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Nefiji

Population Cap?

Posted (edited)

Good day fellow Crestfallen followers,

I have the following question: Which population cap is Crestfall Gaming going to choose? I've played for over 100 hours on Elysium PvP by now and the game experience is nothing like I remember from my actual retail vanilla and pre-Cata days, with almost double the players playing simultaneously than intended by Blizzard. It's messing with various aspects of the game. Explanation here:

Quote

A higher population doesn't equal to more social interaction. You have tons of players around in todays retail WoW, still everyone is playing for themselves. Because they're not depended on each other. Same principle applies to the world of vanilla. The fewer players are around, the harder do quests get. And the harsher and unforgiving does traversing hostile locations become. Because of this, you really start to appreciate the company of other players.

I've played plenty of pre-Cata retail and p-servers with blizzlike caps. Of course it is harder to build a group for specific quests if players aren't just presented to you due to overcrowding. Just waiting for another player close to an elite creature could be very well pointless for hours. But it was this exact reason why my friend list was full of people of my level. So we could contact each other in case of group quests. I was changing zones to help them and they did to help me. Somtimes we even re-did pre-quests together which one side has already completed, so that we both could profit from the task. And it was this adventures and challenges that lead to getting to know each other and to forming friendships.

In contrast to this, having too many players around is - for a start - diminishing roleplaying aspects like world building and immersion. I.e. locations loosing their dangerous atmosphere and meaning, due to always having players around steamrolling enemy ranks. So places with a story and certain peculiarities, that you might have struggled with and created memories from, simply turn into just another grinding spot. Plastered with NPC corpses and people farming. More alive, sure. But no longer as authentic, vast and scary.

Every zone in the game is more challenging and dangerous if you're approaching it alone. Not pulling too many mobs in buildings/caves, fighting your way in and back out alive from enemy territory, keeping an eye on your cooldowns and HP/mana, not letting them run off into another group when they're low on health. What made vanilla great for many people is trying to survive in this world on their own. Attempting every quest alone, and either improving and succeeding. Or realizing that some task are too much for a sole adventurer. That you're not supposed to do this alone. All of this gets negated and obsolete if you have so many players around that you can just make your way through a cleared path right to the quest target. And if there's no incentive to group up with other people other than being able to tag the mob.

Having too many players also can lead to competition, where you start to disparage the presence of other players. Because they're killing your quest mobs and looting your quest items. Just going to the spawn of an elite mob and joining random players by typing "Inv" to quickly kill it doesn't lead to forming bonds. No, this can entirely happen without anyone exchanging a word or emote. But having to actively build that group in town, traveling to your target location together, fighting your way to the elite, maybe even wiping in the process, and finally killing him, did. This is where my most memorable pre-Cata moments come from. Failing a quest over and over, therefore seeking someone who could help me. Finding that person, doing the quest, maybe even fail together. Become friends in the process.

Retail Pre-Cata: Me and a friend slowly fighting our way into a scourge base, having to fight our way past zombies and monsters. It did feel like an adventure, because the scourge hordes were dense and one mistake could mean the end of us. No one was hustling or competing with us. It was up to us to infiltrate the base and make it to our target. When we finally arrived at the elite creature, we attempted to kill that thing 5 times. We died, but we tried again. We improved our gameplay. We read into the quest text more and spotted something helpful that we missed. And then we finally did it. It felt epic. It was rewarding.

P-Server with non-blizzlike population: Me and a friend go into a scourge base. It's already full of players farming and there are hardly any mobs around. Getting to the elite mob is no problem at all. The elite is dead, there are 3 people waiting for the respawn. We type "Inv" into /say, get invited. We wait until the mob spawns. We kill him in no time. One guy says thanks, everyone immediately leaves the group and we head to our next quest. Not epic. Not rewarding.

I've played plenty on Elysium PvP with their concurrent player count being exactly at 5k. And sure, there are tons of players around and you're joining groups frequently. But it is a lot less personal than it used to be in vanilla retail. And not as rewarding if you don't actively build the groups yourself. The world most certainly feels more alive, but it also feels a lot smaller and cramped. Also non-existent world PvE challenge, broken roleplaying immersion, competing and rushing with other players for quest mobs/targets, joining and leaving groups becomes an unpersonal routine. It's almost like people are just playing for the population hype and not for the game itself.

Now I hear that Crestfallen might is going to have Cross-realm technology for battlegrounds. Something that could solve the biggest problem of why people are striving for unnecessary high population numbers. Queue times. Of course there are a lot of other factors regarding this subject matter. Factors that we can discuss in this thread.

FAQ says: "we intend to keep the population capped at Blizzlike levels to preserve a similar population density, so we're looking at between 4-5k per server."

So 4-5k concurrent players? Just to put that into perspective: Blizzlike cap has been 2,5k concurrent players. And even with that cap in place, a lot of realms didn't even have a Full or High population. But rather Medium or even Low, and these realms weren't considered any less playable. The cap has probably been increased to some extent on older realms (3-3,5k), to compensate for the fact that most players have reached max level by then.

Regards, Nefiji

Edited by Nefiji
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You're right, the blizzlike population cap is usually cited 2,5k or 3k (which is what big servers used to run with in the past, opening new servers as the instances filled up). But the trend lately is to have OVER 9000 people on a single server.

Which is a nice eyecandy, because you are guaranteed to see people in every village you visit, and admittedly, the world feels more alive.
However it also leads to frequent waiting for respawns of basically any quest mob, stresses the server (both Nostalrius and Twinstar's Kronos had to implement reduced distance at which npcs, objects and players would load) and heavily imbalances the economy. As a single person, you have lower chance of encountering a node in the wild, just due to the sheer amount of people running around. And it, conversely, leads to overabundance of materials and extremely low prices in AH as the market gets flooded, so you have hard time selling them and making money.
The amount of resources (ores, plants, mobs) that is blizzlike is simply not adjusted to ten thousand people. Blizzard tuned their servers for their caps and ideally, we should maintain that.

Of course, the player base at large cares about the abovementioned "world feeling alive" foremost. It's the mentality that drives people to play where there already are a lot of players, even though the quality might be subpar - nothing new, this has been happening on the freeserver wow scene since its inception. 
So on one side you have players who want as much as possible, and on the other side you have the game balance inherent to blizzlike world (as well as the server, who likes to not get melted because too many people are present). The 4-5k is a concession to this population trend, allowing for the world to have more people running around in it, while still maintaining numbers that don't strain the economy as much.

Maybe I left something out (feel free to add something), but this is pretty much the gist of it.

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Posted (edited)

Everything I'm about to say I how I think things are, I could be wrong.

4-5k refers to the population cap, not necessarily how many people will be online. It's been said that if the population is constantly in the high ranges, they'll open up another server. The intent is to have the actual amount of players be slightly higher than 'Blizz-like', as a sort of compromise, but nothing like the stupidly of Nost's population. Also, it isn't entirely known how many people played on Vanilla retail servers, the 2.5k number comes from launch day, it's thought that Blizzard upped the cap later on during Vanilla.

On the subject of Cross-realm BGs, it's the sort of thing that's possible, Asura had a working prototype, but it was only for internal proof of concept kinda stuff. Getting Cross realm working would be a pain in the arse, and it'd take time. The plan is to not have cross realm for Vanilla unless there's a good reason for it, and if it did come, it would be later on down the road.

Edited by Pvt_8Ball
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Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, Nefiji said:

Also even with that cap in place, a lot of realms didn't even had a High or Full population. But rather Medium, and these realms weren't considered any less playable. But I also might misunderstand something.

Does anyone know what the exact numbers for "High" or "Medium" etc. are btw? Or what they were during retail vanilla? 1k for medium? 2k for high? The ones that Elysium, Kronos etc. have don't match reality in my experience. For instance, Elysium's PvE realm is listed as "high" atm despite having only 1k people online.

Edited by Lilaina
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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your answers so far.

On 18.5.2017 at 9:18 AM, Xaverius said:

Of course, the player base at large cares about the abovementioned "world feeling alive" foremost. It's the mentality that drives people to play where there already are a lot of players, even though the quality might be subpar - nothing new, this has been happening on the freeserver wow scene since its inception.

I understand this notion, but there are some major flaws with it. Reposting what I wrote elsewhere:

Quote

Moved to the opening post

Regards

Edited by Nefiji
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That post above is so spot on. I wrote something similar a while back also making the point that larger population does don't make it more "inclusive" or "alive". It really just becomes a competition for resources and a farm fest which also spills over into World chats which are just cancer to try and follow or post.

Not sure what actual Vanilla caps were but i've read a lot about them being around 2.5K which is actually lower than what i had originally thought which was 4-5K. 

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I don't think a cap is necessary unless things start to get out of hand and server's performance degrades, but it would be nice if stuff like node and quest mob respawns were speeded up if the population grows above that soft "retail-like" limit.

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Posted (edited)

I have to strongly disagree. Vanilla world is so big that there is a huge difference between 2k and a 6k population. Though Nostalrius was laggy and shitty scripted, it was an awesome experience to quest with other ppl rather then calling a 60 guildie to help with elite quests every time. I guess such population might be a problem in expansions when the world is becoming much smaller. You can easily adjust spawnig rates to make questing easier, but there is some magic in waiting 30 mins for a quest mob to spawn and then tag it as a first person among 20 waiting for it.:D 
Vanilla is about teamwork, even at the leveling stage and the more the merrier.

WoW is now a single player experience till max level, pretty much since Cataclysm. Vanilla reminded me what a real MMO should look like.

Edited by Macu
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Posted (edited)

22 hours ago, Macu said:

I have to strongly disagree. Vanilla world is so big that there is a huge difference between 2k and a 6k population. Though Nostalrius was laggy and shitty scripted, it was an awesome experience to quest with other ppl rather then calling a 60 guildie to help with elite quests every time.

Moved to the opening post

Edited by Nefiji
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Posted (edited)

19 hours ago, Lilaina said:

Does anyone know what the exact numbers for "High" or "Medium" etc. are btw? Or what they were during retail vanilla? 1k for medium? 2k for high? The ones that Elysium, Kronos etc. have don't match reality in my experience. For instance, Elysium's PvE realm is listed as "high" atm despite having only 1k people online.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the Blizzlike numbers were 5k Cap? At least during BC, not sure if at some point they change it.

Personally I didn't use to bother with the struggle of finding people to do quests or dungeons during my lvling experience on retail those days. Every time I lvled up a character I remember to have a handfull of friends added, roughly lvling at the same pace. So it was fairly usual they were online even close to the same quest nodes or LFG themselves for whatever reasons. Now while I ignore how bad/good can be a population of 8k/12k/15K you name it, I would argue keep it blizzlike is always the best solution. Simply because when Blizzard designed it's world no doubt did it with a certain population number in mind. Could just be for technical reasons, but I guess balance, immersion, economy and so on were also taken into account.  

Edited by Roland
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Since we're all made of money and time, let's open up three servers with a 2k cap instead of one with a 5k cap. We'll just out-source some low quality moderators and break a couple Benjamins off the vestigial branches growing from our backs to help fund it. That should do. Surely these exact same people won't be back in here QQing about the quality not being as blizzlike as the population... God forbid we get in a tag war with other players doing the same quest as us, because i've literally never found a way to work around that minor inconvenience.

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Posted (edited)

Population cap in Classic started out at 2.5k on launch and was gradually (with 2nd generation blades) increased to 3.5k by the end of vanilla.

We have the various estimates from boxes sold and initial population reports as well as number of realms, so I'll just post this direct quote from Mark Kern (part of the original team)

300a1a04aed2f3e92d75b4942a73d297.png

So this should at least put to rest the discussion of "what was retail cap in 1.12?"

Those of us that have played during that time have all played on "medium" realms that had a concurrency of ~1k / faction in prime time and lower in off-hours and they didn't feel empty.

Packed retail realms with bad faction balance had maybe ~3k for the dominant faction.

This 10k or ded meme is purely Nostalrius concept.

The original game was designed for a ~1.5k / faction maximum.

Edited by Roadblock
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Posted (edited)

Our numbers aren't up for discussion.  We chose them for two reasons, one, as a middle ground between retail "High Pop" and private server "High Pop".

More importantly, though, when we transition to TBC, there will likely be a significant chunk of the population that chooses to make the move, and we want there to be enough people on both realms for them to be viable.  Therefore we're going a little bit above normal for for Vanilla in anticipation of it being split when we launch TBC.

Edited by Darkrasp
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1 hour ago, Roadblock said:

This 10k or ded meme is purely Nostalrius concept.

The original game was designed for a ~1.5k / faction maximum.

Not to mention that in days of yore (aka time when Xaverius fist played, you stupid kids, get off my lawn), a typical freeserver had like 800 people to be healthy, over 1000 meant that it was here to stay, and anything past 2k was oh my god this is amazingly fucking HUEG.

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44 minutes ago, Xaverius said:

Not to mention that in days of yore (aka time when Xaverius fist played, you stupid kids, get off my lawn), a typical freeserver had like 800 people to be healthy, over 1000 meant that it was here to stay, and anything past 2k was oh my god this is amazingly fucking HUEG.

I remember Emerald Dream (feenix) peaks over 2k on Sundays being a really big deal. And that was just a year before Nost.

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3 hours ago, Bluemoon said:

Since we're all made of money and time, let's open up three servers with a 2k cap instead of one with a 5k cap. We'll just out-source some low quality moderators and break a couple Benjamins off the vestigial branches growing from our backs to help fund it. That should do. Surely these exact same people won't be back in here QQing about the quality not being as blizzlike as the population... God forbid we get in a tag war with other players doing the same quest as us, because i've literally never found a way to work around that minor inconvenience.

I don't think that this is how servers work. You don't need to rent 1 server per realm, so it hardly makes a difference if you split a server whose hardware is capable of supporting 5k players into two 2,5k realms. Especially since in the WoW engine server stress should grow exponentially the more people are in the same place. Similar can be said about the staff. A 2,5k realm is not demanding the same team size as a 5k one, so you can evenly split moderators between the two of them. 

2 hours ago, Darkrasp said:

Our numbers aren't up for discussion.  We chose them for two reasons, one, as a middle ground between retail "High Pop" and private server "High Pop".

More importantly, though, when we transition to TBC, there will likely be a significant chunk of the population that chooses to make the move, and we want there to be enough people on both realms for them to be viable.  Therefore we're going a little bit above normal for for Vanilla in anticipation of it being split when we launch TBC.

I understand. Wouldn't it still be an option to have 2 blizzlike population realms as long as vanilla progresses. And when TBC releases and splits up the population, you could flexibly merge realms as is needed.

Seeing how Crestfallen Gaming has built a hopeful fan base and some hype just by doing things differently than past vanilla projects, and not just repeating what has been done. I don't think it would be necessary to follow in the steps of Nostalrius at all when it comes to the population cap.

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Stay at 4-5k people and we will be ok , but not 10 k  its overpopulated and lag the server.

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41 minutes ago, Hamilton said:

Stay at 4-5k people and we will be ok , but not 10 k  its overpopulated and lag the server.

I would like to believe that. But from my experience on Elysium PvP, which has exactly 4-5k concurrent players, it's still an unnecessarily high population density which originated from the trend that Nostalrius set with their 10k server. Especially on fairly new realms, when most players are crowded in the same zones, it's nothing like it used to be on pre-Cata retail. Non-existent world PvE challenge, broken roleplaying immersion, competing and rushing with other players for quest mobs/targets, joining and leaving groups becomes an unpersonal routine. It's almost like people are just playing for the population hype and not for the actual game.

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I remember leveling on Nost PvE when the peak was around 2-2.5k.  The world felt nicely populated with people questing in every zone and groups for any kind of dungeon were relatively easy to assemble.  Gathering nodes were not hard to find.  Occasionally you'd run into people waiting for an elite to spawn, but not big crowds.  To me it was perfect.  After I hit 60 the peak slowly grew to about 3.5-4k right before the shutdown.  The world felt crowded to me.  I wasn't leveling by then, but farming herbs or mobs was noticeably more difficult.  The AH economy was also noticeably different with prices for many farmable good dropping by 50% or more.  And world chat got significantly worse with more spam and trolls who thought they were original and clever drowning out regular conversation.  To me, a 3k Blizzlike cap is ideal.  The devs plan for a 5-6k cap is fine and I understand it's a compromise, but I'd prefer something lower and would strongly oppose anything higher.  Fortunately most people here seem to agree.

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I think one other factor that helps with a higher cap is that these servers - unlike retail - span timezones (majority is probably EU since vpn (Asia) will get their own realm if there's enough interest) but that still leaves NA and possibly AU.

Having a higher pop cap allows those areas to have a health(ier) pop during their primetime. Economy is still affected ofc but I think that's a small price to pay if it's within sensible limits.

5k seems a good compromise.

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7 hours ago, Xaverius said:

Not to mention that in days of yore (aka time when Xaverius fist played, you stupid kids, get off my lawn), a typical freeserver had like 800 people to be healthy, over 1000 meant that it was here to stay, and anything past 2k was oh my god this is amazingly fucking HUEG.

Too bad that I've only started with vanilla p-servers shortly before Nostalrius did shutdown and lead to the massive media attention. Because ever since then, "Nostlike" seems to stand above Blizzlike.

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I think CF's cap is right in a sweet spot. Enough to make the world feel alive, but without the overcrowding of Nost-like numbers.

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Hunter4Life said:

I think CF's cap is right in a sweet spot. Enough to make the world feel alive, but without the overcrowding of Nost-like numbers.

From my experience on Elysium PvP, which has exactly the player numbers that Crestfallen is striving for, it's totally fine. The game is not broken or anything. It's just not vanilla, nor an immersive experience. It hardly feels like playing an online RPG originated from Warcraft 3 anymore, everything reeks of MMO. Grinding spots, overfarming, waiting for elites to spawn, competing with and rushing against other players for quest mobs/items, joining groups becomes an unpersonal routine, the ground being plastered with NPC corpses everywhere you go, etc. etc.

In the end it's still a cool experience and there are certain upsides, like frequent WPvP. But different population numbers turn the game itself into something different, too.

Edited by Nefiji
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