I dream of global servers – by Gordon
When we play MMORPGs we always play on a server, a machine or collection of machines that process every player’s action and, in essence, acts as their virtual home. We’re used to this concept and the restrictions it places on us and, as players, we usually take it all happily in our strides. Most games provide methods for moving server and most, including World of Warcraft, charge for it. They’ve successfully turned a limitation on their hardware and software into a monetized service. But wouldn’t be great if we didn’t have to worry about all of that? Wouldn’t it be nice if every player of the game, regardless of where they came from or where they were, could just all play their favourite game on a single, global server?
I know exactly what some of you MMO veterans are thinking: EVE Online, the only MMORPG in current existence that operates globally on a single server. Well, unfortunately, not quite. See even the brilliant architecture of EVE Online has it’s limitations and actually there are two servers (excluding the test server), not just one. Yep, I’m talking about Serenity, the Chinese server (not the film). Even the ambitions and technical prowess of CCP fails when it comes to the China and it’s an example of how online globalisation is still a long way off and the concept of a single server is that just, a mere concept.
Playing MMORPGs on a single server would be a pretty wonderful thing. Imagine playing WoW and bumping into fellow players from China, India, Russia or Australia. No longer would we be playing within a confined local area unable to meet anyone who hasn’t bought the boxed copy for that particular region and no longer would need to worry about whether or not someone we know is playing on a different server. Essentially it would be one world inhabited by all and that’s an exciting thing. I know it’s just a dream and obviously games would need to be designed (or re-designed) with a single server in mind but the potentials of such a thing are truly incredible.
Unfortunately though, even if the technology exists today and could be applied to our preferred mainstream MMO, we’d still have to battle real-world politics and pettiness. Local laws and regulations limit and constrain activities online and every country has different views on how it’s citizens should be allowed use the Internet. In an online universe that knows no bounds, societies create artificial boundaries to confine us.
Yet I still believe that one day we’ll see a world more harmonised by the Internet and where there is no such concept of location or region. It won’t matter if you live in America, Europe, China or Antarctica, you will operate seamlessly on the World Wide Web, location invisible and irrelevant. This will not only apply to the Net as a whole but also to our gaming and our MMORPG hobbies. Single servers for everyone in the world will become a reality and hopefully even the normality. I’m sure it will happen one day. Eventually.