MMORPG.com: Congratulations on the new partnership to support Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Can you tell is how this partnership was formed?
ROB DENTON, President of Broadsword: My first online gaming company was formed in 1985 to run a franchise of the dial-up, text based RPG called Sceptre of Goth (remember the days of 300 baud modems?). Since then, and over the last almost 30 years, I’ve worked exclusively on online multiplayer games with a focus on MMORPGs. (I did take a 5 year break to build rockets and satellites but that’s a different tale!) Through my career at Mythic and Electronic Arts, I’ve been fortunate to help develop and manage quite a few AAA MMORPG titles - Dark Age of Camelot, Warhammer Online, Ultima Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic to name a few. For the last seven or so years, I had the wonderful experience of working for and with the talented folks at EA – most recently as the COO of BioWare and the GM of the Core Mobile Group. EA and Mythic are both pretty focused on creating great games. I think as they looked at the long term future of Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online – they were looking for someone with the experience to run high quality gaming services, the passion for multiplayer games and a strong connection with the products. I founded Broadsword with the mission to deliver high quality gaming experiences to communities of committed gamers. We are a natural fit to partner with Electronic Arts and with Paul Barnett and his talented team at Mythic to continue to focus on and invest in these games and their communities for years to come.
MMORPG.com: Can you give us some background on your plans with Broadsword Online? You have a solid team and two classic titles to work with, what are some of the ideas within the company?
ROB DENTON, President of Broadsword: Both Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot have passionate gaming communities of committed, long-term players. Broadsword has a talented and experienced team of MMORPG developers who are passionate about these two products. In the near term, we’re working to ensure a seamless transition from EA and Mythic to Broadsword. We are committed to ensure that our player community will continue to get the same high quality experience, compelling content and top-tier support that they’ve received under EA and Mythic. Our near term focus will be on the community. We’re looking closely at the Camelot Herald and uo.com to see how we can improve the interfaces, add back real time data about RvR, stores, events, and such, and promote stronger community interactions for our players. We also have a few great patches we’re queuing up to enhance the Frontiers experience for Camelot and the vendor features for UO. Stay tuned for our longer term plans to continue to enhance and improve both products and their communities!
MMORPG.com: Ultima Online continues to service a core base of players who have been with the game for years, what is it like supporting such a strong comminuty?
BONNIE ARMSTRONG, Producer of Ultima Online: It's a real honor and privilege to work on such a pillar of the genre. Supporting the UO community is like being part of a very large family. Ultima Online has touched so many in so many different ways that it's a truly rewarding experience for us. Our playerbase is rich with stories of how this interaction has impacted their lives inside and outside of our virtual world. It's really something very special. People have been playing this game for 16 years, they have made close friends, meet their husband and wives. It’s a game that people can get together and sit down and talk about memories for hours upon hours over a good meal and a drink. Ultima Online is beyond a game, it’s a family!
MMORPG.com: What are some of the plans moving forward with Ultima Online? Do you have some updates in store for players? Can you tell us your plans for Vendor Search?
BONNIE ARMSTRONG, Producer of Ultima Online: It’s really exciting for us to finally be able to bring back popular community building features such as MyUO and new game features like our new Vendor search, to support the game economy. We are also looking forward to creating a new/returning Player Experience to seamlessly welcome both new and former players to Britannia. With the Hi Def Art update we are excited to present our game sharper than ever before to foster in a new generation of UO players. Thinking of our veteran players we are looking forward to revisit popular features such as Animal taming, Global Loot, The Quest System, and a new exhilarating PVP experience.
MMORPG.com: Dark Age of Camelot also has an epic history in the MMO universe, how has that community been working with developers to expand the game?
TALAL SAAD, Producer of Dark Age of Camelot: The DAoC Team regularly corresponds with a group of 'Internal' members of the community on the game's Internal Forums. These fervent and experienced players make suggestions, provide feedback, and act as trusted advisors in our execution of the developmental direction of Camelot. The Camelot Team also maintains an official presence on www.postcount.net, a site which is something of an "official unofficial" forum for the Dark Age of Camelot community at-large. This is an invaluable avenue for us to keep our finger on the pulse of the player-base and to receive unfiltered feedback from our community which helps us to understand the implications of our development decisions. Camelot is precious to so many, and we are truly sensible of the responsibility and respect required of the DAoC Dev team.
MMORPG.com: DAOC has been known for some of the best PvP in the history of MMOs. Are there any plans to work with the community on that experience?
TALAL SAAD, Producer of Dark Age of Camelot: Yes! In-fact, one of our most immediate initiatives is an improvement to the primary Realm vs. Realm (PvP) area in the game: The New Frontiers. The 'New Frontiers Revamp' (as it's known) is currently up on Pendragon (our Player Test Server) and is undergoing additional updates and improvements based largely on feedback from our players. For those familiar with the best-in-class PvP of Dark Age of Camelot, this is an update you won't want to miss. Check out the Pendragon Notes here: http://www.darkageofcamelot.com/article/patch-1115-comes-pendragon and make sure to keep an eye on http://www.darkageofcamelot.com for information on an upcoming large-scale test event!
MMORPG.com: Are there any priorities from the Ultima Online community that will shape your updates for the next few months? Is there a wish list of sorts?
BONNIE ARMSTRONG, Producer of Ultima Online: We gather feedback from many sources, such as fan supported forums, direct contact in game and email. Our community has never been shy about letting us know what they want and we have always embraced that about our players! Feedback from the community regarding Vendor Search and critical bugs are our top priorities right now. However, we’ve also been looking at the list from our players asking for a working portal to Tokuno via the Serpents pillar, 100% mining success at 105, increased rare gem spawns, turning books into pulp, creating a mega dye tub, and having increased BOD UI function to name just a few. We are evaluating all of these great ideas to put into future publishes. As with all things, there is always a balance with what we have with the time we have to do it in. We want to make sure we can give our players the most with the highest quality possible. We try to make sure there is something that each player will enjoy in every publish.
MMORPG.com: The same for Dark Age of Camelot, is there a wish list among fans?
TALAL SAAD, Producer of Dark Age of Camelot: Absolutely. Countless players are very passionate about Dark Age of Camelot, and there is no shortage of requests and wishlists regarding features in the game. Recently, we re-introduced the 'Grab Bag', which is a bi-weekly Q and A where players may submit their questions and receive a response directly from the Devs. Having announced our transition to Broadsword, the questions and requests have surged, and we're pleased to see it. Some of the more prolific requests include updating and modernizing Camelot's website: The Camelot Herald, the addition of compelling Elder Game content, and an update to DAoC's somewhat dated User Interface to attract a larger user base. The list goes on, but these features in particular are priorities for us for the near to mid term. The announcement promises a live Q and A in the near future. You have questions, we've got answers.
MMORPG.com: Moving forward what other plans do you have for Broadsword Online in the future? Is there a possible game in the works?
ROB DENTON, President of Broadsword: Right now, we have two wonderful games that we’re absolutely focused on – Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Developing, running and evolving these two games and their communities is a full-time job and will consume 110% of our near-term bandwidth. Our focus is really around how we can continue to improve these games for our core audience of committed players. Longer term – who knows what the future might hold!