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September 5, 2001

Comments from Stellerex

The following comments from Stellerex, Senior Producer of UO, were posted to the Official UO Website:

Most residents of Britannia would really like to know what OSI has planned for the future of the kingdom. Chances are if they got their wish, though, it would spoil the fun of discovery and anticipation that comes with any good mystery. For those folks, I would like to take this opportunity to give some assurances that we are indeed working on some very significant features that I believe will return the real flavor of Ultima to Britannia.

Although the core people on the dev team will continue to address continuous content, system improvements, and GM support, Iíve mentioned a couple of times in the past that the team is bigger than it has ever been before. Real expansion of the world and the game is within our grasp. Life Ė well, virtual life - has really only just begun.

And before anybody asks, no Iím not going to give specific details. Not that some folks wonít read into my comments and figure out a lot anyway. Every once in a while, I like to turn a phrase just the right way to give a clue, and see if anybody can figure it out. Chances are Iím too obscure in my presentation, but itís fun to give it a whirl anyway.

Regardless of that, there are plenty of obvious improvements that have recently been released as well. Everybody should have noticed by now that itís more fun to create a starting character and work your way upward. A first circle spell is actually useful for something besides skill improvement, for instance. Though many veterans get upset when we make changes specifically for new players, they do have to realize that improving the learning experience helps to grow the community and make the world more vibrant. Unpopular as that idea may sound at first, hopefully most of you can see the long-term benefits to keeping the population of the world strong.

Real life always has a way of creeping back into our plans, though, so weíve also been making strides to listen more closely to our veteran players. Everything from the Scenario program to upcoming changes for the Siege Perilous shard has been a consistent effort to attend to that. Siege Perilous is being modified by members of the design team who really enjoy that style of play, so Iím confident itís moving in the right direction. Veteranís Rewards are finally having the final kinks worked out, after much ado, and that system will be active on all shards soon. I have to admit, itís taken us quite a bit of work, but itís a system that can be adapted for other uses in the future, so hopefully all of the work will pay off in the long run.

Running just a little behind that, weíre working on two very significant undertakings that youíll be able to find out more about at this yearís World Faire. Technically, I canít go into specific detail on that, but Iíve given a couple of clues already. Until the end of October rolls around, youíll just have to watch carefully for little foreshadowing and hints of whatís to come.

Even thatís not the whole picture! Several more publishes are on the horizon to address even more client optimizations (for both the 2D and 3D clients), new game art, improved user interfaces, new creatures, and even new craftables. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but thatís one of the benefits of having such a large dev team. Simultaneous development paths are wonderful things.

Tomorrow isnít that far off, but until then Iíd like to leave you with a few key concepts that should give you a feel for what weíre trying to aim at now and in the future. Environment and personality. Mechanics that are simple, but provide depth. Intuitive UI. Less tedium. Systems instead of features. Harder quests. Easier learning curves. NPCs and monsters that have some intelligence. Action and pacing in combat. Return to the Ultima tradition. Fighting with a purpose. Originality. Role playing. Attention to community. Logical, thematic enhancements. Let me know if you have suggestions, because Iím always happy to chat.

Senior Producer
Ultima Online

Posted by Hazard [EiC] at September 5, 2001 9:53 PM

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