Ultima Online – Death Penalties, Shards, and Originality

Who says Ultima Online doesn’t get attention on the various MMO websites. Okay, usually it’s being discussed in the past tense, but nonetheless, plenty of people are still reading about it.

First off, Massively has put together the perfect death penalties as part of their ‘Perfect Ten’ series. Ultima Online clocks in at number four:

Nothing like putting in a hard day’s work and seeing the physical rewards of that work in the form of loot — and then having all of that stripped away from you after you are killed and humiliated by a roving band of player-killers! What joy! What fun!

While the odd recent game like Darkfall is trying to bring back full-body looting as a consequence of death, this feature by and large remains a relic of the cold, cutthroat days of Ultima Online pre-Trammel.

And we get a bonus mention on another Massively article, this time when talking about the MMO industry and how it rolls out servers, err shards and how they are structured in terms of single shard vs multiple shards:

Sometimes it feels as if almost every MMO development studio just defers to the choices made by the creators of other successful games without doing its own research. This is particularly visible when comparing server models, as most MMO coming out on the market are still using Ultima Online-style shards. I think we’ll see more games released using a single-shard server structure in the coming years to create a cohesive community.

Meanwhile, over at Life on Aggramar, a World of Warcraft-oriented website, Delin Quent has put together an interesting article that is worth reading, MMO Originality: Ultima Online (via Ultima Aiera), that discusses the sandbox that is/was Ultima Online, and it’s influence on other MMOs. This is actually part one of a multi-part series.

Delin takes a look at resource gathering, which is still a lot different than most other MMOs:

The mining, lumber and cloth gathering in UO is vastly different to any game I have played. First mining, there were several ore types you could mine depending on your skill level and mining is as simple as having a pick or shovel and finding any rocks in the game and start mining. No looking for a mining node on screen somewhere, but find a pile of rocks, which mountains were prevalent, and start mining till you mine out that spot and move on. Lumbering was the same, look for a forest and take your axe and start chopping trees to fill your pack with logs. In later expansions they added more wood types, again determined by your skill level. Cloth making had to be the most unique, yes, you could go to a tailor and buy bolts of cloth, but those truly immersed in the game would go out in the world and gather cotton or wool from sheep’s to spin into yarn and then into cloth.


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