The most curious question I answered when I filled out the survey after participating in the SWTOR beta was “What determines your choice of server?” Not for the question itself, but for one of the selectable responses: “Server name.”
I can’t say that I have any particular preference for a name when it comes to choosing a server. I guess I wouldn’t want something that sounds completely inane, but I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a server because it sounded particularly “cool.” Obviously, all of you on The Fatman disagree (though I’m not sure if it’s because it’s inane or cool).
My first MMO was City of Heroes. For no particular reason, I choose to create my first character on Justice. I would later have characters on Virtue and Freedom — all pretty normal-sounding names for a superhero MMO. From there, my server choices (which I loathe to make as a matter of principle) have pretty much been determined by where my friends have gone. One of my CoH friends made her first character on Arkenstone on LOTRO, so I followed her there. Other friends made characters on Landroval and Gladden, so I made some on those. Friends in Rift made characters on Keenblade and Sunrest, so I made characters there. I’ve already mentioned that I’ve got about a dozen friends spread across various servers in SWTOR, so whenever I get around to playing that (someday soon, I swear!), I’ll have to pick where to go. They could be on servers named “Intestine” or “Roast Beef” and I’d follow them there. Until the Fatman ate the Roast Beef, that is.
In the original survey, I put Server Name as my least important feature when deciding where to play. I would think most people are the same, ranking the location of friends and a server’s ruleset (PvE, PvP, RP) as far more important than its name. Maybe if you’re the first of your friends to decide, or if you’re a lonely bastard like I was when I first got into CoH, you might choose based on a fancy name from among the servers that have your preferred rules set, but even then, I don’t imagine that it would be a big deal. Maybe that’s just me.
Maybe MMO companies think it’s a big deal what names are put on servers, and maybe that leads to my final (for now) gripe about servers and server names. Namely, why are they kept so secret for so long leading up to launch? For those of us who do try to arrange to get all our friends on the same server, it would be nice to know a few weeks out what server names are so we can all get together on our message boards and arrange where to go without having to wait until the last second. It’s not like selecting server names should be a monumentally challenging decision that requires late-night meetings, heated arguments, and loads of coffee and Chinese takeout. I can’t see any reason why those decisions can’t be made well in advance of a game’s launch, letting players plan where they’ll wind up and having one less bit of stress to deal with on launch day. And maybe if you see that everyone’s rushing to Server X, you and your mates can avoid that one and go to a less-populated server, helping everyone’s queue times. This being the holiday season, we could all use shorter queues, whether it’s in a game or at the mall.