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Revamping the Item System - Introduction and History (Part 1)

- - - - - history introduction item part revamping system

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#1
JCtheBuilder

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This was original meant for the U Hall but I guess I'll cross post it here as well.
-------------------------------------------------------------
Lately there seems to be no end to the doom and gloom that entails discussing our beloved game of Ultima Online. The same topics are rehashed over and over until something new comes along. When that something new is good (Magincia Invasion) there is peace and happiness. But when it goes the other way (Holiday Gifts), the results can be quite ugly. Unfortunately this year the U Hall has been mostly dominated with discussions spiraling into rants and flames.

So today I have decided to do something I haven't done in a long time. I have done some thinking and come up with a whole big mess of ideas that could be a revamped item system for UO. "Big" changes to the item system were supposed to be coming with Stygain Abyss but no one seems to be discussing that right now. So I think this is not only something interesting to discuss but also very relevant for the future. This will be a multi-topic plan released over days, or perhaps even weeks, because I am definitely not going to sit and type for hours on end. Now on to the main topic.

Revamping the UO Item System - Introduction and History

If you had to make a top 5 list of issues in UO today, what would be on it? Well cheating would be up there for sure. Perhaps lack of new content. If it was not already on there, I would make a strong case for items in general. After all I am making a whole topic about it right now.

Every player in UO creates, buys, sells, trades, loots, moves, uses, interacts and complains about one thing, items. Items affect every single part of the game. You couldn't have a UO without items. There are many different types of items. From a potted plant to a sword to a potion. Each has a different function. In this case, I am going to be focusing on one type of item: Equipment. Equipment is defined as anything you can equip. It can be a sword or shield or cloak. If it fits on your paperdoll then it is covered in this topic. To get even more specific, I am only covering equipment that relates to combat.

There are at least 16 equipment slots which a player can utilize for combat. If you don't believe me then count them up yourself. Or let me just type them out for you: Left Hand, Right Hand, Head, Neck, Chest, Over Chest (Robe, Sash, etc.), Leggings, Belt, Sleeves, Gloves, Feet, Back (Cloak, Quiver), Earring, Bracelet, Ring and Talisman.

Most item problems stem from balancing magic properties in relation to all possible item slots. For example, if a player can't get 70 in all resistances, 15 Mana Regeneration, 2 Faster Casting, 6 Faster Casting Recovery, +30 Hit Point Increase, 100% Lower Reagent Cost, 40% Lower Mana Cost, and a few other properties on one item. It is the stacking of properties which causes players to go from acceptable to overpowered.

Original Release to Age of Shadows
To begin to understand where things went wrong we have to look back to how it was before the current system. The original item system lasted for over 5 years so something had to have been done right. Learning what it was could help in fixing issues faced today.

Trivia question: how many item properties existed before the age of shadows?

Five. They were durability, damage increase, tactics skill bonus, armor resistance increase and hit spell. Of course there were many different types of hit spell but since a weapon could only have one, lets count it as a single property.

A piece of armor had up to three properties. Defense, Guardian, Hardening, Fortification and Invulnerability for increased resistance. Durable, Substantial, Massive, Fortified and Indestructible for durability. It could also have a spell such as Bless or Curse. Now that is sort of an important note there. You could have an "Indestructible platemail helm of Invulnerability" with weaken attached to it. This was not such a big factor since you could find plenty of such helms without that property or even equip/remove it a certain number of times until the spell wore off. But I think such a tidbit could be useful in helping balance the current system.

As for weapons there were five properties. Ruin, Might, Force, Power and Vanquishing were the equivalent to Damage Increase. Accurate, Surpassingly Accurate, Eminently Accurate, Exceedingly Accurate and Supremely Accurate increased the tactics skill. There were also durability, slayer and various hit spells. Some spells which did not carry over were Clumsy, Weaken, Feeblemind, Mana Drain and Curse. One thing that could be learned here would be how little the damage increase property affected the weapon output. Vanquishing added only +9 to the total. If a Heavy Crossbow can do up to 56 damage before resistance is taken into account, the Vanquishing property only increases it by 14% to 65. That is a far cry from the 100% that is possible today.

There is even more that can be looked at beyond just the properties. Prior to the introduction of runics, the best items could only be acquired by looting monsters. Items could be lost at any time due to death or theft. Using items meant they would eventually wear out. Even more might be found with further digging, but I think this is plenty for now.

Age of Shadows to Today
Anyone who was there can tell you that one day you logged out and the next day, UO had changed into a completely new game. This change was so abrupt that many long time players I knew ended up quitting within the next few months. What did they quit over? Exactly what we are talking about now. Items had turned from something you used to something you obsessed over.

Prior to AOS you would grab your preferred suit of GM armor, a trusty weapon, some potions, etc. Today you have to plan out item properties, search through vendors, do figuring whether such-such works with what you already gathered and most of all spend a ton of gold. Once you have finally put together a "suit", spending countless hours, you're basically set for life. Item insurance is what enables all this to happen. I've been using the same leather tunic since 2003. Same bracelet (Ornament of Magician) and head piece (Hat of the Magi) since 2003 also. Unless something outrageously better comes along I will never have to change out those pieces. And they never wear out due to Powder of Fortification.

The whole item system has been turned upside down and I haven't even begun talking about properties yet. What does it mean using the same equipment? Crafters lose all their business. Most monsters don't get hunted for new equipment. The price of really good equipment skyrockets. Everything else (NPC, GM crafted and most magic loot) goes in the trash bin. The powerful item insurance and powder of fortification combination was a huge oversight when Age of Shadows was released. Item decay has essentially been turned off since 2003. Turning it back on will have to be a part of any solution that has a chance of working.

But that isn't even the biggest elephant in the room. Remember how I mentioned before that Vanquishing Heavy Crossbows only added 14% to total damage? Well now you can get 100% Damage Increase in item properties alone and 200% additional from skills and abilities. Monsters get the worst of it with Enemy of One and Slayers.


I'm actually out of time right now and didn't even get to finish the history part.

Index
Part 1: Introduction and History - What your reading now
Part 2: Creating the New - New properties and abilities to make players want to upgrade to new system
Part 3: Revamping the Old - Tweaking what is currently implemented without making it obsolete
Part 4: Crafting - Afterthought? No, only place it could fit.
Part 5: Pulling it all together - Examples of how everything would work

References
- 2002 Stratics Magic Items Page
- 2002 Stratics Weapons Page

UOGuide -- The best Ultima Online reference, better than the T2A manual!


#2
DiP

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Good stuff.

Turning it back on will have to be a part of any solution that has a chance of working.


I've been saying this for a long time, and I think it would HAVE to be the FIRST step, not just any part, without this, any changes to items are just "polishing a turd".

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Thanks again Maddux!

Adri: women don't discuss men while in the bathroom, we sacrifice small animals and smoke tampons *rolls eyes*


Adam: aye and in order to expedite the production of solidiers, i kill off the old people (Carp was right, Adam IS evil!)

#3
JCtheBuilder

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Yes, but my plan won't involve doing anything to current items which would make them decay. It will encourage people to use new items along with other changes to make current items a little less desirable compared to switching to comparable new ones.

UOGuide -- The best Ultima Online reference, better than the T2A manual!


#4
DiP

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Yes, but my plan won't involve doing anything to current items which would make them decay. It will encourage people to use new items along with other changes to make current items a little less desirable compared to switching to comparable new ones.


I'd have to see what proposed changes you'd enact first to change my stance on items. The only way making comparable "new items" (that I'm assuming would decay) to old ones (that wouldn't decay) more "usable" in my eyes would force the new items to be more "powerful" than the old ones, which might damage the already delicate balance *cough*hehe*cough* (or is that im-balance?) in items already.

By the way, this is a great topic.

Posted Image

Thanks again Maddux!

Adri: women don't discuss men while in the bathroom, we sacrifice small animals and smoke tampons *rolls eyes*


Adam: aye and in order to expedite the production of solidiers, i kill off the old people (Carp was right, Adam IS evil!)

#5
Merion

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I'm really keen to hear what you will come up at the end, because at the moment (no offense) it reads just like a hundred of other rants I read before. But I don't think it was your intention to add just one more, so I''ll wait and see.
Only thing I have to say at this moment is: Everybody complains about AoS, I don't think its so bad, but more importantly - going back to how it was before just isn't an option. Games don't work like this anymore, people want powerful items. You'd get back some vets but would lose most of the player base that there now.
That being said, I hope you soon find time to tell us your ideas.

#6
UOGuy...

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Yes, but my plan won't involve doing anything to current items which would make them decay. It will encourage people to use new items along with other changes to make current items a little less desirable compared to switching to comparable new ones.


Dude, what IS your point?
1- you CAN'T force ppl to do anything..
2- IF you deminish what they already have, (which I must ad they PAID millions for or Paid US$ for or Paid with Hours upon Hours of playtime credits to get... They WILL all call "Foul" and bash you to death...

For me, you didn't need to write a long intro, just let me have it all in ONE book instead of many... and it is one of those things, where you had to be there to understand how it was... Its kinda hard to put into words, unless you lived through it....

-Vanquishing weps... as I remember, had a straight 25pts damage mod at the end of the Combat formula (I think it still on statics), which included Anatomy & Tactics & stats as modifiers within the formula... Lets see for weps the order was Vanq+25, Power+20,I forget the rest... hehe... Armors was, Invunurable, then I forget... hehe... My Point IS, I am (and IMO everyone else too) Only interested in the top dog items, the rest is junk... and another thing, at this time AC(armor class) of 60 was top dog armor ratings, GM Plate had like 35, reg plate 30... and there was NO meditation penalties for a Mage in Full Plate... Warriors has Dex penalties in Plate (could never understand that), but we didn't have Dex=stamina either(which IS also part of the Combat formula)... AoS that POS, introduced Med penalties and dropped the Dex penalties... So IMO, Plate was made basicly usless after AoS... Therefor making Smiths usless...

-Equipement slots or equipable items... There has always been Clothing slots(which don't have properties), Armor slots & Weapons slots... Never been any Belt slot, not sure about KR... and you could never wear a Mage Hat & a Helmet at once... and I have seen a Robe with 95 luck Elf & Human... So, I'm not sure what your point is here, the #of slots has NOT changed... Caps to properties IS a logical step, NOT a solution... AoS made things very complicated, and I don't think there IS balance anywhere... It all depends on IF you hit a UO Lottery(and a sm # do) and get an Uber item, which of course IS over powering to begin with...

So How are you going to Balance that? Concidering UOs NEED for Ultra Rarity Items...

AoS simply introduced a Googleplex of items Properties to wade through and several Huge Lotteries to get them on a Single Item...

So, I'm waiting for the next book to be published.... I wanta see what your solution IS, this horse has been beaten many times before...

#7
kitiara

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Ahhh, the trip down memory lane with UO's former vernacular... looking forward to the rest of this write-up!

#8
DiP

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1- you CAN'T force ppl to do anything..


He never said anything about forcing anything on anyone. Just "encourage".

2- IF you deminish what they already have, (which I must ad they PAID millions for or Paid US$ for or Paid with Hours upon Hours of playtime credits to get... They WILL all call "Foul" and bash you to death...


:Rofl

You can't be serious? Can you?

Are you saying that they have never put/changed/taken away/nerfed/etc. ANYTHING in game that made 99% of the playerbase cry foul?

I could have sworn there were literally millions of posts full of gripes and complaints about something or other along the line. Maybe I just imagined all those.

Posted Image

Thanks again Maddux!

Adri: women don't discuss men while in the bathroom, we sacrifice small animals and smoke tampons *rolls eyes*


Adam: aye and in order to expedite the production of solidiers, i kill off the old people (Carp was right, Adam IS evil!)

#9
Tabbitha

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I could have sworn there were literally millions of posts full of gripes and complaints about something or other along the line. Maybe I just imagined all those.


I can vouch for most of those posts as Ive trawled through most of them in my short time here :-/

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]


#10
UOGuy...

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He never said anything about forcing anything on anyone. Just "encourage".



:Rofl

You can't be serious? Can you?

Are you saying that they have never put/changed/taken away/nerfed/etc. ANYTHING in game that made 99% of the playerbase cry foul?

I could have sworn there were literally millions of posts full of gripes and complaints about something or other along the line. Maybe I just imagined all those.


Hi DiP, nice to see you too... But don't get your panties in a bunch, please control yourself... I just want to see the next chapter, to see what JCtheBuilder has in mind to "encourage" me to change to this New Item System, while the Old Item System is still in place...

#11
DiP

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*unfurls panties*

Hate it when that happens. Just had to point out that it's been done in the past before (forcing things on players and ticking them off in the process).

I'm waiting to hear what he has to say also. It is all just discussion anywho 'cause whatever the devs decide on is going to be what's in place.

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Thanks again Maddux!

Adri: women don't discuss men while in the bathroom, we sacrifice small animals and smoke tampons *rolls eyes*


Adam: aye and in order to expedite the production of solidiers, i kill off the old people (Carp was right, Adam IS evil!)

#12
kitiara

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*can't stop thinking about dip's panties*

#13
JCtheBuilder

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Hi DiP, nice to see you too... But don't get your panties in a bunch, please control yourself... I just want to see the next chapter, to see what JCtheBuilder has in mind to "encourage" me to change to this New Item System, while the Old Item System is still in place...

There seems to be a lot of hype around what I am going to propose. I didn't expect this kind of reaction.

UOGuide -- The best Ultima Online reference, better than the T2A manual!


#14
Deraj

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Hello JC. Excellent post. Looking forward to part 2. Items are without a doubt the largest problem with UO right now, and I say that because I have been ranting about them for a long time. Good luck in your quest.
Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away,
And we say of our folk, "they are here!"
That they built us and they died and you'll not be knowing why,
Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.

#15
UOGuy...

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There seems to be a lot of hype around what I am going to propose. I didn't expect this kind of reaction.


Dude, ever since AoS, I (and alot of ppl) have been Clammering for a better system... Its NOT that the AoS system IS bad, just poorly implimented... Its nothing more than a KRap shoot, series of Lottery systems, just to maintain "Rarity"... and to almost garrantee failure...

I realy Hope your solution IS better...

When will you be ready for part #2?

#16
Deraj

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I'm guessing his idea will be aimed at making an easier transition to downgraded properties, essentially; the point it to provide a revamp that won't piss too many people off. That's likely the point of all this. I mean, we can all say "just nerf the items" which would technically work (if done properly of course), but the uproar you would hear before the game was actually fixed would shake the very foundations of the earth. EA can add all the little "neat" things they want; little mini-games, events, holiday shards, tweaks, or "upgrades", but UO will never be able to truly advance if it contains these core flaws.
Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away,
And we say of our folk, "they are here!"
That they built us and they died and you'll not be knowing why,
Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.





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