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I have played many on-line MMORPG games and almost all of them have, sooner or later, a server merge. Server merges are performed when (as people quit a game) specific servers have too few players and so the game developers move all the players on an under-populated server to another server.

The problem (from the player point of view) is that if a game character has the same name as one on the other server one of them is required to change their name. When a new character is generated, these games usually only reject names that are being already used on that server.

My question is: Is there any reason (other than programming complexity) that these games don't have a centralized list of all names on all servers?

Using a centralized name list like this would mean any names would be unique across all servers, and server merges wouldn't force players to change names.

Note: apparently there is no general tag for "MMORPG", RPG", or even "Online" so I have added tags for the MMORPGs I have played.

closed as off-topic by GodEmperorDune, DJ Pirtu, Kappei, Nolonar, Studoku May 13 '16 at 7:51

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions about Game Design and Development are off topic. This includes speculative questions about developer intent, with respect to both mechanics and narrative. You might want to ask over at GameDev.SE, but be sure to read their FAQ" – GodEmperorDune, DJ Pirtu, Kappei, Nolonar, Studoku

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    Flagging as off-topic as developer intent (for multiple games). There's no way to determine why a developer or designer made choice X about their codebase from the game itself. – Jeremy Avalon May 13 '16 at 6:31
  • I'm not asking why any developers made specific decisions. I am asking what reasons might impact the decision. – Mark Ripley May 13 '16 at 6:38
  • I made an Edit since World of Warcraft handles it wit Name-Server in case of Server merging. – Martin H. May 13 '16 at 7:21
  • Such a system is already in place in an MMORPG called "Maple Story" and let me tell you something - all the good names are used either by active people, inactive people or people who just made mules for the names to sell them for real cash. Having all names shared between the servers is one way to guarantee that you will see xXxNaruto14123xXx every 5 minutes, because xXxNaruto14122xXx was already taken. – Elise May 13 '16 at 11:02
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Players will often name their characters after popular names from movies or anime, resulting in the exact same named character on two or more different servers. If players are required to use unique names across servers, this would force them to use variations on names they want like "Kirito01" and "Kirito02".

Requiring unique names across all servers would also result in popular or desired names being already used and so not available for new players to use.

New players would find the game annoying when they have to spend hours trying to name their character, resulting in fewer new players playing the game, which would cut down on income/revenue for the game developers.

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    So you are saying the decision is whether to annoy players when they start the game or to annoy them later when they have invested lots of time. This makes sense, since annoying them later would keep them from losing as many players. – Mark Ripley May 13 '16 at 6:42
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    yeah, for veteran MMO who already have rare items, group circle and friends would stay in that game. But for new player who didn't have anything yet in this game is a major turn off. – Rusted_Silver May 13 '16 at 6:48
  • @MarkRipley Regarding WoW: not all servers got merged. Even in the worst case, I think at most five servers got merged together. So your name only has to be unique among five servers, or roughly a hundred thousand characters. If you had a global name list, then you need a unique name across 200+ servers or the entire playerbase (which had over ten million players at one point, triple that to include alts). Much harder to find a unique name with so much more competition for names. – Troyen May 13 '16 at 9:21
  • @MarkRipley Even with the single-server name restriction prior to server merges, it was a big pain to find a good unique name that wasn't gibberish in WoW. Now multiply that time by 200 and you can see how new players may just give up and abandon creating characters to play. – Troyen May 13 '16 at 9:23
  • @Troyen: I'm seeing from your comments that in really big games (like WoW), this namespace problem isn't easy to solve due to the number of players. I just wonder if some intractable problems like this are due to constraints in design; real life names are not unique and we seem to deal with that ok. – Mark Ripley May 13 '16 at 10:41
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Using a centralized list would limit the amount of names for every player: The likelihood, that one name is already existing gets higher.

Beforehand those server merges are probably not intended and so this name change is done as a compromise.

Just an assumption by me regarding programming complexity: I think many MMORPGs use already existing "frameworks" and this code probably doesn't support the server across data. Hence, the effort to change this is never taken into consideration or is not even allowed.

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    I agree that it would be very complex to change how a game deals with names after the game is created. This decision needs to be made when first creating/designing a game to avoid massive problems later. – Mark Ripley May 13 '16 at 6:48

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