pop?”

Your’s is certainly a worthy idea but personally I think they should try to remove the barriers of being tied to a particular server for everything except WvW. Everything else should just work regardless of what “home” server you picked.

But if that’s too radical I can totally support the Underflow server idea :P

I do think they still need to fix some things before they could consider any such idea, like being able to see the WvW score & being able to join WvW when not on your “home” server. I also think the guild server restrictions need to be removed as well.

But I agree definitely a change is needed, especially when you think long term and potentially how much bigger the game could get in terms of new zones.

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Posted by: Cameo.4073

Cameo.4073

Here is the thread from the Discussion forum some of the brainstorming that has been done about the same issue.

https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/gw2/Almost-all-zones-are-dead-Solution/first

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Posted by: Oreoz.9521

Oreoz.9521

I have been leveling a new toon these past 2 weeks and i notice that most zones have too few players and anytime you run into a group of players its usually bots. Most group events cant be run because only 1 or 2 ppl show up. I do think that part of the overflow system should be used to fill up underpopulated maps. New players joining the game are not going to like how empty the zones feel.

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Posted by: Kyris.4285

Kyris.4285

This is a great idea!

Empty leveling zones is becoming a big problem, and something like this would help greatly.

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Posted by: lettucemode.3789

lettucemode.3789

Wait, so how would the home servers ever fill up if everyone is just going to the underflow server?

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Posted by: Darren.9546

Darren.9546

This is a great idea.
Players are a welcome sight in Guild Wars 2, you need to rely on other players to complete some events. The more players the better.
Please take it to consideration ANet.

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Posted by: marianitten.1247

marianitten.1247

There is no need of new instances of a zone. They need to merge zones, of different zones. The only condition, that merged servers need to be from a different WvWvW fight.

Sorrow’s furnace
|
> Same Zone. For example.
|
Anvil Rock

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Posted by: lorazcyk.8927

lorazcyk.8927

This wouldn’t be an issue if only they’d just hurry up and give us the option of guesting into another server. I’d prefer they just let us guest. I’m sick and tired of waiting for guesting.

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Posted by: OutspokenAardvark.9781

OutspokenAardvark.9781

I would love for this to happen but I would like them to change how the WvW panel queries it’s information and show your server’s WvW at all times.

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Posted by: ProgenitorX.3908

ProgenitorX.3908

This idea is pretty sound. I would like it more if we just had a button to let us swap from Underflow to Main server instead of a periodic pop-up. This could be used to exploit nodes though.

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Posted by: Hickeroar.9734

Hickeroar.9734

I like it! I’d love to see this happen.

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Posted by: Skye Marin.3250

Skye Marin.3250

This idea is a fine solution to the problem of zone underpopulation.

The only fix I can imagine that would work as well is if there are daily bonuses for exploring and questing inside a specific zone. (I feel it would have to be something significant, like +50% Karma, Exp, and Magic Find, plus a quest and rewards).

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Posted by: Ireniicus.2167

Ireniicus.2167

elegant idea and one we know ANEt have the technology to execute on. Lets make this happen soon please

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Posted by: Ice Furl.4982

Ice Furl.4982

I like this ++1

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Posted by: Kite.2510

Kite.2510

I suggested something simmilar, but I also like this idea!
+1

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Posted by: LemonTwist.7983

LemonTwist.7983

Great idea would love to see this happen.

Went from TF2 to GW2 Engineer… not much of an adjustment :p

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Posted by: Zejoker.9162

Zejoker.9162

+1
Great idea and would love to see this be in-game. I don’t want to be alone leveling alts!

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Posted by: mythos.1254

mythos.1254

This idea is a fine solution to the problem of zone underpopulation.

The only fix I can imagine that would work as well is if there are daily bonuses for exploring and questing inside a specific zone. (I feel it would have to be something significant, like +50% Karma, Exp, and Magic Find, plus a quest and rewards).

+1 on underflow and this idea…

I also hope anet adds in a nick the traveler equivalent too..

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Posted by: Matterson.8607

Matterson.8607

Love the Idea a huge +1 from me, its hard come by when you see an event and cant take part since your the only one there and know all to well going near the event you will just get face rolled lol

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Posted by: Arbiter.1758

Arbiter.1758

I absolutely agree that this is one of the big problems facing Guild Wars 2. However, I feel like a better solution would involve actually encouraging more players to be in these zones, rather than just giving up on that and making do with a smaller player pool. To that end, it seems like Skye Marin’s zone bonuses or other rewards would be more effective. I think there needs to be some way to encourage people to spend time in low-level zones beyond the one-time exploration achievement, or else everything will funnel to Orr and all the benefits of having a vast, open world go down the drain.

Maybe that involves a more aggressive item-scaling algorithm that would increase difficulty of low-level zones and consequently allow them to drop rare and exotic items more frequently without emptying the comparatively ‘harder’ level 80 areas. I don’t know for sure if this would be a workable approach, but I thought I’d throw it out there as well.

“Perhaps the end is not yet written….”
Alekhine :: Morphy :: Lasker :: Najdorf

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Posted by: PowerCat.5738

PowerCat.5738

Good idea but how do you implement it?

How do you set a limit? Will the underflow suddenly kick everyone back to their own server? Will the Xth person just appear on a map on their server, by themselves?

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Posted by: Miraclemax.7306

Miraclemax.7306

I like the idea and it would be great to have more players in each area. As a companion feature, it would great to structure the “return to your home world” prompts to not occur during battles and events. I would hate to be engaged in a fight and have to toggle through a pop-up message to continue. Otherwise it sounds great.

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Posted by: Sully.9453

Sully.9453

Anet is already working on the feature that can fix this problem. Guesting on other servers. You will be able to guest on a higher population servers and have more people around for DE’s. However this still might not solve the issue of no one levelling in lower level zones

Malcaris – ranger – Kestil – elementalist
Guild: Nocturnal
Server: Blackgate

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Posted by: Tyqer.6413

Tyqer.6413

I have a suggestion to ArenaNet that they do Zones like they did in GW1. There’s the main zone in which everyone would go into up until a certain point, once populated it would throw people into zone 2 which would always exist. Once zone 2 is 40-50% populated it would create a Zone 3, etc., so you can easily decide if you want to be more solo but everyone will be in the same area, and zone 1 will be the most popular to be in (as it’s the main one). I’m not a game designer but this sounds a lot better than the design in place now, in my non-game designer opinion. I’d like to hear what ArenaNet has to say about this type of system, I loved seeing 100+ open Zones in GW1 during Holidays and picking something like 77 so all of my friends could easily just join me and BAM, there we are.

Fort Aspenwood
Kireta

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Posted by: Veplerion.3921

Veplerion.3921

Just do Zaishen-like daily quests via new achivements.

http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Zaishen_Challenge_Quest

It was a good system.

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Posted by: BrunoBRS.5178

BrunoBRS.5178

thought i’d drop by and mention that yes, i think it would be interesting to have a “dynamic merging” for lower-population servers. of course, as the edit in bold points out, it would cause the main server to never actually fill up, so you’d have to look up the options.

maybe instead of automatically sending people to those underflow servers, offer a suggestion. since most people already say “leave queue” when they can move out of overflow, i’d imagine this would keep both servers well populated.

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Posted by: dippy.8961

dippy.8961

Yes please! Something, anything. It’s very frustrating leveling alts and not being able to follow an entire DE chain because there just isn’t enough people to take down the champion at the end. Either an underflow, or adjust the DE’s to scale down more. They scale up, why not scale down? I’m not saying don’t make it challenging, just don’t make it so it takes 15 – 20 people (unless they’re present).

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Posted by: Azumo.7408

Azumo.7408

I also like this Idea.

Like said above, I think the best solution would be to switch to a district-like system from GW where you could select the instance via a drop-down menu, which was very easy to use. The system of overflow servers suggests to me that the way the zones are handled is still very similar to the district system anyway. I think the district system was a huge advantage and I think that people will start to concentrate on a few servers once the guesting feature is live…

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Posted by: Jamais vu.5284

Jamais vu.5284

This idea is comically counterproductive. Judging by his edit OP (unlike everyone else in this thread) seems to have acknowledged that this would lead to even more deserted zones, because why the hell not switch into the more populated one, right? This suggestion can’t be salvaged, sorry.
The “district” suggestion isn’t wise either since ANet is – successfully I might add – working to foster server communities, which would get completely washed away with anonymous districts.
A possibility how something similar could be implented is with “partner servers”, that share a map if they are underpopulated.

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Posted by: Norax.2405

Norax.2405

And what will happend with the WvW bonuses?

Anyway the threshold should be 0, if its higher, you will left like 5 player (if threshold = 5) alone in that server with no population coming.

Also… who the fraq cares in changing to another zone when I’m in a middle of DE chain?

I doubt that this is a good idea. Imo anet wont move toward that direction. The same way they wont let lfg in the mists to find ppl from other servers.

I still think that for PvE its better doing it by districts, but in that way, you lose the ‘server’ feeling.

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Posted by: Sebbern.3894

Sebbern.3894

And what will happend with the WvW bonuses?

Nothing. Mostly because of the fact that you cannot access WvW if you are not in your home world. So the same that applies to overflow will apply to this.

There is also no overflow in WvW, so there is nothing to worry about.

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Posted by: zoofar.5739

zoofar.5739

Imo using overflow functionality as an option for leveling is simple and great.

This is how I would modify OP’s suggestion:

Skip all the automation and population-treshold algortihms. Just make the choice to “join overflow server” available from a menu in the same way you can choose to go to HotM.
- If you want to join a multilingual overflow server in hopes of finding more people – you can.
- If you want to stay in home world for whatvere reason (influence, language etc etc) – you can.

This idea does not need anything more, it is fine as the great idea it is. If you add too much “detail” to it you raise too many new problems, and some very valid ones as can be seen here and on reddit.

This “overflow” solution does not per automation imply that you shouldn’t do more to populate low level zones – like modify DEs loot or whatever – one good suggestion does not exclude the other.

The reason we need this overflow-mechanic is that there are likely few other ways as simple, elegant and most importantly effective to solve the leveling zone population issues. It directly deals with the heart of the problem: Too few players populate the leveling areas on individual servers. It is a simple enough solution – I think – it is already “almost” implemented in the game. We need this, it’s gonna be great

But key to make it happen imo is: Simplicity, Choice

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Posted by: Ronah.2869

Ronah.2869

Home Servers are only good for WvW. So let them stay there. I DONT care what is my home server in PvE. This idea is great. They should open as many clones of the same zone as the limit of players / zone is reached.
Lets say Orr has 1 million players there will be X clones of the zone, If Queensdale has 10.000 player there will be Y clones.

This system will be similar to GW1 districts and will not affect the HOME server.

PvE players DONT need to be separated by some stupid servers because they ARE NOT fighting against eachother for land control

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Posted by: the moidart.3612

the moidart.3612

This issue certainly needs something like this. I’m pretty antisocial and even I miss the hordes of players that populated the non lvl 80 zones right after launch, if for no other reason that there’s less events and you die alone more often.

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Posted by: Blaeys.3102

Blaeys.3102

I love this game and have very few concerns, but underpopulated maps (especially on servers with lower populations) tops the list.

This kind of system would not only alleviate all of those concerns, but it would essentially “future proof” the game as well. The two main achilles heels of most server based MMOs are the eventual population decline and imbalances between servers (making the experience fun for a percentage of the population but miserable for the rest).

From a PVE perspective, the idea of “underflow” shards would combat both of those issues. I really hope this is something they consider implementing soon.

One final thought – it would also serve to bring the overall GW2 community closer together. Yes, we fight each other in WvW, but larger/more diverse communities in PVE are almost always a good thing.

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Posted by: Mimir.4690

Mimir.4690

I am going to bump this for the OP… Because I think now is an even better time to implement this, with everybody focusing on LA and the FotM.

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Posted by: TsukasaHiiragi.9730

TsukasaHiiragi.9730

Yes, this needed a bump and honestly ~ anet you have to start listening to the players now and what we need otherwise, I can see GW2 possibly sunsetting as people will get discouraged and/or ratequit and the player populations will continue to slide ever downwards.

protest this travesty of a patch -
Get it taken down -
Do whatever it takes if you care about this game -