Forums » General Pantheon Discussion

Should game servers have preferred time zones?

    • 1605 posts
    March 28, 2020 10:42 AM PDT

    I live on the west coast of the US.

    One of the frustrations I routinely face in MMORPGs is when I join a "US" server that happens to have a large east-coast based population.  3 hours may not seem like a big time difference, but it's quite telling when you get done with work for the day and log in only to find everyone else logging out.

    I know that the same issue happens in reverse - 10 years ago, I lived on the east coast, and often would find that things in the MMOs I played weren't happening until really late at night.  As much as I'd love to be able to raid at 1 am on a weekday, that just doesn't work.

    I know that I am not the only one who runs into this problem.  I'm also fairly sure that people in europe experience it as well to a degree - there are enough time zones there that I could see someone in italy struggling to match schedules with someone in ireland.

    Thus, my question.  Instead of simply regions (US, Europe, Asia, etc), should Pantheon's servers have preferred time zones?  Should there be eastern US and western US servers?  western and central europe?  Australia/New Zealand?  other blocks of asia?  Would it make a difference for you and your play schedule or not?

    • 1893 posts
    March 28, 2020 11:05 AM PDT

    The last thing we need is yet another way to segregate the community. So many niche servers proposed. 

    Just let community figure it out on their own.

    • 487 posts
    March 28, 2020 11:07 AM PDT
    I prefer a diverse server population, with all players/guilds in multiple timezones. I think US/EU/Oceanic are good, leaving raid times up to the guild you join. A nice thing that has evolved over the span of new MMO's, is getting guilds /discords setup before launch even occurs. You are then able to discern which server may fit you best, or to stray away from.
    • 420 posts
    March 28, 2020 11:48 AM PDT

     Timezones don’t really mean anything, it has more to do with when your logging in to play. I play almost exclusively at night do to my work schedule, since I sleep in the daytime (Central Time Zone) so, when I log in I’m playing with players from Australia ect… alot.

    Not to mention the 20 hour days I’m going to log when I’m retired.

    • 196 posts
    March 28, 2020 12:15 PM PDT

    @Nephele I understand where you are coming from. I live in Alaska and many times I am just getting started after work when everyone is going to bed. Depending on how many servers and expected server populations I could see this having an appeal.

    I can also see how it could backfire. I do not always have the same playtimes and I could see if the server had a majority of one time zone it being empty feeling on off hours. So as much as I like the idea, I feel it would be better to have mixed server. But if they did make servers with suggested time zones I would without a doubt pick the one closest to mine.

    @HemlockReaper The time zones dose matter it lets everyone know when the server would be most populated. If you know you do not play at the prime time you would adjust to the correct time zone to match your play time.

     

    • 1893 posts
    March 28, 2020 12:26 PM PDT

    starblight said:

    @HemlockReaper The time zones dose matter it lets everyone know when the server would be most populated. If you know you do not play at the prime time you would adjust to the correct time zone to match your play time.

    That's another concern of mine. By separating servers by time zone, you artificially create active/dead times. By having servers of mixed populations, you create a live server most of the time. 

    I would rather have servers of mixed populations and guilds set up by time zone.

    • 242 posts
    March 28, 2020 12:33 PM PDT

    I don't think that servers should be limited to regions as it limits the ability to meet new people and interact with some of the community.

    With that being said I am all for the presence of server time. As someone with experience running and managing a guild, the presence of server time is crucial for setting up events and being able to communicate those times effectively. For example, if I were to set something up for 8 pm on Friday night, 8 pm holds no distinctive value based on timezones and regions people may live in. I would instead have to say something like 8pm EST, MST, CST... etc.  However, this can also pose issues to those who don't know how to convert time. It is much easier to state that an event is happening at 8 pm server time because usually, people can figure out that conversion and it is much easier than having to look it up online. 


    This post was edited by Baldur at March 28, 2020 12:34 PM PDT
    • 378 posts
    March 28, 2020 1:22 PM PDT

    I get it, and have the same concerns...but am not really worried about it.  I agree with another comment that suggests finding a server/guild/group of friends with similar play times before I get too far into a character.  One thing I've noticed over the years is that no matter what time of day I play I tend to see some of the same people at certain times of the day.  So, as a west coaster myself I am expecting many of the east coast friends I meet to be logging off about when I'm logging in.  But there will also be plenty of west coasters logging in, or east coasters that just stay up late.  

    • 51 posts
    March 28, 2020 2:38 PM PDT

    Beefcake said:

    The last thing we need is yet another way to segregate the community. So many niche servers proposed. 

    Just let community figure it out on their own.

    thhis isnt like wow  (supposedly) where you can level up within a month and it doesnt matter  that you started on the wrong server  have the label where the server is usa northeast/southeast if its popu7lar enough,  central maybe north and south central, west coast north/south   maybe one for south america and so on latency  is important and can ruin your experiuence,  its not just when  you play and even if latency didnt exist its more possible to make real life friends ingame  dont force anyone anywhere just  clearly label where ity is

    • 1738 posts
    March 28, 2020 3:31 PM PDT

    With cloud hosting, it's a no brainer to label servers east or west, at least. I'm playing classic wow and the amount of abstenees and attrition in guilds caused by raid times for mixed time zone guilds is awful. People dismissing this aren't thinking from any else's perspective. 


    This post was edited by Keno Monster at March 28, 2020 3:33 PM PDT
    • 1707 posts
    March 28, 2020 4:24 PM PDT

    Inter-Europe is pretty much not a problem. It's almost all 2 hours different at most and usually just 1 (depending on daylight saving period).  I think only some near-Russian areas are 3 hours at the wrong time of year.

    I always think it's a shame to segregate, but it totally makes sense to encourage. I would hate to *not* have timezones and find the population, by the time I was invested, was turning out to be west coast USA 9 hours behind me.

    It happened to me in the early days of EQ and, wow, did I have a lot of late nights (well, early mornings) playing with Americans!

    • 1738 posts
    March 28, 2020 5:25 PM PDT

    The segregation issue is made up. Being afraid of something that may or may not exist, while ignoring the real problems with performance and group finding that having time zone suggestions solves, is silly. In fact, I think what we know segregates people IS time, and therefore the argument is even more absurd. 

    • 581 posts
    March 28, 2020 6:15 PM PDT

    First, the question referenced "preferred" time zones, not mandatory. That would be an entirely different question. You should be free to play on whatever server you wish.

    The question of having servers delineated by time zones rather than just by continent hinges almost entirely on one variable. How many people will be on each server?

    Having a sufficiently large population on the server you play on is far more important than having a choice of time zones.

    IF and I repeat IF there are enough players to make multiple, well populated servers just for the US (Europe, Asia, etc) then giving guidance by labeling servers like "East US, West US" or "East, Central, West" or finally by specific time zone would certainly add some functionality. As long as they are not mandatory restrictions, then every player can easily guestimate when 'prime time' will be on a given server, and decide which server their personal schedule will mesh with.

     

    In my opinion, the players of Pantheon -and the fortunes of VR- would be better served by starting with fewer servers and being open to adding extra servers if and when the player population grows to where the servers are getting too populated, rather than starting with multiple server choices and then facing the need to consolidate servers later on.

     

    • 350 posts
    March 29, 2020 12:16 AM PDT

    I'm all for this but rather than time zones I'd assume they'd base them off region. America West, America East, Asia, EU, etc. I'm sure the forums will try to organize what servers they want to play on but if someone just picks up the game randomly it's best if they have the information about what time/region that server will be in. For a social based MMO to work you need to be online with other people. A perfect balance of people on all day wont be realistic after a month or two so ensuring people are informed about when the "peak" hours may be for a server is the best solution.

    • 1707 posts
    March 29, 2020 4:22 AM PDT

    EppE said:

    I'm all for this but rather than time zones I'd assume they'd base them off region. America West, America East, Asia, EU, etc. I'm sure the forums will try to organize what servers they want to play on but if someone just picks up the game randomly it's best if they have the information about what time/region that server will be in. For a social based MMO to work you need to be online with other people. A perfect balance of people on all day wont be realistic after a month or two so ensuring people are informed about when the "peak" hours may be for a server is the best solution.

    Your comment about peak hours got me thinking, I have played games where peak hours are almost unplayable because of too many players, but off-peak is unplayable (well, nothing needing a group) because of lack of players.

    Getting people together is one thing, but population control goes both ways. How would VR perhaps have servers that have *two* peaks so as to spread out the population (and, incidentally, save money).

    Maybe, if people do make good use of the group finder / matchmaker tool Brad always like the idea of, in combination with population stats it could suggest server moves and arrange people into balanced populations? Some people go bananas when you suggest zone shards to address population spikes, because it sounds like the dreaded evil instancing, but how else do you avoid that very real problem?

    Might not be the most vital issue, but certainly not a silly or absurd one to discuss.


    This post was edited by disposalist at March 29, 2020 4:24 AM PDT
    • 1893 posts
    March 29, 2020 8:03 AM PDT

    EppE said:

    I'm all for this but rather than time zones I'd assume they'd base them off region. America West, America East, Asia, EU, etc. I'm sure the forums will try to organize what servers they want to play on but if someone just picks up the game randomly it's best if they have the information about what time/region that server will be in. For a social based MMO to work you need to be online with other people. A perfect balance of people on all day wont be realistic after a month or two so ensuring people are informed about when the "peak" hours may be for a server is the best solution.

    I have no problem with region-based servers.  Think that is they way to go. It helps with language and ping.

    Its just time zone servers that I have a problem with. We all have different schedules. Just because we share a time zone, does not mean we share a gaming schedule.


    This post was edited by Beefcake at March 29, 2020 8:07 AM PDT
    • 2713 posts
    March 29, 2020 8:05 AM PDT

    Having separate European (note I don't say EU) servers is common and makes significant sense if there are enough players from Europe. One reason is language not time. Obviously I am thinking of continental Europe here - last time I looked a varient of English was widely spoken in the United Kingdom. Of course many people in Canada speak French and many people in the Americas speak Spanish and Portugese but European servers in MMOs have most (not all) of the non-English speakers.

    Having separate Oceanic servers makes sense from a time zone perspective but is rarely done - probably not enough population. Certainly not a good option for Pantheon.

    As far as North American servers - we do not and cannot know how many servers will be planned. Neither does VR at this time. Assuming more than one - is there a downside to having "server time" be eastern for one or more and western for one or more with - obviously - players being free to choose any server whatever? Just as one or more could be labeled "Oceanic encouraged". And just as people anywhere could play on any server even if there was a European one - with a high level of probability the hardware will all be in the same place for all servers so connectivity should not be an issue.

    • 581 posts
    March 29, 2020 10:15 AM PDT

    Beefcake said: We all have different schedules. Just because we share a time zone, does not mean we share a gaming schedule.

    That would certainly be a problem if time zones were in any way enforced. But as long as we're all free to choose whichever server we want, then having info about what peak hours are likely to be for the majority of a server allows you to cusomize your choice of server to your personal schedule.

    If you are someone who doesn't play until late evening after your children go to bed (for a random example), then you might pick an earlier time zone to play in than you live in, because most people in your real life zone have already gone to bed on weeknights.

    A retired guy on the west coast of the USA might choose an east coast server to play on so that he can start playing in the afternoon with plenty of company and the occasional long evening of unexpected corpse recoveries still lets him get to bed before he falls asleep at the keyboard LoL.

    More info and choices will usually benefit most people.


    This post was edited by Jothany at March 29, 2020 10:21 AM PDT
    • 1127 posts
    March 29, 2020 11:12 AM PDT

    So this might be an interesting tie in with the caravan system.

    If the caravan system lets you list what your preferred play times are when it suggest who you should form teams with then that data could be used to populate the server data. One could look at the server stats and see the number of people saying they are available to play in certain level ranges at certain times of the day and days of the week. It would be an interactive real time weekly calendar showing expected load times based on your caravan settings.

    Based on that populated data you could choose the server that has more or less players in your play time weather you are worried about have enough people to group with or too much competition during play time.

    I really would like to hear more about the Caravan system, if its even still a thing. I know it was Brads baby so maybe no one is pushing it right now.

     

    • 45 posts
    March 29, 2020 11:16 AM PDT

    Yes and No is my vote.

    While I think It's fine for them to have servers for different regions of the world as long as they don't go overboard with servers. I don't think it's fine having different servers designed for different time zones as there is alot of time zones out in the world and going by that as a metric for a metric of how many servers you'll need is bad as it'll create unneeded further seperation of the playerbase and end up with some "preferred time" servers being very low in pop count. If though they go by "regions" instead it'll only create at most 8 servers and that's it, since that's how many regions of the world there is officially listed after all (see here: https://www.thoughtco.com/official-listing-of-countries-world-region-1435153) but since we all know that not all regions will be using the internet in the same capacity as others (I.E. North Korea) we can easily scratch off and merge a few regions to form at most 5 regions, aka the regions we all should know by now: 

    - Americas. 

    - Asia. 

    - Europe. 

    - Africa. 

    - Oceania. 

    We can easily add in other regions in the future since there isn't alot of regions in the world, infact the only one that comes to my mind that might need to be added in the future is the "Middle East, North Africa, and Greater Arabia" or as I call it the M.E.N.A.G.A. region due to how things are progressing over there. But regardless this is my two cents on this.

    TL:DR
    No for Time Preferred servers.
    Yes for Region based Servers

    • 680 posts
    March 29, 2020 6:47 PM PDT

    Other than special rule sets, I'm wondering if they'll go old school and split the population on named servers, or go with more of a shard/cloud implementation where they call up resources on demand.   Would seem like a throwback not to be using current cloud technologies like Docker/Kubernetes for a complex application with potentially wild variances in load.

    • 1941 posts
    March 30, 2020 6:23 AM PDT

    With Joppa's statement that no instancing will be used in Patheon, and we've seen no evidencen so far of any mechanics that will mitigate (or at least minimize) toxic competition between guilds, having regional servers is a great idea and one that guilds can/wll exploit to their advantage. 

    You're an EU based guild?  Play on a US server so your primetime hours are opposite those of the US.  Less competition for content!  You might even be able to game the spawns of raid mobs so they respawn in your favor.

    You're a hardcore guild?  Pick a roleplay server!  While the RP'ers are off having their weddings and whatnot skipping merrily through the woods or hanging out in taverns doing eff-all, they aren't out killing mobs.

    • 1785 posts
    March 30, 2020 8:09 AM PDT

    Vandraad said:

    You're a hardcore guild?  Pick a roleplay server!  While the RP'ers are off having their weddings and whatnot skipping merrily through the woods or hanging out in taverns doing eff-all, they aren't out killing mobs.

     

    Which is why I hope roleplay servers will have specific anti loot ruleset to make it less attractive to "hardcore PVE willing to have no competition" :).

    • 37 posts
    March 30, 2020 12:25 PM PDT

    I would propose that, instead of segregating the community so much, you (or anyone really) create a Pacific time guild. You could even include some other time zones that are closer, like Mountain time, but at least that way you have guild members that will be on around the same time

    • 147 posts
    March 30, 2020 1:43 PM PDT
    I strongly prefer to not have separate servers unless it's for alternative rules (e.g. a PvP server). We should have one big server that uses multiple zone instances to handle overcrowding. I've never quit a game because it was too crowded but I have quit many because it was too hard to consistently find teams. This is especially important if we aren't temporarily adjusting level to allow someone outside the team's level range to join.