The Cruelty of the Server Transfer

| Friday, May 9, 2014
Transferring characters feels weird. It's like moving, but when you can go back anytime, and you're the people left behind too.

I imagine that, if they could thin, those characters would be rather angry. In the time leading up to the transfer they may have dramatic shifts in their routines. The bank alt is in a rush to move inventory. The farmers stop. The character who is moving shifts into a bag-emptying mode, trying to maximize space for all the things that they'll be ferrying.

The characters may have once been part of an integrated economy. Resources would flow between them. The main always got the profits, or was reserved the right to anything it wanted, but there remained some back and forth. An alt might raise a trade skill, get gold for flying, or some few scraps of gear. It wasn't much, but it was something slipping out of the tight fists of the main character.

Soon before the move, one character after another is forced to mail off most or all of their gold. Items that cannot be sold on the auction house may be liquidated at a vendor.

The flow of resources moves in one direction from then on. It is a black hole.

Once it has moved, the main becomes a white hole. A bank alt is created and resources pour out to it. Other alts may be born, also receiving a large flow of resources. Where once there was nothing, from the main grows a new economy.

Yet, do not mistake this for growth. There is left behind a cast of characters. They once picked, mined, skinned, disenchanted, and looted just as well, if not better, than these new alts. They aren't destroyed, not exactly, but where they once had a purpose, to support the main and to grow around it, they are now disconnected, adrift, and without purpose.

As the cycle repeats itself with the main seeker further, greener pastures, more alts are born and left to rot. Eventually some may be deleted to make room for new ones. Most will be insignificant losses, generic names of generic characters who were never interesting enough to play. For them it is a mercy, created with the intention, but not devotion, to be played. The names recycle, the character spaces open up, and the account goes on.

The server list remains littered with broken character stables: bank alts, particular farming professions, a profession alt who could have been somebody, could have been a crafter. They might, at times, reignite when an alt looks interesting, like a stray gas cloud falling into a dwarf star. For the briefest of moments it may ignite, yet will likely grow dim again.

But once or twice, that cloud was enough to light a spark, to draw in more, and to make a blazing sun big enough to form its own solar system of characters. And then, it too collapses into a black hole as it prepares to leave. And this is a science fiction black hole in which a black hole of the same mass as the star it came from has a greater gravitational pull, rather than less after blasting out a whole lot of matter.


Video Game Philosopher said...

I always hated transferring servers. The only time I ever did it is if I came back after a long absence, had a free transfer, and my friends were all very active on another server.

Cain said...

If they'd make it free and without the restrictions on gold it'd be much better. Transfers can help people keep playing their game by hopefully finding someplace that suits them, yet the cost and the pain of moving makes people who play more than one character tend to avoid it or have to go through the process you mentioned. Ideally with the cross realm tech making servers less important they'd take the next step and just eliminate the being tied to one server. Make it so it is truly just one big world that everyone is in. For the stability side of it there can still be different servers so you can go to a different server by just selecting it in game similar to how you get moved to a different server now when invited to a cross realm group but without the need for the other person. I've transferred quite a few times, and even taken multiple characters with me at times, but once I started developing more and more alts it became too prohibitive. I had every class on one server and was having fun, and then the guild fell apart and friends all left the server and I was forced with the decision of pay lots of money or just stay and have less fun.

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