I spent over an hour trying to log onto WoW last night. When I finally did manage to get onto WoW the start time for our guilds Zul'Gurub raid had already passed. I left a note for a friend on Smolderthorn to come and give me a hand on Frostmane. My Paladin, level 25, had the Paladin quest to get a hammer forged. I'd already gotten the wood from the Dead Mines, the gem from Blackfathom Deeps, something else (what? :), and I was only missing the hammer that is found in Shadowfang Keep.
I logged onto my Paladin, level 25 Human, called Honorus (for the Emperor, not "Honor Us") and found myself at the inn in Goldshire. I was the owner of a bar and a half of rested experience so that was nice to see. My friend wasn't on but I needed to get to Southshore anyway so I headed out. I ran up to Stormwind City, hopped the train to Ironforge, and hopped a Griffin out to Menethil Harbor.
Being a Paladin and knowing my immunity bubble has a five minute cooldown, :) (rumors that the Paladin armor set provides reduced hearthstone times are just that! cruel rumors! :) and knowing that while the run to Refuge Pointe would be easy, heading west from there, passing south of Tarren Mill to reach Southshore, that just sounded like a long run.
Instead I ran out onto the Menethil Harbor docks and leapt northwards into the water. It's a long swim but on the swim I redid my talent tree, which had been reset in my abesence. I went all Retribution with the 15 points I had, with 1 talent point into a speed boost so I can run at 104%. Good for running down runners it turns out.
I also ran CensusPlus in the background. This add-on takes a census that you later upload to warcraftrealms. What surprised me immensly was how flat the line was for Levels 10 to 59, either 0 or 1 player in the level, and the spike of over 1,600 characters at level 60. (I've just looked at the census for Frostmane and it bears that out. There are less than 175 or so characters at each level up to 60, and it's even across every level, and 4,280 characters at level 60. If you aren't 60 on Frostmane you aren't on Frostmane.)
Curious I looked at Smolderthorn's census where I have a level 60 character myself. Smolderthorn had 4,225 level 60 characters. What is interesting is that at levels less than 60 the numbers per level start at about 150 or so, like Frostmane, but gradually slope up with more low level characters starting in the high 40's, 330 at 40, 215 at 49, and in fact having 988 level 10 characters on the server now. (Come to Smoldethorn! We're low population and our economy isn't totally ruined. On Kirin Tor blue items for level 18 characters sell for 40 to 50 gold. Last night in Redridge, on Frostmane, a level 18 Paladin had a Fiery Enchant on his two-handed hammer.)
(Also, per the census, Requiem, the guild I'm an officer of, is 7th on the list of Smolderthorn Guilds. Out of both Alliance and Horde guilds. Not bad.)
Smolderthorn and Frostmane are both PvP servers. If you aren't 60 on Frostmane you're basically alone in your level. Imagine trying to do quests like that. If you're lucky there might be 10 level 25 folks on the entire realm at the same time as you. I can't imagine the play dynamic on a realm like that. What do all the bored 60's do?? Ever wander around Stranglethorn Vale trying to do quests?
I took a look at the census done for Kirin Tor, an RP realm, and the curves are much friendlier. Most, over 2,000, are level 10 and it drops on a curve down to the 42 level 59's, and then there's the 516 60's who've run into the levelling cieling. I.e. lot's of action and folks your level around.
Runetome, a new PvE realm, has 1,311 level 10's and that drops to few at level 25, and only 4 level 60's.
When I ran CensusPlus on Runetotem I was a little surprised when it immediately found a couple folks in Un'Goro crater. ALREADY?? Do they ever sleep or do they have anything else to do but play?!?! Their guild name, honest, "YesWeDoSleep". And they aren't even in the top 5 guilds on the server.
Argent Dawn, the first realm I played on RP, has a flat graph like Frostmane's, 821 level 10's, and 6,100 level 60's.
People will make new characters on new realms, and they don't on older ones. They're more likely to make new characters to join current players on a PvE or RP realm than on a PvP realm. Why is this?
New realms = new characters.
That's clear. Everyone wants to start in an unfarmed economy where a visit to the auction house isn't an exercise in lag.
Old PvE or RP realms = fewer new characters.
I've got 10 days played time *at* 60. There is lot's to do at 60. If I'm on a level 32 character I'm not farming UBRS or MC for my gear. (And with Outlands coming and the level cap going up to 70 we 60's had better be geared for it as best we can.)
Old PvP realms = gank city.
Who wants to start a new character on a realm that's got ever increasing numbers of 60's? Yes, the 60's do have stuff to do. But to cross the world to hunt you down, personally, in Redridge, that appears to be priceless for them.
And here's where it ties back in with my story. It wasn't that long of a swim for Honorus the Paladin on Frostmane, Guildmaster and sole playing member of the guild Exiles of Gilneas. (My own guild. I won't be /gkicked for inactivity!)
I swam ashore in Southshore and got the flightpath and hopped the Griffin back south to Ironforge, then back to Stormwind City, and then out to Redridge.
Yawn! That's a ton of flying time. So I was perusing the internet while I was doing it. Looking at census figures, thinking things over. When I returned to WoW I was dead at the foot of the flightpoint in Redridge. Close by is a level ?? Orc Rogue bouncing around sprinting player to player cutting them down. There was a ?? Tauren Shaman, but in crap gear, so he might have been like level 40 something. The Rogue though had some good gear. 60? I recovered my body and moved into town away from the action. At one quest giver was a dead Undead Warrior. He was wearing level 19 gear. What the hell was this guy doing in Redridge? Horde go miles out of their ways to go to Redridge. There's no quests for them there. Horde in Redridge are hunting HK's or simply hunting you! :)
But I was not put off by this. My friend hadn't logged onto his level 47 NE Warrior so I was just looking for something to do. I killed Murlocs and collected their scales for one quest. Then I ran up into the hills behind the town to kill gnolls and recover spikes and bolts for the bridge repairs. I entered the mines where I mined tin, collected the last of the spikes and bolts, and got some Rethban ore. I also dinged level 26. And I put the 2nd talent point into my speed increase. That's how I got to 108% run speed. (This will also come in handy running from Southshore out to Shadowfang Keep in Silverpine Forest.) I returned to Stormwind City and visited the Paladin trainer and logged off.
I logged onto a few more characters to put a new add-on, Titan All Played, to use. This add-on captures played time data for my characters. With all my characters, I might be missing Kinless in the total, I have a combined played time of 63 days. That's since the game came out November of '04. (Yeah. Color me addicted.)
A couple of the players in Requiem told us they had 60 days played on their main characters alone.
But Darkhoof is only 33 days played. Honorus, level 25 Paladin, only 6 days played time. Oddity, level 38 Warrior, also only 6 days played time. Isn't that odd?
There was a study done that said characters on PvP servers level up faster. No kidding. If you don't level up you die.
The same study said that Horde characters levelled up faster than Alliance. They explained this as Horde players having more drive. More time is spent questing and less time spent looking pretty. (I guess when the Blood Elves come out they'll be the slowest race to level up! Or the fastest because it will be cool to run Elves against the Alliance. "We're meaner, cooler, slicker, and better looking! Watch out." :)
The undead players were the fasted to level up on the Horde side. The Night Elfs the slowest to level up on the Alliance. That supports the argument that you want to just get to business with an ugly character, and you want to preen with a good looking one.
However, the Undead quests in Brill (noob), Tirisfal (to 10), and Silverpine (to 18) are wonderfully close together. The rest of the world and the Horde capital (multiple auction houses being too recent to impact this) only a Zeppelin ride away for the Undead players.
The Nightelf quests in their beginning area (?), Darnassus (to 12), and Darkshore (to 20) are much further apart. For a Night Elf player to get to the rest of the world and the Alliance capital involves a 20 minute run through the Wetlands from Menethil and guaranteed multiple deaths if you don't have an escort.
They made it easy for the ugly ones, they made if difficult for the good looking ones. (Don't forget: The Blood Elves will start in the Eastern Plaguelands! Talk about a tough starting location!!)
Humans, though, have pretty much the same proximity of questing possible as the Undead. Northshire, Elwynn Forest, Westfall. We recently ran some Night Elfs, level 1, to Northshire. They're going to quest like humans. So far, so good.
Oh, before I logged off Honorus went to the auction house. Being level 26 now he bought himself a gold coif. This replaced the dull steel one he'd been wearing forever. He looks rather imposing in it. His eyes a glinting blue. His hair spiked just right. ("Wait. Is that a little gray in my hair? Damn. And crowsfeet? Where's the apothecary?" And so another played day passes for an Alliance player without too much progress. :)