The year was 1997. The Florida Marlins miraculously won the World Series, I graduated High School, dinosaurs walked the earth, and Ultima Online was released to the masses. Ultima Online is one of the first graphical MMORPGs. Inspired by the traditional MUDs of the time Origin Systems wanted to create a persistent world that could cater to thousands of players at a single time. They succeeded, and 15 years later people still live and die, (and die and die and die) in their world.
This episode of Wayback Wednesday was one of the most popular yet. In addition to having a good number of rabid viewers we had a special guest host from the MMORPG team, Hillary "Pokket" Nicole, as well as a ton of members from the UO team: Bonnie "Mesanna" Armstrong Associate Producer of UO, Mike "Phoenix" Moore Designer UO, Michael "Misk" Armstrong QA UO, Stephen "Bleak" Brown Software Engineer UO, Greg "Kyronix" Havlusch Designer UO, and Kai Schober Community Manager Bioware Mythic. We definitely had a full house and a lot of chaos.
We had an excellent time for our two and a half hour play session and there are three main points that you should take away. First, prepare to die…a lot. Player versus Player combat is a large part of the Ultima Online experience and to get good along the way you are going to get dead. Second, this is still a well cared for game. Currently the UO team is working on guides to help with the new player experience. These will greatly help new and returning players alike. In addition to the guides they are still adding new content. During our play session we ran Covetous Dungeon the new dungeon they have on the Test Center (TC) shard. Covetous Dungeon has three main parts to it. The first part is an area with relatively easy mobs that you can farm.
The second portion of the instance has wave upon wave of monster come at you. These waves become increasingly difficult until they are impossible to defend against. You will earn points that you can purchase special items from an NPC in the city of Cove. The third part of the instance is the final encounter with Cora. This portion of the instance is like an old school dungeon from UO. UO also has a system of Event Managers (EM). These EM's are contracted players from the shard that set up and run events for the Ultima team. The last thing you should know about Ultima Online is that it is highly customizable and player driven. To close out the session we took a tour of a player’s mansion, after he caught me in a stair trap I was able to take the tour and was very impressed. This level of customization in player housing works as a great way to bind the community.
Fifteen years old and sporting war wounds but still alive and kicking Ultima Online is one of the must play games. You can really see how MMORPGs transitioned from MUDs to the 3D MMORPGs that are released today. I would also like thank the team over at UO Stratics. They took the time to do a word for word transcription of this episode of Wayback Wednesday, you can find the link after the videos, and don't forget to complete your UO experience make sure you get a cookie from Queen Mum you won't regret it.
For the full transcript, head to UO Stratics