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UOForums Interviews Mesanna (UO's Associate Development Manager)


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Mesanna took some time out to answer questions sent in by our users, so here's our interview with Mesanna.

 

Interviewing Mesanna

 

1) What are some of the ways UO is trying to innovate to stand out from other games?

 

In my opinion UO is so unique we can only improve on that foundation. We want to make sure there is something for everyone’s play style.

2) The Warriors of Destiny story arc has been long(over 2 years!) and enjoyed immensely by the player community. With it's conclusion fast approaching, is there another grand story arc waiting in the wings? If so, can you give some very vague thematic hints or just cut to the chase and let people know what to start hoarding/camping?

 

Come on guys there is always something in the works, you should know that by now *evil grin*

3) What are some of *the* most challenging things the UO dev and support team have to face on a daily basis? Cheaters/Dupers? Coming up with New Content ideas? Bug-fixing?

 

We try really had to put stuff in we think you guys will enjoy, the goal is to make sure you guys don’t feel like its only worthy of doing something once only.

4) What kinds of other, non-MMO(or even non-computer) games do you enjoy?

 

Risk and paper D&D for non computer based. Played all the Dungeon and Dragons games on xbox, pc etc, Balders Gate. I love the Might and Mage games! Age of Wonders, Warlords

5) How would you broadly assess the development, progress and future of the EM program since it got going at the end of 2008?

 

I think the program is only going to get better, we have had to make a few changes, get some guidelines in place but the EM’s are a great bunch of people that really enjoy the game. I hope you guys have enjoyed them as much as I have.

6) Will there be any UO Town Halls this year?

 

I personally have not heard of any discussion regarding Town Halls this year but that is more of a community question.

 

8) Will the EMs be granted greater Powers like Silencing/Immobilizing/teleport/kill players, in order to minimize interference by idiots during events?

 

*wow* should not have been drinking while reading this one! Kill? *shakes head no*. We have guidelines in place now that will help with everyones frustration when a player continues to interfere with an event rather than just leave. You are going to be asked twice to stop, the third time I will ask you, if you continue after that I will remove you from the area.

9) Who decides about the way a story goes and on what are those decisions based?

 

Draconi is the brain child lately of most of the story lines. C. Crowner has been writing a lot of the fiction lately though that has been posted.

 

10) In Draconi's interview I asked if there was anything on the drawing boards for the actual 11th anny rewards, and he replied with things we've never seen b4…any hints?

 

Now why would I spoil it for him? We took away most of his fire weapons but I believe he still has a lighter =P I do not want to feel the fire wrath of Draconi.

11) What is your favorite part of your job, and what is the least favorite part of your job?

Favorite part: Seeing good ideas become a reality, seeing bugs in the game fixed, sitting down and kicking around ideas and watching eyes light up when someone has an idea.

 

Least Favorite: Running out of time at the end of a publish and not able to get in just one more bug fix.

12) In your Opinion what would you like to see change about UO? Added, Subtracted, Renewed?

 

If you want me to be honest, I would personally do away with insurance, but that is totally my personal opinion.

13) What is your Play style in game? PVM? PVP? Crafter?....etc...

I like to PVP, its like stress relief after a tough day…Nothing makes you more relaxed like putting down a few people…(wow I am a sick puppy). PVM and Crafter are an evil necessity for the poor =P

14) Having worked in corporate America in the past, it seems to me that the UO team in general is spread very thin and some of the groups do not communicate very well with other groups. Can you shed some light on the structure of the UO team and what the responsibilities of each group are? And do you feel that the team is understaffed?

As in any team you are going to have times that something is not communicated well, but honestly the UO team talks a lot, we are all a family. I know that sounds odd but its really true, we are very tight.

15) From Bonnie "Mesanna" Davis - External Lead Tester to Mesanna -Associate Development Manager...

What was the moment the revealed to you that you would work inside... not outside the team?

Guess my question is... how and when was the transition?

 

I started as a volunteer many moons ago, I got to know some of the devs by having pvp wars on the Test Center. I started helping them test new things they were putting in the game. When they started to form an external testing team I helped them organize it. At that time they asked me to take the role of Lead, which I did, stayed a external tester for several years and they asked me to become a permanent employee. Became the QA lead and now I am the Associate Development Manager. Its been an exciting ride!

16) It seems to me among my UO friends that everyone is most active and engaged when there are events going on. Even something simple like pink bunnies with rare purple ones seems to be favorably received. Have you guys given thought to holding more filler events more frequently? For example, you could have blue dragons spawn in some out of the way corner of the Lost Lands. They could be like normal dragons except (following the D&D dragons) have higher energy resists and do energy damage instead of fire. It could be a new limited time tameable for tamers and perhaps hunting them could give a boosted chance of receiving an artifact. How difficult would something like this be to implement?

 

The EM’s have almost total freedom with the events they dream up. Except for some of the extreme ideas they can come up with. If anyone has an idea for an event please feel free to talk to your EM, if you can’t contact them then by all means send it to me so I can arrange a meeting. If you have any issues you want to talk about my door is always open…you might find Tweety Bird in my seat besides me, but hey come on in.

17) Speaking of taming, there are several creatures one would expect to be tameable but they aren't, like wyverns, giant black widows, and frost oozes. They don't seem like they would be particularly overbalanced pets. Is there a reason they aren't tameable and any chance they may become tameable in the future?

 

The issue I can think of right off hand with the frost ozzes is they put off an aoe which can cause issues in town. And some monsters just don’t like humans and will never be under our control.

18) In the previous EM program, EM Jyrra of Pacific created a system of unusual moongates as part of his event. After the program was canceled, he mentioned his idea was to have these moongates linked to allow a new means of travel for Pacific players. He also held an event where we had to find his gold dragon a new home and it was settled that Blaize would live at Hidden Valley. I asked Jyrra if we'd see a yellow named Blaize wandering around the valley and he seemed to contemplate it. I wish he had done it now.

 

I have seen this gate system, its awesome. I think since so much hard work was put we should come up with something useful for it...any suggestions?

19) Anyway, my question is, what is the current policy in regards to EMs leaving their fingerprints on individual shards? Can they leave marks of previous events like the moongates Jyrra left or does the current team shy away from that?

I have encouraged the EM’s to be creative, some are leaving their marks, not sure if anyone visits the fairgrounds outside of luna but they are designed by the EM’s with a little help from the players, the Reward houses in Luna designed for the players, PVP arena’s for event…There are more but you guys get the idea.

20) Velvathos suggested an idea which would basically be borrowing from LotR, but I think it would be great. Is there any possibility you guys could implement a means to let bards play instruments in-game, there-by allowing them to make their own music for others to hear? It would probably require a mute feature, but allowing that sort of creativity in-game seems to fall into line with what UO has always been about.

That’s a really good idea! I think it would enhance the barding events the players have. I will bring it up and see what happens..no promises!

22) Will you allow the EMs to jail (12 hrs) the people that are always around being disruptive at events? Spamming spells, sitting dragons on top of everyone, yelling Gimme Gimme and cursing?

As I hope everyone is aware of by now, we have implemented a new procedure to take care of people that disrupt the events. But no EM’s have other support means to take care of this situation and will never be able to jail.

25) Both I, and a friend, have characters in guilds whose Guild Leader has been unreachable for over a year. Knowledge Base tells how to replace/choose new Guild Leader. However, in both guilds we followed Knowledge Base but leadership will not change. Now what do we do?

If the GM of the guild is not active any longer in game if you page a GM they can help you with this.

27) When I retire this December, after 30 years in customer service, is there any hope to work for UO in that area? (free or paid)

Drop me a line *smiles*

28) Is there any detailed information about the SA client roadmap, yet? Targeted release date for example. Will there or is there a beta test program one could apply for?

Beta Test application is up =)

31) It would be great if it would be possible to use keys for custom house doors. Maybe this could go with the tinkering skill. But due to the ability to copy keys, it should be possible to exchange the locks as well. Lock exchange would also be great for chests in this case. Or maybe the option to create copyprotected special keys for such purposes?

Were you around when we had keys for houses? If you were standing at the bank and had your keys stolen or you were pk’d with your house keys on you, you basically lost your house. Is this the idea you were talking about? And yes I speak from experience, I have lost several houses back in the day =P

32) I noticed many glitches between the 2D and 3D client about Hats and Lightsources beeing worn but not displayed correctly or even not displayed at all. Is this also to be fixed soon?

We are working on it.

33) I am playing from Europe and we are having the problem that the event news are beeing available very shortly before the actual event happening. It would be great if you could provide event news bulletins little earlier. We face the problem of often missing event starts because we are not monitoring the herald during the whole day

If you are talking about the events the EM’s are running, most have web sites, they advertise at the guild halls in Britiania. If you can give me any other suggestions to pass along for notification I will be happy to do so.

35) Regarding spells

The standard mage book is a little out of date and some spells should be reworked/improved or even new circles added.

a) Are there any plans of renewing the standard spellbook?

B) As a mage is a very universal character I would love to see more options added to the polymorph for example. Reveal for example seems nearby useless? Anyone found use of this?

c) Also I think the duration of spells (like fields or others) or the power of spells should have a closer relation to the magery related skills.

d) What you think about those thoughts?

And it would be great if you could do more things with the telekinesis

We have not discussed this but all are valid points.

41) Event rewards have always been a controversial subject, have you ever given thought to rewarding the shard with a decorated area or statue of some sort, rather than giving items out to players? (the proverbial defeated monster's head on a pike, so to speak.)

That’s exactly what the event rewards hall is for, its up to the EM’s as to what type of item being used for the display.

42) Can you shed any additional light on Epic Champions/Peerless and the minimum size a guild will need to be to participate?

We are still polishing these and making them as “evil” as possible so I hope you will understand that I can’t answer this right now

43) Certain items were supposed to stack, but still don't. Is this because they are old items, and the new items will stack or because that system isn't working? For example, pub notes for the new champ stealable items indicated some of them would stack...I'm also talking about arcane gems, blackrock, peerless chocolate ingredients, etc.

We are not finished making all the items stackable that we want in game, please be patient.

44) Can we allow commodity deeds to be turned into cooperative collections? Scriptors have no problem turning in mass numbers of items. Only the casual player is hurt.

We will look into this, I know we have had several discussions about improving the collection system.

45) I and other players have submitted a number of original ideas for content additions or new game systems here on UOForums. Does the Dev team read these posts and steal from them where possible, or are you prohibited from using player-generated ideas?

We love players ideas! Never stop submitting them.

48) Does a character have to have trade skills (i.e. Blacksmithing) before they can imbue an item?

Yes they will need additional skills besides Imbuing.

53) Is there any truth to the rumor that there is a ninja lurking the Mythic halls there in Fairfax?! Any photos?!

I haven’t seen him *laughs*

 

54) Now that you've been in Fairfax for a while now... find some decent carne asada yet? Check with Draconi. :P

Actually I had some sent to me from California, OMG was it good =) I just don’t care for Tex Mex style, and that seems to be all I can find here.

 

 

 

Thanks Mesanna for the interview! We greatly appreciate it!

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Kudos to Mesanna for honestly answering #12!

 

Boo on #54! TexMex r0x :P

 

And thx to Adam for setting this up!

 

I was not around prior to no insurance :o

I really don't think I am a fan of the idea. But then part of me thinks that I might be a much better pvp'r (just learning....i am such a noob hehe). If I really had to fight to protect my possessions.

Even in PVM, you would have to learn better tactics to get in and get your body before it decayed with everything you owned in it.

 

Still not a fan, but can see some advantages to it as a player =)

 

Mesanna...thanks for taking the time to answer all our questions.

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I dunno. PVP would return to favor skill and tactics moreso than who's wearing 100 million gold worth of gear. If people risked lower-end runic hammered gear and only the rare appearance of someone artied out, they'd be like the battleship among the cruisers and destroyers but would also need support, esp if they died. On the other hand, insurance is part of UO now, not to mention MMO's in general, I don't see it going away. For people who are adamant about it, there's always Siege as the rebuttal to the whining.

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48) Does a character have to have trade skills (i.e. Blacksmithing) before they can imbue an item?

Yes they will need additional skills besides Imbuing.

 

hmm... didn't draconi say that you do not need additional skills for imbuing? (can't remember where i read that...)

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I dunno. PVP would return to favor skill and tactics moreso than who's wearing 100 million gold worth of gear. If people risked lower-end runic hammered gear and only the rare appearance of someone artied out, they'd be like the battleship among the cruisers and destroyers but would also need support, esp if they died. On the other hand, insurance is part of UO now, not to mention MMO's in general, I don't see it going away. For people who are adamant about it, there's always Siege as the rebuttal to the whining.

 

Have to agree with that, Tancred. Honestly, I don't really mind if people in Fel can get my stuff if I die. (It's Fel, if you go there, PvP happens. My real beef with it is all the hacks and scripts.) but I really like insurance if I die somewhere nasty in PvE and can't make it back in 15min or however long your body takes to poof.

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Here's an insane idea - remove insurance and it's effects in Felucca! Let the PvE crowd keep their goodies for fighting the AI and the real men(and ladies?) have it old-skool but can still head back to Tram for gold-farming and use it.

Have to agree with that, Tancred. Honestly, I don't really mind if people in Fel can get my stuff if I die. (It's Fel, if you go there, PvP happens. My real beef with it is all the hacks and scripts.) but I really like insurance if I die somewhere nasty in PvE and can't make it back in 15min or however long your body takes to poof.
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*Adds a question after*

 

What are your thoughts about Gnomes? (Not WoW Gnomes) Just Gnomes in general.

Are they cute and cuddly.. or plain evil?

 

How can anyone not love a cute Gnome! *smiles*

 

Mesanna

 

Especially a handy one!!

queen-mum-albums-specials-picture994-gnomecookieplatemesa.jpg

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OK I was excited after this interview...not so much now. My guild has been trying FOREVER to replace the guild leader who no longer plays. After reading the interview I went quickly and logged on. Waited and got the same answer Ive had in 100 tries. Go to support@ea.com. Vote and it will change. Well..it DOES NOT change. The GM couldnt help so dont try this..it doesnt work. I am really disappointed in your information. The GMs name was Soulrais.

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Adam...did Mesanna ever look into this and see exactly what the problem is with guilds not being able to change leadership? Its obviously a problem since it was one of the questions in your interview. Others must be having the same problem. Thanks again :)

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