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House of Commons from 1999-11-04

House of Commons from 1999-11-04


Jerrith Greetings and thank you for attending tonight's Open House.
Jerrith Tonight's chat topic is Developing a Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Game and as such we will accept questions related to this topic.
Jerrith Jerrith will be our moderator for this evening. In order to submit questions, please /msg or /query Xander, Niobe, or Slay.
Jerrith Please /msg different question-takers at different times, in order to balance the load, and speed this process up. Do not msg anyone from Origin or myself--these questions will be ignored.
Jerrith Remember they may not have the opportunity to answer all of your questions. In addition, some questions may not be answered if they feel that it is not appropriate or that it has been better answered through some other question.
Jerrith In addition, please do not submit any questions that have already been answered during past conferences.
Jerrith We encourage you to read the logs of the previous Open Houses, which are available at http://uohoc.stratics.com
Jerrith Thanks for coming, everyone. We will now begin accepting questions.
Jerrith *Web Question*We are all waiting for the skill management system. How is the testing for this going and is there a target date for the patch that will include skill management ?
Runesabre The testing of the Skills Management currently on Test Center is going well and uncovered several issues that are actually related to one problem.
Runesabre Some of the problems include skills that are locked still raise.
Runesabre Skills marked as down still raise.
Runesabre Setting certain skills in the skill sgump then reopening the gump and finding the settings not saved.
Runesabre These are related problems that are being agressively worked on right now.
Runesabre I can't say really when Skills Management will be released other than when it is fully functioning tested and ready. :)
Jerrith *Inferno* Is there going to be removable underwear in uo anytime soon?
toad "no".
Jerrith *Lilly* With phase 2 housing going in, and item count on it's way to being under control. Will we start to see an introduction of additional art brought into the game? Perhaps new craftable and semi rare spawn items?
toad So, it's always possible for us to do new craftable items, without doing new art, things that already exist in the art we have, but isn't used.
toad I'm not sure when we'll be adding new art to the game (that is, art that doesn't currently exist)
toad The thing is, a lot of times we don't want to do too many "rare" or "semi-rare" items because of the rares market, but we do always want to add new things to the game for players to be able to craft
toad Just to keep the game interesting.
Jerrith *AliceGoL* Could you tell us how many people were in the initial Dev team, and how many are currently in it?
toad There have been many iterations of dev teams if you go ALL the way back to the initial idea phases for UO.
toad So I couldn't really say how many were on the initial dev-team.
toad Currently we have around a dozen or so people full time, and then we pull in other resources when need be.
toad Since designers and programmers kind of work together on most things I couldn't really give you a # of either.
Jerrith *Trugagh* What is happening with good/evil system now? Nothing has been mentioned about it in a long time.
Runesabre Honestly, nothing at the moment is happening or is planned to be happening to Good/Evil at the moment.
Runesabre We have many higher priorities that are taking precedence but we are aware and tracking the problems with the current good/evil that are sent to us.
Jerrith *sludge* What is the difference between the Design Team and the Programming Team UOLive? What do the two teams usually spend the day doing?
toad So, what we actually have is not a design and a programming team, but one team that is the development team, consisting of designers and programmers who work together to add new features, and fix problems with the game.
toad There's not really any specific things we do every day. Some days we meet and discuss things were going to do for the next update, some days we work on scripting and coding, some days we work on documentation.
toad Though if you ask Runesabre, he'll say the difference is the programmers can bowl, and the designers can't.
Runesabre The real difference is that the Design Team can't bowl and the Programming Team can. *laughs*
toad See.
Jerrith *C_gfisch* From your point of view, could you imagine a online world where everything is controlled by players thru player governments? Where gms are players are players who's actions are logged, and logs are open for anyone? Possible or most ikely to fail?
toad I don't think that a player run game would necessarily fail or succeed in any one respect, but with regards to UO we have to worry about things like, if we let players decide by voting where the justice regions are, is it possible for a large group of people to ruin the game for everyone else?
toad So it's something that we would like to see some ideas on, but we always have to watch out for any exploits, or ways that such a system can be used to disrupt the normal players game.
toad I think a game specifically designed to be a player run game would be designed a bit differently than UO.
Jerrith *Web Question* The choice was made to limit skill gains to a skill pool and not gains over a period of time. The skill system now penalizes players that enters the game later and makes macroing an option for many. Why was this a better design choice?
Sage In the initial design stages, the design team wanted to provide a balance for all skills
Sage The belief was that the skills would balance out better, i.e. you would get a better distribution of vocations, if the skills which were used the most went up slower
Sage So if everyone was mages, it would be harder to develop magery.
Sage As the system has matured, some things, specifically macroing, has really damaged the original intent of these systems.
Sage I think these systems are actually very good, and the natural balancing idea was excellent, but we are constantly re-evaluating the problems which come from these systems.
Sage If the skills were not able to be macroed easily, or had different rewards based on the system, some of the flaws would be removed.
Sage As it is, however, I still believe the system works very well.
Sage We just need to continually tweek it to improve it for the players
Jerrith *Eddie* Why hasn't there been more of a push to get everyone upgraded to T2A? The advantages of everyone having it is huge. You could inhabit parts of the old land with the new creatures, actually make despise useful with some of the new creatures. Then it would also allow rideable llamas and ostards across.
toad Currently a significant number of our accounts are T2A. We are looking at ways of getting more and more people upgraded as much as possible because we would like to do things like that.
Jerrith *AliceGoL* What was the most chalenging techincal issue faced in the development of ultima online?
Runesabre Hmmm... good question I haven't thought about.
Runesabre Possibly doing a backup without disrupting the game.
Runesabre And of course keeping lag to a minimum while still having a rich variety of activities with lots of players.
Jerrith *REDfoot* I miss the days of antis vs Pks...There was nothing more exciting than getting a band of players together to retake a dungeon from PKS, is it possible to design towns where antis and pks can once again fight without the fear of stat loss?
Runesabre For a taste of the old days, try playing on Siege Perilous.
Runesabre No statloss and lots of territory wars. Check out www.battlevortex.com in the Siege Perilous WAR forum to see the recent conflicts. :)
Jerrith *ALIA* What are the major up and down sides to using players (as Counselors, Elders, Seers, and Companions) as support staff? Would you rather have a lot more volunteer support or a smaller amount of paid GM staff?
Sage The major up side has to be the knowledge players bring to the table. Our volunteers sometimes know the game better than anybody. So having them on board is great for advice.
Sage The downside, as most people can guess, is that we don't get to meet the volunteers sometimes, and so we have to worry about giving them a lot of powers necessary to help people.
Sage Frankly, I have been blown away by how responsible volunteers are, and how very few incidents we have had.
Sage I don't believe many companies can say that.
Sage As to the last question... I would rather have a large GM staff and a large volunteer staff
Sage But, mostly knowledge is what counts.
Jerrith *Jibrille* What kinds of hours do you all put in? Is it an easy 40, or more like 60-70?
toad Well, there are those rare weeks when we get to work 40 hours :) Mostly we probably work a bit more. And Firedog has permanently moved into his office I think. :)
Jerrith *Web Question* How much player input is typically considered in large-scale decision-making? How much is pure compromise between the good judgement of the design team versus what players say they want?
Calandryll Quite a bit of player input is used when making any decision, large or small
Calandryll that's the whole point of the Online Community Relations department...to get that player feedback
Calandryll and make sure the Dev. Team sees it. Also, you have all probably seen
Calandryll the new In concept part of the website, which provides even more ways for players
Calandryll to give feedback on Dev ideas.
Jerrith *Ibn_Shaun* You've once again made "improvements" to veterinary without addressing the reality that it currently exists only to give the healing skill an additional disadvantage with respect to magery. How do your plans address this imbalance?
Firedog First of all
Firedog we try not to develop any skill merely as a counter to another.
Firedog Each skill should be meaningful in its own right.
Firedog That being said, the changes to veterinary were made
Firedog not to make healing worse, but to balance out veterinary by fixing existing holes in it.
Firedog Healing and vet are BOTH more powerful than magery at high levels for healing something.
Firedog Which is what they were meant to be good at.
Jerrith *Trugagh* How about making it where only one type of class can be focussed on. Most run around gm mages with gm weapon skill as well which makes them alot better than any pure mage and better than any pure warrior. There is almost no other choice if you wish to pvp and be able to contend. Why go 50/50 or 100/0 in either of the two mage/fighter classes if you can go 100/100. Any plans to curve this somehow?
toad Well, one of the original ideas for the game was to make sure that players could do whatever they wanted as far as their skills, their chose professions, and their attributes (within of course the limits of the skill and stat caps). At the moment we're not plannign on making any changes to the way this works.
toad Of course, your argument holds true for those who PvP, but for others, who aren't necessarily interested in PvP the game is completely different, and thus a different set of standards and ideals about how to make your character applies.
toad To change the way the game works based on how a subset of the entire player base plays is always a tough decision, though at times it has been done, and probably will be done again in the future. As for the current state of things, I think they'll stay as they are in this case.
Jerrith *[GHOAST]* It has been sugested that ballot boxes are put in front of banks to let players vote on gamechanging decisions. Why has this not been implememnted or even commented on?
toad Well, we do have email, the webpage, and other ways of getting information from the players about how things are done (as Cal mentioned earlier). I think the real reason we haven't necessarily considered this option is that banks tend to be too crowded as it is, and we wouldn't want another reason for them to become more of a gathering point than they already are.
toad It's possible, I guess, that we could place them in other parts of the world, but up until now we've been happy with the feedback we get through mail and from the webpage (which I guess is technically through Email too, but you know).
Jerrith *Web Question* What happens when there is a major split among the dev team do you settle it with paper, scissors, rock? Or a PvP match in UO? :)
Sage Nerf firearms.
Runesabre There is never a split since everyone agrees with me.
toad I disagree.
Runesabre No you don't
Firedog Wrong
toad Yes I do.
Runesabre *Corp pro*
Runesabre d'oh
toad heheh.
Firedog Bowling! 9:00! Be there!
Sage Actually, people might be surprised to see how civilized our discussions are.
Sage We actually design a system
Sage through documentation, and we submit it to our group to shoot holes in it.
Sage When we disagree, we know it probably needs a re-write.
Sage When it is right, most people around the table feel comfortable with it. (except Firedog. He doesn't like anything. :) )
Jerrith *Eddie* How happy are you with the spawning system that is in place as of now. It seems it has a lot of bugs in it, i.e. predictable spawn paterrns, ability to block spawns (*cough* *cough* nightmare blocking exploit), spawning in walls, etc.
Runesabre It gets the job done but could definitely stand for improvement.
Jerrith *Zed* Why did you choose Runebooks over Runestones?
Sage One of the things I thought of with runestones was that it covered a smaller majority of the players
Sage Not everyone has a house, or space
Sage However, runebooks were portable, and could easily be kept in the bank
Sage Runebooks seemed like the optimal choice for the majority of our player base
Sage Also, they should work as well as a runestone, though perhaps they will hold less locations than people would like.
Sage As for how I use rune books, I will keep one in my bank with all my runes, and have one to carry with me that holds three or four.
Jerrith *Mistelios-CATS* With the space restrcition on the new housing storage system, why not assemble all the bank boxes of an account and adding the possibility to call bank from house, it would be easier for a worker of a char who need lot of place (if you have a char that simply do not use his bank box)
toad This was actually considered in a meeting we had just recently, but we worried over possible exploits, and the extreme advantage it would afford house owners over non-house owners.
Jerrith *Joshua_Rowan* What was the original target number of players that UO was target for, and what did you learn about scalability of MMORPGs as a result?
Sage When Ultima Online was first conceived, I believe we predicted somewhere in the 20,000 range of lifetime sales
Sage After Pre-Alpha, we started to reconsider that number, and we put it around 75K
Sage It did somewhat better than we had hoped, but I have always been surprised by how well the original designers did in making it work for a large number of players per server.
Jerrith *Anthrax_KS* Is any work still being done on Necromancy and Alchemy, or were they put to rest when the current Dev team took control?
Firedog These topics are still under consideration.
Firedog Although there are no definite timelines for either.
toad Necromancy and Alchemy are definately not gone.
toad They're not at the forefront of what we're trying to do right now, but both of them are alive and well.
Jerrith *AliceGoL* Do you have any plans for decentralizing banks? How about allowing well established player run buildings to have banker npcs?
Sage Not at this time. One of the conepts in boats was to allow for bank access from them. Eventually we decided that the bank was a good social place.
Sage It is one of those rare places where veterans and younger players meet up
Sage It is a good social spot, and we like to promote those.
Sage *GUARDS*
Jerrith *Web Question* Did all of you play AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) or did some people not even know what RPG games are?
toad I think it's a mistake to think that someone who didn't play AD&D wouldn't know what a roleplaying game was. I've been playing roleplaying games since 1981, and yes I did start with the basic D&D set, but I've also played thousands of other games.
Sage Played Traveler, AD&D and MAGIC
Sage and some others
toad I think the entire dev team has at the very least played many computer role playing games, though not necessarily rpg's of the pen and paper variety.
toad Personally though, I've been running D&D, Deadlands, Paranoia, and various Sci Fi Campaigns since the late 80's.
Firedog Late 70's here.
toad Always gotta one up me.
toad :)
Jerrith *Excalibur_Bane* How did each of you earn your online handles? :)
Sage My last name
Calandryll I made mine up for a pen and paper RPG a long time ago.
Calandryll and just decided to keep it.
toad When I came to work at Origin, there were several other people already working here named Todd. Then one day, I accidentally misspelled my name in an email to my department, and on top of that I had the caps lock key turned on (without realizing it) and typed tOAD. It never went away. I am not a Kewlio.
Firedog Mine's actually got a meaning: a firedog keeps the fire away from the floor...
Runesabre When I wanted a name that fit either a warrior or a mage since I didn't know the path my character would take. Runesaber seemed to fit either character. He became a Smith instead. *chuckles*
Jerrith That concludes our discussion this evening. Thank you all, in particular Calandryll, Runesabre, Sage, toad, and Firedog, for coming.
Jerrith The log will be available shortly at http://uohoc.stratics.com
Jerrith As always, discussion will continue in the #ultima-online channel.