2006-02-24: New Year, New Team, New Producer, New Ideas

New Year, New Team, New Producer, New Ideas

This was originally posted to Development at [1]

Have you ever wanted a job so bad that you’d literally beg for it, down on your knees, hands clasped in front of you, pleading in your eyes? Have you learned the true meaning of the phrase: “Be careful what you wish for?” I can honestly answer both questions with a hardy “yes-in-freakin’-deed.”

So here I am, the new producer of Ultima Online, after eight years of working for Electronic Arts in various ways, as a PR director, marketing director, E3 demo monkey, screenshot taker, the press tour guy, the ad copy guy, party thrower, ninja, press release scribe, Powerpoint giver, coffee runner, and once, voice actor. (I did a bad celebrity impersonation in the expansion pack for Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun.)

It took me eight years, but I’m finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do, working with artistic and technical wizards to build worlds, or in this case, make a world better. I sit in meetings all day and marvel that we get paid to talk over and argue about topics ranging from world building to swing speed to immersion to how much treasure should a dragon drop when hit in the head.

And I’m not the only new face. There is a whole new Ultima Online Live Team that you’ll be getting to know over the next few years. We’re a mix of old guard and new blood, war weary vets and bright-eyed young recruits who can’t wait to jump into battle.

The new Live Team lead engineer is Randy Eichman, a seasoned game vet with one of the most impressive resumes imaginable. If you want to build a client-server game, Randy is one of the first guys you’d hire.

Our new Live Team lead designer is someone you already know, Tim “MrTact” Keating. Tim was a pure engineer mere weeks ago, but now he is officially the creative visionary for all things UO Live. He’ll still code here and there, but these days he’s mostly the official director of fun for UO.

We, a growing team, are deep into planning out the next two years, mapping out what we want to do and how we’re going to do it. We’ll be talking about our full plan for 2006 in upcoming website posts, newsletters and live town hall meetings. There are a couple things I can say about the near future:

Pub 40, due out in April, will be chock full of PvP changes, fixes and perhaps a new feature or two. It is officially “The PvP Publish,” though some things we want to do could take multiple publishes. MrTact and the PvP Strike Team have been plotting for a few weeks now, and the plan they’ve put together is looking good. More news on that soon.

Throughout the year, our goal, our guiding motto, the slogan that will be tattooed to our forearms, is this… “More reasons to log in, more often.” That means we’ll be alternating between a variety of projects each publish, sometimes introducing new features or content, sometimes addressing old concerns. Dramatically improving PvP definitely qualifies as a “reason to log in” as do a new series of in-game events that the Community Team is putting together with help from the GM and EM teams. Those will be coming very soon.

So, thanks for playing Ultima Online, thanks for staying with us, and thanks ahead of time for all the feedback and ideas you’re going to give us. We’ve got some big surprises in the works.

If you are wondering what happened to Lady Lu, she’s taken on a much bigger, more important role. She became a mother a few weeks ago to a beautiful, bouncing future UO player. She is an amazing producer and I hope I bring as much energy, discipline and smarts to the job that she did.


- Aaron “Darkscribe” Cohen