Producer Blog - North America Regions
This is Nimei, one of your producers for MapleStory 2. This is my first time writing a Producer Blog for this game, and I get to discuss one of the toughest and hottest topics during the Closed Betas: how we will be setting up the region servers in North America.
During Closed Beta 1, when we were originally deciding where the servers should be placed, we had set them right in the middle of the United States. Our original goal was to have one regional North American server that players from Los Angeles to New York could use to congregate and play together. Unfortunately, there was an issue with this idea: lag. With the servers set up in the middle of the US, players who weren't near the servers were experiencing serious latency issues. This included lag when using skills, picking up items, or even dodging damage from bosses. As a raider myself, I could see that the lag was noticeable enough to ruin a party's progress in dungeons and raids.
With the amount of feedback that we received from Closed Beta 1, we decided we had to run a second Closed Beta in order to, among other things, run a few more latency tests before deciding how we should set up our servers.
If you can imagine that the servers act as a WiFi signal, placement of the servers is key. If you place a server in the corner of your house, it may not reach the opposite corner. We had to strategically place them so that the entire area is covered, and North America (US and Canada primarily) is pretty big, with major cities on both coasts.
During Closed Beta 2, we decided to introduce an additional region server giving North American players the choice of which server they wanted to play in. This method improved latency, but divided the player base in North America. We also explored having special cross-server channels which would act as a "WiFi" extender: one main central server, but with different channels dedicated to each region. That way, players could pick and choose which channel they wanted to play in based on their latency, but would still be able to play with friends across the country.
Now that the second beta test has ended, our three main findings are:
- The increased latency caused by those playing far away from their region's servers had a significant enough impact on enjoying MapleStory 2, making a single region located in the center of the continent impractical.
- While it does end up splitting the North American players into two groups, having a North America West and East region greatly improved overall latency and player enjoyment.
- Having one central server with channels in different regions was a good idea in concept, but test results show otherwise. Across the three scenarios, this simulation generated the worst results. There were a large number of disconnections and longer loading times when playing, as well as multiple back-end issues that, while not apparent at first, would significantly impact long-term server stability.
After running through multiple test scenarios to ensure that we laid the right foundations for MapleStory 2, we decided to keep the North America East and North America West regions since stability is one of the most important factors we have to consider for an MMO. Overall, it was critical for us to provide the best possible service, and that means setting a stable foundation with a stable network.
Thank you for sticking with us as we work on improving MapleStory 2, and keep an eye out for more Producer Blogs to come!