1999-10-25: A Ticket to the Future

A Ticket to the Future

Oct 25 1999 6:35PM

This was originally posted to Development at [1]

I've got a couple of things to talk about this week. First, we're approaching the end of the first phase of the "Clean Up Britannia" event. Although we had to delay the introduction of the ticket barrels for several days, I'm extremely pleased with the end result. Rather than publish a system that had possible problems or exploits, we took a deep breath and held onto it until we were confident that all the serious issues had been worked out. We realized that the delay would be a temporary disappointment, but it would have been an even greater let-down if we had published something that allowed unscrupulous players to obtain ticket prizes without giving up their items like everyone else.

As of Friday, October 22, 1999, we have seen significant improvements on backup times, server restart times and CPU performance. On behalf of the entire Ultima Online staff, I'd like to thank everyone who has participated in this event for helping to improve the experience of Ultima Online for all players. In the coming months, you'll see many more changes and features that demonstrate this team's commitment to making the game more stable, more accessible, and more fun for players of all levels and playstyles. In addition, we'll be focusing our efforts on attacking at least several of the game's most irritating bugs every month. We can't do it all at once, but it's important to us that you, the customers, see that we are making steady and determined progress .

The ticket barrel publish is a good example of another initiative--the new ways in which the UO Live Team communicates its intentions and then follows through on them. In the past, UO has been plagued by publishes with unexpected problems, minor feature changes that surprised players, and a lack of clarity about announced features. When Jason Bell joined the team this summer as Producer, one of his first challenges to us was to focus the publish process by improving documentation and communication. As a result, there was a short transition period where we in the team had to pause and take stock of where we were in the development process. Our sense of urgency about bug fixing and new feature additions had to give way to a process that emphasized internal and external critique and double the amount of testing we had scheduled for in the past. Since these changes have been in place, we've been able to better predict the introduction of new features, communicate the details of those features, and collect feedback from a much wider array of sources.

By now, you've probably noticed our new addition to The Update Center called "In Concept". This new section of the website is a direct result of the mandate given to us by Jason to improve our design process. It will be used by the Ultima Online Live Team to give players the opportunity to see a new design long before we begin to work on it in earnest and to let us gather your feedback. It's very likely that many of the things you see on "In Concept" will never make it into the game in their original format, but it is quite likely that you will see a revised version of some of these designs move over to "In Development" once we've had time to incorporate your reactions and suggestions.

"In Concept" is a perfect example of how our team is making new efforts to keep players more informed about the development process and to also allow you to voice your opinions on new or controversial designs. Now players have should much better visibility on the life-cycle of a new feature or design as it moves from "In Concept" to "In Development", then to "In Testing" and finally to "Latest Updates." And we hope you'll have a more concrete idea of how carefully we listen to your feedback on features and priorities. -SunSword