Admin Note - this will be the only thread for shard/housing/dungeon mergers. Read Admin Post here: http://stratics.com/community/threa...ard-consolidations.341700/page-5#post-2554904 Well ladies and gentlemen, whether you love it or hate it it's about time to crack open a fresh can of worms and talk about shard consolidation/merging! I am going to make a case as to why, and what I think would be a good plan to achieve it. Please take my argument into consideration, and tell me why it's the best/worst idea you've ever heard. There was once a time when I couldn't imagine ever being in favor of this, but this was before I saw just how depressingly dead some of the shards have gotten. This is bad for the game. Let's break down the pros and cons of merging shards: PROS Population - With less shards, the current pool of players will be less spread out, and more concentrated on fewer shards. That means higher populations. Economics - More players per shard means better economies. Shard divisions represent barriers that raise the cost, time and convenience of moving items to the players that want them. With higher populations, more people have direct access to each other through vendors, meaning more robust economies on remaining shards. Remaining shards benefit because they will have more players bringing their wares to the table. Win-win. Administration - Less shards are easier for the developers to manage. Means more attention for individual shards. It means when they do their meet & greet they can come to your shard more often. It means that governors can get more attention for their requests. I'm sure it means other things too that I can't think of off the top of my head or are secret dev things of which I am unaware. Community - The more people you put together on the same shards, the more activity and opportunity for that sweet, player-driven sandbox adventure you will find, and that only UO can provide! CONS Housing - This is a concern which I will not take lightly or dismiss. There is no good answer to it in my mind but I will attempt to offer an answer to it in my proposal. No matter what, some players who have a lot invested in their houses will leave; for them, the value of their house outweighs the value of higher populations - I say that without criticism. Shard History ("x shard is my home!") - This is a deceptive notion. I used to have this same idea about my original shard Napa Valley. But Napa is dead. What really makes a shard? It's not the historical pixels or even the written history - it's the people. People are what give a shard character, personality, and uniqueness. There is nothing unique about a dead shard. Don't cling to what once was. Here is the plan which I think would minimize the pain and offer everyone a fair chance to move forward: Step 1 - First, the devs must decide which shards stay, and which go. Without knowing population #s, I can only speculate that perhaps 5-6 shards (American, I make no comment or suggestion regarding Asian shards) would be appropriate, but for this I would trust the devs to find a reasonable balance between current UO population and an appropriate number of shards. Step 2 - Announce to the players that there will be a shard consolidation approximately one year from time of announcement, specifying the exact date of closing as well as which shards will remain and which will go. Announcement must show up in game as well. This will give players ample time and notice to make their arrangements. On day of announcement, disable house placing on all shards to be closed. Trial accounts will not be allowed to create characters on closing shards. Step 3 - Free unlimited shard transfers from all closing shards to any of the remaining shards. Shard transfers to closing shards are disabled. Step 4 - Once the shard is closed, save all remaining character data at the time of closing, and make these characters available to transfer post-closing from account management. This way, no character can be lost. Step 5 - Enjoy your improved MMO experience. Step 6 - Sort of an after-note. Allow shard transfer shields for closed shards to be redeemed for a different vet reward. Now I shall attempt to anticipate some arguments against: "If my shard closes then you can kiss my 20 accounts good bye!" How many accounts have we kissed good bye already because of this sentiment? UO nearly lost 5 accounts on my part, back in May 2012. I thought I'd try UO again and started playing Napa Valley. It was so dead, depressing and boring that I gave up and quit after only a week. I decided to give it one more try 8 months later and started completely fresh on Atlantic. The experience was radically different directly due to the higher population. How many new or returning players come back, see how dead their shard is (and consequently UO in their mind) and leave? "But I prefer the quiet nature of low population shards." For you, my friend, I'm afraid I have no good answer. I can only tell you that UO is a massive multiplayer online game, and it was meant to be played by massive numbers of people. UO's gameplay is primarily player-driven, but when there are few to no players, the game suffers. "I just got my 10 houses decorated just the way I want them!" I'm not going to pretend that giving up one's houses and foundation is a small thing to ask, for it truly is not, and I'm not going to pretend that such a proposal isn't basically asking you to make a sacrifice. But consider the possibility of playing on a shard with a more active community, more people to join your guild, more people to war with, more people to trade with. Sometimes, change is good. "If you love high pop shards so much, why don't you move to one yourself and leave the rest of us alone?" I'm not proposing this idea for the good of my gaming experience. I am proposing it for the good of the entire game in general. I honestly believe that fewer shards with higher populations will result in a better overall experience for everyone and help with player retention. -- Well, what's it going to be, small-sharders? Tucking yourself away in your castle surrounded by dusty old pixels in a desolate and deserted land? Or living life on the edge and high-adventure surrounded by all the opportunities for friendship, rivalry and business that you could ever hope to have?