The Diablo 2 Wiki
The Diablo 2 Wiki archive is available for anyone looking for information on Diablo 2. All information here is pre-D2R but contains a lot of useful information that is still relevant. Updated sections for new D2R features can be found on the PureDiablo Diablo 2 section

Servers & Shards FAQ

From Diablo 2 Wiki

Another page from the Archives. This is a FAQ we put together pre-D2's release, to answer the very frequently asked questions players had about how the D2 online experience would work.

This page is presented as an historical curiosity; the information on it is largely outdated, 10 years later.

Servers & Realms FAQ

["Shards" were officially renamed to "realms" by Blizzard North in late 1999, but the terms "servers," "shards" and "realms" may be used interchangeably, particularly in quoted materials.]

What is a shard?

"A shard = several servers working together. Transparently to the player, though." - Blizzard Entertainment

A shard (now "realm") is an independent server. In Diablo II there will be a lot of different realms of, they are simply divided servers, with the whole being the entire server system for Diablo II.

Why was it called a shard?

First of all, we don't call them "shards." OK, that's not true, we do actually call them that. But we're trying to think of something a bit more original. ("Realms?!") - Max Schaefer, Blizzard Vice President

Meaning, possibly, they fell into the habit of using that UO-ish term and hadn’t changed to something more Blizzard-ish, or maybe it was called a shard because they hadn’t yet found another name upon which they could agree. {Note Max’s little nudge for a vote on his favourite?}

Why are they now called "realms?"

Because Max got his way. :-)

Will the chat room for Diablo II also be divided?

"It has no effect on chat or other blizzard games." - Peter Hu, Blizzard Entertainment

The chat is world-wide regardless of which realm your character is resident on, so when you enter chat, you have all of chat channels available to you.

Why is going to be in realms?

" will not be in shards... Diablo 2 will be. This is being done to give everyone a fast, local server on which to play D2. This is important, since D2 is much more "network intensive"... in other words, it likes a fast connection." --Blizzard Entertainment
"People have to realize something about Diablo II. You really can't compare it to other games due to the amount of people who will be playing. We anticipate at least 50,000 users at any given time. That is far more than are playing any other game simultaneously except maybe for StarCraft, which isn't client-server. The technical requirements for handling that kind of number are staggering. The shard system is therefore necessary to distribute the load and make the task at least somewhat manageable. The Diablo II multiplayer architecture is doing things no other game has ever done." - Max Schaefer, Blizzard Vice President

So it’s going to be in realms, at least temporarily, to allow the gaming to begin while they figure out how to "un-realm" it while maintaining the high level of security and stability that they have made a commitment to maintain.

Will the realms be geographical?

"We will have support throughout the world, with servers in North America, Europe,and Asia. It is our most ambitious title so far." - Mike Morhaime, President, Blizzard Entertainment

Is this new?

"There were always shards in the game. The only question was how many Blizzard will have." - Blizzard Entertainment

So, no, this is not a new development, but who gets to host their own realm is up in the air at present. Think of the current entering game screen. What does it say? "Please wait. Locating fastest server." That is finding a server, or realm. It’s actually finding one of the chat servers, but it’s sort of the same idea.

How large will the realms be?

"We intend to have at least 10,000 simultaneous users PER SHARD! Not 10,000 accounts, but 10,000 simultaneous players. The number of accounts per shard will probably approach 100,000. That's more people in your "shard" community than the total number that play virtually any other game. Other massive online games have "shards" a small fraction of this size. Rather than having many shards all over the place, we will have fewer than 10 total shards strategically placed throughout the world." - Max Schaefer, Blizzard Vice President

So how many realms will there be?

There will be "fewer than 10 worldwide," as stated by Max Schaefer above.

I have heard there are two kinds of realms. What kinds will there be?

Closed Realm - Characters that are played exclusively in the Closed, server side environment, reside here. These can be cloned to an Open Realm, [not another Closed Realm] but in order to protect the integrity of the characters (to prevent duping, hacking, and cheating of all kinds and sorts) they may not subsequently be transferred back to a Closed Realm.

Open Realm - Characters that are transferred from a Closed Realm or from LAN, Modem games or what is essentially a single player character created on your machine at home will live on your hard drive and play on these realms.

Are some realms more private than others?

Yes, in a public realm, anyone can play. A private realm would be password protected, a concept that is still very much under discussion at Blizzard. The final decision on whether to have private realms has not yet been made, from what we understand.

All public realms will be listed on Blizzard realms will be closed, while other listed realms will be open (which will allow characters to be brought in.)

How will I know which realm I am on?

You will be given a choice of realms when you create a character. The default will be the fastest / closest realm to you.

Will I select my realm?

"You can start a character on ANY shard. You choose the shard. So you folks in Australia can play with your friends in China or Germany. Your lag with those people will be no worse than if we had no shards whatsoever." - Max Schaefer, Blizzard Vice President

Yes, as of today, you will. This must be a very recent decision, for we understood it was still under discussion at Blizzard. So you will select your realm, although there might well be a default realm indicated, so that if you don’t select a specific realm, the system will choose one for you, presumably the one with the best lag, or the greatest likelihood of consistently good lag. Therefore a person in New York will most likely not have his new character defaulted to an Asian realm but will be on one closer to home, say an East Coast USA realm. If he chooses to set up in Asia, though, he’s able to do so.

Will I be able to move from Closed realm to Closed realm?

"We are working on the technology necessary to be able to transfer characters from one shard to another. This is not as easy as you might think, and we don't want to keep people from playing while we solve this one technical issue. We hope to be able to add this functionality sometime following the game's release. We cannot guarantee this, but we are working on it." - Max Schaefer, Blizzard Vice President

So, there will be no movement between closed realms at present. The plan is to eventually allow such movement between realms, but it’s not possible at the outset of the game’s play and may take a few months to implement.

Will I be able to move back and forth from the Open to Closed realms?

Well, yes and no. Closed realm characters are stored exclusively on the server, and therefore must be created and live their entire "lives" there. You may move such a character from a Closed Realm to the Open Realm, but you may not take him/her back. This is to prevent hacking and other cheats. And as it stands right now, you will be able to clone your Closed realm character to move to an open server of your choice while leaving the original on the Closer realm.

If I want to play with a friend, we have to pick a common realm?

Yes, that is correct.

How will friends come together to play existing characters?

You have three options:

  • hope they are both on the same realm
  • start new characters on a common realm
  • clone an existing character on the Closed Realm and move him/her to an Open Realm, knowing that the original character will not receive the attributes, skills, items and so forth that you acquire after moving to the Open server.

Explain about cloning and having the "same" character on Open and Closed Realms?

Say you have Fred, a Paladin. He’s a Level 20 character developed on a Closed Realm, whom you then clone and move to an Open Realm. Fred stays at Level 20 on the Closed Realm until/unless you play him there again. But the "new" Paladin, call him FredClone, who is on an Open Realm, can level, find items, acquire skills, and generally become a Paladin Extraordinaire, all while leaving the original Fred unchanged on the Closed Realm.

How will guilds be affected by the realm system?

It appears that guilds will not be negatively impacted in any way. They will set up their guild games and their hall on a specific server/realm, which any of their members will be able to choose as they create characters. Since every player can choose his or her own realm, and can play multiple characters on each realm, guilds should feel no impact whatsoever. International lag will be greatly reduced over how it now exists on, so the realm system is actually preferable to being on one large server. The only key is communication at the initial selection of the guild’s realm, so that guild members end up in the right place.

How will Chatrooms work?

Chat will work just like all the other games. The realm system is only for D2 in-game play. The one small difference is in messaging into and out of games, and between realms.

If we’re on different realms, how can I message my friend on a different one?

You will be able to message into and out of a game. If you are in the same game with the person, you can message by character name or account name. If you are in a different game, or one is in chat and the other is inside a game, you will message each other not by character name, but by account name.

Are character and accounts different?

Yes. You will have one unique account, but off of that account you will be able to have several characters.

Will account names and character names be unique?

The account name is yours; no one else may be Fred, if your account is set up as Fred. However, whether the character names will be unique or not is still being discussed (heatedly, we hear) at Blizzard. Most likely the character names will not be unique, so there may be Freds in several games on a given realm, but if there is more than one Fred in a game, it will be as it is now on Fred1 and Fred. In other words, as one Blizzard employee put it, "it will be like Diablo was way-back-when."

How many characters may I have on my account?

"You will be able to create characters on any shard with available space. You are not limited to one character". - Max Schaefer, Blizzard Vice President

That has not yet been determined by Blizzard. Five characters per realm has been thrown about, but that is very unofficial and very up in the air.

What about trading items?

This is one area in which we didn’t have a specific answer, until our visit to Blizzard North in December. At that time we learned that characters will conduct their trading only within a game, rather than in some branch of the chat room, as was discussed at one point. Therefore, both players wishing to make a trade will need to make a game, enter it, trade, and then leave. This means that characters who meet in chat but are on different realms will be precluded from trading.

Is this the way it will be, forever?

As you have read in Max’s comments and the other information above, Blizzard is reserving the right to update the realm system in the future. In fact, they are endeavoring to eliminate realms altogether. This is still a hot topic inside the company, and will continue to be tweaked and revised as the game nears release. And it appears it may well change after release, too, with the realms possibly undergoing some sort of unification process. So everything changes while staying the same, or nothing stays the same because it’s always changing, or somethin’ like that.