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Ultima Online

Ultima Online 

Britannia Tavern (General)  »  Why Electronic Arts' Ultima Online Sucks?

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  sempiternal

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/30/06
Posts: 1091

 
OP  1/29/07 2:15:26 PM#1


The original producer and director of Ultima Online, Richard Garriott aka Lord British and Starr Long aka Lord Blackthorn:

Richard Garriott Lord British Starr Long Lord Blackthorn

 

If Ultima Online is ever going to be recognized as more than the grandfather of MMOs and the MMO with the greatest reversal of potential ever, there are two major points that need serious attention;

 

Believable World

When Lord British and Lord Blackthorn were in charge of Ultima Online, the integrity of the medieval virtual world was strong and healthy.  Ultima Online was at its finest, it was a believable medieval fantasy virtual world and was therefore highly immersive; more than any game previous.  This immersion is the 'magic' that current UO and many newer MMOs lack.  There were very few limits on the freedoms of players and almost all aspects of the game world were interactive and dependent upon the actions of players.  The game focused on and revolved around the players themselves, not the content.  It was the community and people that were important to the game experience, not the programmed NPC content.

 

Under the supervision of British and Blackthorn, UO did not have giant cartoon-like snowmen and snowflakes, rainbow colored armor, purple spikey-haired elves,  flip-flop wearing ninjas, or neon swords with statistics plastered all over them.  All aspects of the game fit the medieval theme.  Building a reasonably believable world must have originally been one of the main goals and visions for Ultima Online.

 

In addition, Ultima Online was a quality product and the gameplay was highly balanced; it's likely that the developers, including Lord British and Blackthorn, were experienced players of the game and used their first-hand gameplay experience to further develop UO.  Lord British and Lord Blackthorn were probably the filters that kept poor, imbalancing development ideas out of their virtual world. Because, after they left UO, the floodgates opened with all sorts of foolish game development occurring, such as mirrored attached worlds with two different sets of rules.  The original game balance and virtual world that Garriott and Long had created was quickly destroyed by the Electronic Arts Inc. employees that were appointed to take over.

 

The Electronic Arts replacements, Rick Hall aka Stellerex and Anthony Castoro aka SunSword:

 

After over seven years of poor development from Electronic Arts, Ultima Online is limping along as a hodge-podge MMO.  UO has become nothing more than a conglomeration of ideas stolen from other successful MMOs and therefore no longer offers players a unique experience.  There's very little reason left to play UO since the same PvM game designs that UO is now copying are found in newer MMOs offering better graphics and technology.  The integrity of the world is also ruined with player forcefields, connected worlds with conflicting rules, the ability to carry items in death through buying insurance, infinite NPC supplies, giant insect mounts, ridable pastel colored dogs, and even sunglasses; EA might as well add laser cannons at this point - it would not hurt the game that much more.

 

Clearly the goals and visions of creating a reasonably believable medieval virtual world were lost when the talent left UO and EA took over.  The virtual world began to suffer as it was torn apart and morphed into a mere online PvM content game by the sophomoric MMO developers that followed. Origin Inc., will always be known as the first company that created a truly massive online world and Electronic Arts Inc. will always be known as the first company to destroy an online world.

 

Heroes & Villains

 "Without villains, there can be no heroes.” A game, or any entertainment medium, is flat, predictable, and utterly lacking in conflict, tension, and suspense without a worthy intelligent villain, see The Worthy Villain .  “The villain is the main source of conflict and tension and suspense -- those necessary qualities in all of literature. Without a worthy villain, there cannot be a worthy hero. Whether the hero wants to win back the love of a woman, escape from prison, rescue a child, nail a serial killer, or save the world, his quest must be difficult and its outcome uncertain if we are to keep turning the pages. That’s the job of the antagonist. As Christopher Vogel writes in his essential book THE WRITER’S JOURNEY, “The function of the Shadow [villain] in drama is to challenge the hero and give her a worthy opponent in the struggle.”

 

An online world is no different, if there are no worthy villains, then there are no worthy heroes; the game lacks conflict, tension and suspense and our interest in participating in such a game is much more easily lost. When Ultima Online was a virtual world full of villain players there was always a large portion of the player base actively playing the game, even into the wee hours of the night.  It was the conflict that drove the game. The game was exciting enough to play that it was always highly populated with active players. Even though there may still be 100,000 Ultima Online subscriptions left today, it's painfully obvious that most do not spend very much time playing Ultima Online anymore.

 

Did you play Ultima Online pre-Renaissance?

Aye!
Nay!
(login to vote)
  richard22182

Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 31

Dragons are not friendly animals. You can’t walk up to them and say hello with out being eaten!

1/29/07 2:46:06 PM#2

 being a uo veteran myself i agree completely with the need for a better storyline, however  i believe that ea needs to atleast attempt to revamp the gameplay and the game itself before in game content. It also appears that however badly they are attempting to once again make a good storyline. Onen thing that i noticed has turned off more players than anything is the imbalance in templates. There is always one orn two gimp templates, which will eventually get nerfed and be replaced by others. and some parts of the game have literally been abandoned by ea such as fishing and several other skills. It seems to me as if ea is simply trying to make as much money as possible off of uo  before it dies which they seem to believe is soon. They utilize  the game almost as a testing program for their programmers and designers. I do disagree with your statement claiming that uo currently sucks. It had definitely gone ionto a great decline, however even with the several stupid ideas by the devs including trammel, and loss of content for reds Ultima online is still dwarfs every other mmorpg that i have played, and i am optimistic  yet cautious about the upcoming expansion

  Obee

Novice Member

Joined: 8/07/06
Posts: 1560

1/29/07 4:48:09 PM#3

Elves, ninja, artifacts, and the fact that they refuse to open a single server that is set up with the pre-Renaissance ruleset (Siege isn't the same thing) would be my answer.  I'm also not sure how much credit you can give to Richard Garriott for UO.  He was pretty much involved in remaking Ultima IX several times while UO was being developed.  The last good game I think Garriott was truely involved in making was either Ultima V or Ultima VI.
  Ohaan

Novice Member

Joined: 9/20/06
Posts: 559

Be like water

1/29/07 9:32:39 PM#4
Kudos Sempiternal
While I have been away from UO for a long time I still hold the original game and Garriot's work in high regard. Your posts reflect the sentiments of many a UO vet.

Some people may say that UO is not great but it doesnt suck when you factor in its age and the competition. However compared to the original game, following the Origin philosophy modern UO DOES suck... hard. EA changed the game from being a progressive gaming concept into a simple cash cow.

Most will agree that Trammel was the first nail in the coffin, for me the last was the ninjas (c'mon wtf?!). Since then there have been so many more nails (elves, insurance, relics, etc) that this coffin is permanently sealed.

I have read several interviews with Richard Garriott and if you read between the lines it appears that the departure was not all that pleasant. Can't imagine what it was like to have a bunch of bean counter knuckleheads move in and tell you that despite your game being a success, that they know better...

Garriott quote from Gamespy interview:

But even today, I wish that things had worked out better with Electronic Arts. It's ironic that the top selling online product at EA, even today, is Ultima Online. We constantly tried to tell them that we understood the online game business and give advice, but the company had a very different agenda. Even the four or five other massively multiplayer games they've launched have flopped compared to Ultima Online.

On the one hand, I feel vindicated that we were giving good advice, but unfortunately there was a substantial disagreement as to the future of online gaming there, and it just wasn't possible to sustain the relationship.

  MachoM

Novice Member

Joined: 1/09/06
Posts: 79

1/30/07 1:35:24 AM#5
UO is the laughing stock of MMOs now?  It seems to have just been blended into the rest of the MMO market
  kishe

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/28/04
Posts: 1942

firefighter lvl90

1/30/07 5:33:17 AM#6
sad thing is...no matter how much ea tries to ruin uo...no other mmo still has even quarter of its depth
  MacroPlanet

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/18/05
Posts: 1030

Astronomy, art, games, and a cup of coffee.

1/30/07 9:16:31 AM#7
Originally posted by kishe
sad thing is...no matter how much ea tries to ruin uo...no other mmo still has even quarter of its depth
Which is really sad, honestly.  Think about it, UO was way ahead of it's time.  Richard and Long were geneius when they developed this game.  UO was a masterpeice, simple as that.  It was a game that, of course had it's flaws, but the freedom and depth outweight the flaws in the game.  This was the first time you could actually log in a game, be someone else and interact with people just like you.  It's sad to see interview about UO these days with Richard in them.  You can really sense the love that he had for that game.  I will never doubt Richard for what he has done, he has made a game that will forever live in my memories.  I miss Ultima Online, I miss seeing Lord British and Blackthorn in the game.  I miss reading the player submited stories posted on UO.com and I just miss old time UO, period.

Best MMORPG:
Ultima Online
EVE Online
World of Warcraft
DayZ

  outthislife

Novice Member

Joined: 2/09/05
Posts: 119

1/30/07 12:45:29 PM#8
UO laughing stock? And here I thought, people WORSHIP this game because of what it is and what it has done.
  richard22182

Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 31

Dragons are not friendly animals. You can’t walk up to them and say hello with out being eaten!

1/30/07 12:53:18 PM#9
most of those who have played it and given it a chance worship it and lament over its shortcomings. However, many gamers who have not played it think it a relic and a joke. They comment especially on its dated graphics system which isnt actually that bad in game, b/c thats all they bother too look at before returning to wow and eq 2.
  Ohaan

Novice Member

Joined: 9/20/06
Posts: 559

Be like water

1/30/07 1:00:37 PM#10
Originally posted by outthislife
UO laughing stock? And here I thought, people WORSHIP this game because of what it is and what it has done.
Not quite.

Think of what sort of reaction the band U2 would get if they started writing songs like 'Hit me baby one more time' or 'Dontcha wish your boyfriend was hot like me?'
  Kyleran

Bitter Vet™

Joined: 9/13/06
Posts: 18368

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

1/30/07 1:20:42 PM#11

I never played UO, so I can't comment much about it.  However, one thing I know, when it was first released, it received "Coaster of the Year" award from Computer Gaming World, so It obviously had a few flaws in it.  Even in a review a year or so later, it had only moved up the scale a few notches....

Meanwhile, along came AC and EQ1, (DAOC and many others) .... and their subscription numbers exceeded UO's....which of course resulted in UO developers thinking....how can we obtain numbers like them?  Answer, copy what makes the other games successful.  Hence they started modifying the game.  EQ particularly proved that the market of people who enjoy FFA PVP is dwarfed by a 100-fold by the number of people who don't.... hence most games today focus on controlled PVP, (or sometimes not at all)

UO isn't the only game to fall into this Trap.  DAOC looked at EQ's raiding system and decided to add it in during the infamous TOA expansion, which most folks agree, was one of the two big killers of the game (along with buff-botting)

and SWG and what SOE did to it....well...no reason to even get into it.

I really wish developers would identify their target market (casual gamers, Pvp-lovers, Pve raiders etc.) and stay true to them.  Attempting to be everything to everyone is a formula for disaster.  Even in WOW, their attempts to cater to the hard-core PvE gamer with their upper level raids backfired, alienating many of their casual player base. (which is why they changed this a bit in BC)

I'm hoping at some point game companies will quit adopting features from other games that substantially change the games overall experience.... (unless its truely for the better)

 

"The discrepancy between what we know is possible and what we currently have to choose from is beyond disappointing" - GeezerGamer
Kyleran - Bitter Vet ™ since 2006
"This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  Ohaan

Novice Member

Joined: 9/20/06
Posts: 559

Be like water

1/30/07 1:38:32 PM#12
Originally posted by Kyleran

I really wish developers would identify their target market (casual gamers, Pvp-lovers, Pve raiders etc.) and stay true to them.  Attempting to be everything to everyone is a formula for disaster.  Even in WOW, their attempts to cater to the hard-core PvE gamer with their upper level raids backfired, alienating many of their casual player base. (which is why they changed this a bit in BC)

  GungaDin

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/06/05
Posts: 458

1/30/07 2:00:29 PM#13
I'm sick of this semp guy.  He has zero clue.  Roma Victor lol, what a joke.
  richard22182

Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 31

Dragons are not friendly animals. You can’t walk up to them and say hello with out being eaten!

1/30/07 3:11:54 PM#14
honestly seems to me as if many game devs and companies are all making same mistakes as ea and soe. Look at the games. Nearly every one in these forums has several people claiming that theyr dieing along with the popuLlation and quality. Im just thankfull that ea has atleast done a slightly better job than soe at preserving its titles. think matrix online and swg compared to Daoc and UO. Although both of the Ea games were arguably far better than the soe ones...
  AznAndy

Novice Member

Joined: 4/11/06
Posts: 17

1/30/07 3:17:17 PM#15
Stellerex and Sunsword don't work on UO anymore. They have been gone since 2004. UO is in better hands than them, but I do agree that the hands of Richard Garriott and Starr Long would be the best.

These two, however, are now working on Tabula Rasa.
  MacroPlanet

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/18/05
Posts: 1030

Astronomy, art, games, and a cup of coffee.

1/31/07 9:36:06 AM#16
Originally posted by AznAndy
Stellerex and Sunsword don't work on UO anymore. They have been gone since 2004. UO is in better hands than them, but I do agree that the hands of Richard Garriott and Starr Long would be the best.

These two, however, are now working on Tabula Rasa.
 
Which I really am looking forward to.  Not mainly because of the game itself, but because of Richard and Starr, because of what I know they can do.  The FPS aspect really grabs me though.  I really hope this will be like Ultima Online: Future Wars or something.  Long live the King!

Best MMORPG:
Ultima Online
EVE Online
World of Warcraft
DayZ

  Bunglermoose

Novice Member

Joined: 7/29/03
Posts: 65

Procrastinators of the World Unite... you know, not right now... whenever you get around to it.

1/31/07 9:44:17 AM#17
Originally posted by Ohaan
Originally posted by outthislife
UO laughing stock? And here I thought, people WORSHIP this game because of what it is and what it has done.
Not quite.

Think of what sort of reaction the band U2 would get if they started writing songs like 'Hit me baby one more time' or 'Dontcha wish your boyfriend was hot like me?'

 

You mean like the crapola they've been writing for the last ten years? I haven't purchased a U2 album since "Achtung Baby." 

But I get your point.

As someone mentioned before... I think it's a fine game, given its age and the shiny-sparkly nature of its younger competition. I might be biased, though... I grew up on the original Ultima games in the 80's (Commodore 64 anyone?) and I always thought they were tits.

  sempiternal

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/30/06
Posts: 1091

 
OP  2/01/07 4:25:53 PM#18
Originally posted by AznAndy
Stellerex and Sunsword don't work on UO anymore. They have been gone since 2004. UO is in better hands than them, but I do agree that the hands of Richard Garriott and Starr Long would be the best.

These two, however, are now working on Tabula Rasa.

Yes, but so far their damage to the original UO virtual world has been everlasting.

These two EA developers, Stellerex and Sunsword, are responsible for two of the most ill-conceived expansions;

UO: Renaissance aka the consensual Trammel mirror

UO: Age of Shadows aka as the Item-Based gameplay expansion

Both of these expansions were drastic changes to the existing Ultima Online game and rules.

Only someone in a position of power, can abuse that power; such as a producer getting away with changing the rules in the middle of a game.

  sempiternal

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/30/06
Posts: 1091

 
OP  2/12/07 5:32:47 PM#19
Originally posted by Bunglermoose
Originally posted by Ohaan
Originally posted by outthislife
UO laughing stock? And here I thought, people WORSHIP this game because of what it is and what it has done.
Not quite.

Think of what sort of reaction the band U2 would get if they started writing songs like 'Hit me baby one more time' or 'Dontcha wish your boyfriend was hot like me?'

 

You mean like the crapola they've been writing for the last ten years? I haven't purchased a U2 album since "Achtung Baby." 

But I get your point.

As someone mentioned before... I think it's a fine game, given its age and the shiny-sparkly nature of its younger competition. I might be biased, though... I grew up on the original Ultima games in the 80's (Commodore 64 anyone?) and I always thought they were tits.

Ultima III & IV here!  Atari 800.

  Ryld

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/02/04
Posts: 99

A computer beat me at chess once.
But, it was no match for me at kick boxing.

2/13/07 5:29:09 AM#20
I'd take Raph over any of the "big" four mentioned. R
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