My server, Highkeep, is being merged into Butcherblock. Highkeep is one of eight servers that are being merged into another server. In general, I don't see the need for it on Highkeep, though I think it might help lower level toons to find groups some. And if it makes Freeport a more viable economy, that's good too, though the ability to mail stuff between cities does more in that regard.
What really sets my red hair flaming is the issue of name change. Scott Hartsman said this in the producer's letter:
For those characters who do not choose to move early via the Character Transfer Service and are moved automatically on their moving day, some may be automatically renamed (with one or more 'x's appended to their name) in the case that their name is already taken by an older character. If that occurs, the renamed character will be able to use the /rename command once to choose a new name for themselves.
Uh oh. Yours truly has had the handle Toldain for perhaps five years or more, starting with EQ1. I chose an EQ2 server that would let me create my red-headed glory under the same name. I created Toldain on Highkeep on Nov 8, 2004, one day after launch. And now I might have to change it? Let's study this further...
So, what exactly does "older" mean in this context? Scott has clarified on the forums:
Regarding who gets renamed when:At the moment, the person coming over will be the one renamed if the person blocking it doesn't end up cleaned up in the pass of removing placeholders.We're looking into more desirable alternatives to this that favor the more recently active, more established characters, but I don't want to get into specifics until we've tested them. Once we have something that verifies out, I'll make sure everyone hears about it.
So, "older" in this context means the character being moved, even though its create date might be a year before. I'm definitely not happy about that. Why give precedence to one servers inhabitants over another? My alter-ego on Butcherblock is an unguilded level 15 human berserker. His creation date is unavailable. He might well be in an inactive account for all I know. I don't see what interest SOE would have in giving an inactive account precedence over an active one of long standing.
Some folks are attempting to negotiate with their clones. But if your alter-ego And if he's inactive, I have no way to negotiate with him about the name, since he can't log in.
Falco, the first person on Highkeep to reach level 60, is facing a name change also, and has expressed his displeasure. I don't agree with Falco about much, but I am fully sympathetic this time.
The only reason I can think of for giving precedence to the non-merged characters is that it's easier technically. The database records for the merging characters all have to be processed anyway, so it's much simpler to change those that need to change at the same time. Perhaps the database guys are working on a more sophisticated script for handling name conflicts, but they've only got a couple of days to work out the kinks, so no promises are being made.
But really, why are the mergers happening? I think it's clearly a cost-saving move. Paradoxically, the game is on a more solid footing now, and starting to grow again, which gave them a strong enough hand to make this move without it looking like an admission of defeat. Our server was completely overcrowded in the first month or two. Contention for spawn was enough to give you hypertension. Things have fallen off dramatically since then, but recently has been bouncing back.
Frankly, I like the less-crowded feel. Though there are very few new players on the server, only alts. Perhaps SOE feels that with a larger server population, the server will be more friendly to new players? They must acquire new players to grow, or at least bring back some of the folks that played at launch.
I'm not going to threaten to leave the game and stop paying my $20 a month. I'm too hooked for that. My main hope is that, maybe, just maybe, some SOE developers read this blog, or the comments on the forum attached to the producer's letter and come up with a more satisfactory renaming scheme. Either that, or I'll hold my breath until I turn a delightful shade of robin's egg blue.