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Deckard

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  1. CrossOver/WINE, followed by Parallels/VMWare, but haven't used a VM in a long time, as CrossOver works very well and runs UO at the same speed on my Mac as my normal PC does. That's more a function of UO's client than the particular software though.
  2. Exactly. UO is down to a half a dozen devs (1 designer, 2 developers, 1 artist, 1 Q&A, 1 Producer) with the current population and that should not make anybody feel good about UO. Off and on they have tried to get former players to come back, but ultimately we are still where we are at between those former and the current players. UO will live or die by its ability to bring in new players. It's possible that the well-done artwork upgrade that was started a few years ago and is slated for completion in 2014 might bring in new players, but UO has to get to 2014, and it has to survive March of 2014, when EA does some of its worst cost-cutting measures. It also has to add dev team members, because right now they are just one or two away from the game being officially in maintenance mode or shut down. And Mythic leadership seems solely focused on the mobile space, which does not help us at all. I wish we were under the group that has SWTOR.
  3. That style of PvP began to disappear with the advent of EverQuest, where people had a choice in PvP, and unfortunately for that style of PvP, history has shown that it's not that popular.
  4. If World of Warcraft loses over a million subscriptions in three months, there have to be some former UO players in that mix, and there are a lot of people who used to play UO and may not realize it's still around. You never know, you might catch them in between games, and they might be unhappy and looking for something different. Outside of the mentions on Massively and MMORPG.com during last year's 15th Anniversary, and the occasional article on Massively, UO doesn't get much attention. The Mythic games were featured on BioWare.com, but they are no longer present there after Mythic separated from BioWare, and they are not mentioned on EA.com, so they aren't mentioned anywhere except on Mythic Entertainment and in the Origin.com store (if you stumble across them). Somebody did tell me that you shouldn't bother, since those players have already proven they can and will leave/quit UO, but if EA is not going to spend money advertising it (or getting it to a state that it can be advertised), and if EA won't give a mention on any of the EA sites outside of Mythic, then you have to start somewhere. Correction It is listed on the RPG section of EA.com - http://www.ea.com/rpg#3 which takes you to http://www.ea.com/ultima-online-stygian-abyss which has a link to UOHerald.com (which redirects to UO.com).
  5. This is part of an article I'm writing for Ultima Codex, and I thought I'd post it here, since it's about what can be done to fix UO, and not necessarily meant to be a heated debate about where UO went wrong and how to fix that (there is at thread that covers some of that in the Heated forum). If you recognize the ideas mentioned below as your own or others, that's because they were good ideas that stood out. So what can be done? We as players must accept that UO is in serious trouble. Ultima Online has two developers, one artist, one designer, and a producer who actively work on it. Its largest shard had a 15 day revert last December. It was moved to Amazon's cloud servers to save money, after it had been on new hardware for less than two years. It lost its community manager (shared with two other games) and its lead designer last month due to EA's layoffs. If those things don't concern you and you think everything is just fine, this is not the thread for you. It's hard to hold a rational conversation with somebody in a burning house when they claim that it's not burning. UO is just one or two devs above maintenance mode (if it's not in maintenance mode), and probably one layoff away from being shut down. We can't cover our eyes or bury our heads in the sand like we've done in the past. Warhammer Online is officially in maintenance mode, and UO doesn't need to follow suit. Hire more staff. With only 4 active members of the dev team and their producer (and the contracted EMs and the shared GMs), either UO only has 7,000 - 9,000 active subscriptions and is barely profitable, or it's making plenty of money and EA is just using the extra money on other projects. I'll leave that one for you to decide. Hiring additional members is an incredibly large show of support. We need enough developers that bugs can be fixed while content can be added/upgraded. We need enough artists and designers that new content can be added while existing content is upgraded. Separate UO and the other MMORPGs from Ultima Forever and other projects I know this one is odd, but anybody who has paid attention or looked at Linked In, knows that UO developers have been pulled at times (or "shared") to work on other projects, including recent years. UO and the other MMORPGs need their own identities from Ultima Forever, and UO needs to stop suffering due to other projects. People have said UO received support in return, but we never saw it as players. The last thing we need is for UO to be in the shadows of Ultima Forever. Seriously, if UF does well, does anybody expect Mythic to be out there saying "by the way, play UO?" Not based on what's been said publicly. Finish the high resolution Enhanced Client artwork update. Like it or not, a lot of people do place a great deal of importance on artwork and resolution, and after 15+ years the Classic Client isn't still reeling people in. Today's MMO crowd expect better artwork/graphics and higher resolutions, especially from a cutting edge company like Electronic Arts. Does UO need to be shut down in order for people to realize that the Classic Client is not going to keep it going another 5 years, let alone through the end of this year? Take UO's Community Seriously. Hire Tim Chappell back as community manager. Eliminating his position, a position that was paid for by two other games as well, was a huge slap in the face to UO players. Setup official forums (not the UO Facebook page). Like it or not, today's MMO crowd expects companies, especially companies like EA that have 9,000+ employees and take in billions of dollars every year, to provide an official community. The bullshit about not competing with fansites or using social media like Facebook and Twitter is just that, bullshit. This is about bringing new people in, not keeping a small group of current players happy. If farming it out to fansites and Facebook was so successful, why does Star Wars: The Old Republic have a huge official forum? And why does EA have forums for all of their games but the Mythic MMORPGs? Why didn't they farm out SimCity's forums to SimTropolis? Again, does UO have to be shut down in order for people to realize that the current way is not working? Talk About UO Publicly Have whoever runs Mythic and his boss talk about UO publicly. I don't know who that is, as the last head of Mythic was forced out or bailed out sometime late last year. Only this time, don't mention UO when you are telling people why they should play other games. Mention it by itself. When the guy who is running the studio only bothers to mention a game a few times every few years, or mentions it in passing when talking about another game. it sends a bad sign. It doesn't help that the official website makes it seem that Mythic is getting out of MMORPGs and into mobile-only gaming. Former Players Email anybody who has ever subscribed for even a few months and outline to them the plans for this year, along with maybe some screenshots for the EC high resolution artwork. EA Management - Stop Assuming that UO is a Failure EA management needs to stop with the idea that it should just be allowed to live out its final days until the plug is pulled. World of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subscriptions in the past three months. EA has the resources to snag a few of those people who get bored with other MMORPGS, if it would actively develop and extend UO. EVE Online just hit 10 years and has 500,000 players, a number that took 10 years to reach. EVE Online's teams never gave up. Drop the Monthly Price We only have four active developers, a producer, some EMs on contract, and GMs we share with other games. Either drop the price to match the costs, or hire more people - we're paying a few dollars less a month than most MMORPGs, and yet most have more people on their community management teams than we have completely working on UO, including EMs and GMs . Yes, it's the fault of UO players for allowing EA to continue reducing UO's services while charging us the same, but it is what it is. Drop it to a more realistic price and you might pull in more people. The times are tough economically and people will appreciate it, instead of feeling like EA is squeezing us for all it can. Expansions and Other Content Give everybody up to High Seas and Stygian Abyss. Lower the cost of the items in the Origin.com store. They are virtual items, you'll make more money in the long run if the prices drop and more people buy more of them. Just some ideas I'm kicking around. I just know that the current way is not working and with UO being down to 4-5 people actively working on it, it is in the most serious trouble it has ever been in during its entire existence. Just one or two layoffs away from being shut down. Should send a shiver down your spine.
  6. Maybe. Community management has not been a strong point of EA and MMOs in many years, unless you have the words "Star" and "Wars" in your title, which makes this all the more disturbing. I would make a joke about how, since they keep shrinking the size of the team and the services provided to us, in addition to moving UO to Amazon's servers to save money while increasing our lag, they should charge us less per month since we are getting less, but the joke is on us since EA has been doing this for years. It's really sad to me on a couple of levels. I very much sympathize with Tim's situation and his father (and my thoughts are with you), and it also tells me they don't care about growing the Mythic MMOs. Lest we forget, Tim's salary was covered across three different MMOs. It wasn't like they cut the UO CM's job, they cut the Mythic CM's job. That speaks volumes about how they view the MMOs. The "sunshine pumpers" or "cheerleaders", which ironically I have been accused of being in the past, will once again jump upon me, or bitch about me behind my back, for bringing up the negatives, but the fact is, they have cut the UO team down to as small of a team as they can, short of only having a developer or two around to stay on top of technical problems. They have an artist, a designer, and a couple of programmers, which is enough of a team to keep current players playing, and that's a stretch. The designer and artist will be doing good to stay on top of holiday and vet rewards as well as the upcoming theme pack. That's all they can do. Ditching the dedicated community management position means they don't foresee a need for strong community relations/management going forward (i.e. new players) and reaching out to third party websites outside of UO fandom. Any new players will either be people returning, people who stumble across it, or people we recruit. It's not Mythic's fault either, and it's not anybody associated with UO. This was an EA decision. Given the choice, I'm sure Mythic management would rather be focused on adding team members and growing their MMOs, not watching them being shrunk down to maintenance mode. After all, if the Mythic MMOs go away, Mythic management will have to find new jobs (Ultima Forever can't support them all).
  7. They won't be switching over from other games since Tim was managing all the EA Mythic MMOs. They might hire somebody new to come in (cheaper rate), but I think they might just push CM duties off to the respective teams, or bring in some GMs to handle part of that.
  8. In addition to UO losing its lead designer, we are now losing Tim Chappell. This just after it was announced that Warhammer Online was losing their lead developer. With UO down to half a dozen members or less after losing the lead designer, and Mythic losing somebody like Tim and WAR losing their lead dev (albeit somewhat voluntarily), it's leaving me feeling very uneasy. As far as active development, they are down to two programmers, an artist, and a designer.
  9. There is one of those "name your price" bundles going on: https://stacksocial.com/sales/the-name-your-own-price-mac-bundle-2-0 Any price will get you three specific apps, and if you pay more than the average price, which right now is around $8.50, you can pick up several additional apps, including CrossOver 12, which runs UO, both CC and EC, just fine. I've used CrossOver to run UO in the past. CrossOver is based off of Wine, which is a compatibility layer for running Windows apps under other OSes. You can also run UO under VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop, but you'll be paying more, and you'll need a copy of Windows for either of those since those are entire Windows environments virtualized on your Mac. If you are running several apps with UO, then you might want to do VMWare or Parallels as it's easier since they are self-contained Windows environments. If you don't have the money for CrossOver in that bundle) or the others, then check out Wine WineHQ - Run Windows applications on Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac OS X which is free, but could be trickier. UO under Wine: WineHQ - Ultima Online UO under Mac OS X Compatibility - Search - CodeWeavers
  10. Blizzard wants populated cities and a part of the background material is that players are nomads and supposed to move throughout the world. Their top people are already working on their next MMO, and at this point they are not going to add in something as complex as housing. Two years ago the WOW Game Director/Lead Designer said "housing will be introduced to World of Warcraft some time right after "never"." As for Rift, that was impressive. Will be a competition between Rift and ArcheAge for best housing out of the current and upcoming crop of MMOs. ArcheAge gets the nod for not having instanced housing, but Rift will probably have a lot more customization.
  11. He appears to be a part of an attempt to reconcile Ultima lore with UO, at least in a loose sense, and lay the foundation for future Ultima-related story-lines.
  12. That and a couple of huge MMO launches in 2003 - 2005, which did more to hurt UO than anything else. There was a good post, and I think it was lost in the Stratics crash from several years ago, or maybe it was on a UO site no longer around, which charted UO's subscription numbers against the launches of other MMOs. I've come across a few people on Stratics referencing it, but can't find the original, so I'm going to paraphrase what some of them were saying of the original post. There was a very clear correlation between UO's decline and various MMO launches. Like a few people have said, UO was the only game in town for its first few years, so it had a captive audience. Once those other MMOs started coming out, whether it was EverQuest, which quickly passed UO, or later on World of Warcraft, UO no longer had a captive audience, and people could pick and choose what kind of game they wanted. It was also hampered by the fact that UO has had problems being modernized. The current attempt, taking the existing classic artwork and improving it in a higher resolution, could be their best attempt at modernization. It will satisfy those people who liked UO's original style, while at the same time it will take advantage of high resolution laptops and displays. To take it a little further out, at the time of UO's launch, it was just about 5 years after one of the most respected RPGs of the decade had been launched, Ultima VII, and Ultima VII was very much fresh in peoples minds, especially with the subsequent add-ons, and then with Ultima VIII's release just 3 years before UO, and then the hype that built up around Ultima IX, which was released in late 1999. UO lost that connection with the single-player RPG community after Ultima IX (or with IX :doh:depending on your view of IX's reception ) and that didn't help. Today, many UO players have not played the original/single-player Ultimas. There are many valid reasons for UO's decline. What's important is that they look at why it declined and why the pool of new players has dried up. There are well over 10 million+ potential new players floating around out there, something that UO didn't have in 1997, but they are staying away, or if they try it, they aren't sticking around. UO had a very high turnover in its first few years, which makes the 250,000 subscriptions all the more remarkable. It was able to draw in many more new players than it was losing.
  13. Or to put all of that another way, Garriott was always about pushing technological limits with games. UO as it is would not interest him now, because it's too outdated, and honestly it was outdated shortly after its release - that was the sacrifice they made to be first. As soon as it was launched, they were already dreaming about making a transition to 3D, starting with moving the Ultima series to 3D with IX. That was a rough few years because it was the time when companies were moving to 3D from 2D and budgets and games suffered when they switched engines in mid-design. It's ironic. I used to think that EA didn't try very hard with UO, but From 1999 - 2005, EA always had either a 3D UO or a 3D expansion for UO in the works. Starting in 2006, EA has always had a 3D-based client for UO either in development or in production/beta, even if the artwork laid on top of the engine was ultimately the 2D artwork of Kingdom Reborn or the Enhanced Client. It's just that problems kept cropping up or people were trying to protect the original UO or UO was the victim of unrelated EA problems. They spent enough time and money/development resources on creating a 3D UO that they could have created a couple of new MMOs, and it's a shame they didn't follow Sony's lead and come out with a new UO to run alongside the original UO, as Sony did with EverQuest. When Stephen Emond's UO Collector's Guide comes out, pick up a copy and read about all of the attempts EA made at trying to either transition UO to 3D, or creating a completely new 3D UO. There are a lot of interesting items in there that most UO fans don't know about.
  14. Garriott had moved on from UO well before 2000. He was already working on UO2 in 1999. UO hit its peak well after Garriott had moved on to other games. Garriott would also not want a classic shard - he, and several of the other people there at the beginning felt that unrestricted PvP/stealing/PKing/etc. were a mistake. There is even a letter from him from a few weeks ago on UO.com where he talks in-depth about how such actions made him rethink his game designs. I like Garriott as much as anybody else, maybe more than most, but he was ready to move on from UO a year after it launched, and if he had had his way, the UO franchise would have moved to 3D/first-person perspective with PvP/PK/Stealing confined to certain areas. Here in 2012, if you gave him the UO franchise, he would take it and put it on the web. He considers UO and other traditional MMOs to be outdated, and that sentiment is a cornerstone of speeches he gives about game design/theory. He partnered up with Zynga because he thinks that platforms like Facebook are the wave of the future of games. If you want to know what Garriott's vision of a UO-like game would be these days, read up on what he is saying about Ultimate RPG. He considers that to be the true successor to UO, even if only in spirit instead of name.
  15. We're not even close to 150,000 subscribers. I would put it closer to 50,000 - 70,000, and that's really pushing it, because I heard the 70,000 number several years ago, and the shards were not nearly as empty then as they are now. And we can't forget that many people have multiple accounts. I only know of two people down to one account, and it's because they are leaving the game and they still have some gametime. We could be looking at 25,000 actual people and 50,000 - 70,000 subscriptions, and as Lord Chaos pointed out, many many of those accounts are active to keep the houses around. Now back when we had 250,000 accounts, if you told me at least half of the actual players (players, not subs) were logging in at least once every week or two, I would believe it. These days, I don't think the percentage is that high. As for bringing people in, they need to do three things - do a much better job of working with the existing community, both fansites and players, and keeping them engaged - figure out why people left (outside of real-life issues) - figure out why new players aren't coming in, and figure out why those that do come in, don't stick around. On #1, they relaunched UO.com, and they are working on keeping people more informed. This part is especially important as you need to have a foundation for former and future UO players. Of course, as others have stated, what many current players want is more people. On #2 and #3, they are doing some major things, like the high resolution artwork update for the EC, and improving the EC, that will go a long way towards addressing a lot of the criticisms of UO that you see pop up on the MMO websites, from former players. Dungeon revamps, bringing back Chaos/Order, those are things that can help either bring people back or help keep them around, while making the devs' jobs easier (since Factions will never be fixed). It was a very costly mistake in my view, for them to scrap the work on an enhanced New Player Experience, because a new player is never going to realize why UO is so engaging for the tens of thousands who hang around if they don't get a good understanding of the game.
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