I will just write down some general random ideas/experience .
1. Even if you make the best server in world, that meets the criteria of most people who wanted to play in it, we , the community alone , will destroy it.
This is 100% guaranteed because there will be always 3 sides . The tryhards that rush everything and want to "win" the server , the casuals that play
but not so much , have some goals , but wont participate in the race of top, and the people who enter like 1hour / 3 days. When the tryhards reach
end game they will quit and a domino of general demotivation will start to lower the numbers of the server.
This is unavoidable.
2. The only thing you can do about it is what @claw suggested. Have an update to refresh the interest of the people of the server,
But not an update from GF-> GE . An update with totally different end game so that the top side on the server stays. I m telling
this because in our case here , when you updated here from GF to GE , my side that was the strong one , end game with 300
weapons/120 armors had 0 things to do , so nobody came back.(The server might had some refresh at the time , but i think it
was 80% of in game clan dramas , politics , creation of new side etc , independent of the update. Correct me if i m wrong, i wasnt
here atm to know 100% of the history)
We must accept that the shrine community (and most of the l2 community that searches for long servers is pve based) if someone
reaches end game there wont be tremendous pvp to make him stay here, so he needs new pve to prevent him from leaving.
3. Have in mind that the casual lifespawn of a server with 3box+ limit , on x3-x10 rates usually is 2-3 super healthy months , then another
1-2 after the loss of some people , and then it goes in a vegetable state until the owners decide to shut it down.
Maybe a little bit less for interlude that has stupid end game.
So on x8-10 rates, i believe that the best thing would be 6-10month plan , from IL - > GF , or from GF/GE - > H5 or even IL->GF/GE->H5.
(after talking advices from the leaders of the biggers sides with discussions about when to update.)
I m not so sure if the IL->GF/GE->H5 will be able because of the too many different tastes of the community and because of your personal time for
updating the server every now and then....
I m gonna write a name of the server (if you want erase it) , just to give it as an nice example , not for the sake of advertisment
( this server actually had corrupted greek gm team , summoned items , etc) but if anybody knew about it to judge me right or wrong.
It is my belief of the best on the update thing.
The server was BNB at 2014 , started as interlude x7, after 4 months it updated to GF x7. In the interlude participated most of
the pvp based community (typical interlude arrows vs spells open pvp that a big side of l2 players love)
When it updated( timing was pretty important and well done) , it lost many IL only pvp players , but also with good advertisment
it gained many new people that easily filled the gap.
Some of the new players (like me at the time) had in mind that this is the chronicle that i like, i ll join. Others that wanted to tryhard
thought: " this is the chronicle that i like and even if some has already epics , i will join and beat them because the end game is
nowhere close compared on what they have. The second scenario wouldnt happen on many new players that enter a GF->GE
server and see people with 300 weapons and +20++ skills.
Even if IL is hated by many (me also!), it is also loved by many others , and in the advantages you have already a small but loyal
community here that would play in the server you created even if it was c2 or goddess or whatever , just because we consider
this server our home. And even for many others that left and i have seen on other games/servers etc, nobody ever said something
bad, but only:"perfect server, but ....low activity". So with the mail on the already 6800 forums users that @yooyoo suggested , you
will find people volunteering to follow you here independent of the project.
4. On the box limit i agree with @yooyoo , x2 strictly .I would suggest even x1 +1 from premium account.
Simply because on x3 with premium u can have a 2nd pc , 3+3 = 6 boxes = easy for anybody to go on solo trains/raids and fuck the
gameplay. Even if i dont want , i would do that if i knew that others do it, ot that it would give me advantage , easier path to the end , etc....
It is in the human nature to cheat , like @claw (ha! see what i did there claw ? :D).
On x2 boxes even if u have second pc , ok you will be able to to farm easier and alone on harder places , but at least you wont be able to superpowerlvl
or do bosses alone... i guess....
Even consider monobox if the expactations are high on numbers . It is the easier thing to see if someone cheats with virtual machines,
and have a ban system for such occasions. If numbers of the server drop , make it x2.
I will give another example of a server that was x1 box and was good for a long time( this time i wont say name because it is currently active
and it would be advertising).
This server was IL x3?4? dont remember , with monobox. It had around 1000 active , but u knew they were 1000 because of the monobox.
Not like the usual russian servers that say 5k online , 1k are fake , and another 3-4k are boxes + bots.
This server because of the monobox , lasted long for interlude standards, like 7-9 months until finally things started going domino again....
It was only able because of the numbers , but it happened ..... in 2016! So consider it . People where reporting orcs in dungeons with
3-4 afk boxes , PP/SE/WC lIVES MATTERED!
This server updated to GF but failed in numbers and closed because of 2 mistakes , 1 leading to the 2nd.
First it took them too long too decide the update, people had already started complaining and getting bored at 6months , wanting an update.
So when the preparations for the update were on it had lost a lot of people and couldnt support monobox anymore with the lower activity.
They made a poll and decided to do it duobox. So they lost even more people because many supports threatened to leave , and actually
did it. Duobox was like saying that u arent appreciated any more... every body created his own buffer etc....
5. Bot hunter policy + maybe reward is a must in any way. Wont go into further discuss here
6. About the donates i believe you should have , for the costs at least.....it was good to say us the amount , or also as @Yooyoo said , people to
contribute in banners or something. In game i would suggest something like 10Euros for premium account , 5euros for decoration(hats etc).
No donation for ingame currency.... unless the donates are too low...... in game currency makes you richer but fucks up the game a bit.
Also if the money is the problem , cause the amount you said is big one.... u should "blackmail" us , the current players , for a "charity" for the
other server. We havent paid a single cent all those months. It could be something like pre-sale for the current players of l2 shrine that want to
play on the new server , or even the ones that dont wont to play to gain something like the boost you had when server updated on GE.
I know that it was against the rules in the current server , but u could do it in the "1 time charity way" (i dont use the word in a bad way, just to show our appreciation