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Digger Interviewing Mehul Patel
On April 26th 2003, Mehul announced the addition of a new server to the Swirve network, which will probably be used as a 3rd Utopia server. This interview focuses on this subject.

(Related links: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5, Post 6)

What prompted Swirve to acquire another server?

It was primarily to allow to have a little more flexibility in our network. During 2001 and 2002, we really slimmed down for efficiency and got rid of some of our excess capacity. We essentially combined about 15 older servers into 8 newer ones. That gave us better cost-efficiency, but didn't leave us much flexibility for new growth. This server gives us a chance to experiment a little without affecting the rest of the Swirve network. Our first experiment, for example, is the new underlying software structure. We didn't have any extra servers to test these kinds of things before.

With the addition of this server, what is the number of public servers that you now have?
The Swirve.com Network would consist of 9 total servers now, several of which run multiple subsites.

Was it originally intended for another area of Swirve.com or was it always going into the games section?
The only area where we're really lacking any sort of capacity right now is Swirve Games Utopia in particular. At this time, our other servers are more than capable of handling everything else.

Can you please provide the specs on the new server?
We don't release specs on any of our servers, but it has about twice the processing power of WOL and about 2.5x that of BF.

How many times has the WoL server been upgraded?
We don't actually upgrade servers in general; we mostly just replace them. I'm not sure exactly how many different servers the main Utopia game has been on, but I'd say at least 6 or so.

How many times has the BF server been upgraded?
Battlefields tends to just use the previous WOL server, so its been done basically as often as WOL. Those two games are basically always run on our two most powerful machines at any given time. When we upgrade, the newest server gets the WOL game; the previous newest server (the old WOL server) then gets BF, and then all the others filter down similarly.

How did you come to the decision to implement a 3rd game and not just keep World of Legends and Battlefields and merely replace the server and use it elsewhere?
That is still a possibility in the long-term. We wanted to experiment a little with a 3rd Utopia game, but it very well may be a temporary thing. This allows us to test a few different gaming styles such as implementing a reshuffle and such, without affecting the core WOL/BF gaming environment.

Do you believe this additional server will meet your expectations in processing speed, power, etc?
That's still to be determined, but at worst, it gives us more total capacity in that we have 3 servers to work with instead of 2. Ideally, this server will be able to handle 80,000+ users on its own, but we'll see.

Have you decided on a name for it? Or will you accept suggestions on a name for it from the Utopia Public?
As of when I'm writing this, we haven't decided on a name yet we're always open to suggestions.

Will the new server for Utopia be kept on the same starting dates/end dates for ages? Or will you implement a staggered start/end date now?
For this first round, it will be staggered. Ideally, that would be the way to go in the long-run, but we still don't know if there will be a long-run or not.

Any thoughts of bringing back some kind of Training Grounds server?
No. Training Grounds was one of the bigger mistakes we've made. I don't think we're going to go down that road again.

What caused it to be a big mistake?
Basically, it provided a place for people to learn to cheat and maximize the effectiveness of cheating.

Any thoughts on providing an "elite" server whereby all the top kingdoms from WoL and BF (honour, networth and land top kingdoms) are moved to the new server for an age to fight it out?
I'm not a real big fan of an Elite server type structure, but it's certainly an option. It would have the benefit of spreading out certain groups of players that play the game in a little different mode. The original reason for the BF / WOL split was primarily to manage the traffic levels, not to create a competitive / non-competitive split, and capacity management remains our primary motivation with regards to server decisions.

Are you able to provide any estimate figures on the bandwidth used by WoL and BF during protection, 48 hours after age start and during a normal due in the middle of the age?
I don't know the specifics offhand, but it's the equivalent of a handful of T1 lines worth of constant traffic. WOL handles more total traffic than BF, although individual BF players are more active than WOL players.

Any chance in the future that you could take a look specifically so that users can see exactly how much bandwidth Utopia generates?
All of our bandwidth goes through a central router, so its hard on our end to distinguish the servers. The only estimates we have are from when servers go down, but that has other effects on our traffic as well rather than just that single server.

Is a reshuffle in order sometime soon? On one server, two servers or all three?
The current plan is to experiment with the reshuffle idea on the new server and leave the current game as-is.

Any thoughts of changing the dynamics of the game by changing things such as kingdom sizes, tighter restrictions on aid, attacks, etc either on the newest server or all three?
Yeah I think these types of ideas are things we can play with on the new server. No specifics have been determined as of when I'm writing this, but there will likely be some rules changes on the new server.

As stated in earlier interviews, you will keep Utopia free for everybody. A lot of discussion has occurred in relation to a Pay for Play server. Would you ever implement that? Or does it not only go against your "free" statement, but also against the fact that it may not be economically viable?
I'm not opposed to something like we have in Earth with the Earth Limited Edition for only users of a certain service level. However, I would be opposed to replacing our core Utopia game with a pay-to-play type format.

Would that be Silver Service level like in Earth?
It would most likely be something like that if we went in that direction. The Service Level system seems to be the easiest and most efficient way to handle this type of stuff as it also allows us to mix pay and free offers together. This is something to look at for down the road though.

Any thoughts of having an older version of Utopia on the new server? Something like the age before happiness or utilization, etc?
No. Utopia is an ever-growing game. Things from the past can certainly be returned, but I don't see actually running a previous version.

If you ever sell Utopia (like you did with BRE a long time ago), would your release all versions of the game or just the latest?
We only generally keep hold of the latest upgrades. Utopia is an ever-changing game so I'm not big on worrying about previous versions. The same applied to BRE.

- Digger (07-May-2003)

Readers' Comments

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AuthorComment
Percil
(Posted as Roysa)
Posts: 2
(10-May-2003 05:47 pm)
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hmmm intresting!
m a x i m u s
Posts: 1
(10-May-2003 05:53 pm)
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Should be fun with a third server! =D
Angelic Death
(Posted as Angelic Death X)
Posts: 106
(10-May-2003 05:55 pm)
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Nice interview, well done!
Darkz Azn
Posts: 30
(10-May-2003 06:02 pm)
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=D .. odd but kewl ... i have a question .. if there is reshufflin in the third server ... how likely will this occur?? every single age .. or just like a pattern age .. like everyone 2 or 3 age ...
DarkBlade04
Posts: 69
(10-May-2003 06:14 pm)
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it better be everysingle age for resuffle
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