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MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 09/30/97)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
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Ultima Online Interviews: 12 Years and The Stygian Abyss

By Garrett Fuller on August 24, 2009

MMORPG.com:

MMOs have come and gone, what keeps Ultima Online still alive after 12 years of game play?

Calvin Crowner:

I wish I could come up with a blanket answer for this question. It's a combination of things. Part of it is a community that is quite set on what to expect from the social elements, role-playing, and the simple hack and slash gameplay that Ultima Online offers. There are people that have their short-term forays into other games, and then find that for all the pretty graphics, the fundamental "game" under the graphics lacks what UO has to offer. Also, simply put, Ultima has been around so long that a lot of the things the game has iterated on; made mistakes on; and recovered from; has made it a stronger gameplay experience in the long run. Players are drawn to that.

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MMORPG.com:

We have seen some updates for Stygian Abyss, what will the expansion offer long time players from Ultima?

Calvin Crowner:

New housing tilesets, almost a dozen major and minor systems, new peerless and champion battles, new loot, new monsters to tame and steal from... I guess in short... LOTS!

MMORPG.com:

What can a new player expect to find in Ultima Online vs. some of the more current and popular MMOs?

Calvin Crowner:

What New Players will find is a world without boundaries. I think that in current MMOs the contemporary player is used to entering a game, killing rats for a while, killing bigger rats, until you gather a group and kill the biggest rat. In UO, you effectively learn by trial and error. When you get womped the first time, you learn what is dangerous. However, when you go back and kill that thing that womped you, there is a sense of accomplishment you don't get in other MMOs. Something else I've noticed, replaying as a new user, is that you can simply start clicking and discovering. UO is as much about testing the limits of the world as testing the limits of the player. What new players may find is like playing golf. All you need is one good swing that your muscle remembers, and then you're hooked. UO is a little bit like that ... just with more blood and the ability to have your own estate in the middle of town.

MMORPG.com:

Ultima has always been applauded for its skill based system, yet few other MMOs have adopted that policy, do you think it is the skill based system that has helped Ultima's longevity?

Calvin Crowner:

Absolutely! That is arguably one of the more endearing and "sticky" features of UO. You effectively get better at what you like to do most. It just makes sense for ANY game. It's difficult to pull off and balance well. Not too games many care to take that path.


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MMORPG.com:

Stygian Abyss offers the Gargoyles as a playable race, what can we expect from these long time villains now that they are on the other side?

Calvin Crowner:

Well ... the Gargoyles were not really villains, they just had a different point of view ? You can expect then to have access to areas that are not reachable unless you're a gargoyle. In addition, by stature, they are larger and more imposing than humans or elves. Their buildings are also modified so their wings can fit through. In the design of Ter Mur (the Gargoyle Homeland), we tried to design the city and areas so they made sense. You'll also notice the Void (or the dark magic the Gargoyle Queen has held at bay) encroaching through different areas. Gargoyles bring some of their own "special sauce" to the table, as they are more skillful with the new systems (Imbuing, Mysticism), and are the only race who can use throwing weapons.

MMORPG.com:

With a twelve year history, what do you think has been the biggest change to the game over that time?

Calvin Crowner:

I think about this a lot. The answer is ... I'm not sure. Clients have changed over time. Players can still download the classic client they know and love for free, and play it with the new Expansion. Different expansions changed content or systems, but the core systems and things that make UO ... UO still exist. The team has changed, but even early members of UOs history have returned to contribute, and never completely disappear.

MMORPG.com:

What does the future hold for Ultima Online?

Calvin Crowner:

In the near term? Sleep. The team has been shoulders forward and head down for a long time trying to produce a quality and most of all FUN Expansion for our current players and extended UO community. Beyond that? Everyone has their pet projects, but we'd like to investigate and fix on some of the long-standing issues like movement (i.e. speedhacking), improving the experience for players returning and entering the game ... most of all staying true to Virtues, Loyalty, and the Sandbox gameplay that has been UO's legacy.

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