Aurelius, I've heard them say before that they organized their servers differently but didn't really understand what that meant until you explained it. Nonetheless, many shards do seem to have a problem. I left the shard I started out on because I simply could not, ever, participate in things like zone-wide invasions (which really are the fun things that set Rift apart). I just had to log out and play one of my other 17 characters (see what I did there?) until it was over and I could get to the quest hubs again. Because there just weren't players in the zone to group up with. I don't care what label the shard status page gives the population, any time I'm paying to not play, it's an issue.
There's still room for them to adjust how invasions and zone events play out in zones that don't have a lot of players in them. I know what it's like to show up to a quest hub that has a planar foothold instead of a wardstone and all the quest givers are dead. And when it's the aftermath of a zone event, sometimes it's way more than the standard wardstone guards that you have to clear through to get your quest givers to respawn.
In fact, lowbie zone populations on the shard where I rolled my second rogue have been so low for so long that when I came across a major fire rift in Silverwood with my warrior (level 16) today while out getting eggs and plane shards (for soul quests) I didn't even realize it was a major rift until I almost got clobbered because I wasn't in the habit of checking.
The solution is to retune and refine the zone activity. Part of that process requires that the devs keep a close eye on things and how players are responding to the invasions and rifts. I know that personally, if I've set out into the field with a goal in mind (ie. quest, gather for dailies, etc.), the planar activity has to be directly in my face before I pay any attention to it. Not because I don't like it, but because I've got other things on my mind. And a lot of players are the same way. If they don't HAVE to clear it, they won't. So maybe things are tuned right now so that if you've got > 20 people in the zone, it might trigger a zone event or major rifts when in reality, 28 of those 30 people are just going to ignore it. They've also got to consider that some of the epic quests require specific zone events and if those don't happen because the lowbie zones are empty, the quests can't progress.
Trion designed the game around the assumption that most players saw leveling as a means to an end. Obviously you're a good example of someone who is more than happy to take their time and enjoy the process, and unfortunately that puts you at sort of a disadvantage. Either you're going to get blocked by remnants of invasions that spawn when there aren't enough people around to help you, or you're going to miss out on a lot of the lower zone rift content because it's just not going to spawn.
There's not much the devs can do to bring the lowbie zones back to life. Even on higher population shards (my original realm is medium pop most of the time, high pop during prime time), lowbie zones are frequently very empty in terms of players. Everyone has just leveled through them. And if they keep trying to pack people onto shards, they're only going to fill the lowbie zones for so long before those people also have leveled through them and they'll be back where they started. And considering the amount of indignant rage and QQ that goes up on the official forums about high level players "ruining" the lowbie experience by showing up to rifts and zone events and steamrolling the place, it's not like they'd be well advised to offer incentive for higher level players to go back through the lower zones to do this or that.
I expect to see continued refinements to the way planar activity plays out in low population zones, but I highly doubt it will have anything to do with trying to re-populate those zones. That's just not what the devs had in mind.
I don't think server merges are the way to address it though. While that may help the people on low pop servers, it doesn't do much for the people on Wolfsbane who now have atrocious queues because everyone did what I did and rerolled someplace busier. (For the record, I did not reroll on Wolfsbane though, so no hate mail please. :)). I suspect Rift has a healthy population overall that's just distributed poorly. Transfers, if properly organized so as to make it appealing for people or entire guilds to transfer from a higher pop shard to a lower pop one, could benefit everyone.[/quote]