We've all been looking forward to this and here it is
Cathat took some time out and answered a whole bunch of questions our posters sent him!
Thankyou Cathat for answering them all.
Questions from Minotaur2K
1) We have heard from you that the "elves only tag" is one of your pet peeves, are there any plans on getting rid of it?
Not that I know of. Even though it is one of my pet peeves along with that “helmet swap” and I would love to get into the code and normalize it – this sort of work falls into the Eng and Designer task list. I hope when they tinker with Crafting they’ll eliminate this elf only thing or add some feature that will allow crafters to remove this tag. Eliminating a feature once it’s LIVE practically has to be unanimous decision, and of course if it “Ain’t broke” It comes way down on the list of things to be looked at and changed. So obviously – no big plans to ‘change it’ at the moment Though, I will probably continue to campaign, plea, whine, bribe and or beg to have this altered.
2) So if you had 10 monsters you could add to this game that are already not currently in it, what would they be?
1. Nue – a Japanese Chimera – monkey head, badger body, tiger legs and a snake head tail – moves in amorphous fog at will.
2. Chimera – yeah the pseudo classic bat winged lion/goat/dragon modern mix
3. Dragon Turtle – blow steam – look like giant alligator turtles – Shells like small islands in the water,
4. Demons – more demons! I’d love to really be able to go off on the design – get creative. No restrictions with demons.
5. Animal Folk – Upright civilized animal people – Wizard of Oz stuff - Tiger people – bears – Zebra folk – whatever.
6. Forest Spirits – Giant animal Spirits - “Good” Peerless bosses – something for evil and Reds to bash at and good to quest from/protect.
7. Culthulu-ish inter-dimensional beasties – your Mind Flayer & Displacer beast type creatures that love to gnaw on heavy Mana Users.
8. Lycanthropes – Were-Wolfs, Were-Tigers, bears, bats, rats, panthers, what have you - and the ability for it to pass on to a careless player
9. Draconi’s Zombies – only not so contagious or incurable if you get bit. (Recall the Halloween zombie shard invasion? Eek!)
10. Deep Sea Lizardmen – Raid coastal areas spawning from the sea. Haul off NPCs or your body & stuff back into the ocean.
3) If you could add 10 "wearables" what would they be?
Phew – I’ve got a full 3-4 inch stack of wearable concepts here on my desk I’d like to make..
1. Frock Coat, Long – Pirates, Highwaymen and Vampires rejoice! – An open coat - a nice alternative to Cloaks
2. Sexy Dark ELF clothing that anyone can wear.
3. Barbaric armor – skulls and war paint and patterns on heavy battle armor. Each pattern is partially hued to avid the neon nightmare.
4. Jewelry - earrings – necklaces/chokers – more bracelet designs. Just set it up so you can only wear a max number of magical jewelry items so folks can’t go piling on too much enchanted stuff. “Creature” Wearables – make it so most monsters/animals have resources for crafters to make clothing from them – purely attribute related.
5. Spiked armor – that’s really spiked – and you can’t wear cloaks over it because of the long sharp Spikes.
6. More animal headdresses – tired of seeing the same Deer / Bear headdresses- how about cougars or monster head dress – Dragons etc.
7. More animal monster motifs on armor – Helms that look kinda like monsters, fantastic Samurai Helms, breastplates and pauldrons with beastie designs on them.
8. Monster Masks and wearables for Roleplayers to play out monster if they want to. Maybe some have Polymorph with no timer on them.
9. More eastern, Assyrian, Persian and ancient Egyptian influenced wearables for players. The helm of virtue is sort of a start in this direction – a Persian style helm – but I’d like to see different fashion influence there.
4) What about 10 Misc Items?
Probably all decorate Statues and or Paintings based on very important long term players in UO. Yup – immortalize a few very key people on a few of the shards. Maybe a founder or key leader of the Syndicate. Dark elf RP guild founders maybe. Perhaps a person who wins a UO world wide PVP tournament. Lord British of course, because well he was an early player and Dev guy way back when. I already sort of worked myself in as statue with the Asian collection with the blessed Cat Statue – the runes around the bottom said “CatHat in Celt font – not that you guys can see it clearly of course – did that on purpose.
5) How did you wind up being an artist for UO?
Honestly, I finally got burned out after a few years working as part of a US Asymmetrical Warfare Cell. I made a call to a friend I’ve worked for prior, He told me EA wasn’t half of the bad stuff I’ve heard it was, and all the good people and friends I knew working on the UO team. – “Ok, I’m in.”– Bam! 2 months later and here I am now. I really like the day to day work I get here. Unlike the medical field or the military – this stuff isn’t so life and death you know – sleep a lot better. Heh. I fit in very nicely with all the other unusual folk we have collected here and Game Developers counter culture. Good people – all very professional and nice.
6) Around how many frames would a new wearable take to make?
Currently each wearable takes the same amount of frames no matter what it is – 1050 frames for each wearable – no matter its size or use.
7) Krakens, am I the only one who thinks the art for these need to be redone?
Nope, you’re not alone in this thought.
8) You have stated a number of times that you really want to announce a lot of the stuff you want to do, any chance you can perhaps announce one or two things now?
Uh No. LOL. Part of my pay here is a fair % that is given to me depending on my behavior, values and performance. So no chance any Dev will undermine any of the boss’s scheduled big announcements. I can’t leak info – but knowing future plans won’t get you anything any quicker either I suppose. Now that PunkBuster is announced – a small step in many things – maybe more folks will pay attention when we tell them – “Yes, stuff is happening.”
9) What is your favorite breed of cat??? lol
I grew up with a surly, semi-feral PixieBob half breed – it was the only cat the Coyote couldn’t eat. He wasn’t really a ‘breed’ so to speak – dunno if he was even really legit to own – So I’d have to say I think Tabby’s kick butt – very good personalities and one of most people friendly cats if you live where its civilized. I like the grey tortoise shell tabby and the Orange tiger tabby the most.
Questions from Snowy:
1) Is there any likelihood that the body shape might be enhanced, esp for the ladies paperdolls? Going right with that would be the addition of a few Nice Looking Feminine Clothing items; both armor and 'over armor' items? To be fair, the guys could use a new tailored or smithy item of wearing apparel as well. What are the chances of these happening?
Well the Paperdolls need a rework – possibly with subtle differences you can pick yourself. But you can’t change 2d paperdolls too much unfortunately it’s the way they work – the outlines all pretty much HAVE to be the same for the clothes to fit. Dramatically Change the avatar’s build and you have to change all the instances of clothing to go with it.
My two cents on the subject --- I do believe we have to make the female clothing better – more appealing – more feminine choices and more stylish than it is now. The old stuff is just so… Potato Sack you know. Some of that female armor wears like leather MooMoo – yuck! It doesn’t have to be fakey !!!!-wear fantasy Victoria Secret stuff either like you see on some MMOGs who just shove cleavage at you – but something that’s reasonable believable as armor and styling. I sort of prototyped a little of this with the female dragon armor – I think it worked pretty well.
Men’s armor needs some changes too – But in general it’s not nearly as ill fitting as the female stuff though. But it could use more style for sure.
The chances of seeing stuff like this are pretty good. Though with fashion and all things – there’s always going to be styles folks like and don’t like no matter what you do to them..
2) I also wonder whether some of the 'orphan' design elements will be filled in with things like, half walls, arches, columns and windows?
Perhaps someday – but adding a lot of the housing ‘orphan’ stuff is a much lower priority than say fixing systems like Crafting or Wearables. But yeah – filling in orphan customized housing items would be a slam dunk for an artist once other more immediate work is done. UO’s future has gotten pretty long term – so the odds of us circling around to find all kinds of things to fix down the road seem pretty hopeful.
3) What got you 'into' RPG and UO?
I’m pretty open to all RPGs and games like UO, D&D, Warhammer. As a kid I first got into fantasy artist work at age 3 or 4 – Frank Frazetta and Ray Harryhausen were huge influences on me. I’ve always done that kind of art work since then. Even when I was working on a ranch or doing my Veterinary medical internship folks would see me doing my thing – “Ooh. Wow you’re a really good artist.” *a pause “uh no I’m a Med Student.” Took a while to get a clue and just go with that art thing. Working on games is really where I belong and what I love doing.
Questions from Petra Fyde:
1) Which creature in uo looks least like the way you would envisage it if you only knew its name? How would you change it, if given free reign?
Oh man –Honestly – the first thing that comes to mind is the CuSidhe. Not nearly “Wolfy” enough for my taste. You see it around ALL the time ‘cause it’s a rideable. And it just looks Incorrect to me. *shrugs. I’d redo that one if given the opportunity. Maybe I’ve seen too many Wolves in RL to really dig it.
Questions from Skatha
1) Is it possible to get the background of the backpacks and some of the furniture in a lighter hue, so dark things don't get lost?
I wish we could select from a few styles and set colors for our backpacks/Inventory. Use one kind of User interface or another. I’m not a fan of the current 2d user design – too inefficient and lacking easy customizable features. As for the furniture – if they fix crafting, hopefully that might impact the furniture designs somewhat with hue capability.
Question/Comment from Killdigdiecat:
1) Well actually Cathat's comments have answered all my questions about the development side of the game, artwise I'm ok with everything. But I would like to see some of his work outside of the game, ideas hes draw up, doodles, whatever. I think it'd be kinda interesting.
I keep my own personal portfolio pretty low key and away from web crawlers since I usually don’t like to share my personal \ business contact info on it. However, 11 of my paintings are up on the Mondain’s Legacy Website up in the “Media” section. Go there. The first painting is from a different guy who did the ML mailer/poster art – the rest are from me. That’s pretty very much representational of my kind of stuff – though I do more “maquettes’ (production sculptures) on my own. And oddly enough in a lot of my work – a lot of the creatures and things seem to have a little unintentional bit of “me” in them. Folks can see my smile on a thing or my eyes or it just strikes them that it’s got my attitude or common gesture. In fact, just the other week Wilki looked at a monster concept I did - ‘Hmmm Dude did you make this look like you on purpose” Whaa? Wadda ya know he’s kinda right.
Question from Maddux:
1) Has it ever been considered to have a player designed decorative item introduced into the game?
I’m sure they’ve thought of it – but there is such a back log of ideas for items Dev want to put into the game that they’ll have to pull from their own ideas long before they need to turn to the public – though no truly brilliant idea goes unnoticed if we hear about it.
Questions from Damage Inc.
1) How about allowing a guild to have a 'standard' a flag that can be borne by one guild member elected as the standard bearer and carried in a shield slot perhaps. Imagine going into battle with the bearer in front.
That whole thing is pretty open right now – Factions and warfare in general must be looked at – then we can make a decision about how to handle Standards and Guild signs. Art wise I think 50 -100 different partially hueable guild signs would be no prob to put in if they make a system that will allow us to use it right.
Question from Jhaelyrr
1) Has there ever been any thought to possibly adding in some body type modifications? ie: Heavier muscles for characters with high strength? Or the opposite, thinner for those with a lower strength score? Maybe a bit of extra bulk to characters that eat/drink a lot?
Sadly –– that’s a pretty solid, No. Given the amount of art that is required to do that and the way the client currently operates, it just won’t happen. In 2D you’d have to at least triple the amount of existing artwork for a large and small version. And in 3d you’d have to create morph targets for the large and small sizes – then bug hunt them all. Very tedious – I’ve done this sort of MMORG work before requiring this – too much work for UO at this point in time. Better to put the manpower / budget to work on a lot of other hotter issues.
Questions from Kimmy
1) Will Elves ever be able to wear hats n such that show?
Gawd I hope so – I’m not a fan of the auto elf head gear swap. A hat or circlet should remain what it is no matter who’s head its on. That whole swap is there because old producers wanted to ‘show off’ elf ears I made – ears which are 1 or two pixel at best. I think the odd elf skin color is enough to say “ELF” really. I like the helms – but I would never force them on other people. However – as with the ‘elf only’ tag - because it’s a ‘live’ feature and not truly ‘broken’ we would have to get a big consensus from the top on down to change this. Actually it’s not so bad in this particular case – but it would still be a while to just get this feature back on the radar of things ‘to change’ and get permission is a chore since it’s not as major as so many other things that need help.
2) Will elven clothing graphics ever be sized for humans to wear?
Elf only clothing – that was my first question I answered…Heh. I hope crafting will be redone in a way so they can pull off those pesky “elf only’ tags – or at the very least just comment out those tags to eliminate that. I dunno. It might say – it might not.
2) Is there going to be any concentration on fixing old graphics problems instead of new content. Such as The blackness on the paper doll bleeding on the clothes?
YUP. But with 2d engine – the paperdoll has to have that blackness. The black stuff you see is actually part of a mask that minimizes other bulkier clothing underneath from poking out. You don’t normally see unless some color palette is broken when importing the art and you get too much black or random bits - or if a HUE that you were really never intended to use – (like that darn artic blue or white color) gets on it and shifts the colors incorrectly nerfing the palette and showing the black in a bad way.
Question from Talon:
1) Is there going to be a chance that crafters will get options to put patterns(likes checks on lines) or shapes(like crosses or circles) on certain types of clothes, even one item, maybe on a cloak or robe would be nice..
Probably not given the way the UO works internally. You’d have to make unique art for each pattern rendered out in the 2d client for every pattern on every object.
Questions from Lady Flame:
1) Which play style do you personally enjoy, e.g. RP, PvP, PvM, collecting items etc, and what keeps you coming back for more?
I PvM a lot- a little mostly unintentional PVP, A tiny bit of RP when I just meet folk, Noobs especially – and I sneak about a lot and just plain snoop on other players to see how they play and what they say about things in game.
2) If you had a top 10 list of things you would like to see improved in UO. Name 2 of them and why did you chose them?
Graphics – geee – no surprise there I’m an artist after all.
And… Factions.. Develop a better system, better rule sets and a means to have allies, enemies and a real reason to PVP other than just Ambush and random Murder you see a lot of.
3) What things do you prioritize to accomplish each day at work and why are these so important to you?
Heh – every day is different here for me. I spend time working on one thing or another. If all my apps are busy and I have spare time then I’ll hit the boards and poke about.
3) Will we be seeing you doing more in the line of posts on the forums in the future, and do you think this is a necessary part of UO’s responsibility?
Oh sure you’ll see me post as I always do. I think its very important to listen to and talking to the community. It’s important to keep one’s finger on the pulse.
Question from Silverfoot:
1) Player run towns have been part of UO since the beginning. Can you speak a little on your statement about guilds having the ability to "control" a town. A lot of need ideas that might be incorporated in some are in the UOForums thread here. (http://www.uoforums.com/showthread.php?t=14296)
That thread touched on the concept – if the Factions system is made robust enough – what if we incorporate a way for some less visited towns to actually be customizable and allow a faction to change the way it looks – what’s in each building and a small checkbox set of governing rules/permission for each location. The control would be deemed by the Guild’s status or ranking or outright rented. Possibly it could be measured by different ways all cross checked. Gold they have, prestige, Faction Battles won, number of members in the guild. An enormous amount of GOLD sink they are capable of maintaining as a guild. Dunno – so many ways to do this. An idea Devs and players all have been mulling in the backs of their minds I know. Really that whole thing is deserving of its own thread. A huge task but one that would be really worth it I think. Truly Robust Gameplay.
Questions from Threnody
1) If they could touchup/redo the artwork for the Trinsic Roses.
Quite likely, as you all probably know, a lot of stuff in world are on lists and in need of some art fixin’. The real question is when some of that stuff will be seen.
2) If "classic" yet un-customizable home designs (aka keeps/castles) could be at least partially customizable such as wall tile type changing, floor tile changing and/or deleting wall tiles (aka that annoying half wall in keeps).
Currently there’s no support for that with the way things are set up.. I do believe that more housing ‘templates’ that can be changed should be available via an NPC Architect.
2) A new house sign to be made available with the Library Icon?
There’s a lot of stuff getting work – but I won’t say what or when…
Question from Deraj:
1) Can we have bookcases with books on them? As containers? Please?
“But how will you put anything in them with books on them?” - Heh Draconi says the same thing about wanting to get filled Bookcases in – as well as other art. My opinion is, “Hell, make it all available. Why not.” However It’s really a Designer issue for them to work all of that into the game. After all – the artwork is already done and we have to just work out how to make it available to the players. They really ought to work that stuff into the crafting, blacksmith, carpentry skills so players can make them themselves.
Thanks Cathat for a great interview
Thanks Wilki for checking it over and sending it back, we sure appreciate everything ya do for us.