2001-09-29: Stellerex on Development

Stellerex on Development

This was posted to the message boards, in response to a player's post expressing his concerns about the changes he saw in the development team, the changing ideas and so on.

Sometimes it's difficult to respond to posts like this that are very thorough and endeavor to make so many points. I think I can see where your point of view comes from, although there are some aspects that I have a different take on.

First let me say that the main reason why you will hear so many different members talk about so many different parts of the game is because each one is assigned his own systems to be responsible for. Therefor it's quite natural that they would address those systems publically, and consider them important. And in reality, they do work on their own respective systems and make changes/adjustments/fixes as necessary. The team leadership watches over each of the developers and endeavors to ensure that everyone's activities follow along a consistent focus.

You specifically mentioned the faction system changes that had been promised some months ago. Actually, those changes were neither abandoned nor forgotten. As luck would have it, they are currently being tested on Test Center 6. I think we could probably have done a better job communicating that with the public, though, so I can understand how people could have come to the conclusion that we forgot about them.

Another point that you made was that the team seems to constantly be in a state of flux. You have observed members of the team introducing themselves with comments from the team, etc. While we do hire on new folks from time to time, this can be a bit deceptive. Often, they are with the team for quite some time before introducing themselves publically. We did absorb quite a few new people back in March when the UO2 project was dissolved, and then very quickly thereafter we lost a couple of very visible friends to the competition. But the vast majority of the team has remained intact. Many of the people that made the team's ranks swell this past Spring were folks who were on the UO: Third Dawn project, not Live. But roughly 80% of the current team has worked on either UO Live or Third Dawn, and has therefor been with UO for close to 18 months. However, many of these team members didn't really make themselves visible to the public right away. Hence, they were "introduced" to the public in a staggered fashion, and I can very much understand how it would appear that the team is a revolving door for developer talent.

Take me for example, I've been on UO for two years now. But after we shipped Rennaisance, I began work with the Third Dawn product, and then moved back into UO Live in March. I'm not typically too visible, so I can definitely see how that provides the appearance of joining, leaving, rejoining the team. That's essentially a miscommunication of my own, and I'm working to correct that. However, to be clear, my particular goals and focus have remained stable while I've been here.

I also think I need to comment on the notion that the UO team is an "entry level developer platform", where people come to "learn the ropes" and then move on when they have experience. For what it's worth, I've personally been in the gaming industry for almost 12 years now, and I don't think my purpose here is to gain experience. I do continue to learn every day, but I don't think that's my main reason for being here. There are a significant number of others on the team who have similar backgrounds. Additionally, since OSI currently has no other projects under development that don't have to do with UO, then the experience our team earns will ultimately stay on UO.

I can understand your feeling that you don't expect what you hear from the dev team to be concrete from one month to the next. However, it's really more constant than you might realize. You definitely made a valid point when you stated: We understand that the policy of UO (and now standard for game companies) is to not divulge very much information to the user base, due to the concept that exists “if companies suggest it, users believe it will come”

I think that tendency applies here, and is probably another contributing factor.