Legacy of the Server

One of the quirks to my decision to wait a bit on the SWTOR launch - with new graphics cards launching over the next month, it made sense to delay purchasing the graphics card for my new machine - is that I will have a bit more information than those who showed up on day one.  Case in point, a pair of great posts by Psynister describing the practical effects of the new legacy system.  If I'm going to play through say 2-3 characters' stories, this type of information is very valuable in helping secure the best perks for my alts.

Perhaps it isn't worth changing my class or race choices to max out perks - though it definitely sounds like there's an advantage to getting characters to 50 one at a time versus working them in parallel.  However, this does call attention to a huge decision that I will need to make before I even get as far as picking a race and class.  While most other games are working to get away from the traditional server structure with creative transfers, sharding, and cross-server groups, Bioware is doubling down on the approach from ten years ago.  The Legacy system creates an incentive structure that strongly encourages players to stay put wherever they've ended up.

While you can't judge a game by its forums, I find reports of low populations on at least some servers, posted at the official forums, reasonably credible.  This does not mean that the sky is falling or the game is failing - just that throwing additional servers at the launch day rush is not a viable longterm approach to distributing players.  If anything, I wonder the Bioware's guild pre-registration plan may have hurt matters - servers that got large number of pre-release guilds may be more stable in the long-term than servers that got rolled out on launch day and occupied by tourists fleeing the queues (who are more likely to vanish 30 days later).

As a late-comer, I will have the luxury of being able to research the state of the servers six months post launch BEFORE investing time setting up camp on a new server.  (If any of you who are actually playing TOR have opinions on this topic I'd appreciate them, though it will probably be another month or two before TOR can crack my crowded calendar.)  Meanwhile, whatever the system's other faults, at least they started keeping track of the "legacy exp" at launch so that players who showed up early can get credit for their accomplishments to date.  I just wonder how many of those players will find themselves regretting decisions of server, class, or race that were made before they had even zoned in to kill their first Jedi/Sith rat-equivalent.

Update: MMO-Mechanics has the first post I've seen summarizing the things that the Legacy system will offer in patch 1.2 (currently testing) and patch 1.3.  (They had to powerlevel on the test server to unlock the system and get screenshots.)  Interesting perks, including earlier access to mounts, enhancements to your companions (who also offer buffs to your alts), etc.