Were data centers a mistake?
I remember being super disheartened when they first announced data centers and that they were going to label the servers. One of the biggest reasons I loved Final Fantasy MMO’s was because they were world wide. At any given time you could meet someone from anywhere. When they brought up the data center idea I was actually pretty dismayed. I knew that I would lose a lot of people I interacted with ingame who are a bit more active in the endgame type stuff, as they’d want their “lowest pings” and such.
My LS, being the International group it was, pulled together data, talked to other LS’s and resolved to stay on Masamune, a JP server despite it all. Wherever we went, we wouldn’t be in the “closest” data center for someone, and safely moving the amount of members we had would have been pretty hard to say the least. It was deemed far safer to stay, and just pull together if we needed to help our members get things accomplished.
I remember thinking to myself, that worst case scenario, least we’d have duty finder… course then I later learned that was data center specific as well.
Come today, and we’re in the final stretch of Early Access, and there is an issue. An issue with concurrent connections. Too many people trying to login at the same time. Odd errors occurring because of all the traffic, and no area has suffered worse than the NA/EU data center servers.
Masamune is in the JP data center, and to my knowledge has the highest concentration of International representation of any. We’re generally one of the first to sporadically get new character creation permissions taken away. That said, the early access period for me went off without so much as a hitch. I’ve only had to deal two times when its been reported to me that the “server was full” and I was placed in a queue. Both times was early morning for me, which I know is part of JP prime time.
Even then, within a few tries, I had been able to get in and play with very little issue. Game ran beautifully, no real problem with instances, no lag issues for me, no problems getting trapped in zones. Surprisingly more English speaking people to play with than I was expecting. I was able to access nearly everything that was reasonable for me to be able to access at my level.
NA/EU data center however didn’t fair as well during early access. Lots of our friends and community members ended up having to see their NA/EU servers come down for maintenance multiple times. They held lots of instance issues and server stress, and frustration was pretty high for some.
So I just wonder, what is the difference? Its the same game, same version, and it seems to work fine in one location and not the other? Why the problems when the only real difference is the data center.
I will start off by saying that I doubt that it really has anything to do with actual site equipment, or connection quality. SE spent time and resources figuring out where would be the best location, and even shared some of the reason with us as to why the location that was selected was chosen.
What I think it has a ton to do with, and a small detail that seems to have been overlooked is the fact that we’ve been told that there are far more NA users than any other region.
On paper, I understand that they were trying to get these players “the best” connection and experience by creating a data center close to them. Going as far as labeling them as NA/EU so those users would know or gravitate towards servers hosted close to them.
However in practice, when you now have nearly 2/3 of your population focused on trying to login to a certain selection of servers all at the same time because the “peak” playtime is all relatively the same for the majority of those players, it doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore. I think this detail was missed in their meeting room.
Its so odd because one of the thoughts I had when trying to decide whither to stay or go myself, to one of the NA/EU servers, was that if I stayed on a JP data center server, at least I knew there would be people to play with at odd hours, because sometimes my “playtime” hours don’t match up and if it wasn’t “peak” for English speaking individuals, at least I knew I could still probably find a Duty Finder group and go accomplish things. (Which I have pleasantly been able to do on numerous occasions, but that is topic for a different post). I do remember thinking that on the NA/EU servers would be always at an extreme. It would either be super busy in peak times, or it would be pretty quiet due to the concentration of a certain region.
My worry was to move over there, and find that occasionally my playtime would be during that very “quiet” time with less people to interact with. Now however I see that was probably not the right thing to worry about at all.
Because of all the transfers that have already occurred, it looks to be a pretty sticky situation as I’m not sure that there is an easy fix available at this point to balance the server load. Had they left the populations as they were and not ever labeled the servers, or encouraged transfers I think this situation would be far less of a problem for them, they might not even be having these issues at all because all the servers would be balanced with players from everywhere. Its kind of odd when you sometimes realize you started off with the winning combination, but in a desire to “improve” upon it, it actually kind of made things worse. But then, I think we’ve all suffered from this at some point and hindsight is 20/20.
On the bright side, they are dedicated to making this work though, and I’m sure that they will come up with some kind of solution, wither it be to add more servers to offload some of the players onto, or working to find a way to support larger capacity and concurrent connections. Its just frustrating to have this happen so close to launch.