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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 April 13, 2001 6:28 PM

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