Wanted: The Inn Between the Worlds
One result is to reduce lag due to overcrowding. Another is to split friendships. Some players go one direction, some the other, and never the twain shall meet.
I propose a simple way of ameliorating the problem: The Inn Between the Worlds, a server to which everyone, on every server, has access. Unlike ordinary servers, it does not represent a world with monsters, quests, and other processor intensive features. It is merely a (very large) inn. It exists to let old friends meet again, tell each other of their adventures, trade lies.
A similar but more difficult problem exists as new games come on the market. Some players leave the old game, some stay. Could a version of the same solution still work?
I think it could, although how well it works depends in part on the willingness of the companies that own the games to cooperate. I am imagining a game which is, again, merely an inn. It differs from all other games in that it allows players to bring into it their characters from other games. Since all they are doing is sitting, talking and perhaps showing off their possessions, the problems of interoperability should not be too serious. Legal problems could be more serious; it is unclear to what degree hosting my WoW character in someone else's game, complete with clothing, name, physical appearance and (inspectable but inoperable) gear, would violate Blizzard's legal rights. But that isn't a problem if Blizzard cooperates.
An encouraging sign is a recent story about plans by Second Life to open source its software, which should permit other people to build compatible worlds.