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News & Features Discussion  » Ultima Online: Looking at UO

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  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  3/10/09 8:14:50 AM#1

MMORPG.com Ultima Online Correspondent Shannon Young writes this editorial overview of the classic MMORPG, Ultima Online discussing the game from launch to today.

In September of 1997 the evolution of role playing games found its catalyst. Role playing games had already been enjoying a long history of success. The video game boom of the late 80 and early 90 saw companies such as Square become household names in the United States with the series Final Fantasy and in Japan, games like Dragon Quest (made by future Square partner Enix) found themselves in similar graces.

RPGs were the thinking man's video game. They catered to the gamer who wanted to feel like a part of the world they were playing in, and established connections to it through meaningful dialogue and memorable characters. Each RPG tells its own story and has its own personality, but quickly becomes shadows of each other with common central beliefs such as a hero rising up to face an extraordinary evil or an epic quest to save the world.

Read Looking at UO

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  Bama1267

Novice Member

Joined: 8/24/04
Posts: 1879

3/10/09 8:46:25 AM#2

 It is beyond me why they never followed through with a modern UO. i know they were working on several projects at times like UO3D and canceled them . But I guess its EA were talking about here. Why Did they need to go out and buy Mythic when they had this gem right here? Bleh ...

  Lashay

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/19/09
Posts: 104

3/10/09 8:50:26 AM#3

Recently it benefited from the acquisition of Mythic by EA, and found its graphics overhauled completely in the much talked about Kingdom Reborn campaign.
Graphics which large portion of the current players seem to hate. Why has EA focused so much on graphics over the last few years (and still done a pretty poor job). No one EVER played UO for "cool graphics"

An even newer client will be released along with the newest expansion to the game, Stygian Abyss, which will introduce gargoyles as a playable race along with adding new skills, lands,

None of which will deal with the countless main issues people left in the first place, few are those who left because they "ran out of things to do" or because they did not like graphics

and what is being touted as the most intricate dungeon to ever grace the world of Sosaria.
Did they not say something similar about that hellhole "Doom"? "biggest and best dungeon ever" was the quote if I remember correctly. And it turned out to be little more than two big rooms divided up

Good article overall Shannon, but really could have done without marketing hype of the paragraph disected above, also sorry to say it but the last line of the article was just laughable. UO will never make a "come back", to much damage has been done over the years, worst being itemization in AoS because nothing can ever be done about that (Even tram mirror fiasco could have been dealt with over time)

Abyss will just another expansion that will "preach to the converted" and except for people with one foot still in the game will bring few old players back and virtually no new ones

Only hope for Ultima franchise is a completely new game, aka the proverbial UO2

I need a new MMO world to call home as Tom Chilton keeps destroying them

  uohaloran

Novice Member

Joined: 11/16/05
Posts: 832

3/10/09 9:51:26 AM#4
Originally posted by Bama1267

 It is beyond me why they never followed through with a modern UO. i know they were working on several projects at times like UO3D and canceled them . But I guess its EA were talking about here. Why Did they need to go out and buy Mythic when they had this gem right here? Bleh ...

EA is notorious for buying up great game companies and then cleaning their bowels - leaving just an empty shell of what the former companies were.

 I've long since given up on another good Ultima game.  The only way I see it happening is for the rights to be relinquished from EA.

  Grakel

Novice Member

Joined: 12/05/06
Posts: 93

3/10/09 10:31:59 AM#5

How do you write a story about UO's history without going through tram, possibly the biggest mistake made in an MMO. It's an advertisment and MMORPG should be ashamed of themselves.

Played in some form:
UO til tram, AC, EQ, AO, WW2O, PS, SB, CoH, AC2, Hor, LoTRO, DDO, AoC, Aion, CO, STO
Playing: WoW (for gf), WAR
Waiting For: SWTOR, FFXVI
Hoping For: DCUO, Secret World, Earthrise
-S- (UO Sonoma)

  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6456

3/10/09 10:35:35 AM#6

It is debatable whether this was the first MMORPG.  I know there were other games before UO, but none of the others was released commercially in any numbers to be significant.  Far as I am concerned UO was the first MMORPG, the others were strictly pretenders.

Funny thing, we have had all this dicussion about Darkfall lately, yet UO 10 years ago was a better game than Darkfall is now.  Pretty much tells you UO was a classic for it's time.   I tried EQ but found it wanting, it was far too restrictive.  Once you sampled the freedom of UO, EQ was like being put in a straight jacket.

When EA took over they attempted to make it more like EQ with Age of Shadows.  It rather backfired on them.  Instead of catoring to the strengths of their product they tried to add in fluff from another game.  

Personally, graphics are nice, but the do not a game make.  Content is the king.  UO is still a decent game, but too much changed from it's original format for my tastes any more.

  Shadowslady

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/09
Posts: 150

So Erling Ellingsen Thinks He's the Queen?

3/10/09 10:44:49 AM#7

One of the greatest games ever made in the history of MMOs. And yeah, its kind of hard to write a history of UO without talking about player killers, dread lords, antis, stat loss, trammal and the impact that whole thing has had on the development of every MMO  since.

 

 

 

Shadowlord Sage
CmdrAkbar

Napa Valley, UO, 1997.

  Stymie

Novice Member

Joined: 10/18/08
Posts: 18

3/10/09 10:47:45 AM#8

I agree that EA has concentrated too much on the graffics end in recent years. I can understand why in that most of the younger players entering into online gaming want to see slick 3d graffics with awesome spell effects. EA tried to deliver them with the Kingdom Reborn client. I've played in KR mode on several occasions, and some of the new graffics do look pretty cool. Still, I personally prefer the simplistic look of 2d. It is not as resource demanding as KR, and there is a lot less lag. EA promises that the Stygian Abyss client will refine and resolve many of the issues the KR client had. We shall see. Regardless, it is exciting to see that EA sees what UO has to offer and is willing to invest money into improving it.

One thing must be said about Ultima Online. It is the largest and most complete world in MMO's and has an excellent mythology/history to back it up. In addition, no other MMO has ever fostered the enviroment of Community that UO has. The game encourages interaction in all aspects of the game, not just to form hunting parties and raids. Player run towns, vendor malls, auction houses, and museums all add to the content of this game. It does not exclusively reply on game designers to provide things to do.

Ultima Online also provides it players with unlimited ways to customize the lifestyle they create in game. Player owned Houses have an infinite amount of ways to be constructed. There are limitless ways to dress you characters as well as arm then. You will seldom ever run into characters that look identical unlike other games such as WoW. In addition, there is no one template that characters classes are forced into. Nor are you stuck with that template if you want to try something else with the same toon. You are limited only by your imagination in UO. No other game can claim that.

I have been playing UO for a combined 9 years. To this day, I still see new players running around exploring the world of Sosaria. And I see many people including myself give these new players a leg up by helping them with better equipment and answering their questions. That's all part of building and supporting your community. I also see and talk to many former players that have come back because they miss UO. It is seldom that people return to games they have grown tired of.

In the end, it is up to the player to decide where their interests lie. If you demand awesome graffics, then UO is not for you. However, if you demand a complete world with deep compelling storylines, community interaction that one other game can match, and the freedom to do whatever you feel like, then UO may be right for you.

  Shadowslady

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/09
Posts: 150

So Erling Ellingsen Thinks He's the Queen?

3/10/09 10:52:07 AM#9
Originally posted by Stymie

Ultima Online also provides it players with unlimited ways to customize the lifestyle they create in game. Player owned Houses have an infinite amount of ways to be constructed. There are limitless ways to dress you characters as well as arm then. You will seldom ever run into characters that look identical unlike other games such as WoW. In addition, there is no one template that characters classes are forced into. Nor are you stuck with that template if you want to try something else with the same toon. You are limited only by your imagination in UO. No other game can claim that.


 

This is so key. The 3rd person view is also key. Instead of a FPS view, which is most games, you see exactly whats going on around you, it becomes more sandbox, more YOU, rather than a character. Ultimate customizing.
 

Shadowlord Sage
CmdrAkbar

Napa Valley, UO, 1997.

  User Deleted
3/10/09 11:59:51 AM#10

Stygian abyss! Woot. I loved, loved loved Ultima underworld (1 for you nubs), the adding of the abyss from U7 would be huge to say the least. Its to bad i don't really have any want to play anymore.

 

 

Ultima Underworld (or just plain "Underworld" for its early development) is THE forefather of modern continuous-movement first-person texture-mapped gaming. Nothing like it had been attempted before (and precious little on the same scale as Underworld for a long time to follow.)

Reportedly it was a demonstration of the in-development Underworld technology that prompted John Carmack to write the Wolfenstein 3D engine. (Wolf 3D -- with its fast-but-simple engine and gameplay -- made it to the shelves only a short time after Underworld.)

  AllNewMMOSuk

Novice Member

Joined: 2/26/09
Posts: 245

3/10/09 12:14:46 PM#11

UO was my second MMO, The Realm being my first. Contrary to what an earlier poster said at the time I did pick up UO for the graphics, I've always liked isometric and at the time they looked nice.

 

One thing I hate about posts like this is they say the future success of EQ and WoW, and they always skip over AC. A very successfull game in it's time and approaching it's 10 anniversary.

 

UO and AC will always stand out as my favorite MMOs I've ever played, doubt that the feeling will ever be replaced both because of quality and because of how early in the genre those games were around.

  Shadowslady

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/09
Posts: 150

So Erling Ellingsen Thinks He's the Queen?

3/10/09 12:17:38 PM#12

Darkfall is trying to re-create the concept, albeit sucking it up, but trying.

Shadowlord Sage
CmdrAkbar

Napa Valley, UO, 1997.

  TuxedoSLY

Ultima Online Correspondent

Joined: 10/29/06
Posts: 92

Blessed be the lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.

3/10/09 1:06:19 PM#13

Trammel is really one of the great debates amongst MMORPG's I think. Put it right up there with the Star Wars Galaxies fiasco and I guess World of Warcraft in general, as its own success is one of the biggest controversies of all time. I heard someone on the forums once say if Trammel was so bad why did everyone flock to it and leave Felucca a barren wasteland, and I kind of agree.

 

As a longtime UO player I saw the evolution of my world, from monsters with no death animations to the addition of a safe world, from the first failed attempt at a psuedo 3D world to the Kingdom Reborn, and I've disagreed with a lot of what has happened. Is Trammel one of them? I don't know. I miss the excitement of open world PVP and I thought the karma system was revolutionary and incredible.
 

However I also know that, especially these days with the new breed of MMO gamer, that open pvp isn't about honor and roleplaying anymore, it's about ganking and ruining other peoples enjoyment. So how is it that UO did not do the best possible thing by giving people a choice? The killers could stay on one side and enjoy killing each other, the people that didn't want to get murdered by 17 year olds hiding behind their computer screen could stay on the other side and live their vitual lives in peace. That's not to say ALL PKers were jackasses, as I knew quite a few that roleplayed their character and did it out of creativity, not for the sake of being said jackass.

 

Ultima didn't turn the world upside down when it introduced Trammel, despite what a lot of people would tell you. They gave people a choice, and the fact that so many people chose to leave Felucca behind says a lot about what they wanted. Was there a mass exodus from Ultima when it happened? I'm sure some people left, but I'm also sure a lot of those people left because of the advancements in MMO's with new titles coming out and trying something new. Look at the top dog, World of Warcraft. How many UO players are there now without a Felucca to fight in? Same with Lord of the Rings and Everquest.

 

This article was about the magic that so many people feel playing Ultima. To single out the inclusion of Trammel as Ultima's defining moment would be an insult to everything the people behind the game have ever done.

 

However, I should have mentioned Trammel in my article, and in some ways I agree it seems promotional. But make no mistake, I don't work for EA or Mythic. I'm someone who has played Ultima for almost half of his life and I love every scar on its face. Was it supposed to paint Ultima in a positive light? You're damn right it was, because for all of its faults and follies, its still the place I call home, and its still the most open MMORPG I've ever had the honor of playing.

  Bootynaka

Novice Member

Joined: 1/22/04
Posts: 66

3/10/09 2:33:55 PM#14

Trammel was a joke.. most people moved there because you cannot place a house anywhere anymore. and to travel back to felucia you had to find some stones to carry in ur back it was really pretty lame if u ask me.

I like the article cept for the part of comming back... i highly doubt it.

Since EA took over they made the game less enjoyable to come back to. I use to come back every year for a month or so. but with the expansions that came out  its really not viable to come back to anymore. samurais? elves? gargoyls?

Yea that game rocked i even got a councelor account. But it has its days I find the free servers had more content than the EA servers.

You just got Bootyknocked

  AlexandreMM

Novice Member

Joined: 2/16/09
Posts: 2

3/10/09 3:33:09 PM#15

People don't always do what is better for them.

If that was true, there would not be fat people (eating too much isn't good, and I’m overweight myself), just to begin.

That’s why people went to Trammel. Unless you were looking for someone to kill, then there was no short-sighted reason to be in Felluca.

And that's surely what killed the magic of UO.

With Trammel, people started to have their own stupid lives, instead of being part of a big world.

Origin’s logo was something like this: "We create worlds."

UO used to be a world. Just like in real world, you couldn't have you own life as you see fit. And that was UO: everyone living together and making their choices, and their choices necessarily impacting the life of the others.

With Trammel/Felluca, it was over. Everyone could have they own life, with their own choices, not having to deal with the choices of the others habitants. The magic of UO was dead.

Massive content is nothing when there is no freedom. And freedom to play alone, not being meaningful to the others, is not the freedom that counts.

  wjrasmussen

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/16/05
Posts: 1504

3/10/09 5:34:21 PM#16
Originally posted by Ozmodan

It is debatable whether this was the first MMORPG.  I know there were other games before UO, but none of the others was released commercially in any numbers to be significant.  Far as I am concerned UO was the first MMORPG, the others were strictly pretenders.

Funny thing, we have had all this dicussion about Darkfall lately, yet UO 10 years ago was a better game than Darkfall is now.  Pretty much tells you UO was a classic for it's time.   I tried EQ but found it wanting, it was far too restrictive.  Once you sampled the freedom of UO, EQ was like being put in a straight jacket.

When EA took over they attempted to make it more like EQ with Age of Shadows.  It rather backfired on them.  Instead of catoring to the strengths of their product they tried to add in fluff from another game.  

Personally, graphics are nice, but the do not a game make.  Content is the king.  UO is still a decent game, but too much changed from it's original format for my tastes any more.


 

Go ahead and call it the first mmorpg.  The game was not created out of a vacuum and was built because of the work of so many people and games which came before it.

  TuxedoSLY

Ultima Online Correspondent

Joined: 10/29/06
Posts: 92

Blessed be the lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.

3/10/09 5:34:57 PM#17
Originally posted by AlexandreMM

People don't always do what is better for them.

If that was true, there would not be fat people (eating too much isn't good, and I’m overweight myself), just to begin.

That’s why people went to Trammel. Unless you were looking for someone to kill, then there was no short-sighted reason to be in Felluca.

And that's surely what killed the magic of UO.

With Trammel, people started to have their own stupid lives, instead of being part of a big world.

Origin’s logo was something like this: "We create worlds."

UO was a world. Just like in real world, you couldn't have you own life as you see fit. And that was UO: everyone living together and making their choices, and their choices necessarily impacting the life of the others.

That was the magic, the massive content added to that freedom and making everyone be.

With Trammel/Felluca, that was over. Everyone could have they own life, with their own choices, not having to deal with the choices of the others habitants. The magic of UO was dead.

Massive content is nothing when there is no freedom. And freedom to play alone, not being meaningful to the others, is not the freedom that counts.

 

That's probably the best argument towards Trammel that I've ever heard and it definitely makes me think.

 

We as gamers have all of these opinions of what's best and how things should run, and for some things that works fine, but it's when you have thousands of voices in your ear telling you how things need to be run and how things like profit and marketability that things become skewered. I'd like to say that a majority of UO players demanded the option, as I don't see how any company can sabotage a working formula for no good reason, but Galaxies impales that theory.

 

In its heyday there was a great balance between roleplaying, exploration, open world combat, and my personal favorite - the influence of the live event team. To me PVP was only a small part of the game and maybe that's why I don't see Trammel as the black sheep that everyone else does.

 

I really think the success of Darkfall, and I don't just mean the launch disaster but the response to actual gameplay, will go a long way in determining how influential open pvp is. We all talk about the "good old days" and how we'd all run back if UO created a classic server pre-Trammel, but do you really think that would happen? 

 

Would reverting to a prior state from the late 90's stand a real chance in today's Everquest inspired virtual worlds?

  just1opinion

Smart-Alek

Joined: 8/14/07
Posts: 4933

3/10/09 10:45:58 PM#18

For anyone that really loves the style of UO (as I do), there's a game that's in open beta right now called Link Realms, that has a TREMENDOUS amount of promise.  It's a bit tough to catch the beta page open for signups, but it does open usually every night for a few more people, I believe.

Oh and....the graphics are actually quite good for an isometric sandbox game.  It's pretty refreshing what they've done with it.

The url is just simply linkrealms.com

 

President of The Marvelously Meowhead Fan Club

  Serria

Novice Member

Joined: 1/11/08
Posts: 34

3/11/09 12:19:33 PM#19

I've heard UO so much and have a good impression of it. but the graphics looks really bad by looking at the screenshots posted here. It almost look like some java based ppc games. It shouldn't take too much effort the improve that while maintaining and improving the gameplay that made it famous and unique.

  Sephz

Novice Member

Joined: 2/28/09
Posts: 39

3/11/09 12:34:14 PM#20
Originally posted by girlgeek

For anyone that really loves the style of UO (as I do), there's a game that's in open beta right now called Link Realms, that has a TREMENDOUS amount of promise.  It's a bit tough to catch the beta page open for signups, but it does open usually every night for a few more people, I believe.

Oh and....the graphics are actually quite good for an isometric sandbox game.  It's pretty refreshing what they've done with it.

The url is just simply linkrealms.com

 

 

Thanks for the link man.

i'll definitely check it out, it really looks promising

 

I just hope it won't be another epic fail like most of todays mmo's, but time will tell i guess.

 

 

- Sephz

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