I can't imagine your network middleware doesn't have the functionality to utilize a distributed edge model to reduce latency? Albion did it with Unity and Photon, I'm surprised SpatialOS cannot.
A distributed model can be useful and it's something we can implement in the future for parts of gameplay that don't require direct interaction with other players - otherwise it doesn't work.
Albion used to host the game in two datacenters, one in the EU and one in the US. I don't remember how it used to work exactly, I think it would pass control of a region of the world to the EU server if the majority of players in the region were from EU, and the other way round. A weird solution which was the source of many issues - they dropped it long ago.
Since 2016 the whole game is hosted in a single datacenter - located in Washington DC (US East - obvious choice), if I'm not wrong. If you connect from the EU, you get a 100ms ping if you're lucky, no way around that. Which is fine for Albion, because they did a very good optimization job (they have good engineers!) and because the gameplay (combat) allows it. The combat of Fractured is not the combat of Albion. I understand it might look similar at a glance - but really it's not.
RIP the idea of a single shard. EVE Online does it perfectly and it stops people from 'hiding' away on empty servers. Dividing the small player base of an indie game from the start is just going to lead to a lot of dead servers (not to mention the costs of running multiple servers at once). After all, what's the point of fighting over territory when if you lose, you could just switch servers? I would rather have 220 ping to one server where everyone plays than 10 ping to an empty one.
I'm sure you understand the difference between EVE gameplay (combat in particular) and that of an Action RPG. You can't just say "it works there, it must work here". I wish thing were so easy myself, trust me.
You don't plan a game to be big from the start, you always plan for it to be small, and grow it from there
This statement could be very shortsighted and be the cause of several issues in some cases, but let's not get into the topic eheh. It's a good statement regarding userbase - and that is why we explicitly specified we're going to start with a single US East server until the NA/SA/EU userbase is large enough to sustain two servers. Maybe you missed that part of the update!
Does playing another server use a 'character slot' (global amount), or are 'character slots' per server?
Global, like skins, premium currency, etc. Would be terrible to ask you to buy premium multiple times on different servers!
I've edited the post making the bit regarding Alpha more obvious and adding some more info.