I'd hoped against hope when BioWare announced impending character transfers that Sanctum of the Exalted, the server where my characters had resided, would be a destination server, and I would be relatively unaffected by it. 'Twas not to be however, as BW announced that SotE was open for transfers to Ebon Hawk, another RP server using the Eastern Time Zone. I found out about it as the discussion of what my double guild should do spilled out onto Twitter. The guild leadership saw the writing on the wall and made the decision to move the Republic Mercy Corps and the Imperial Mercenary Corps to the destination server.
As did many others, I recognized the mechanics of the transfers—certain servers designated as destinations and others as sources—as a soft merger effort by BioWare, especially since there was basically only one server to move my characters to, no selection of destinations to choose from. So players had two choices: stay on the source server and watch them become ghost towns or make the jump to the other, higher population server. Make no mistake, this is a set of mergers in all but name.
To their credit, BioWare made the transfer process extremely simple and quick. Most reporting on Twitter and in my own experience is that transfers are almost instantaneous, rather than the hour or so BioWare is warning it could take.
The process is simple, but not painless. If a character name is already taken on the new server, the newcomer has to come up with a new name. I was lucky, I suppose. Only two of my eight characters required a new name, and my Legacy name was also still available. My lovely bride had to rename all four of her characters, as did many other guildmates. Some lost their Legacy names, to boot. [EDIT] Harbinger Zero has even sharper words for BioWare than I. MMOGC has weighed in, as well.
I guess that's what we get for choosing the wrong server. Oh wait. BioWare chose our server for us—at least, if we wanted to play with the people in our guild. Thanks, guys.
The beauty of Cryptic's @handles becomes more than clear at this point. In STO, you can name your character whatever inoffensive thing you want, because your handle is unique. The legacy could have been this, but wasn't. Realistic expectations of how the game would perform after the initial enthusiasm died down might have led to wiser naming policies and mechanics.
I do think the mergers are good. Almost everyone on Ebon Hawk was enthusiastic tonight about the crowds on the Fleet Stations and the various planets, General chat was lively. There was one complaint from a person whose RPing was interrupted by all the out-of-character general chatting, but they could disable general chat if they choose, or hide it in another tab.
Kudos to the members and leaders of the RMC/IMC guild, the transition has been flawless, with people stepping up to help out and get the guilds organized on our new home server. My condolences to everyone whose characters had to go into witness protection. But welcome, the best is yet to come! :)