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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 April 20, 2001 6:02 PM

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