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What went wrong with the Pirates MMO?

Our buddies over at Next Generation have caught up with Flying Lab to discover the reason behind the recent closure of seven of 11 servers for its MMO Pirates of the Burning Sea and the resulting transfer of players to the remaining four (math is fun!).

"The server merge is a result of a combination of things. When we were looking at the number of servers to roll out, we had a lot of different criteria to look at. Some worked out just like we'd expected, and some we were just wrong," Flying Lab CEO Russell Williams explains.

He goes on to highlight the "pieces that went wrong," which include servers actually being capable of handling more players than anticipated, game systems that require a certain number of players to function correctly "such as our economy, and they break other systems if they're not working correctly," the decrease in time players spent in the game after launch, and the balance of in-game nations.

"There are other factors, of course. But getting the above criteria wrong resulted in our concurrency targets being much lower than they should have been," Williams continues.

"Given that information the discussion becomes a focus on what you plan to do about it. For many MMOs, there's a desire to maintain that feeling of positive momentum, to continue as though it is business as usual. Unfortunately, it often goes way too far. That overwhelming urge to avoid any sign of weakness creates crippling problems in these games in the long term.

"The company doesn't want to admit it screwed up, and that prevents it from making the necessary changes, lest they be perceived as a sign of weakness. Which, in MMO terms, means you never shut down a server until its last gasps.

"We could have gone that way. As multiple people have said in our forums, they felt like many of the servers we decided to merge were still perfectly viable. But as we found, the game works better with a higher concentration of players. So we decided to act."

Read the full article on Next Generation.

Courtesy of CVG.

Apr 17, 2008

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