The Great LOTRO Server Migration

ServersThe big news in LOTRO land is that 19 of the 29 servers will soon begin closing down, leaving only ten active servers in production. When the dust settles, 5 servers in the US and 5 servers in Europe will remain. Further clarifications in the official forums have indicated that Turbine desires to disrupt as few players as possible. This indicates that servers with the largest populations stand the best chance to survive. With further extrapolation, my original and home server of Windfola is directly in the crosshairs, and I’m still not sure how to feel about it.

Back when the server upgrades and consolidations were first announced, I liked the move. Being on a smaller server, I was noticing the distinct absence of other players in the world. It wasn’t just that my kin had stopped logging in (though this was also true), but population in the newer game areas also felt like it was at an all-time low. Considering that LOTRO is a very social centric MMO, I didn’t think that this bode well for the game. Friends of mine on Landroval and Brandywine (two of the more popular North America servers) didn’t believe me. To them, the game was as healthy as ever, but I knew better. Something had to be done, and Turbine made the right call.

So, I went along with this belief for most of the year. Even though I’ve played LOTRO very little in the last ten months, and even though I assumed that Windfola would close, I looked forward to the server consolidations both for the improved health of the game, and for the promised free transfer to a server where more of my friends play. But a strange thing happened this week when the details of the plan began to be revealed. I started to feel sad. I e-mailed my kinship leader and successor and told them about the potential closure. I suggested that we have a plan in place for the kin. Though the game isn’t shutting down, there’s really a feeling of finality that goes along with this type of planning. It’s like an admission that those great times we all had running a certain instance or skirmish for the first time together now exist only in memory. There really is no going back. While Windfola was there, there was always the chance – the possibility – that all of the old kinmates would somehow log in at the same time one night and decide to go storm Methedras one last time, for old time sake. But now, I have to face the reality that those days are probably gone for good.

Braxwolf
This is the earliest screenshot I have of young Windfola Braxwolf – level 13. Still free to play, without a clue about the adventures that lie ahead!

Windfola is like a parent or grandparent who we have always known, a stoic presence that we take for granted, knowing that we will always be able to return and spend time there. One day we wake up to find that we can no longer go back and say/do the things we had always intended, because that moment has passed in favor of the next.

Paradoxically, despite the nostalgia, I will not choose to stay on Windfola, even if it survives the consolidations. I’ve been eyeballing Landroval for some time. While I don’t roleplay my characters, I enjoy playing within an environment thick with roleplay due to the ambiance it provides in the towns and hubs. Random music concerts and conversations in the streets of Bree bring a life to the world that no NPC can match. Plus, I’ve met so many people since I started playing who call Landroval home. It might actually be fun moving to a new place! I’ve never had such mixed feelings about a game announcement before.

Bridge of Khazad Dum
Windfola Braxwolf standing at the Bridge of Khazad Dum (where Gandalf fell) for the first time

As for the way Turbine is handling the consolidations, I have very few complaints. A slow, controlled closure seems like the way to go. I like that their renaming strategy may free up names that have been squatted for years. Giving an extra two character slots to premium and VIP players (if that comes to pass, as has been hinted) is another token of goodwill toward a player base that is about to be rocked. I really like that they are giving us titles “of Windfola” (or insert your server of choice) to carry with us to our new worlds, so that we will never forget our home server. As new players join the game, they can ask where we got our strange title, and we can spin the tales of the days of 29 servers.

War Steeds
Members of the Malledhrim Defenders with our shiny new war steeds, ready to take on Rohan!

Free server transfers is something that I called for on LOTRO Players News towards the beginning of this year. I am slightly disappointed that they will return to charging for transfers after the consolidations are complete, though. $20 to move around and play with friends seems like an unnecessary blow to the social health of the game, especially since they are unable to provide the mega-server technology that so many modern MMO’s have adopted. Turbine, make free server transfers a permanent fixture. Abandon this relic of monetization.

At the end of this, I hope that all of the men, dwarves, elves and hobbit refugees can find their way to a new Middle-Earth. Someplace to make new memories with new friends, be that in LOTRO or elsewhere.


Servers by John Seb Barber on Flickr Creative Commons

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7 thoughts on “The Great LOTRO Server Migration

  1. tsuhelm July 30, 2015 / 8:12 am

    Tsuhelm was also windfola born, I am not so sure about moving him to Landy as my cappy has been there some time, maybe I will move him to an EU server. My RK is on withy, will be interested where he ends up but not that concerned really, just hoping his kin all go to the same place as they are a pretty cool bunch.

    I look forward to the consolidations but to only 5 servers per ‘area’ sounds risky given that some servers are laggy already!

    Crossing my fingers that all goes well.

    Like

    • zyngor July 30, 2015 / 11:39 am

      According to the dev diary posted by Frelorn, “Existing characters on EU and US worlds will have a data conflict moving to a different region, so we are only able to support transfers of characters from an EU world to another EU world and US to US.”

      It seems like Turbine is pretty confident their physical server move to new data centers will provide a stronger connection for the 10 survivors in this consolidation (with the 5 US to Jersey, and 5 EU to Amsterdam). Moving down to 10 is a bigger jump than I imagined, so we shall just see what happens. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • tsuhelm July 30, 2015 / 12:21 pm

        Ok then…no swapping server area then 😦 I will just have to compare which servers are better as neither of them is particularly close to me…I suppose the North American servers would be recommended for Argentinian LOTRO players… but I WILL be going back to Europe one day I hope.

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  2. Aywren July 30, 2015 / 8:59 am

    This is a sad time for smaller servers… though my main group of characters are on Brandywine, I really feel for those who will have to leave their long-time home and community, and am keeping my eye on how this is unfolding. I know I have a few alt characters on other servers and some Creeps I used to play with a group that encouraged me to monster play for a while.

    I think the naming issue would be the biggest for me – I have several characters whom I’d be crushed if I’d lost their names. I made many of these characters back during beta and I still have those same characters till this day.

    I know that Brandywine won’t see transfers for a while, but I’m still going to be logging in consistently to hold on to my names! 😮

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  3. Tomeoric (@PuckByter) July 30, 2015 / 12:43 pm

    Welcome to all those coming to Landy. My original server was Riddermark, but I restarted on Landy a long time ago. However, I’ll be transferring all my old Ridder toons over just to boost all the currency in my barter wallet, as well as all the stuff in storage.

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  4. Pasduil July 30, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    I agree that making it hard and expensive for people to hop between servers is probably Turbine shooting themselves in the foot. The best chance they have of keeping me active is letting me play with whichever of my friends is around, on whatever server.

    It’s already going to be a difficult choice deciding where to go, as some of my kinnies had already re-rolled on Gladden, but many of my blogosphere friends live on (or will go to) Brandy or Landy.

    That said, I’m glad this is happening as there will be a lot more chance of me getting to do what I want to do,when I want to do it, and with friends.

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  5. Roger Edwards (@ModeratePeril) July 31, 2015 / 5:43 am

    I started playing LOTRO is late 2008, after the Moria expansion was released. I chose Gilrain server because it simply showed as a having a medium population and met my geographical and language requirements.

    I don’t really have any attachment to the server. My sentiments lie with my kin and as we will be moving to a new server together I’m confident that things will remain broadly the same.

    There are some logistical problems associated with such moves but overall I think it is wise to get this over with now, as we only have 24 month or so left before the license runs out on LOTRO.

    What this situation has highlighted is the potential obsolescence of multiple servers. Are they really necessary these days? Many other MMOs do very well without them. It is the RP community that are their strongest advocate. However phasing technology and such like could surely address their concerns.

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