The dividing line

I’ve been having a blast in City of Heroes with Van Hemlock and the rest of the Disconnectibles (a big shout out, as I believe the correct vernacular to be, to Chained Reaction, Melmoth, Changling Bob and Leese). Unfortunately the 14th day of the trial looms large, at which point Slush Puppeh will go into (lemon and lime flavour) cryogenic storage and I’ll head back to my main CoH account on the US servers. I could shut down the US account and continue with the EU one, but then I’d lose my current characters (and 36 months worth of veteran rewards); even if I could transfer them over (the option was available, for people who’d started on the US servers before the game was official released in Europe, but not any more), I’d have to leave the SuperGroup I’ve been in for two and a half years.

I could’ve sworn I’ve rambled about this previously, but there don’t seem to be any previous posts about it (either that, or my search-fu of my own blog and/or memory is weak to the point of embarrassment) so forgive me if I’m covering existing ground, but MMOGs don’t half make it difficult to team up with people sometimes. You get chatting to someone, and find out hey, you both play Battlefield 2142. Pick the same server, log on, and you can be throwing yourselves into combat against the hated enemy (or, indeed, each other) in minutes. Find out you both play World of Warcraft, and wouldn’t it be crazy fun to adventure together? Great! Except they’re probably on a US server while you’re on an EU server. And if you happen to be on the same continent, you’re probably on a different server within that continent. And if you happen to be on the same server, you’re probably different factions. And if you happen to be on the same server and the same faction, you’re probably different levels. And if you happen to be on the same server and the same faction and you’re the same level they’re probably only interested in Heroic dungeon runs in places you can’t get to. Or they’re the same class as you so you fight over all the loot drops. Or they turn out to be an insane stalker you really wish you’d never teamed with in the first place, though I don’t think we can blame that one on game design. Course that’s a slightly extreme example, but most MMOGs have some, if not all, those potential divides.

It’d be nice if more games had a Guild Wars-y system, where you can flip between “servers” at the drop of a menu, but I realise there’s a whole stack of technical headaches that go with that, and probably legal/financial headaches which result in separate national/continental server clusters. In the meantime, the cheapseats idea is rather fun, maybe time to have a look at another free trial… EverQuest II, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies? Choices, choices…