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2010-08-13: Producer's Update - 8/13/10

Producer's Update - 8/13/10

Posted Aug 13, 2010 16:51:19 by Calvin Crowner on the UO Herald.


Just is a simple word. It can mean forthright, and properly executed within the bounds of law. It may also be used as an adverb. For example: “I just love cake” or “Why doesn’t the dev team just ?”

The word “just” tends to get some in a lot of trouble. Another example “I was just adjusting my radio, officer.” Or something I am certain many have heard “Oh he or she is just a friend.”

Patrolling the boards as we do, the dev team tends to see the word “just” a lot in terms of things we have done or have yet to do. “If they would just …”

Well, we have just finished Pub 67. We have just been through testing on the latest internal review of arenas, and we have just finished taking a look all of the fans who will attend the summer Town Hall at the end of this month.

And I am just excited.

What does this all mean for you?

It means we are just as focused on the future of UO as we ever have been.

The media outreach prior to this letter went to quite a number of people -- some who have played Ultima Online before, or know of the Ultima series … some whoare only RPGers. The intent? To open the channel and experience of the longest running MMO to countless who have only heard of the game in passing.


ARENAS

Broadening the interest is one reason we are implementing arenas.

Arenas are currently in testing. There were several features that were extremely buggy, and we do honestly prefer to find every bug or feature before it’s sent to Test Center. Arenas will remain on an external test center for at least two months. Why this long … we want to make certain that our implementation of the system is not only solid but fun. Also, we want to make certain any features that are missing that allow players to challenge and plan and … most importantly have fun, are tested and re-tested before going live.

Initially we planned to have arenas 1 v 1 and then implement teams later. It’s been delayed so that players will be able to bring friends into consensual PvP as well. Our goal for arenas is to allow players currently in the game, or who are new to the game the chance to experience the thrill of player on player combat. Our intent is also not to make PvP combat about the best template, but about skill. As the system evolves we will evaluate player response and change accordingly.

It is the choice of PvP combat and the essence of dueling that will drive the system. If you don’t care to take part in dueling, you don’t have to. However, there will be a chance to spectate and watch the best and the sometime mediocre battle one another, jeer and enjoy the two arenas available in both Tram and Felucca.

This interest is part of the bigger picture surrounding the future of Ultima Online. As testing and play progresses we hope to explore other elements of the game.

Two of these are quite emotional topics for players: the Classic shard and 3rd party program detection/speedhacking.


CLASSIC SHARD

I was asked recently if UO is playing it safe. I consider this a good question.

The classic shard is a risky endeavor. What does a classic shard mean? It’s one facet … and then what? What updates to the game content and fixes carry forward? Item properties? Artifacts? Custom housing? Ninjistu? A classic shard, by definition would contain nothing from Samurai Empire or Mondain’s Legacy. There would be no artifacts, and only classic housing.

A classic shard is a business decision, not a decision to draw only former players who have gone on to other MMOs. It needs to draw along with the hype, an audience truly interested in understanding that before there were games on rails, there was a game built on skill and the thrill of a game with consequence.

Naked corpse runs anyone?

The classic shard is not about a UO revolution, it’s about a UO evolution. Are we playing it safe taking our time? Somewhat. Yes. Is the classic shard a risk we are willing to take? If the right business model is behind the concept, yes. That’s my job to figure out and evangelize. No petition or surveys will “just” bring a classic shard to UO. There have been too many business and design decisions made on the “good intent” of the player population. The classic shard will not be that kind of decision.

It must not only make sense for the population at the time, it also needs to be a concerted effort with the support of the community beyond current subscribers … and any others who are reading this letter beyond fan forums and sites.

So where are we on a decision? I made a statement in March that we would have an answer before the end of the year. It’s still summer, and we have goals to meet before September, so we are not focused on implementing a solution or design docs right now.

However, I do a have a focus team dedicated to evaluating the options and features. The first steps will be a survey on key features and interest, should we decide to move forward.

Quickly: I spent a Sunday going through the 3rd party program detection report. I have identified more than a few accounts, and these will be handed off to CS to take action. The first step is a warning, the next I think we will have a little fun with.

It’s important that we do not do “mass bannings” for offenders. One, it’s not just, and also it’s more fun to make a public display of cheaters … at times.


SEIGE ATTENTION

So with all the other features and bugs in UO, why did we decided to remove the daily stat cap for Siege?

The simple answer: Why not? Over a month ago I visited Seige to discuss a few topics, not the least of which was their population, and what they thought would drive more visitors to the shard. I made no promises, but asked them to identify a few easy fixes we could implement in one of the development cycles we have for this summer.

So, we did it. Will we implement other requests from their list? Perhaps. We will see how this update goes first before moving forward.


THE LIVE ARC

So you’ve battled the Chosen, the crystal has gone missing, and it seems that everyone is falling in line with the easiest route to get the spoils of the game.

Seems it’s very easy to be evil when it’s so obvious that that’s what the devs want you to be.

Just a warning: Magincia is a town of Humility. What are some ways to be humbled beyond being burned to the ground?

THE EVENT MODERATOR PROGRAM AND OTHER NEWS

I’d like to announce that after some review, we are extending the Event Moderator (EM) program to shards in Japan. It will take some time as we review applications and train moderators, but from the survey results we’ve learned that there is more than a little interest. Mesanna and the Japanese Interest Game Masters (IGMs) will work together moving forward with the program. We will share updates as we discover which new EMs will be leading the Japanese players in weekly events and progress of the live story.

Our current EMs are rockstars, and even though they give me the best grief in IRC, I appreciate each one of them and the endurance they’ve shown for over a year. Several of them are veteran EMs in their own right, so when you see a few of them with new titles congratulate them on their achievement!

Finally, it is with a heavy heart we say so long to our summer intern Judah Bloom. Among the countless stealth/ninja/hush hush projects he’s done for us this summer, he has made it possible for multi-tile mobs in the game. This means some of the bigger mobs will soon be attackable from more than one tile away! We are going to miss him, as the engineers now won’t have someone to accidentally pour coffee on in the morning.

Just doing anything in UO is easy. But we don’t care to do just anything. We care to grow, evolve, and prosper. As a team we are not without ears or eyes. More importantly, we are not without understanding. Dazzle us with your candor and skills of persuasion. We’re watching … and we just love cake.

Thanks for your attention, and see you on the boards!

- Calvin