2010-09-03: Producers Update

Producers Update

Posted Sep 3, 2010 19:44:27 EST by Calvin Crowner on the UO Herald.

The answer to the question of the ages will finally be answered: Pirates v. Ninjas … brought to you by Ultima Online.

Subjects covered in this update:

  • The new booster pack and what the booster concept means for Ultima Online
  • The “Call to Arms” and new player myths …
  • The Town Hall


A booster pack for trading card games and video games (in terms of downloadable content) are not new to the retail space.

The reason Ultima Online has adopted this method of distribution comes down to time and focus. In terms of time, we have learned that during “Expansion” development the live game tends to suffer … no matter how large the team is. Updating game content and major systems in a short span of time 4-6 months, while still managing bug sprints (as we did in May and June for the EC client, changes to bards and T-Maps), yet still develop something like the new booster content allows us to accomplish a lot more for the player and the broader audience.

In terms of focus: “booster” content allows me as the producer to align different development strengths. For example, the boat system is an overhaul that UO has demanded for years so the resources were very engineering heavy. In addition, such content takes less lead-time to develop … our next booster will rely on a different development discipline. For example, art or more design/content -oriented.

Booster content is meant to expand the game without damaging attention to the live audience. In addition, we are NOT adding land and other “stuff.” We target one major system and develop content around it.

In short, booster packs allow us to play with the toys we already have.


The newsletter at the beginning of August announced several events: the development and availability of arenas, the price drop for the Stygian Abyss Expansion, and the new player token.

Obviously arenas is not ready, but it was necessary to make mention of it as some players found the arena structures. We have had internal testing and bug fixes, but are not ready to release the system. We missed the window for arenas delivery, but as QA resources become available we’ll release the system as soon as we can. The system is meant to show that PvP can be fun, and to have a system where battling does not have psyche-altering consequences. As someone brought up in the town hall: Felucca is not filled with murders, just players who enjoy a different gameplay experience. Arenas is intended to show players a different element of the game they may hold some reservations or simply do not understand … and give it a try.

Also, while we are on the topic of PvP … the overarching goal of changes to the game are not to emphasize PvP. Changes we’ve made to the game … treasure maps, bard changes, and even earlier this year with improving Mysticism are about keeping Ultima Online open to whatever playstyle you choose.

The price drop for Stygian Abyss was announced, as we knew we’d be announcing the booster soon. We thought it would be best to drop the price on old content before announcing new content to the game.

Finally … “What in the world is this new player token?”

The new player token is currently only available for new player accounts (less than 30 days) and through the purchase of the Stygian Abyss Expansion. Currently, upgrade players may not receive the new player token.

New players with the token have what we called internally “the new baby smell.” Simply, it’s a limited time alacrity that allows elevated skill gain for themselves and their party members. In addition, they start with a bit of gold, a weapon and an armor set. The amount of gold is meant to get them started. From what I’ve experienced as a new player, and from inputs from players at the Town Hall, the 20K is just enough to “get you in the door.” We are hoping that the alacrity and grouping with more experienced players will get new players the rest of the way.

I have found that there are many willing mentors and teachers in the community. Thank you for bringing the new players under your wing … until you can kill them J


We think the Town Hall from last weekend was the best venue to announce the upcoming booster pack.

Also, I learned from the small representation of the community, including those on the Bioware Mythic video stream, what concerns you have. I’m glad that the response to the booster was in line with what our hopes were: You are excited, and it seems like we made the right choice for the booster theme.

The team is extremely thankful for the encouragement we received from all the attendees, as well as many ideas we will steal shamelessly and craft as our own. You may see some of the ideas in the upcoming booster. We will see how internal testing goes as we implement some of the ideas.

If you’d like to review the features for the booster, or have a need to have a copy of the presentation you can find it here:

Have a safe weekend, and see you on the boards.