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April 30, 2001

EA: Patch 62 live!

Cythne sent us the following announcement, about a recent FYI posting on the Ultima Online Web site:

Patch 62 live!

The following notice was just added to FYI. However, there was initially a line that referred to various art modifications having been made in this patch. That line was just removed a few minutes ago, when I was informed that further QA time was going to be needed on those changes, and they were in fact not in this patch. My apologies for any confusion!

We're happy to announce that we have eliminated several issues that had been
impacting the performance of the Third Dawn client. This client patch will
be released on April 30th at approximately 4:00 pm CDT, and will include:
  • Substantial memory leak fixes
  • Various crash bug fixes
If you have any difficulty receiving this patch, please check the following:
  • Check the "Patch" directory within your Ultima Online directory (the default location is C:\\Program Files\Ultima Online\Patch). This directory should be empty. Any files in this directory should be deleted.
  • If you are unable to connect to the patch server at all, and are using an original (Non-T2A) version of Ultima Online, you may need to update your verinfo file. For details on updating this file, please see the information posted at http://support.uo.com/tech_6.html.
  • Run a virus scan on your computer. Undetected viruses may cause conflicts with patching Ultima Online. For information on up-to-date virus detection software, please visit
    http://www.hitchhikers.net/antivirus/antivirus-dis.phtml.
If after trying the above, you are still experiencing difficulty patching the Ultima Online client, please contact Technical Support at tech@uo.com.

Posted by Nobody at 6:56 PM

April 29, 2001

Confrontation Near Fairhaven

A Fairhaven patrol was dispatched this evening with orders to range east of the village looking for clues regarding the recent murders. The patrol route included a sweep of the local crypts, which have long been the source of various undead creatures. The leader of the mission, Fizban, an elder of Fairhaven, led his troops inside where they began searching for clues.

Before long, they discovered a passage which led up to a large stone mausoleum infested with undead. The villagers managed to fight their way through, and on the top level they had quite a surprise. A woman, Aria, was there, and behind her was an abomination. It looked somewhat in appearance like a cross between a man and a decaying lich. It's parts looked as though they had been hastily assembled, and its patchwork skin was decaying and pus-ridden.

The villagers demanded an explanation from the woman, but she was not very forthcoming. She ranted and raved about her "creation" and how it was better than any of her previous attempts. She admitted to killing the farmers, saying she needed the parts to complete her pet. Her bragging was mingled with screaming threats to the villagers to leave her abode, on pain of death. The determined patrol would not depart though, and so she ordered her pets, demons, elementals, and even the lumbering lich-man to dispose of the trespassers.

A fierce fight ensued, with the villagers pitted against elementals of magic and wailing undead whose howls can take the courage from even the heartiest warrior. The battle raged all over the complex, and one man was slain when an earth elemental snuck up behind him and twisted his neck. The villagers fought back, though, and eventually the woman and her creatures were slain. The lich attempted to escape, but its magic appeared to fail it when its mistress was slain, and it was hacked to pieces.

The body of the woman Aria was dragged back to Fairhaven where she was revived. She claimed not to remember her crimes, or even her name, but the villagers demanded blood as vengeance for their slain comrade and the murdered farmers. The woman was in no condition to discuss her crimes though, and so she is now in the custody of the village council pending a full investigation. The only clue recovered regarding this mysterious incident, besides the woman herself, was a dusty journal found in a chest in her stronghold. The journal was stained with water and blood though, and was mostly unreadable.

Posted by Nobody at 12:44 AM

April 28, 2001

OSI Rep for Disney Luncheon Confirmed

AngelStorm, of UO Chesapeake Daily News, had this information about the player gathering at Disneyworld:

OSI Rep for Disney Luncheon Confirmed

We are happy to announce that Runesabre is confirmed to be joining us in Disney.

We will shortly be announcing the details for the Friday Happy Hour.

Please visit the luncheon site (http://angelsrealm.net/uodisney) to register today.

Posted by Nobody at 10:18 PM

May Day Festival at The Golden Mage Tower

Petrus of the Golden Mage Tower sent us the following exciting announcement:

May Day Festival

Come celebrate the changing of the seasons!

May 5th, 2001
  • 2pm PST - The Golden Mage Tower
    Dart Throwing Contest
  • 3pm PST - The Golden Mage Tower
    Magic Encyclopedia Contest
  • 4pm PST - The Golden Brew
    Panty Raid II
  • 6pm PST - The Golden Globe Theatre
    Spring Swing Dance
Please visit http://townofgolden.net for full details and directions.

Posted by Nobody at 3:19 PM

***ImaNewbie does Britannia!***New Toon!

Tryon from ImaNewbie does Britannia sent us the following announcement:

***ImaNewbie does Britannia!***New Toon!

Hail and Well Met :)

This week ImaNewbie investigates the effect that being able to customize vendor costumes has had on shopping in Britannia. Check it out!

Added Saturday, April 28th, 2001:
- Episode #139: Shop 'Till You're Dropped

ImaNewbie does Britannia

later...Tryon

Posted by Nobody at 2:49 PM

April 27, 2001

The Results of the Mystic Mead Dart Tournament

The following message from Trekonn was posted to UO Stratics:

The Results of the Mystic Mead Dart Tournament

Greetings!

I am pleased to announce the Mystic Mead Tavern had another successful dart tournament over the weekend. Friday night ended with Durin Stonecrow the high scorer with 90 points, a fine score indeed. On Saturday, Bjorn's Brew flowed freely and many were to drunk to throw straight. Alas, Maganamus III would arrive and top the high score by one point! The high score of 91 points would stand to earn him a check for 13,600 GP!

On Sunday evening, we had the week's prize drawing for all who participated over the weekend. Fire Ninja walked away with a brand new shadow suit and a coupon for 5,000 GP good at the OMK Marketplace next door to the tavern.

Congratulations to you both! This week's prize drawing for participants will be another fish net and SOS bottle, back by popular demand. Remember, all you have to do is throw once to be eligible for the drawing on Sunday. The tavern high score still stands at 110 points by Razagal. Beat this score and recieve an additional 5000 GP! I hope to see you all there over this coming weekend.

Thank thee,
Trekonn,
The Hierophant
The Mystic Mead

Posted by Nobody at 7:56 PM

EA: Comments from Canyon

The following was posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Canyon

When I was asked to make a post for the Comments from the Team, I felt that it would be a good opportunity to introduce myself and discuss how customer service is addressed from a training perspective. I’m known as Canyon, and I am currently in charge of training for the Player Relations group. One of the questions people ask me at player gatherings is how I ended up with Origin. I graduated from a small liberal arts school in San Antonio a few years ago, but my degree in Political Science isn’t really put to use when teaching someone how to deal with problem players. My minor in Sociology helps a bit, as does my teaching and customer service background.

My first experience with an EA game was Wing Commander 3. I then went back and played all the Wing Commanders, and Privateer 1 and 2. Oddly enough, I never played any of the Ultima games. That changed when Ultima Online came out. I had to wait several weeks to get a copy, since it was always sold out in the stores. My first week of the game was tough (I was one of the newbies that got killed by a deer), but I made some friends who showed me the ropes, and I was hooked. I found my niche as a roleplayer, and quickly became a part of the UO community.

I got my break in the industry as a volunteer, and I eventually became a Game Master in September of 1999. I have worked as a Game Master, Senior Game Master, and I am currently responsible for training in the Player Relations department. When new hires join the team, I work with them for several weeks, introducing them to the game and the responsibilities they will have as Game Masters.

It has been a challenge to create a training division for Player Relations, but it has also been very rewarding. All new hires get consistent training that teaches them the latest policies and issues. We also have ongoing training for GMs when issues change, or when we add new features to the game. Training is a priority because we recognize that the Game Masters need to have the tools and knowledge to provide great customer service. We also conduct testing so we can see how well GMs understand the issues that they have to deal with in game.

We recognize that providing great customer service is essential for us to remain competitive. We have all worked very hard to improve the level of service that we offer, and we have made great strides in both the quality and quantity of service we offer to players.

When I go to a restaurant and receive bad service or food, I don’t go back. And if I am really displeased with the service, I’m going to warn everyone I know about it. Not only will the restaurant lose my business, but the restaurant will most likely lose the business of my friends and family. The positive side of this is that when I have a good experience as a customer, I’ll go back and also recommend it to my friends. I understand that our customers do the same thing with Ultima Online, and we want to keep our customers happy with the service that they receive.

I understand that players will not always be happy with the outcome of the call, but I want to make sure that the GMs are doing their best to give the customers great service. There will be times when GMs have to tell the player “no,” but this should always be done in a polite way that educates the customer on why we need to follow a certain standard of conduct. It’s my job to make sure the GMs understand what this standard is, and the best way to apply it in customer interactions. Regardless of the outcome of the situation, we want the customer to feel they dealt with someone who was polite and professional who was knowledgeable about the situation.

Canyon
Player Relations
Ultima Online

Posted by Nobody at 7:34 PM

Game Revolution reviews UO:3D

Baldric from Game Revolution recently reviewed Ultima Online: Third Dawn. The entire review can be found here. Below is the "summarizing" last two paragraphs from the review, along with their "report card" for UO:3D:

Now if only they could make it 4D...

The game has changed a whole hell of a lot since I wrote that first review years ago. The near elimination of server lag and fixing most of the ways people used to be able to cheat have improved the game a lot. But not all the choices made by the design team have thrilled me. Ah well, you can't please everyone, and UO (not in 3D) is still a damn good game.

While preparing for this review, I ran into more than one player online who had actually removed Third Dawn from their computer and reinstalled the old client. And frankly, I'm going to do the same thing as soon as I finish taking screen shots. Then I can get back to battling for control of Britannia in the name of Minax. All I ask is to be made sheriff of Skara Brae.

Revolution Report Card

C-

+ 3D!
- Not very good 3D
+ New land
- Fluffy nicey-nice new land
- Buggy
- Old client is just plain better
+ UO is still a good game
* Join another faction so I can bash you

Posted by Nobody at 8:44 AM

EA: “Spring Festival” Spotlight by Ursula of the Golden Brew

The 84th Spotlight at the Ultima Online Web site is by Baja's own Ursula of the Golden Brew. Congratulations, Ursula!

The entire tale is told here, and the introduction to it is below:

Spring Festival

One of the few things more enjoyable than a holiday is the chance to spend it with friends. And even better than that is the opportunity to win lots of gold!

This week's story tells of a unique holiday celebration, complete with polymorphed chickens and tame rabbits. Curious? Read on for more about springtime festivities at the Golden Brew.

Posted by Nobody at 12:03 AM

April 26, 2001

UO-Disney Luncheon Information

AngelStorm recently sent out the following announcement:

UO-Disney Luncheon Information

Good news!

The web site for the UO-Disney luncheon is open for registration and has been updated with all the pertinent information!

Please take a look and register today! http://angelsrealm.net/uodisney

--Angel Storm

Posted by Nobody at 6:36 PM

The Grand Opening of the Frenzied Mongbat Casino

The following from Xavier and Sampson was posted to UO Stratics:

The Grand Opening of the Frenzied Mongbat Casino

Please join us for our Grand Opening on Tuesday, May 1st at 7:00 CST. There will be many games and prizes for those that attend. Door prizes will be handed out, and we will also have a raffle. The raffle tickets will be 2k each, and prizes will include a Glacial Staff and a Snowglobe among many other items and a grand prize gold amount at 9:00 CST.

Along with all this, our dealers will be maintaining three other gambling games throughout the opening, from 7:00 to 9:00 CST. If you need a rune to the Casino you can ICQ Sampson @ 112455386 orPlease join us for our Grand Opening on Tuesday, May 1st at 7:00 CST. There will be many games and prizes for those that attend. Door prizes will be handed out, and we will also have a raffle. The raffle tickets will be 2k each, and prizes will include a Glacial Staff and a Snowglobe among many other items and a grand prize gold amount at 9:00 CST. Along with all this, our dealers will be maintaining three other gambling games throughout the opening, from 7:00 to 9:00 CST. If you need a rune to the Casino you can ICQ Sampson @ 112455386 or Xavier Arcanus @ 85756751.

So come join us and play Xavier's Magic 24, 'Round the World, Lucky 7's...bring checks if you need to we will have money on hand to cash and make change and will also have vendors on site acting as Cashiers with checks on them so you don't have to go back to the bank.

Posted by Nobody at 6:25 PM

The Baja Chef's Faire

The following from Moff Tarkin was posted to UO Stratics:

The Baja Chef's Faire

When: 10am PST (17:00 GMT) Saturday April 28, 2001 (See also this Time Zone Converter for help with time zones.)

Where: The Darkmor Tavern in Heaven's Forge, Trammel, Baja Shard. The tavern is located in at 106°57N, 50°54E (It's a large tower, directly south of the entrance to dungeon Wrong.) Gates will be opened from Darkmor Tavern to inside the Britain West bank every few minutes starting at 9:45am.

Who: The Chef's Faire is organized by the Britannian Society of Chefs [BSC], hosted by Dread Lady Sy Snootles, Grandmaster Chef.

Why: The Chef's Faire is a cross shard event hosted bi-monthly on a shard by shard Basis. It's purpose is to highlight the Cooking skill and to generally just have fun. There's always plenty of free food and drink for everyone, so be sure to stop by!

What: Aside from copious amounts of snacks and beverages, there will be over 100k gold in prizes! The featured events are:
  • The Poison Drink-Off Thirsty? Be ready to lose fame and earn some cash. The first one to die wins. Contestants will be paired off for individual rounds. (I'll be resurrecting the contestants myself after each round, so no worries there.) First place receives a 25k check, second place receives a 10k check. You must have a minimum of 50 strength to qualify for this contest. Contestants may only die from the poison provided. Any other attempts to commit suicide or lemming one's self will result in disqualification.
  • The Chef's Scavenger Hunt Retrieve a small collection of common items, themed on food and Cooking. There will be several different rounds, 10k will be awarded to the winner of each round. (Without giving too much away, an example would be: "I want breakfast. First one to bring me bacon, eggs, and a muffin wins!")
  • Funniest Pet Name Contest Has your trusty steed "Orc Bait" been craving attention? Did you name your ostard "an elder chicken"? Well, this contest is for you. Contestants and their riders will be judged by a panel of Chefs; First place wins 10k and second place wins 5k.

Posted by Nobody at 6:18 PM

VirtualGamerz.com reviews UO:3D

VirtualGamerz.com recently reviewed Ultima Online: Third Dawn. The original review is here, but the entire review can be read, below:

GAME NAME: Ultima Online: Third Dawn
GAME TYPE: PC
Written by: A.J. McLellan

(amclella@attcanada.ca)

The everlasting multiplayer online roleplaying game, known as Ultima Online, continues to grow even today. With the release Click to Enlargeof the new expansion Third Dawn, players are now playing in an enhanced 3D client, and are travelling through the new world of Ilshenar.

There are plenty of exciting new features included in Third Dawn, such as new creatures, an outstanding particle system, various new sound effects and improved music, improved expandability, and last but not least, the exciting fulfilled world of Ilshenar.

Advantages and disadvantages are part of every game. Third Dawn shows a little bit of both. Due to the early release of this expansion, there are still a fair Click to Enlargeamount of performance and hardware issues, however the new patching system allows the these issues to be easily resolved, instead of working around them as seen with the UO:Renaissance client in the past. New patches are constantly being created, and are released almost every week. The new expandability system has many improvements that UO:R didn't have in the past, this creates the opportunity to continuously improve the game.

The new land of Ilshenar is designed for adventuring. It consists of several hunting grounds, dungeons, shrines, and finally, settlements. Settlements are the 'towns' in Ilshenar, they are NPC village-like areas, located all over the world. Each settlement has various different NPC buildings, where you can buy and sell your goods with NPCs, these settlements have banks as well.

Ilshenar also provides a wide variety of creatures, such as animals and monsters. There are several new creatures that can be seen Click to Enlargein the world of Ilshenar, as well, there are plenty of the original Ultima Online: Renaissance monsters. All of these creatures can be seen in various locations throughout the lands of Ilshenar, especially in the dungeons. This world offers several dungeons to explore, all of which offer something different, and new to adventure.

There are various ways of transportation in these lands, all of which are convenient. You can move by foot, or by mounts such as horses, ostards, and llamas. There are rumours that famous 'Sea Horses' are being implemented. Sea Horses will be the main method of water transportation in Ilshenar, as boats are unfortunately non-existent on that facet. This form of water transportation should be very interesting to see in the future. Moongates are also found at each of the eight shrines around Ilshenar, they offer facet and town transportation as well.

In conclusion, Ultima Online: Third Dawn is an all around fun game to play. It has been an enjoyable experience exploring the new features that Third Dawn has to offer. You have the option to be whoever you want to be, and do whatever you want to do, it is your life, and nothing can prevent you from achieving your goals.

Fare thee well, and see you in Ilshenar!

Posted by Nobody at 6:13 PM

UOHoC Chats with Den Dragon

The complete log of the Twenty-fourth UO Celebrity chat with Den Dragon, founder of Stratics has been posted at the Ultima Online House of Commons (UOHoC), here. Below is the first question to Den Dragon:

Sephiroth - Ok Den, when and why did you start the Stratics corporation?
DenDragon - well, the corporate thing happened at some point along the line... ;) as for the network, it began as a homepage on GeoCities
DenDragon - probably kinda familiar for a lot of you: bored at work, interested in UO, couldn't find stats for the scimitar
DenDragon - so I decided to find out myself :)
Sephiroth - thanks =) That's all from gimpy ole me
DenDragon - what started as "Den's Den: the UO Statistics Site" grew into the UOSS, and then into Stratics
DenDragon - cool, thanks for the question

Posted by Nobody at 6:04 PM

Building the Ultimate RPG Game

Wired News Radio recently was able to interview Rick "Stellerex" Hall, Senior Producer for Ultima Online. It's an MP3-based audio interview, and the introduction is below:


Courtesy Ultima Online
A conceptual drawing for Ultima Online
Building the Ultimate RPG Game

Ultima Online revolutionized the online gaming market by combining action gaming with community aspects from the Internet. UO senior producer Rick Hall discusses his company's philosophy.

Listen up:
Today's MP3 file is 20:00 min. Download (3.5 MB) | Stream

Posted by Nobody at 3:28 PM

EA: Seeking Tales of Bravery

The following was recently posted to the FYI page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Seeking Tales of Bravery

Ever heard the saying "More brawn than brains"? What about "Fortune favors the brave"? Well, whichever of these you feel applies to you, we want to hear of your foolhardy stunts. Whether you faced down a dragon armed with only a dagger, or confronted a Lich Lord while waving about a piece of cooked fishsteak, this is your opportunity to tell your tale of supreme bravery (or utter stupidity, whichever you feel applies).

Send an e-mail to uo-profiles@uo.com by Friday, May 4th. Please be sure your story falls between 500-1000 words, and include "Bravery" in your subject line. Please provide a name and phone number for verification of the story. Submissions to "uo-profiles" become the property of OSI and may be used for special events, promotions, and/or advertising. All submissions must be made by the original author and are subject to verification.

Posted by Nobody at 11:54 AM

EA: Comments from Leilo

The following was recently posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Leilo

Greetings!

I’d like to take the time today to talk about the various ways we communicate information from Ultima Online, and why we communicate in the ways we do. There are three major ways we handle communications: Site Announcements, Message Board posts, and Comments from the Team.
    Site Announcements
    Our most ‘official’ method of communication is through the various announcements we post to the UO site. These range from game updates, to service announcements, to shard announcements, to policy changes. OCR works with the various teams within the company to sort out information for these announcements and come up with as concise as possible an explanation of the information you need to know. While sometimes the announcements are templates (explaining why every time you see a client patch announcement, they always read the same way), most of the time we write up announcements from scratch to address the current issue. The announcements are then approved by producers, managers, and those directly involved to be sure we’ve covered the appropriate information, and then are published to the website, sent to a list of fansite operators, and if extremely important, published to the login server message. While this method helps us be absolutely certain that the correct information is being posted, it also requires a bit of a time lag - explaining why situations arise from time to time where you may be aware of an issue before we’ve posted on it.

    Message Board Posts
    From time to time, you’ll see ‘red names’ posting on the UO.com message boards with questions, comments, or suggestions. These UO staff members have gone through a training program to help them answer your questions and concerns in the most effective way to help you. Message board posts are generally written ‘on-the-fly’, and because of that, the atmosphere of our message boards is relatively casual. As a rule, we try never to make important announcements only on our boards, but because of casual conversation, occasionally items may slip through. If this does happen, we’ll always try to clarify as quickly as possible.

    Comments from the Team
    The Comments from the Team section of the website was designed to provide you with a closer look at the people who contribute to UO from all of the various service areas. We keep the editing to a minimum, and the topics open - if one team member wants to write a bio, another talk about his experiences as a player, a third theorize on game design, or a fourth share a story of her trip to Tibet, that is their decision. (Though we’d likely talk her out of the Tibet stories.) Much like an editorial in your local paper, the Comments from the Team are the thoughts and ideas of the people behind-the-scenes, and as such are probably the least ‘official’ news we’ll ever publish. Does that mean they won’t have substance? Of course not. It does mean that much like all of you are a huge, diverse community with different ideas and goals and thoughts, so are the people writing these comments - and in this section, you may not always find us informational, useful, or even interesting… but you will always find the ‘real’ us - or at least the PG-rated versions.
In closing, I also want to take a moment to welcome Cynthe to the Ultima Online Community team. Many of you know Cynthe from the hours she invested in supporting the UWOO community, and she’s rolled up her sleeves and jumped right in to UO. Cynthe will be handling the major content editing and writing duties for this site as well as keeping our website content up-to-date, helping organize new site additions, and much more. Cynthe and Melantus will continue to be the core of our UO Community Relations team, and I think you’ll find they have some exciting and useful plans for the future of UO Community Relations.

Susan “Leilo” Kath
Manager, Community Services

Posted by Nobody at 11:46 AM

April 25, 2001

EA: Atlantic Backup System

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com website:

Atlantic Backup System

The distributed backup system will be re-enabled on the Atlantic shard after its regularly scheduled maintenance on Wednesday, April 25th CDT. We will continue to monitor the shard closely for any unexpected issues.

Posted by Nobody at 5:36 PM

April 24, 2001

Terdeus Hall Grand Reopening

The following announcement was recently posted to the Ultima Online Stratics Web site:

Terdeus Hall Grand Reopening

This Friday, 4/20/2001, Sauron held a Grand Reopening of Terdeus Hall. A sizable crowd turned out to enjoy the festivities which included a scavenger hunt, relay race, riddle contest, best dressed contest, drinking relay, and random trivia.

By the end of the night most of the guests had won a prize! Sauron announced that Terdeus Hall will now have gambling events regularly. So you should drop by and try your luck.

Sauron also said "I would like to also extend a thank you to all the people who donated items to be given away at the event." Indeed it was a fun night for all!

Terdeus Hall now offers gambling be sure to visit and play "Strike it Rich". The jackpot starts off at 110K, and slowly builds up. The objective is to guess 3 rolls of the dice in order. So you guess three numbers, each 2-12, and if they come up in the order you said them, you win the jackpot. The jackpot grows with each bet, and it only costs 100 gp per try! Terdeus Hall and the Mystic Mead Tavern worked together to create this exciting new game.

Posted by Nobody at 11:16 PM

OTS Announces Dungeon Crawl

The following announcement from Steve Irwin was recently posted to the Ultima Online Stratics Web site:

OTS Announces Dungeon Crawl

Event: OTS Dungeon Crawl When: Saturday, April 28,2001 5:30 PST

I would like to invite one and all to the very first OTS Dungeon Crawl. You do not have to be in the OTS to take part in the event. We will be choosing a random dungeon by a clever little system (Thank you Mage Tower). About thirty minutes before 5:30 I will be gating to Lord British's Castle from banks of all towns. (We are meeting at Castle British) Once we have all arived we will pick a dungeon. Gates will then be opened to the entrance of the dungeon.

After every one gets there and a round of Nightsite Spells we will go in the dungeon. We will work our way down to the bottom of the dungeon killing every thing in sight. I personaly will help you get your stuff from your fallen body if needed and Im sure every one else will also. After we are done cleaning out the dungeon gates will be provided to The Mystic Mead. At The Mystic Mead there will be a dart contest for a large pot (15,000 gold last week I think) and a few rounds of Bjorn's Brew. After every one has had their limit gates will be provided back to town.

Steve Irwin
General of All Bards
Children of The Seas

Posted by Nobody at 11:14 PM

EA: Comments from Evocare

The following was recently posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Evocare

Greetings,

As you likely know from the team comments heading, I go by the name of Evocare and I am a designer for Ultima Online. In my time at Origin, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a variety of game systems for both Ultima Online and the game formerly known as Ultima Online 2, and as a result I’d like to take some time to bore you with some game system theory. ;]

One of my primary goals here at Origin is to take a holistic approach the design of game systems. In order to deliver the best possible play experience, it’s crucial that we have a keen understanding of how each game system relates to other game systems. The idea is to create and maintain a web of essentially symbiotic game system relationships so that the combination of systems becomes dramatically more interesting and compelling than the sum of the value of each individually. Beyond creating an interesting and deep game world, one of the greatest benefits of this approach is the ability to deliver the aforementioned experience with a minimum of complexity and clutter when compared to a game of equal depth that is comprised of largely unrelated game systems.

Now that you’ve been given a mouthful of buzzwords, I’ll attempt to turn it into some tangible and useful information. Currently, Ultima Online has a foundation of basic game systems that establish the groundwork for your play experience. Although these systems are reasonably interesting on their own, they become considerably more interesting when meaningful relationships between them are developed. You can see this kind of relationship between the guild and housing systems, in that a guildstone must be located within a house. A result of this interaction is that the value of the guild system is compounded by the interesting qualities of the housing system (and vice versa), since players must work with the elements of attempting to establish a guild while balancing those desires with their housing needs. An example of one of the housing system’s effects on the guild system hinges on the ability of the players to (among other things) declare houses as public or private buildings, since it creates a meaningful meta-game in which a guild can make use of the “public” feature in order to have an open gathering environment, or the “private” feature in order to use the guild house as a sort of retreat from the outside world (all the while balancing the needs of the guild against the challenges of obtaining the best possible house type).

At this point, you may be wondering what this has to do with the future of Ultima Online, how it is that we can expect to see this type of approach provide benefits to the existing game world, and why it isn’t like that already! Without giving away too much detail, we’d like to see Ultima Online evolve its current system design into a more cohesive whole, where the distinctions between systems blur as their interactions are built upon and encouraged to grow! Although this has been an elusive goal due in large part to the realities of live game maintenance and changing faces among the development team, I believe that as time goes on, you (the players) will see a gradual and noticeable refinement of the game systems within Ultima Online. Hopefully, this will translate into a more cohesive and fun game.

Take care!

Tom “Evocare” Chilton
Designer, Ultima Online

Posted by Nobody at 11:11 PM

EA: 2D Client Patch 3.0.0g

The following was recently posted to the FYI page on the Ultima Online Web site:

2D Client Patch 3.0.0g

We will be releasing a client patch on April 24th at approximately 12:00 pm CDT. This client patch will fix a bug related to switching to 800x600 resolution. This patch is for the 2D client only. The 3D client build number remains 3.0.0f.

If you have any difficulty receiving this patch, please check the following:
  • Check the “Patch” directory within your Ultima Online directory (the default location is C:\\Program Files\Ultima Online\Patch). This directory should be empty. Any files in this directory should be deleted.
  • If you are unable to connect to the patch server at all, and are using an original (Non-T2A) version of Ultima Online, you may need to update your verinfo file. For details on updating this file, please see the information posted at http://support.uo.com/tech_6.html.
  • Run a virus scan on your computer. Undetected viruses may cause conflicts with patching Ultima Online. For information on up-to-date virus detection software, please visit http://www.hitchhikers.net/antivirus/antivirus-dis.phtml.
If after trying the above, you are still experiencing difficulty patching the Ultima Online client, please contact Technical Support at tech@uo.com.

Posted by Nobody at 11:10 PM

A New Tavern To Oen

On April 24th 2001, at 6 pm CST "The Liches Tavern" opens. Gates will be provided from the Skara Brae moongate in Fellucia. Free recall scrolls are given to all that attend. Prizes will be given out too, and free leather armor dying to anyone that brings their own leather armor. Vendors at the tavern sell GM armor and weapons, deadly poisoned weapons and potions of every kind. Free ostards of different colors will be given out, and so will runes to a secret location. Go to the Skara Brae Fellucia bank at a time to be announced at the tavern's opening, and recieve a weapon of vanquishing of your choice, OR for a mage, you can recieve 2k of each regeant.

Please email mkeating@gtw.net for questions or information. We are hiring staff, for 10k an hour, to serve drinks, perform entertainment and protect the establishment from murderers. Miners are encouraged to come to the opening event regardless of interest, because their is a perfect mine for any type of ore you can imagine, right outside the 2 story tavern.

Good luck in your travels
Hope to see you there.

Posted by Ursula at 1:56 AM

April 23, 2001

EA: Client Patch 3.0.0e

The following was posted to the FYI page at the Ultima Online Web site:

Client Patch 3.0.0e

We will be releasing a client patch on April 23rd at approximately 11:00 am CDT. The client patch will include the following:
  • The translation server will no longer pop up a dialog box when it encounters a missing language pair.
  • A crash caused by trying to plot a course on a map between two identical locations.
  • A fix for the "Unknown Packet Oops" dialog crash.
  • Other random crashes.
This patch is for the 2D client only. The 3D client build number remains 3.0.0f.

If you have any difficulty receiving this patch, please check the following:
  • Check the “Patch” directory within your Ultima Online directory (the default location is C:\\Program Files\Ultima Online\Patch). This directory should be empty. Any files in this directory should be deleted.
  • If you are unable to connect to the patch server at all, and are using an original (Non-T2A) version of Ultima Online, you may need to update your verinfo file. For details on updating this file, please see the information posted at http://support.uo.com/tech_6.html.
  • Run a virus scan on your computer. Undetected viruses may cause conflicts with patching Ultima Online. For information on up-to-date virus detection software, please visit http://www.hitchhikers.net/antivirus/antivirus-dis.phtml.
If after trying the above, you are still experiencing difficulty patching the Ultima Online client, please contact Technical Support at tech@uo.com .

Posted by Nobody at 6:58 PM

April 21, 2001

UMF Spring Leather Giveaway

The following announcement from Cloud of Baja was posted to UO Stratics:

UMF Spring Leather Giveaway

Event: UMF Spring Leather Giveaway
Where: Sharkee’s & The New Trinsic Shop
When: Sunday, April 22, 2001 1:00pm – 3:00pm CST

Details: Bring in the new Spring fashion season with a colorful set of GM crafted Leather or Studded armor, the United Merchants Federation (UMF) is giving away FREE sets of GM exceptionally crafted COLORED studded and leather armor. Each of our shops will be offering a different color so make sure you visit them all. All we ask is that you bring along the materials needed to make the armor i.e. 150 hides for studded and 100 hides for regular leather 75 hides for female. We will provide the GM Tailors and leather dye tub to make the armor for you. Limit: 2 sets per customer please. Gates will be provided to and from the shops from Britain’s West Bank.

In addition to giving away the Spring color leather armor, we will be selling “special” rune books with each of our vender shops in them as well as a SPECIAL rune. At 3:00cst you need to recall to the location of the special rune. If you pop up in the spot where our President Sharky McGee is, you will win a Ratman statue! Only 100 of these books will be made and they will sell for 1000gp each.

Our shops are well maintained and frequently updated to provide the best in customer satisfaction. Look for many new and exciting player run events in the future including Treasure Map Competitions, Competitive Dungeon Crawls, and other craftable giveaways. We hope everyone comes by and visits us to pick up their free armor.

Cloud of Baja
Community Relations Director
United Merchants Federation

Posted by Nobody at 10:08 PM

Tragedy in Yew

A small farming family was found butchered in their home late last night in the deep forest near the city of Yew. The family was discovered by a passing traveller who smelled the terrible reek of the carnage. Upon investigating, he found the dismembered remains of the entire family of three. A large pentagram was drawn on the floor of the house in the blood of the victims, and it was later discovered that the heart had been removed from one of the victims, and the head removed from another. The third victim was found dead outside, bludgeoned from behind. His corpse had not been violated. "This is just awful", said a neighbor, who asked not to be identified. "They were very reclusive, we didn't even know their names. What if we're next?"

The local residents are up in arms about the incident and have sought protection from the nearby town of Fairhaven. "We know of no monsters in the area that could do such a thing. Ogres may bash your head in, but they don't cut out your heart", said Mayor Silkon, who has pledged to get to the bottom of the incident. "We're on the edge of the wild out here. Yew is too far away to guarantee our safety."

Residents also don't believe this to be the work of normal monsters, as there are generally very few in the area. "We get the occassional ogre or troll here sometimes, but they generally leave us alone," said local farmer Atkis Williams. "'Bout the most they've ever done is eat a few of our sheep."

This is not the first strange incident to go on in the area. Local hunters have found disturbances in the enviroment and wildlife in the area, and believe there is some unknown force is at work. "Just yesterday I was out huntin' me some cooters, they make a good stew they do, really warms ye up inside, when I saw this poor grizzly just strung out on the ground. It looked like somethin had turned him inside out like, an' there was blood all over. Most of the major organs were missin. I ain't never seen nuthin like that before, an' I been a trapper for 50 years."

Posted by Nobody at 3:15 AM

April 20, 2001

EA: Comments from Stellerex

The following was posted to the Team Comments page of the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Stellerex

Stellerex? Who the heck is this guy? Oh. Another producer on UO, right?

I don’t expect many of you to know who I am, since I’m not much for stepping into the limelight. Most of you probably don’t even realize that I was a UO Live team producer last year for a while. And better yet, most of you had no idea I’d been a producer on UWO:ORIGIN last year, and had just returned to that project before the big shake-up at Origin a few weeks ago. But now I’ve returned to the UO team, this time as senior producer. Still don’t have any clue who I am? That’s okay. Like I said, I don’t really crave the attention. I just like to do my job and try to help the team make the best games I can.

But with the aforementioned shake-up in EA World, the inevitable rumors and speculations have started to surface. So I thought it was only prudent to speak out for a few minutes to clarify things a bit.

Yes, there was a big layoff here at Origin last month. And yes, a couple of projects got cancelled. After having just rejoined the UWO:ORIGIN team, I can tell you it was hard to hear. But as much as people want answers, the ‘why’ and ‘who’ and ‘how much’ questions aren’t really what's important. What it comes down to is that the decisions were made. And as I said before, I like to do my job and try to make the best games I can. So before I continue, let me state for the record that the vast majority of the UO Dev team remains intact. In fact, quite a number of folks from other projects have rolled onto the team. We’ve made a lot of statements since last month's events about putting more focus into UO. So why should anyone believe us? Well, I know actions speak louder than words, but here you go anyway.

First of all, we decided to make some adjustments to our organization. At this point, the UO Dev team is larger than at any time since the game shipped, so we needed to expand our team management a little. Let me be the first to publicly congratulate our own Kirk Black, a.k.a. Runesabre, on his promotion to producer. He’s done such a great job for us over the past couple of years that it was really inevitable anyway.

Next, we decided to sit down and take a look at everything. And I do mean everything. We’ve got more resources than at any time in the history of the game, and we have a responsibility to get the most we can out of them. We're starting some really big initiatives right now, and this year’s efforts will help to position UO to get constantly bigger and better for the very long haul.

Over the course of the next twelve months, we’re going to be pulling out all the stops to make the game more stable and efficient. You’ve already seen a big part of this with the distributed backups that have just been implemented. Additionally, we’re going to make a concerted effort to try to locate and eliminate problems, improve performance on the 3D client, and continue to improve server stability.

And now you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, that’s great. Big deal.” Well, if that’s all we had planned, you might be right. But like I said, with our expanded team size, we’re going to be doing something completely new for us - we're devoting a segment of the team to focus on nothing but Live Content. That’s one of the efforts that Runesabre will be heading up, and personally I think it looks pretty exciting.

And just because we have the manpower, we’re also going to be working on lots of boring-but-critical infrastructure stuff, and a couple of things that are far enough off that we aren’t quite ready to reveal details about them yet. But suffice it to say, the UO Live Dev team is alive and well, and we’ve got an ambitious future ahead of us.

Rick "Stellerex" Hall
Senior Producer
Ultima Online

Posted by Nobody at 6:02 PM

3rd Annual UO-Disney Florida Luncheon Update

The following Player Gathering announcement was posted by AngelStorm to the UOChesapeake Daily News:

3rd Annual UO-Disney Florida Luncheon Update

Just a quick update for everyone interested on attending the luncheon in Florida this year.

The date is finalized for June 23rd. We are currently awaiting confirmation from Walt Disney World on location and costs, but it will be within the park.

We expect the costs to be $40 or less per person and will be holding this event "picnic" style as in previous years.

If you are interested in attending please be sure to email AngelStorm. Also keep visiting the site for updates and information on the luncheon.

This just in! We have verification that there WILL be a representative from OSI in attendance. However, rumor has it that there is a battle royale going on in the office over who gets to come to Florida this year. We will keep you posted on who comes out of the ring the victor!

Posted by Nobody at 5:58 PM

Dark Swords Guild Presents a Fair at the Skara Brae Fairgrounds

The following announcement from Lord Ash was posted to UO Stratics:

Dark Swords Guild Presents a Fair at the Skara Brae Fairgrounds

Sunday, April 29th, 2001
7:00 pm to 11:45 pm CST
Baja, Skara Brae Fairgrounds (Sextant Coordinates 47o 32'S, 35o 55'W), Trammel

Hail one and all! The members of Dark Swords wish to invite one and all to a celebration at the Skara Brae Fairgrounds! The night will start with a storytelling contest, followed by animal fights (betting is allowed!), and finishing with a beauty contest open to any woman who wishes to enter (for a small entry fee you get a chance at very nice prizes)! There will be raffles throughout (prizes including holiday bells, sets of GM armor, and much more to be announced at the event). All contests will have prizes, email for full details, or just show up and we'll explain there. If you are interested in entering the beauty contest, emailing beforehand would be a plus!

Gates to the fairground will be provided from Britain West Bank on the night of the event. I hope you will all join us for this night of fun and games! Please contact Lord Ash at founders@uomail.com with questions or for more information.

Lord Ash - Guildmaster of Dark Swords

Posted by Nobody at 5:53 PM

Announcing the First Meeting of the Councel of Merchants

The following announcement from Lord Durnik was posted to UO Stratics:

Announcing the First Meeting of the Councel of Merchants

Greetings,

I am proud to host the first meeting of the Councel of Merchants of Baja on Saturday, April 28th starting at 2 PM Central Time. My ICQ is 17484064. We will be meeting in my Keep in Trammel and gates to the Keep will be available apon request from inside the Nujelmn Bank, the Jhelom Bank and the East Bank in Britain. Gates will not be offered once the Councel starts to meet so please make arrangements to come 20 minutes before hand. Every merchant on baja is invited and urged to attend. Everyone has ideas and I would love to hear them in detail.

The Councel of Merchants will meet to discuss the following topics.
  • What is an acceptable price range for some goods and services.
  • Price for Raw Materials
  • Price for GM Armor and Weapons
  • Price for Assassin Goods
  • Price for Leather Goods
  • Price For GM Potions
  • Establishing business partnerships on Baja.
  • Different ideas on how to run a Mall.
  • Price to charge Merchants
  • When to Kick a Merchant out of your Mall
  • How to handle Empty Vendors
  • Vendor Philosophy
  • How can the Mall give back to the Community
I would like to hear from a diverse group of individuals on these topics. Once we have heard your viewpoints, I will start to model the malls to reflect the ideas that you so generously donated. All ideas and view points will be gladly accepted. Lets leave the egos out of this meeting and do something great for Baja.

Lord Durnik, The Humble Smith

Posted by Nobody at 5:51 PM

April 19, 2001

Golden Brew Players Call for Auditions

The Golden Brew Players are happy to announce Auditions for The Princess Bride. Auditions will be held Apr. 21st at 7:00 pm PST and Apr. 22nd at 1:00 pm PST at the Golden Globe Theatre, in the Town of Golden, Trammel Facet, Baja Shard. All persons auditioning must be willing to commit to attending at least two 2-hour rehearsals each week for Major roles, plus performance times, or at least one 2-hour rehearsal each week for Minor roles, plus performance times. If you are not willing to commit to this amount of time, please do not audition.">


Please direct all questions to Kita Talith

Posted by Ursula at 9:25 PM

EA: Comments from MrTact

The following was posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from MrTact

THE APOLOGETIC PREFACE

Forgive me for not using Britannia-speak. I hope you'll understand that I don't wish to embarrass us all with my incompetence.

THE OBLIGATORY INTRODUCTION

Enter MrTact, also known in an alternate life as Tim Keating. I started here at Origin in August of '99 as a programmer/DBA for UO operations. My responsibilities included such mundane but important tasks as doing development on the UO login server, generating service metrics and maintaining the billing system. Early in 2000, I became the manager of my team, and was chartered to grow the team by several people. Toward the end of last year, I hit my limit for responding to pages about login server meltdowns, and decided to look for something else to do.

As it happened, QA was looking for an engineer right around that time, it seemed to be a good fit for both the team and myself, and I made the jump.

THE ACTUAL UPDATE, or WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

This is an extremely exciting time to be a part of UO. Throughout the lifetime of the game, parts of the community have been very vocal about problems with bugs and stability. Historically, the dev and QA teams have been in a kind of Catch-22 situation: given a finite amount of time, they had to balance adding new features to the game with fixing bugs. Some bugs had to be left in, not because no one WANTED to fix them, but because the necessary resources had to be dedicated to adding and testing promised new features.

That's not the case anymore.

The upside to all the chaos of late is that many people and procedures from UO2 are now a part of the UO team. This is a big win for UO. There are more people working on UO now than at any other time since its launch. Additionally, with only one product, our focus as a company is very narrow. We can afford to pay attention to details that previously we would not have had the bandwidth to address.

From a QA perspective, we've never had the kinds of engineering resources devoted to UO that we do now. Where QA used to just mean "testing" (and black-box testing, at that, for those of you who know anything about software development), we are now fully responsible for improving the quality of UO from stem to stern. We are starting, slowly but surely, to get involved with development earlier in the lifecycle so we can help dev catch bugs sooner.

Add to that the renewed commitment by the OSI management team to stomping bugs and improving the quality and reliability of our service, and you can see why I'm so enthusiastic to be getting involved with UO at this point in its lifetime. I hope you'll stick around, because we're going to see some really exciting improvements.

Tim "MrTact" Keating
QA Engineer, Ultima Online
Origin Systems

Posted by Nobody at 6:42 PM

Richard Garriott Interview at RPGDot

RPGDot posted an interviw with Richard Garriott, here. Below is the introduction to the interview.

Richard Garriott Interview

Being one of the industry's most famous game designer, Richard Garriott is finally free to return into the business after his one year non-compete term. We all know, what games he has brought us in the past – but we all want to know about his future, his plans and his feelings about the latest developments in the industry.

Enjoy our interview with Lord British.
One particular question & answer stood out, concerning Mr. Garriott and his future with creating computer games.
Let’s talk about your plans: Will you bring us new games with emphasis more on the single player or on the multiplayer aspect? What is your opinion about the future of Online RPG’s in general?

Richard Garriott: Both. We plan to do online games, but which blend the best features of both solo, and online styles. For example: In a solo player game, each person who buys the game is blissfully unaware that everyone else is also the 1 hero that saves the day. Yet they do this alone and lonely. In most multiplayer games, you are far from lonely which is cool, but not everyone can be the one hero. We have designs that accomplish both. You will be able to achieve greatness alone or with friends.

Posted by Nobody at 8:41 AM

April 18, 2001

Seahorses Coming Soon!

The following was posted by Joshua Rowan to UO Stratics:

Seahorses Coming Soon!

It looks like Seahorses (rideable creatures that will allow you to travel over water) are right around the corner from being added into the game! First, a post from Melantus on the official Discussion Board about it:
Wait until you see someone riding the seahorse, which I saw on Test Center yesterday (Leilo was showing me what they looked like in motion.).

Melantus
Online Community Coordinator
Ultima Online
And then a bit later to an e-mail discussion group that was talking about it:
I clarified that post a little in another post. Players cant exactly get these creatures yet because the items/steps needed is still in the process of being worked on (on Test Center). However being on the inside, we were able to skip the steps needed to get a seahorse and simply make one. :) Was interesting to see it. The rest of that design should be going in soon.
So not yet, but soon! I'm sure many of you are just like me in that you can't wait to see this one!

Posted by Nobody at 6:14 PM

The Society of Archers Baja Chapter has day of activities, contests and fun!

The following was posted to UO Stratics:

The Society of Archers Baja Chapter has day of activities, contests and fun!

The Society of Archers (S|A) first ever Archers Faire took place last Saturday. The Faire took place at the Skara Brae Fairgrounds in Trammel and lasted most of the afternoon. The crowds, in particular Archers, came out in large numbers to participate in the activities. It was a fun and exciting day, and attracted many interesting people who sat around and chatted the day away, thanks to Sparky's constant barrage of ale.

The Lumberjack race was first, with Sularas pulling in an impressive 400 logs and taking home the first place prize of 50,000 gold. The Archery event followed and was by far the most exciting part of the day. After three rounds of target shooting, only 6 contestants remained. The target was set higher, and all had gone but one and had come up short. People began to speak of a "shoot-out" believing the mark had been set too high. Then the final contestant Sniper Wolf, of PAK, hit three straight bullseyes under pressure to win the event! With her great shooting, Sniper Wolf, took home the grand prize of 50,000 gold and a Vanquishing Heavy Crossbow.

Overall, the Archers Faire was an entertaining and fun day for all. Thanks to all came, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. The Society of Archers Baja Chapter is now looking for Archers interested in uniting together and being involved in more activites like the Archers Faire. You can reach us at SocArchers@aol.com, or look for us around Vesper. I hope you all will keep an eye out for more S|A events in the near future. Farewell!

Posted by Nobody at 6:12 PM

The Grand Reopening of Terdeus Hall — This Friday!

We were sent the following announcement:

Grand Reopening of Terdeus Hall — This Friday!

Terdeus Hall - 48o 52'S 33o 40'E - TRAMMEL
Friday April 20th, 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM PST

The Grand Reopening of Terdeus Hall: All are welcome to attend the festivities and to partake in the games. At the Grand Reopening, Sauron shall explain his story, and as to why the Grand Reopening is taking place. There will also be a posting of regular hours of business for Terdeus Hall, and recruiting for employees.

We look forward to seeing you there!

(Gates will be provided from the West Britain Bank prior to the event, and runes will be dropped throughout various cities. If you have any questions or comments, contact Sauron at: sauron@frws.com)

Posted by Nobody at 5:58 PM

April 17, 2001

New Titles from Ilshenar Confirmed!!!!

The following alert from Gewurtztraminer, a player, posted the following to the official UO3D Boards (which I learned about thanks to the post on UO Stratics):

New Titles from Ilshenar Confirmed!!!!

I spent most of the day yesterday annoying the demons and gargoyles in Ishlenar, killing gargoyles in all of their 51 flavors.

I pulled up my paperdoll and was suprized to see:
The Famed Diogi: Foe of the Abyss Instead of:
The Famed Diogi Grandmaster Mage

Way way way back during the beta they had hinted that titles could be gained by your actions. The example they gave was a warrior who killed a lot of dragons would come to be known as a Dragon Slayer.
And then, continued the UO Stratics reporter, this morning Melantus posted this followup:
This is true and not a rumor. This has something to do with that "mystery" of Ilshenar that I talked about a few weeks ago, but theres much more to it. That's all I'll say about this for now. :)

Melantus
Online Community Coordinator
Ultima Online
Melantus@uo.com

Posted by Nobody at 4:27 PM

April 16, 2001

UO.com Screenshots & Events Calendar

The following two announcements were posted by Joshua Rowan to the Ultima Online Yahoo!Groups e-mail list:

UO.com Screenshots & Events Calendar

Screenshots Needed: UO.com is looking for creative and original new Pictures of the Week to display on their front page. And who better to get them from than the players who actually inhabit their world and witness amazing things every day. From unique furniture designs to a hilarious encounter with a creature you've never seen before, the most important part is creativity! If you have something you would like to share, then make sure to take a picture of it using your favorite screenshot utility. Make sure to check out their official submission page for rules and e-mail links.

Events Calendar — Events Needed: UO.com is also looking for events that you may be planning for your shard. From weddings to tournaments to quests. If you want to get great exposure for your event, then this is your chance. And make sure to write a detailed and well written description of the event so that players know exactly what you'll be doing and where the event will be happening (be specific). Some events will even be posted on the front page of UO.com, so keep an eye out! To find out about the rules and to submit your event, head on over to the Event Calendar Submission Form.

Posted by Nobody at 11:18 PM

The Golden Brew Celebrates Easter

The following article was posted to UO Stratics:

The Golden Brew Celebrates Easter

The Golden Brew was full of color and celebration as adventurers from every corner of Britannia gathered to celebrate Easter. Saturday, a huge crowd gathered outside the Golden Brew to take part in a dungeon run.

Individuals were put on smaller teams and sent out to a random dungeon. Here is a picture of Team B as they approach the Terathan Keep! My team went to the blood elemental spawn in Shame. We had a great time smashing Blood elementals to bits! With team work there were very few casualties and tons of excitement and treasure.


Other teams visited the Ogre Lords in Despise and hunted Shadow Wyrms in Destard and other dangerous places. To read more about the dungeon crawl please see The Golden Brew Message Board

On Sunday, celebrants enjoyed a feast at the Golden Brew and games. Easter bunnies were spotted in the fields outside the tavern.

Visitors scoured the hills and forest searching for Easter eggs. Others simply relaxed in the tavern, enjoying the company of friends.

Rimlock Valcite won the Easter Egg hunt. Pie eating was a tie between Rimlock Valcite and Aaron. Vox and Nanaki tied for the costume contest. A picture of party goers dining on roasted pig, succulent game Hens, fresh vegetables, and desserts.

Congratulations to the contest winners! I hope everyone had as good of a time as I did.

Posted by Nobody at 11:00 PM

Results of the Mystic Mead Dart Tournament

The following message from Trekonn was posted to UO Stratics:

Results of the Mystic Mead Dart Tournament

Greetings!

I am pleased to announce that The Mystic Mead weekend dart tournament was a great success. Friday started out with our drunken ogre stumbling around towns announcing that we underway. Soon entrants from all over the land came to the tavern to try their hand at the dartboard.

After 3 hours of competition we had a total of 5600gp in the pot. The high for Friday was Nanaki with 95 points, a score that most thought would last throughout Saturday as well. Upon Saturday, there were already contestants lined up eager to attempt topping this great score. Marco Polio, the second contestant on Saturday, had never thrown a dart before. He approached the line and threw 100 points on his first try! The tavern roared with applause. This score would stand all night until the final half-hour of competition.

The competition now hosted a pot of well over 10,000gp. Connar approached the line, he had been trying and trying all night to beat this great score. With extreme concentration and a steady hand he focused on his target. Bullseye!! The applause echoed throughout the tavern...20 point shot! The crowd now cheering him on...10 point shot...the crowd fell silent for fear he was losing his concentration…5 point shot..."OH NO!" A voice from the back bellowed out, murmurs of dissatisfaction traveled throughout the crowd...Connar could sense the pressure and readjusted his stance...Focusing one last time he let the dart fly...20 point shot!

The crowd went wild! After cheering ecstatically many realized that the high score was within reach, and many piled back in line to get one last chance to beat this great score of 105. People threw consistently for the last 20 minutes of the competition, but Connar's score would stand. I was pleased to present Connar with a check for 15,400 gp! A great pot for a great score indeed!

On Sunday evening, many returned to the Mystic Mead in anticipation of the weekly drawing for all that had participated. Undertaker, a Prophet of the OMK graciously donated a SOS and special fishing net to the winner of this drawing. I was pleased to hand this great prize over to Marco Polio.

Congratulations to both Connar and Marco! I hope all that attended enjoyed themselves and hope to see you all at The Mystic Mead next weekend. This weekends drawing for contestants will be a full plate shadow suit and a 5000gp coupon to the OMK Marketplace next door to tavern.

Thank you all,
Trekonn
The Hierophant
Oracle of the Mystic Knight

Posted by Nobody at 10:51 PM

OSI: Comments from Runesabre

The following message from RuneSabre was posted to the Team Comments page of the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Runesabre: Big change lies beneath

You probably won’t hear many folk speaking about one of the most significant changes to UO over ale at the Salty Dog Tavern. This recent change is about as flashy and exciting as a young citizen’s wardrobe as she first steps into the realm of Britannia, but it affects everyone, without exception, in a dramatically positive fashion. In my 3 years working on UO, nearly everything has changed significantly in one fashion or another, except for one system: the backup system.

Ever log in to play UO and wonder why your mined ingots from the previous early morning mining session are no longer in your bank and you are standing back to the Sweet Dreams Inn just like the night before? It’s called a ‘timewarp’ and it has been an ugly plague that has been ever prevalent since the beginning of UO. Nastier than any undead invasion, timewarps have been a constant source of anguish and frustration. All of that is about to change, and in fact has already changed if you inhabit the AOL Legends or Atlantic shards.

What causes a timewarp? A timewarp is caused by the period of time it takes to create a backup, a snapshot of the world of Britannia. Imagine taking your camera to a park and taking a picture. You now have a snapshot of the park, but it’s still in your camera. The time it takes for you to process the film and finally produce a picture would be similar to the backup processing time it takes to process all the data that comprises a UO shard. Once you have that picture of the park processed, imagine going back to the park and comparing the changes between your snapshot and the current state of the park. If, for some reason, the park was destroyed later and you had to rebuild it from the picture, you’d lose all of the changes that happened since the picture was taken. Luckily in real life the timewarp phenomenon isn’t common, but UO can and does timewarp on a regular basis.

The most frequent source of timewarps occurs during regularly scheduled maintenance periods in the morning. The length of a timewarp is determined by how long it takes to actually process the snapshot of Britannia into a complete backup. When a UO shard restarts, it has to restart at the last fully formed backup. Up until now, timewarps have typically been as high as 2 hours or more!

We’ve been working hard to attack this timewarp beast and have designed and implemented a new system that drops that backup processing time from 2 hours to 10 minutes! As an added bonus to this new change, our new design allows us to chop the server restart times by half so shards will now be taking as little as 6-12 minutes to restart instead of the usual 20-40 minutes. This time will vary depending on the size of each shard’s backup.

Currently, only AOL Legends and Atlantic are running this new optimized backup system. Changes to the backup system, the foundation of all of UO, are taken very seriously and rolled out to production shards with extreme caution. We are carefully monitoring both AOL Legends and Atlantic on a daily basis. Once we are satisfied with the operation of this new backup system, all shards will be activated, experiencing reduced timewarps and restart times.

Every day UO continues to improve; but as with many of UO’s changes, a lot of the bigger changes are not readily apparent to everyone. But just think of the stories you can tell new citizens that venture to Britannia in the upcoming years! After all, I know years ago I had to walk uphill both ways to Minoc to smelt one small pile of ore, losing stamina every other step against the sleet and snow, only to not succeed, timewarp, and do it all again; and that was when plate gorgets required 2000 ingots!

Runesabre
Producer
UO Live Team

Posted by Nobody at 10:48 PM

Still No Seahorses in Ilshenar

The following was recently posted to the Turbulent Waters site:

In a recent chat with the developers of UO, a player asked about the still-missing seahorses, rumored to be the only means of travel on the water in Ilshenar. Here's the question and answer from the UO House of Commons Chat over at Stratics last Thursday:

*Braveheart* Question: So, there is art for a lot of creatures not in game yet in the 3rd Dawn client. When can players expect to see even more new creatures in the world of Ileshnar? (i.e., sea horse, some of the others with art pictured on stratics, etc)

Oaks - You never know when dormant content might become active... =)

In other words, the seas of Ilshenar, and more importantly the areas only accessable by water, will remain empty and unavailable for now. OSI maintains it official policy of putting anything to do with the seas, ships, and sailing on the backburner.

Posted by Thellaren at 1:16 AM

April 15, 2001

Computer Games Mag - “Massively Entertaining”

The following announcement was posted to UO Stratics:

Computer Games Mag - "Massively Entertaining"

For anyone that is a fan of MMORPG's (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG's), the May 2001 issue of Computer Games magazine is going to be a must buy. It has a special section this month called "Massively Entertaining - The past, present & future of online role-playing". Tons, and I mean TONS, of information. In total it is 17 pages long and discusses almost every game in the MMORPG market. It also has a great interview with Raph "Designer Dragon/Holocron" Koster (former Lead Designer of Ultima Online and current Creative Director of Star Wars Galaxies) and a special focus on an upcoming game called "A Tale in the Desert".

The list of games discussed are as follows:
  • Ultima Online

  • Everquest

  • Asheron's Call

  • Legends of Kesmai

  • Neverwinter Nights (original)

  • Meridian 59

  • Dark Sun Online

  • Gemstone III

  • Kingdom of Drakkar

  • 10six

  • Mankind

  • Allegiance

  • A Tale in the Desert

  • Star Peace
  • Neverwinter Nights (upcoming)

  • Anarchy Online

  • Lineage: The Bloodpledge

  • RedMoon

  • Dark Age of Camelot

  • Shadowbane

  • The Sims Online

  • Motor City Online

  • UWO:Origin (ouch!)

  • Jumpgate

  • Neocron

  • Planetside

  • World War II Online

  • Atriarch
  • BigWorld

  • Sovereign

  • Earth and Beyond

  • Star Wars Galaxies

  • EverQuest 2

  • Project Entropia

  • Caeron3000

  • Horizons

  • Galcom Online

  • Dungeons & Dragons Online

  • Middle Earth Online

  • Warhammer Online
WHEW! Anyway, I highly recommend it. Make sure to head to your local bookstore and get it immediately (front cover has "Aliens Versus Predator 2" on it) and enjoy!

Posted by Nobody at 2:57 PM

UO Vendor Tool available at UO Stratics

The following announcement was posted to UO Stratics:

Magic WeaponsUO Vendor Tool available at UO Stratics

Paul Howarth has created a very nice tool for Vendor owners. It is a small utility that can record your stock prices, and send them to the game window, saving much wear and tear on memory and fingers. With built in support for all kinds of weapons and armor, treasure maps and 'other' items this is a tool that any serious merchant will appreciate very much.

Thank you Paul, for sharing UO Vendor with the community.

(A link to UO Vendor can also be found at the bottom of the UO Stratics main menu)

Posted by Nobody at 2:47 PM

April 14, 2001

***ImaNewbie does Britannia!***New Toon!

Tryon of ImaNewbie Does Britannia sent out the following announcement:

***ImaNewbie does Britannia!***New Toon!

Hi there :)

Ever since Britannia split into Trammel and Felucca I have been reading on the boards about how deserted Felucca is, how all the PKs have nothing to do now that everyone is playing in Trammel, etc. and it got me to thinking about what all the PKs are doing now that there are no easy kills left, so I decided to send ImaNewbie over to Felucca to investigate. What he found was amazing, but don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Added Saturday, April 14th, 2001:
- Episode #137: Where Have All the PKs Gone?

ImaNewbie does Britannia
http://www.imanewbie.com/

later...Tryon

Posted by Nobody at 12:51 AM

April 13, 2001

Lum the Mad and the UO Event Designing Team

There's been some articles and discussions at Lum the Mad's Web site recently. One in particular concerned last night's Ultima Online House of Commons (UOHoC) chat, to whit:

"REMEMBER WHEN UOHOCS WERE JUST ABOUT IBN SHAUN NAGGING US ABOUT HEALING?"

Stratics held a UOHoC last night, right after Heather's whither-the-Interest-program piece was posted. So it was a nice, albeit unplanned transition there.

Needless to say, there were some questions about said Interest program. By the way, for you non-UO lurkers, "Interest" = in-game plot development, almost always "in character" over a long period of time, usually facilitated by "IGMs", or Interest Game Masters. At least, that's the way it was up until now. Now, well, it's different. How? No one knows, but some hints were given last night. Such as:
[GragDash] I am wondering why the dev team constantly grows, while the IGM team has been locked since oct 1999. What is happening with intrest team, will it expand? are player establishment blessings commign back?

[Sage] The interest team has been linked to the dev team now, so there is no separation. Player establishment blessings promoted hard feelings and hurt the community more than they helped it. They will not be returning.
Gee, exclusive benefits to otherwise undistinguised members of the community at the expense of players who have given years of their lives towards building said community? Say it isn't so!
[po`folks] does OSI feel localization has improved the RPG elements of UO?

[Sage] If you don't speak English? Immensely.
And you thought there was no roleplaying on Asian shards. You're just not looking hard enough!

In any event, new Event Czar Calandryll promised a "Comments" filing today; more when that happens. Or less. Or something. Maybe we'll design an Automated Lum Rant Generator. Can't be that hard, and continuing to use volunteer labor for Lum's may be legally dicey. Plus, you know, people resent it when we create rants specifically for certain people. And stuff.
The discussion continued with this more recent article, which more-or-less were personal observations on the future of UO Events under Calandryll:
CALANDRYLL TAKES THE BLUE PILL

Jon "Calandryll" Hanna, newly dubbed 'Designer in Charge of Ongoing Content' for UO, has posted his thoughts on the future direction of UO's story development, both in a Comments piece and further exposition on the UO message board.

From his comments:
I have always believed that fiction is at its best when it is created by the players themselves. The best part of the Trinsic Invasions during the Renaissance publishes wasn’t the stuff we did… it was the stuff you did. What I do want, however, is to provide context for the changes and additions to the world, to create an interesting backdrop for all of you to tell your tales in, and to throw the occasional curve ball at you, just to keep you on your toes.
The message board post goes into further detail, describing a theoretical Undead invasion, complete with mongbats. No UO event is complete without mongbats, don't you agree?
Suddenly, the undead strike! The shrines are under attack by Vampires and another new monster, undead mongbats (ooh, scary!), and other undead and the town criers plead for players to help defend them. Spawners are put in place that allow players to actually defeat the attacks...ie: players affect when the attacks stop based on how actively they fight back.

A new dungeon is created, Vampire crypts. This is where the Vampires spawn once their attacks are defeated and becomes a new Point of Interest for all players to enjoy.
So, unlike the Kobayashi Maru Trinsic scenario, players can actually win an event, without the mystical guiding hand of offseen overworked IGMs. The question remains, though, if OSI can actually carry off an involved, engaging plot. I mean, these are the same people who thought Ultima 9 was a triumph of the storytelling craft. Who created a guy cleverly named "FOA Leader" as the hidden hand behind the Cabal Formerly Known as Zog. And whose idea of a hidden motive force of evil was a leather-clad dominatrix with a henchmen named Lord Snidely Whiplash. Yes, most of the player-generated and interest-volunteer-generated content has been far above the standard set by OSI, but only because the standard up until this point has been so laughably low.

Clearly there's some work to do. As Origin shifts gears in how they move the metagame behind the game forward, whether they succeed or not depends on how the players - that would be you, boss - react to all of this.

Posted by Nobody at 6:28 PM

OSI: Comments from Calandryll

The following was posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Calandryll

Scenario Building

Those of you who read Sage’s previous comments from April 3rd have already heard about the changes to the Live team, including the new content designer task force, which includes myself, Augur and Gromm. To quickly summarize what our task is, we are responsible for providing context for new content on an ongoing basis. This includes items, monsters, and even dungeons. The difference between past content updates and these content updates will be that the items, monsters, etc. will have a theme and/or a reason behind them that explains why they are there, rather than just appearing in the world.

Normally, these comments from the team are a chance for us to talk to you about our plans for Ultima Online. I’d rather not get into the details of what we plan to implement, as that is best left to be discovered by all of you as we begin to update the new content. Keep in mind, we’re still in the documentation and planning stages of this, so the updates themselves may not start soon.

I’d like to talk a bit, though, about where my thinking is. I break down what most people refer to as “interest” into two major sections.

Scenario: A scenario is a broad, general description of what is going on, sometimes referred to as the plot. A scenario should provide a simple answer to the question, “What is going on in the realm?” The reason I say “simple answer” is because any player should be able to get involved in the overall scenario, even if they missed the first parts. The purpose of a scenario is to provide a backdrop for players to tell their own stories and take part in events that have context within the scenario. For example, the scenario for the film The Matrix was: In the future the human race, held in thrall, is being used for their bioelectric power to fuel a race of robots created by an Artificial Intelligence. One of the human prisoners escapes the computer generated illusion of the 20th century, with the aid of rebels, in order to fight the AI and bring the human race back to the top of the food chain. Of course, those of you that saw the movie know it was more complicated than that, but if you wanted to quickly explain what was going on to someone who just walked into the room midway through the movie, that might be enough to help them understand and appreciate the rest of the movie.

Events: Events are the building blocks of a scenario and are often used to facilitate the progression of the scenario. In the Matrix example above, the individual scenes, such as Trinity fleeing the Agents, or Neo's visit to the Oracle, are representative of smaller events that have meaning within the larger context. An event can include anything from a new item related to (or coming about as a result of) the scenario, to a new monster or opponent, to a change or addition in the spawn, to just about anything outside the normal scope of one’s expectations. The event isn’t the new item or the new monster necessarily; it’s the experiences leading up to them and, more importantly, the interactions with other players that these new items/monsters/areas create. Working with other players to find a new item is an event. Finding a strategy to bring down an unfamiliar opponent that uses special attacks and defenses is an event. Discovering why the undead are suddenly attacking the shrines and subsequently defeating them is an event. When all of these “events” are all tied to the simple scenario, they create a complex story… the players’ story. And that really is my focus.

I have always believed that fiction is at its best when it is created by the players themselves. The best part of the Trinsic Invasions during the Renaissance publishes wasn’t the stuff we did… it was the stuff you did. What I do want, however, is to provide context for the changes and additions to the world, to create an interesting backdrop for all of you to tell your tales in, and to throw the occasional curve ball at you, just to keep you on your toes. ;)

How I achieve that is a far more detailed post than this one… and rather than going on and on about what I plan, I’ll let the updates speak for themselves.

Jon "Calandryll" Hanna
'Designer in Charge of Ongoing Content'
Ultima Online

Posted by Nobody at 6:13 PM

Gamezilla Reviews UO:3D

Gamezilla reviewed Ultima Online: Third Dawn (UO:3D). The full review can be read here. Below is the "overview" which introduces the article:

Ultima Online: Third Dawn
Electronic Arts Reviewed by: Shawna Walls

This is the latest in a series of updates to the original Ultima Online. Many changes to the game simply come through downloaded patches, but Third Dawn is an almost entirely new client, with a new set of 3D graphics. Don’t expect the kind of 3D experience you’ve seen in other games however; this feels far more like Diablo 2’s graphics. To be compatible with the 2D version that’s still out there, this update only puts a 3D skin on characters and monsters, and upgrades some textures. Those familiar with the 2D version won’t really see much change in the look and feel of the game. The playfield and angles are exactly the same as before, as is perspective. To see any real effects of the 3D, it’s necessary to zoom in for more detail (a neat new added feature). Still, it’s a nice face lift to an otherwise outdated graphic.

Posted by Nobody at 5:50 PM

OSI: Seeking First Prize Tales

The following was posted to the FYI page at the Ultima Online Web site:

Seeking First Prize Tales

And they're off, with Bundor in the lead, followed closely by Mitch and Par! But wait, there's another contestant who's coming up fast...

Do you thrill to the feeling of competition? Do you constantly find yourself telling your friends and family about the time you outran the fastest ranger in Britain? Pulled the most fish from the Vesper Seas? Or mined 4000 ore in one session to win the Great Minoc Mining Contest? Here's your chance to tell the story of your great win, what you won, and how you spent your winnings.

Send an e-mail to uo-profiles@uo.com by Friday, April 20th. Please be sure your story falls between 500-1000 words, and include “First Prize” in your subject line. Please provide a name and phone number for verification of the story. Submissions to “uo-profiles” become the property of OSI and may be used for special events, promotions, and/or advertising. All submissions must be made by the original author and are subject to verification.

Posted by Nobody at 5:41 PM

Interview with Richard Garriott

An interview with Richard Garriott, creator of the Ultimas, was recently posted at CDMag.com. Read the full interview here. Below is the introduction paragraph to the interview:

Lord British, we hardly knew ye
Richard Garriott speaks about his years with Origin and what went wrong

Although you'd never know it by talking with him, Richard Garriott belongs to the truly "old school" of game design. His continued passion belies the duration of time that he's been in the industry, and his boyish exuberance, while just a bit less frenetic than a few years ago, still abounds.

Garriott has been around seemingly since the beginning of time, or at least since the Silicon Dark Ages of the 1970s. During the latter part of the decade, he created his first commercial game, Akalabeth (which he has described as having been "packaged in Baggies and sold out of the trunk of my car"). Eventually he and his brother Robert founded Origin Systems-the "We Create Worlds" folks. Shortly thereafter, Garriott introduced the first Ultima game, which enjoyed eight sequels and which spun off Ultima Online, the first graphically sophisticated (in its time) massively multiplayer online RPG and its satellite products. [more]

Posted by Nobody at 5:38 PM

OSI: Comments from Jack Benny

The following was recently posted to the Team Comments page of the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Jack Benny

Hi! I'm Drew Adams - the Manager of Online Operations here for Ultima Online. What that means is that I manage the team that administers the servers here.

It's always strange starting out something like this... where to begin? Well, I'm a gamer and I guess that's really what brought me here. I was one of the first players in Ultima Online (started my first account over 3 years ago) and I'm a huge fan of online gaming. My background is really what got me into online gaming - in college, buddies and I used to get together and play on a LAN - that was back when nothing was out in TCP/IP and it was all IPX/ODI DOS-based gaming. Hands down, network gaming is the king. AI routines have definitely come a long way since then - but when it comes right down to it, humans do some really strange, unexpected and fun things that AI can't hold a candle to. After college, I decided to work for an ISP - I went from Network Engineering to running the Network Capacity Planning for one of the largest ISP's in the country. I had a front seat to watch online gaming go from 2-4 person games set up using KALI to full blown persistent worlds like Ultima Online.

Coming to work for Origin/EA was really just the next natural step for me. I've always scanned the EA job site (http://jobs.ea.com/), and saw this one open up last year. It's always been a dream to come and work for a company like this. Coming from the "outside" of the gaming industry, I knew that one of the things I could bring to Ultima Online was a really strong feel for what the customer base was looking for from the technical teams here at OSI. One of the things I've tried to foster is communications - I post mostly on the Connectivity board at http://boards.uo.com under the pseudonym "Jack Benny". I know many of you want to know more about how things work inside the company, and I try and answer what questions I can there.

I'm excited that UO is growing and I'm looking forward to helping lead the team that will make it possible. I'm committed to the game, and I'm committed to making UO better.

Drew Adams
Manager, Online Operations
Origin Systems
EA.com

Posted by Nobody at 5:29 PM

April 11, 2001

Emperor Azalin Visits Fairhaven Village

At the invitation of Mayor Silkon, Emperor Azalin visited Fairhaven village, accompanied with his lady Cymidei Fier. After exchanging pleasantries and tales Cymidei challenged Mayor Silkon to produce a champion from the village to duel the Golem.

After a close match the Golem was defeated by Nethin's Bard,the Fairhaven Village Champion. Emperor Azalin summoned a soldier of the Imperium, Queen of Chaos to duel the bard. The second match was a draw. Swamp Fox challenged Queen of Chaos to a final duel. After a few minutes Queen of Chaos emerged victorious. All enjoyed the event!

The Shadow Imperium

Posted by Nobody at 2:28 AM

April 10, 2001

OSI: Atlantic Backup and Maintenance

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com site:

Atlantic Backup and Maintenance

We will be activating an improved backup system on the Atlantic shard on Wednesday, April 11th following its regularly scheduled maintenance period. The result of months of work by the UO team, this backup system will greatly decrease the time required to complete a shard backup. The system has been actively running on test shards for some time and has reduced backup times considerably on the AOL Legends shard since its activation earlier this week. We estimate that this change will bring shard backup times down to between 5-15 minutes per shard. As a result, the amount of time required for shard maintenance, restarts, and 'time warps' may be narrowed to between 5-15 minutes in most cases.

Please note: As this backup system decreases the amount of time required for a shard backup, it will also decrease the amount of 'warp time' available prior to a maintenance period. We urge that players keep this in mind when playing before a scheduled maintenance period.

The Atlantic shard will be brought down for a maintenance period on Thursday, April 12th at its regularly scheduled maintenance time.

We will be closely monitoring the AOL Legends and Atlantic shards and, barring any unforeseen issues, will continue activating this system on the remaining shards in the near future. We will announce a release schedule for the remaining shards at least 24 hours in advance of their activation.

Posted by Nobody at 4:40 PM

April 9, 2001

OSI: Comments from Vex

The following was posted to the Team Comments page of the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Vex

Howdy! I’m Vex, designer on UO Live. Let me start this off by talking a bit about how I got to be here.

Back around March of 2000, Origin sent out the call for new designers for the UO Live team. After reading the requirements on the job listing on OSI’s web site, I found myself suddenly re-evaluating how I thought about my career and, in many ways, my life in general. At that time, I was already an all-out UO addict. I literally played daily, and some weekends I would get in twelve hours or more in a single day. And if I wasn’t playing the game, I was talking about it on message boards.

So - the job requirements fit me to a T. The first thing I decided was that there was no doubt about whether or not I’d send in my résumé. And then a question bowled over that (rather simple) decision: Why in the world hadn’t I gone looking for work in the gaming industry before? I am a gamer to the core. I’ve played games for as long as I can remember. Pong. An Atari 2600. Pen and paper roleplaying games. Board games. A Commodore Vic-20. An Atari 800XL. A PC clone. Card games. MUDs. Play by mail. You name it, chances are I’ve played it. My wife and I had been running a MUD together for about four years.

My career to date had been satisfactory. I was making enough to live comfortably and my work (mostly Windows based database and software application design and implementation) was interesting. But I still hadn’t answered that question. I don’t know why it took me six years to realize that being a game designer and programmer was what I really wanted to do professionally. I guess I figured that it was adequate as a hobby. Silly me.

Origin flew me out to Austin for a grueling round of interviews. I met many UO people who I’d only known until then by their handles. And when it was all over and done with and I had landed back home, still in awe of the whole idea of moving to Austin and actually getting paid to design for Ultima Online, they turned me down.

In retrospect, I see the toughness of the decision they faced at the time. All of those who got the jobs instead of me are amazing people. Carly (aka LadyMOI) and Sage basically built a new design team from the ground up, and I guarantee you they did one hell of a job. Back at home, I talked with Carly on the phone and exchanged a few emails. I was definitely disappointed about losing out, but I also realized that there would certainly be other opportunities. And another opportunity did come several months later. This time, after another round of interviews, I was extended a job offer.

So, here I am. It’s now been just a touch over six months since my first day at Origin. It feels like it’s been six years. I was used to working hard before, but I wasn’t really prepared for the pace kept around here. I’ve already lost track of the number of late nights and weekends I’ve spent here in the office, helping to put out one fire or another. I don’t remember the number of weeks we’ve been in crunch since I started. But even though this has by far been the most demanding job I’ve ever held, it has also without a doubt been the most satisfying one.

In my time here, I have quickly learned the difference in scale between running a MUD with a few hundred players and working on a big-time online RPG. Writing code for a server cluster instead of a single process involves levels of complexity heretofore unknown to me. Having to balance the needs of thousands upon thousands of diverse players completely eclipses the same task in the context of a small MUD. I am still a neophyte in the commercial gaming biz, but in these six short fast-paced months, I have already been able to prove my abilities while at the same time gaining what feels like a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about the relatively new field of massively multiplayer games.

Carly and Sage made it possible for me. I thank them both for looking for new talent outside the gaming industry. They’ve given me a very rare and precious opportunity. It was a gamble for them and for me, but one that has paid off well. I am honored to work with Sage, who manages to be everything a leader should be while being pulled in every direction at once. This entire team is strong, and we augment each other well. Each of us brings a unique perspective to the table. But even though we all have different interests in Ultima Online and different opinions as to what the game needs, we work together well and get along splendidly. My hat is off to you guys as well.

This is an interesting time for all of us on the UO team. With the recent inauguration of the Event Design team, UO now has the largest design team in its history. With the former Third Dawn team merging with UO Live, we now also have the largest software engineering team in UO’s history. We are in a position where we have unprecedented resources to distribute. I feel like everything that has happened with this game until now has just been a prelude. We’re gearing up for prime time now, ladies and gents, so buckle up and hang on to your hats.

What’s in store for Ultima Online? Well, that is still largely being decided. Here’s what I do know. First, WE WILL SHIP VET REWARDS. No promises as to when. I am working on the Vet Rewards system with some of the programming team. I feel good about the progress we are making. Look for it soon on a Test Center near you. Next, we are setting a goal of attacking all known bugs in the game. Until now, there have never been enough resources to throw at this task, and many harmless but annoying bugs have gone unfixed for way too long. In addition, we are looking forward to adding new content to the game. What else do we have in store? I can’t give any more details than these. As we complete our restructuring and flesh out our plans for the upcoming year, more and more will become known.

These are exciting times to be working on Ultima Online. With the release of Third Dawn, these are exciting times to be playing Ultima Online. Now we are poised to take this game to new heights, and I am honored to be part of the team that will accomplish that task.

Michael “Vex” Moore
Designer, UO Live

Posted by Nobody at 9:15 PM

Richard Garriott Interview

GameSpyDaily posted an interview with Richard Garriott today. The full interview can be found here. Below you can read the entire interview:

Richard Garriott Interview
Lord British's NDA with EA is now over - we've got the full story on UO2 and the future.

Richard's Garriott's NDA with Electronic Arts expired as of April 1. GameSpy's Tina "Cassandra" Haumersen was able to track down Lord British and get the first post-NDA interview with the man who created the Ultima universe for Origin Systems. Garriott talks about the demise of UO2, his dealings with EA and what the future holds.

GameSpy: What lead to your departure from Origin Systems, the company that you co-founded with your brother 20 years ago?

RG: After 20 years of Ultima Next, I was extremely motivated to do something NOT called Ultima. The success of Ultima Online meant that all spending growth went to grow the online support of UO1 and UO2 which EA felt we must do ASAP. Soon it became clear that Origin would be only an Ultima company. That combined with my lack of shared vision with the EA placed GM, Jack Heistand, meant that it was time for me to move on.

GS: How much creative control did you have after Origin was purchased by Electronic Arts?

RG: I was still the creative leader for the Ultima's I produced, but overall company direction and spending was highly influenced by EA corporate directives.

GS: Thinking back on everything that has happened since then, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

RG: Regrets? Some. When we joined EA as EA's hopeful savior of their PC strategy, we grew the company very fast. That was a huge mistake. We did not have the management bandwidth to grow intelligently. Soon after we began the slow downhill yearly EA layoff cycle that has never stopped.

GS: When Ultima 9: Ascension shipped, it was, shall we say, slightly buggy and seemed as though it had been rushed out the door. What happened?

RG: U9 only survived at all as a project, by shear force of will. Few if any exec's within EA, and even Origin supported it at all. I had a very hard time keeping funding and staff to do what we did. I am proud of the results, yet also aware of the shortcomings.

GS: What's going to happen to Lord British now that Ultima Online 2 has been cancelled? Is EA going to be able to continue using actors to play His Lordship in UO?

RG: Upon my exit, I agreed to leave my character in UO1, but no future Ultimas. I guess that won't be a problem now.

GS: What did you think of the direction Ultima Online 2 was going as far as the complete change to Britannia and the cyberpunking of the world we all loved so much?

RG: I had mixed feelings. It is not what I would have done, but it was not "my" project, per say. I believed in the team who took control of the game. I was interested to see what they would do with it.

GS: What did you think of the creature concepts of Todd McFarlane?

RG: I think Todd's work is great! They fit well with the direction the game was evolving.

GS: How do you think the long-time Ultima fans (fans of Ultimas 1-9) would have reacted to Ultima Online 2, had it reached completion and opened for business?

RG: At first, I was very concerned, as the departure was great. However, the team began to develop the proper Ultima story crafting that is essential to an Ultima. Over time, they were getting it down. Ultimately, it would have worked and been accepted I think.

GS: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

RG: Early on it was fantasy work like Tolkien and D&D. Over time I went from a young kid stabbing in the dark, to a student of the craft. I now read more and study the issues more, like: Joseph Campbell's work on mythology, and Amy Jo Kim's work on Online Communities.

GS: What are your plans for the future? Would you still like to create Project X, which you spoke about a little over a year ago, or have you abandoned that idea for something else?

RG: Well, until recent OSI news, I was expecting to hang my hat with a California company, and start to rebuild slowly. Well, now it appears that I can hit the ground running with all my old team mates. So, last month, "X" seemed a remote dream, this month, very likely!

GS: If it were possible, would you continue making Ultima games?

RG: Sure! Ultima like world games, but not Avatar in Britannia experiences.

GS: For years, Origin has been known as a spring board into the industry. How do you feel about having been a part of "seeding" the industry with extremely talented people like Harvey Smith, Warren Spector and Chris Roberts?

RG: Very proud to help them learn and grow and yet also often sad to see them leave the fold.

GS: You changed the world as we knew it when you created Akalabeth, and then again with the subsequent Ultima games, and set the standard for all other RPGs that followed. I think its safe to say that the Ultima games touched many people, even if they didn't know why. What's it like to have played such a pivotal role in so many people's lives?

RG: I feel very lucky. There are lots of people just as smart and creative as I am out there. I was at the right place, at the right time, with the right idea. Then I was bold enough to go for it! Fortunately, it worked. By the way, I believe that I have the right idea, right time, right place
again now. And I'm still just as bold. We will see if fortune smiles again. The odds look good.

Posted by Nobody at 1:17 PM

Easter Party At The Golden Brew

Celebrate Easter at The Golden Brew

Sunday April 15th
Starting at 6pm PST


Dine on our Easter Dinner of succulent Roast Pig, Roasted Game Hens, fresh vegetables and scrumptious desserts.

Following dinner participate in the Easter Egg Hunt and Best Easter Costume Contest.

After all that running around looking for eggs, you're sure to be hungry again, so strap on your bibs and get ready for the Pie Eating Contest!

Hope to see you there!

~Ursula

Posted by Ursula at 11:59 AM

April 8, 2001

OSI: AOL Legends Backups and Maintenance

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com website:

AOL Legends Backups and Maintenance

We will be activating a new backup system on the AOL Legends shard on Monday, April 9th following its regularly scheduled maintenance period. The result of months of work by the UO team, this backup system will greatly decrease the time required to complete a shard backup. The system has been actively running on test shards for some time, and we estimate that after activation, this change will bring shard backup times down to between 5-15 minutes per shard. As a result, the amount of time required for shard maintenance, restarts, and 'time warps' may be narrowed to between 5-15 minutes in most cases.

Please note: As this backup system decreases the amount of time required for a shard backup, it will also decrease the amount of 'warp time' available prior to a maintenance period. We urge that players keep this in mind when playing before a scheduled maintenance period.

The AOL Legends shard will be brought down for a maintenance period on Tuesday, April 10th at its regularly scheduled maintenance time.

We will be closely monitoring the AOL Legends shard once the change is activated and, barring any unforeseen issues, will begin activating this system on the remaining shards in the near future. We will announce a release schedule for the remaining shards at least 24 hours in advance of their activation.

Posted by Nobody at 5:56 PM

April 7, 2001

Cincinnati Player's Gathering Update

The following announcement from Myron was posted to UOSS:

***** Cincinnati Player's Gathering Update ******

It is confirmed! Melantus, OSI's Online Community Coordinator, will be making an appearance at this year's Cincinnati Player Gathering on Saturday, April 21st. So if you attend this gathering you will not only get to meet and share a great meal with others who share your love for Ultima Online, you can also participate in a question and answer session with none other than Melantus himself.

Those of you who attended last year's gathering know what a great time we had with Designer Toad and this year's guest will be just as good if not better. So if you haven't gotten your reservation in make sure you do so soon since the registration deadline is getting close.

For more information or to register for the gathering Visit Our Website. Remember, all registrations and payments for the gathering must be received by Saturday, April 14th to allow processing time including mailing out your tickets. So don't delay - register today! Also, those players whose registrations are postmarked by April 7th will qualify for a special grand prize drawing - so don't delay!!!!!!

Posted by Nobody at 12:51 AM

ULTIMA Novel Now Available!!!

The following was posted to UOSS:

ULTIMA Novel Now Available!!!

One of the only ULTIMA novels ever written is finally available, based on the fiction surrounding Ultima, and specifically around the recently-cancelled Ultima Online 2. Austen Andrews, the same author that wrote the Prequel Fiction for UO2, spins a 344 page tale that takes us on a journey into The Technocrat War just after the Cataclysm caused by Lord British.

To give you an idea of what you can expect from the book, here is the description from the back:

A WORLD REFORGED

A sorcerous cataclysm has remade the ancient and magical world of Sosaria, where a misguided plan to bring ultimate order to the land has altered its destiny forever. Now past, present, and future are one...a unity that sets in motion an astonishing age of discovery and conflict for this strange new world.

Once separated by time and space, the warlike Juka, the calculating Technocrats, the matriarchs of the Meer, and the Virtuous knights of New Britannia are now on a collission course. Fragile alliances threaten to unravel as treachery and deceit pit kingdom against kingdom. Unless bitter enemies can put aside their vengeful differences long enough to uncover the truth, all Sosaria will be ripped asunder.
Book I of the trilogy can now be found in several locations, including at Amazon.com and at BN.com as well as most retail locations of Barnes & Noble. Word has it that Austen is currently hard at work to complete Book II as well. Great to hear that even though we have lost the UO2 game that the fiction will continue to live on. So make sure to go out and get it now!

Posted by Nobody at 12:48 AM

OSI: Comments from Maleki

The following was posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Comments from Maleki

Greetings,

Many of you all probably wonder who Maleki is, so a little introduction may be in order. I came to Origin in January of ‘00 to work as a Game Master on Ultima Online. Before coming here, I had dealt with the game since its release, mostly as a volunteer. After countless hours spent as both a Counselor and Senior Companion, I realized that I wanted to further my career with Origin. Ultima Online was the first real game I could get into. I played UO for a little under three years, and went through good and bad times (even lost several houses due to exploits myself). Taking a step back, I feel the game has changed a lot since the early stages. The current Development team has done an awesome job with fixing a ton of bugs which plagued the game for a long time.

I currently am the Development Liaison for Player Relations. So basically what I do is communicate the bugs that affect our service as a whole to the development team, and set up a schedule with the development team to get them fixed. I also work as a Lead GM, overseeing the Game Masters and the Player Relations Admin Department.

I feel we have a very strong group of Game Masters now in the department. These folks, day in and day out, perform an outstanding level of service. The GM staff answers over 100k calls a month. Hard to imagine such a group could affect such a large percentage of the population, so I would like to give them the recognition they deserve.

In closing, it has been a pleasure being able to talk with players over the year and see the game from your eyes. I hope this lets you see the game from mine.

Maleki
Lead GM/Development Liaison
Origin Worlds Online

Posted by Nobody at 12:42 AM

April 6, 2001

An open declaration to the mirrored realms of Sosaria

An open declaration to the mirrored realms of Sosaria

Tremble before my rage, heathens, for I have won the Dark Tower stone. Once again, the Tower has been re-united in a bloody war to end the heretical influence that has engulfed these lands like a spreading pestilence. The realms must be re-united, and the balance must be restored; blood must be spilt to satisfy the black heavens. Ivy, the blasphemous wench, has lost her feeble mind to grind the will of the Tower into the minds of the mundane, and thus, she must be cleansed of all heretical influences that have betrayed her soul from her path as a destructor. Sacrifice her to us, and she shall feel the painful wrath of the darkness that heralds itself through the Great Pentacle; she shall once again feel the wriggling icy fingers of death through her veins, and be reborn as a mistress of darkness, not pity. Join me in the cause, mortals, and be shown the immortal glamour of destiny. Aid the cause to re-unite the lands, and destroy those who have escaped the damnations of the Great War before you. They resist the balance, and they thrive upon their drunken perpetual false sanctity. Join me at the Dark Tower in Felucca, the true facet, the true Sosaria. Give our world civilization and dark life once again; give Trammel blood and apocalypse…

Join the Alliance of Felucca, or forever be damned in the shadow of death that hovers before you…

Guilds, civilizations of this weary dimension, send me word of your support, or damnations. Let us meet, and plan our strike against those who have betrayed our kind. Let your declarations of war come forth, for us, or against us…

But send me word… (shaneblix@mindspring.com)

(I am encouraging all heads of role-played organizations, good or evil, to e-mail me their thoughts and suggestions. Let us all meet OOC to organize and plan our community so we can create a vast alliance of role-play and make this game fun again.)

Posted by Thellaren at 6:21 PM

***ImaNewbie does Britannia!***New Toon!

Tryon of ImaNewbie Does Britannia sent us the following announcement:

Hi there :)

This week ImaNewbie is back to his usual pastime of exploring for new wonders and adventure, this time on Ice Island. Wandering around he stumbles on the corpse of a freshly killed frost troll. Investigating further he finds a wondrous magical weapon left on the corpse. Nuf said... check it out.

Added Friday, April 6th, 2001:
- Episode #137: ImaNewbie and the Magic Halberd

ImaNewbie does Britannia
http://www.imanewbie.com/

later...Tryon

Posted by Nobody at 5:31 PM

Forces of Darkness invade Heaven's Forge - Internal war declared within the Dark Tower

Late last evening, upon the striking of the eighth hour, those associated with the Dark Tower arrived within the glorious, steadfast city of Heaven’s Forge. A rally of the Dark Tower had been set earlier this week, as had Na-Krul’s threats and damnations towards the city’s mayor, Darius. He had warned the mayor that upon his uncooperation, his city would burn – and that soon, his people would bleed. Na-Krul addressed the people of Heaven’s Forge, telling them of their future, and his wishes; however, upon their denial of these wishes, Na-Krul had become angered, flustered, and condemned them once and for all…

The fire raged out of control, consuming the Heaven’s Forge City Hall as guardsmen after guardsmen arrived, helpless to control the magical blaze of destruction. The wood blistered as the hungry, dancing flames eagerly ate away at the life of the structure; column after column of thick, black, noxious smoke rising to choke the midnight sky as those standing before it watched in awe and helplessness. The City Hall, once a place of serene gathering, was transformed into a hell of darkness and daemons. Each dark tower mage summoned forth beast after massive beast, the newly declared citizens of Heaven’s Forge, to take appreciation of the engulfing fires before them. Even battle erupted as the Chieftain of the Dert’hed Orc Clan, Slug’lug, engaged the paladins attempting to quell the outrage of chaos; exclaiming his new alliance with those of the Dark Tower and rejoicing at the blood spilt in tribute to his god. A night of darkness, blood, and destruction, and a warning of more to come. What is to be done?

In other related news, Ivy, Mistress of the Dark Tower, was assaulted last eve in the chaos of Heaven’s Forge. Daemon after daemon struck at her soul at the command of Na-Krul, and his loyal mage, Danica. Na-Krul spoke of her cleansing, and threatened that soon he would once again control the Dark Tower stone. He proclaimed that once this was done, his empire would again be re-built and the entire realm would soon suffer the blight of war. Reports have been made that Na-Krul has indeed won favor of those still inhabiting the Tower, and soon, his prophecy shall come true…

Posted by Thellaren at 5:31 PM

Mass PvP Event -- SL v. TB (Felucca)

A upcoming PvP event was just posted to the Official UO Baja Events Calendar:

Sponsor: Acid Rain of Shadowlords
Facet: Felucca
Location: Outside Despise
Start Date: Apr 7 2001 7:00AM CST
End Date: Apr 7 2001 8:00AM CST
Event taking place will be that of a mass faction war. Only TB and SL factions are allowed, and also blue players, non-faction members.

Posted by Hazard [EiC] at 1:43 AM

Golem Patrols Southern Border

While making it's regular patrols in the Skara Brae area, The Golem was ordered by Azalin to patrol south near Destard. Upon reaching the Destard Outpost cries of help were heard from a prisoner. The Golem reacted swiftly, slaying brigands and creatures that would jeopardize the safety of the citizens of the Imperium.

After the battle, The Golem walked up to the victim and shattered the chains on his wrists. Emperor Azalin stated, "Let this serve as proof to those who would doubt me that the people of Skara Brae can expect just and benevolent rule from the Shadow Imperium."

Painting of Golem Available Here

Posted by Hazard [EiC] at 12:52 AM

April 4, 2001

Archers Faire (Trammel)

The following event was posted to the UOSS Baja Forum:

The Society of Archers Baja Chapter is pleased to announce that it will hold it's first ever Archers Faire on Saturday April 14th. The event will be held at the Skara Brae Fairgrounds in Trammel and will begin at 2:00pm (PST). There will be an Archery event, a Lumberjack event and a Bowyer/Fletcher event, with prizes being awarded in all three. The main purpose of the Archers Faire, however, is to unite Archers with Archery Craftsmen.

We are still looking for any Lumberjacks or Bowyers that are interested in selling their goods (boards/shafts/bows/etc...) at the Faire. There is no fee, all are welcome to come sell their goods and participate in the Faire for free. We are expecting quite a turnout so it could be a great opportunity for craftsman to get rid of some of their wares, and a terrific opportunity for Archers to find bulk arrows and many bows and crossbows.

Please e-mail us (SocArchers@aol.com) if you are interested in selling at the Archers Faire. Otherwise, I hope to see many of you there. Farewell.

Posted by Thellaren at 9:34 PM

OSI: UO: Third Dawn Upgrade Maps

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com website:

UO: Third Dawn Upgrade Maps

It has come to our attention that existing customers ordering the Ultima Online: Third Dawn upgrade offer have not been receiving the complete paper map of Ilshenar and the Britannia and Lost Lands as promised, but have received a map with only the Ilshenar lands visible. We would like to apologize for this, and will be shipping the dual-sided map of Britannia, the Lost Lands, and Ilshenar to all customers who have participated in the special upgrade offer.

The dual-sided map will be shipped to the address entered for the upgrade offer. Additionally, customers who participate in the Third Dawn upgrade offer in the future will receive the dual-sided, retail version map.

To participate in the Ultima Online: Third Dawn upgrade offer, please visit http://www.uo.com/upgrade.html. The upgrade offer includes an Ultima Online: Third Dawn CD along with a map displaying the new land of Ilshenar and the existing lands of Britannia. As a special addition, this upgrade also includes a collector's edition cloth map of Britannia and the Lost Lands. All of this is bundled into one package priced at $9.95 plus shipping ($4.95 for U.S. and Puerto Rico or $6.95 International).

Posted by Nobody at 6:22 PM

Sage Comments on Upcoming Interest Group Changes

The following was posted by Sage to the Ultima e-mail list at Yahoogroups.com, addressing concerns made by some of the participants of that same group about the upcoming changes in the Interest group (which creates & implements fiction in Ultima Online):

From: Sage
Subject: RE: Team Comment

  1. 1. Rather than using the limited tools currently available to them, the Event Designers will now be able to change the game more dramatically by using our scripting language.

  2. We will be providing more "background" story to the way items and monsters are introduced into Britannia. New content will be more of a focus than small events, hopefully culminating in large scale events.

  3. Events won't be just about small quests anymore. We will be concentrating much of our time on working up to a story that more players can follow and benefit from. Even if people aren't interested in the story, they should still benefit from the event if possible.

I would caution about expecting too much dynamism to the overall world. While that is the holy grail everyone will be searching for, it makes things very difficult in the support side of things. Why is the Red Sword Of Merrigan on Great Lakes, but not on Lake Superior? How come Asuka has snow falling, but not Hokuto? Also, keeping track of how things interact when one thing happens, but not another is very difficult to do on a publish by publish basis. For instance, in Plot 1 Stage 1, the Key of Turning is necessary to enter the Bloodbath Crypts. However, Plot 1 Stage 3 requires the Skull of Mondain found in the Bloodbath crypts. It is very possible, but you could have one shard lagging behind by months, or forever. So, while the example is extremely simple, imagine trying to keep track of 22 or more possibly divergent sets of fiction. If item introduction or monster introduction is tied to these events, do you force at least some way for these items and monsters to be introduced. If so, isn't that a pretty forced mechanism, and deny what you are hoping to see, your actions affecting the outcome of the plot? If not, don't some players complain about being left out of the new item and perhaps monster updates. Still, I believe it is worth pursuing, but I would rather prove we can walk before setting out for a run just yet.

Posted by Nobody at 12:46 AM

News on Vet Rewards

The following was posted by Connor Caple to the Ultima e-mail list at Yahoogroups:

[NEWS] Vet Rewards

Sage just posted this to the UO Boards:
==============

Why are vet rewards not in at this time?
Vet Rewards is the first system in UO to tie items to an account, rather than a character. This was something that was very new for us, and while seemingly simple, was actually a very complex task. UO, while incredibly flexible, was not originally designed to support this kind of addition. It was clear after release that the Vet Rewards system was in a state we did not feel comfortable with keeping active. (i.e. Some people could get more rewards than their accounts merited.) The system had issues and we felt it was best to hold the system back to try to remove the known issues, rather than keeping it active and trying to fix it on the fly.

Why has it been so long?
While we could have held off on many aspects of development for Vet Rewards, it was believed that UO:Third Dawn took precedence over Vet Rewards. Third Dawn potentially reached more people, and was better for the ability of the game to maintain a longer life cycle. (In other words, Third Dawn would give us the ability to hold the interest of the players for longer.) While simultaneous evelopment occurs all the time, the danger of working on Vet Rewards and Third Dawn together would have hurt both projects. Therfore, we gave Third Dawn priority.

Are Vet Rewards going to be implemented?
The current team is committed to having Vet Rewards come out and be stable. This may still take some time. The Vet Rewards system has been largely put on the back burner until Third Dawn could be published. This does not mean we will be putting Third Dawn fixes or enhancements to the side in order to do Vet Rewards, as we should be able to work on both simultaneously from this point on. Vet Rewards is currently back under development and we should have more information on when they will be back on TC soon.

Posted by Nobody at 12:40 AM

April 3, 2001

OSI: Publish Update - All Shards

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com website:

Publish Update - All Shards

We will be publishing the changes listed at http://update.uo.com/design_328.html to all shards to be active following their next scheduled maintenance period.

Please note that only the changes listed specifically in the above URL have been published. Other changes listed in Testing For Next Update remain in testing at this time. The changes will be added to Latest Game Updates once they are active on all shards.

Posted by Nobody at 11:54 PM

OSI: Publish Update

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com website:

Publish Update

The publish of the items listed at http://update.uo.com/design_324.html to the Atlantic, Lake Superior, Napa Valley, and Sonoma shards was delayed due to technical difficulties. These shards will have the listed items active following their Wednesday, April 4th scheduled maintenance period.

Posted by Nobody at 11:51 PM

OSI:  Comments from Sage

The following was posted to the Team Comments page on the Ultima Online Web site:

 Comments from Sage

Last week at the Game Developers Conference, I met some really great people and caught up with old friends in the industry. Almost all aspects of game development were discussed, but one of the hotter topics debated at the conference was ways to integrate meaningful story into our games. Like all good debates, there were two sides:
  1. the story should be pervasive in the original design, and players should be encouraged to involve themselves in that story
  2. the story should be emergent based on behavior of the players, and the design should offer interesting choices so the story derives from player activities.
I am confident that there is a middle ground, as Lee Sheldon said, and that developers will be able to find that road more and more. Still, I think we should concentrate on the second argument more at this time, as this is the more underdeveloped of the two concepts in the industry, and perhaps the best in dealing with MMOGs. (<-- Fill in your favorite acronym here.)

As I’ve grown to know MMOG community, I’ve found endless fascination in the ability of players to create their own stories, sometimes because of what tools we have given them, and sometimes in spite of the tools we have not given to the community. I want to devote time to exploring this, both because I feel it is important, and because I believe we (the dev team and the community) can do more. I think enabling tale-weavers to create better stories derivative of their world involves, at least, the following three items:
  1. An interesting overarching fiction, or a history if you will.
  2. The ability to make a meaningful decision that the player might not be confronted with every day.
  3. A captive audience for the stories that are told.
The history of the game world is important because it couches the emergent stories in a meaningful context. For instance, a great experience in Pong might be fascinating to you as a gamer, but telling people that the Great Paddle Battle of 1979 involved the final bank shot of the dot with a blistered thumb, is about as exciting as a sack of wet mice. However, telling someone living within the same world, that you met the scoundrel Skeeve the Magician, who had of late run around as the scourge of Trinsic, and defeated him in a heated duel, has meaning. Still, if a player doesn’t understand who Skeeve is, the story has less impact on the listener. This is why it is important that as many people as possible know about the story, and why the story shouldn’t be overly complex. Most people, I am sorry to say, are not interested in investigating the stories of the world. Whether that be a problem with delivery, a problem with public interest and attention span, or a combination is up to you to decide. So, perhaps a story about an incredible fight with a valorite elemental is more meaningful to most of the audience. Is it any less stupendous of a battle than the one fought with Skeeve, scourge of Trinsic? Probably not. Is there room for both stories? Of course. While one may be more closely tied into game fiction, the other has a far greater chance of reaching more people. Will Wright, of Sims fame, calls this a “point of brag”, or a point in the game where two people can share stories about what occurred when said event happened to each of them. Stories are much better when they develop into conversations!

One of the points I clearly remember from college literature is that the main character / protagonist of a novel is usually the one who has undergone change. The amount of change can be small, but change is important. Remember a battle where you tried something different for the first time? Normally, you might send a dragon in to deal with a valorite elemental, but when the valorite elemental goes through your dragon faster than Dean Wormer expelled John Blutarsky, a new choice has to be made, and quickly. That choice makes you change your tactics, and a story emerges. Afterwards, you realized you needed to relate your story so that others might learn about the problems you encountered, or you just wanted to relate the final outcome of the might battle.

So how can you tell your story, if no one is around to hear it? Unless trees in the woods have imparted secret information to you about an age-old conundrum, you can’t. One of Jonathan Barron’s rules on MMRPGs is: Glory is the reason why people play online; shame is what keeps them from playing online. Neither is possible without other people being present. Glory is all about story. Being able to relate your stories to others who understand their context is important, because it is the social nature of people to relate events. I think UO provides this opportunity in a very unique way, and therefore is one of the best storytelling platforms in the entertainment medium. Still, I think one of the weaknesses in UO is that much of our past contributions to story have been limited to reaching a small group of people who know about “events”, while leaving many of our other players in the dark. It is a matter of logistics; when you have finite time, and finite resources, you can only reach a small number of people if you must have manpower involved in each of the events. Exceptions to this pattern are events such as the invasion of Trinsic during Renaissance, but even that required a massive amount of effort and manpower. I would like to get back to the kind of event where everyone can benefit, but I would also like to have more ongoing content with items such as glacial staves, gargoyle’s pickaxes, etc. New items, monsters, etc. introduced in context has a better chance to reach the majority of our players. The impact of the new slayer weapons appearing in the world reached a vast majority of our players, and gave them something new to do. As we put new additions in a better context format with more story, the interest in the game grows. This is an area in which I believe we can show quick improvement over the course of the next few months.

In order to do so, we will be making some changes to our in-house events team. Our current event staff will be trained in the scripting language and given the power to see that new items and creatures going into the game have meaning and are part of a larger plan, rather than being separate and unrelated to the overall story. Jonathan “Calandryll” Hanna will be heading up the “event” team, with Tom “Augur” Ivey and Dave “Gromm” Saleh rounding out the team. We understand this will be a very different way of bringing story into UO than what we do currently, but we think the majority of our players will benefit. What we will be able to do over time will grow as we learn to stretch UO’s limits.

Finally, I would like to end this Comments from the Team with a fond farewell to many of my friends who have recently departed OSI. Losing the ability to see your friends day to day is a very hard thing on anyone, and I hope they know they will be missed.

Posted by Nobody at 4:58 PM

OSI: Upgrading to UO:Third Dawn

The following was posted to the FYI page on the Ultima Online Web site:

Upgrading to UO:Third Dawn

Reminder: To enjoy the features and changes present in Ultima Online: Third Dawn, you must have a UO: Third Dawn CD. Existing customers can take advantage of our special offer and receive a Third Dawn CD and the map of Ilshenar, Britannia and the Lost Lands for $9.95 at our upgrade site located at http://www.uo.com/upgrade.html. This special upgrade offer also includes a collector’s edition cloth map of Britannia and the Lost Lands. Ultima Online: Third Dawn can also be purchased at your local software store. Players new to Ultima Online will be able to access the Third Dawn client simply by creating their account using the Third Dawn CD. Existing customers, whether using the upgrade or the full retail copy, need only install UO:Third Dawn and download any latest patches before playing. There is no need for existing account holders to update their registration.

Posted by Nobody at 4:55 PM

April 2, 2001

Carly “LadyMOI” Staehlin Leaves OSI, Rick Hall to Take Over as UO Producer

Lum the Mad, at his site of the same name, posted the following:

CARLY "LADYMOI" STAEHLIN LEAVES OSI, RICK HALL TO TAKE OVER AS UO PRODUCER

Rumors have been flying about all morning about this, and we just got word from Susan "Leilo" Kath, OSI's online community head, that Rick "Stellerex" Hall will be taking over for Carly "LadyMOI" Staehlin as Ultima Online's Producer. Stellerex was previously the producer for the recently released "Third Dawn" expansion.

Leilo also said that Ms. Staehlin would possibly be taking a position elsewhere in EA, but didn't know more at this point. As always, if we find out more we'll let you know.

Posted by Nobody at 7:55 PM

Interest Group Under Review

Joshua Rowan recently posted the following on the ultima@yahoogroups.com e-mail list:

Interest Group Under Review

Hmmmmm, another interesting tidbit that Cynthe mentions about the Interest Group on the official UO.com Roleplaying Board:
===========
The way interest has been done in UO is currently under review, and you may
see some changes soon. I can't go into details, but I do know that it's our
intention to see that all shards are more equally represented when it comes
to interest.

Cynthe
Community Coordinator
Origin Systems
===========
It'll be interesting to see what they have in store for us. Hopefully this is a Good Thing(tm) and not a bad thing...

Josh
The "Interest Group" of Ultima Online includes IGMs (Interes Game Masters), Seers, Elders, and other Quest- and event-developing persons.

Posted by Nobody at 7:49 PM

OSI: Account Bannings in Ultima Online

The following was just posted to FYI on the UO.com website:

Account Bannings in Ultima Online

After extended logging, we have completed a search for accounts using illegal third party programs to "speed hack". The programs are used to exploit in Ultima Online and gain unfair advantage over honest players. The accounts logged exploiting in this manner have been suspended and e-mails have been sent to the account holders. Additionally, the ability to use this exploit has been addressed. The total number of players affected by this action is less than 300.

We are committed to removing players that choose to exploit Ultima Online and continue to work to provide a level playing experience for all UO players.

Posted by Nobody at 6:44 PM

Last Man *cough* Woman Standing results!

The following from Washburn was posted to the Golden Brew message board, here:

Last Man *cough* Woman Standing results!

Tonight was a vicious and rousing contest at the Skara Brae Fairgrounds in Trammel. Elder Takara and Seer Hawk did a terrific job hosting tonight's event which appeared to go seamlessly.

All in all, the crowd was pumped as the first round opened up and the first monsters were loosed. Sadly, the People's Champion, yours truly *wink*, fell in an upset to a poison elemental. After six rounds of competition, six victors aspired to the final match culminating in what could have been the fiercest battle of the night. Yet, in the end, there could only be one man *cough* er... woman left standing.

Let us congratulate Eliar in her great victory. She, who actually created the event as a seer, braved the scourge of daemons and elementals and outwitted her opponents in such a way that she alone could only be declared the victor. Congratulations, Eliar!

2nd place was awarded to Jack o the Wisp. 3rd Place to Lord Veldoran and 4th Place to Stel.

Congratulations, all, and I hope to defeat you in the Best of the Best next weekend!
--
Washburn, Captain of the Guard, Golden Town Guard.

Eliar!  Last Woman Standing!
Eliar! Last Woman Standing!

Posted by Nobody at 8:23 AM

April 1, 2001

New Tavern Now Open (Trammel)

The following announcement was found posted to several boards:

Hail Sosarians,

I wish to introduce Baja's newest Tavern, the "Sea Breeze Tavern", located at 92,38' N - 39,56' W just north-east of the lovely wooded city of Yew along the coast. The Tavern is nestled against a lovely shore line and wooded area. Inside we have FaiFax our Bartender to serve you and look after your entertainment needs. Also, for your shopping pleasure we have Maria and Carlotta selling the finest in Armor/weapons/Bows/wood worked items all signed by the craftsmen and garanteed exceptional quality. Please stop by to say hello and have a drink, or sit in our lovely lounge area or balcony and play a game of chess or backgammon. Hope to see you all in the near future. *smiles*

-Shannon (Proprietor)- Trammel

Posted by Thellaren at 7:45 PM

New Spotlight Added for The Society of Gypsies at UOSS

The following item was posted to UOSS:

New Spotlight Added for The Society of Gypsies

Just added! A new spotlight on, The Society of Gypsies If you love role playing, mischief, adventure and romance ye will find all this and more in this delightful guild.

Posted by Nobody at 12:47 AM

OSI: UO: Third Dawn Upgrade Site Open

The following was recently posted to What's New on the UO.com website (now more relevant than ever, with UO:3D now for sale stores):

UO: Third Dawn Upgrade Site Open

The Ultima Online: Third Dawn upgrade offer site is now open at
http://www.uo.com/upgrade.html . This promotion will last for 60 days, during which current UO customers with active accounts will be able to order this special upgrade for a price of $9.95 plus shipping and handling. The promotional upgrade version of Ultima Online: Third Dawn includes the final gold-mastered version of Third Dawn, the new retail version map of Britannia, the Lost Lands, and Ilshenar, and while supplies last - as a special bonus - we'll include a collector's edition cloth map of Britannia and the Lost Lands. This upgrade CD does not include a registration code and therefore cannot be used to create a new account nor qualify for new account free game time.

Stop by and order your copy today!

Posted by Nobody at 12:13 AM

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