I like the previously mentioned idea of a "loyalty" reward. For instance, an added RP or XP bonus that grows the longer you stay on a single realm (up to a certain maximum). Then, when you switch realms, the bonus is reset. That way, players have more incentive to stick to one realm. This would make a 4 hour (or less) timer have a reduced negative impact (as the Phoenix team perceives it to be) since players would be less inclined to partake in cross-realm trolling, etc, since it would mean losing/resetting their RP/XP bonus. Granted, I realize the timer is for more than just preventing trolling. But hopefully this feedback can provide something to build from to get something that works for the players, the Phoenix team, and the community at large.
Could the timer be partially based on realm pop? That could eliminate the snowball effect mentioned, while providing increased flexibility for most.
If you want to relog from overpop to underpop, have like 15 minutes. Same for underpop to underpop. But maybe an hour (or 4...) for underpop to overpop. Encourage people to balance populations by relogging to underpop realms. Timer could be set when you log out.
First, I commend the devs for taking a swing at this issue after taking a hard stance in the past.
An option to accomplish all goals would be to allow realm switches based on populations in frontier zones, where switches from overpopulated -> underpopulated are given no/reduced switch timer if there is a certain delta between the population numbers, but switches from underpop/same population realms to same/higher population realms abide by the currently in-place realm timer. This solves the "bandwagoner" fear, but allows players from higher population realms to even out action a little better. Additionally, if that seems too lax, the no/reduced timer could only come into effect once overall fz population falls below some threshold (low enough population where without instant swaps there is little chance for even action). This gives the devs 2 levers to control the no/reduced timer : delta between realm populations and overall fz population.
Ex (fz populations) : A: 50 M: 100 H: 25 - 0 timer M -> A/H, A -> H; regular timer A -> M, H -> A/M a Mid could switch to Alb/Hib, but once there would not be able to switch back to Mid until the end of the timer.
A: 100 M: 100 H: 100 - Regular timer rules for all
Can play both prime times if planned. Can be on 1 realm xping if you have a day off, and be back on another realm to join your guild/friends in the evening.
If you make the timer to short it will result in planned super groups running around each realm with nothing to fight because nobody will make the effort and attempt to put together a pug to face said groups. Thats what will happen. Sad but fact.
What Luppiter said by realm pop - low/no timer to help prime time balance
4 hours - helps smallman/solo get some variety during the day 6 hours - I'm probably not coming back the same day if I wanted to realm swap 8 hours - Not coming back the same day 12 hours - Not coming back the same day 24 hours - Monday play - Tuesday locked - Wednesday play for 2 hours (think fuck this realm) - Thursday locked - Never play again
I really don't care one way or the other. I log in and if I am prompted with realm selection screen I always hit Mid.
What I care about is the longevity of the server. Most players seem to want a lower time and therefore more people will be happy with that so I vote a). I get the point of the timer. I think ultimately a 1-2 hour timer would be best, but 4 is much better than 12. The people saying 4 and 12 are the same are wrong. I do agree that 4 is still a little longer than it needs to be, but it is a decent compromise.