I read Hermes’ post about the graphics speculation and I thought I’d throw my own two gold pieces in. The booster and the graphics were probably two of the biggest items they were most cryptic about, or refused to really discuss. We got a lot of info about Magincia, about Publish 70, about the New Player Experience (NPE). Maybe not as much about the NPE, but they weren’t being very cryptic about the NPE – it was clear to me that when they wouldn’t discuss certain aspects, it was more because they hadn’t decided, not because they were trying to hide certain things.
With the booster and the graphics/artwork update, they were cryptic and dodged the issue.
In part two of the House of Commons transcript, this was said about the booster pack:
Off Camera: Estimate on the arrival of the next booster
*Silence and sighing*
Cal: Uhh…might as well just (said quietly)..hrm…let’s put it this way. When you see the new items, you’ll probably see the new booster at the same time. How about that. I don’t know, it’s just..fine
Mesanna: You don’t
Cal: Okay, fine…Umm..You will see an…You know what, I’m not going to take..I’m just going to say it wrong, and Bonnie keeps looking at me..so Uhh…I cannot give you an update on the date, but you will see some new items soon. How about that, is that alright (last bit said quietly)
Mesanna: Okay, it’s not going to be a full-blown booster though.
This was said about the artwork:
Off Camera: More questions, a mention of high resolution artwork was made on the short video, is there any update on that or plans that one can be made aware of.
Cal: Umm..I can say one thing..umm…and that it’s not going to be just one blast of an art update…Umm..we’ll be doing it in pieces. One so you guys can see progress, and then two so that it actually looks like it’s planned, and then three, so we don’t miss anything.
We’ll see the new booster at the same time we see the new items. If the new items involve new artwork or artwork that is of a higher resolution, then we could be seeing the new booster pack.
If the booster pack was simply an expansion, a smaller expansion than High Seas, but in the same vein – some new quests or a new area like the market in High Seas, Cal could have just said we’d see a new area and some new quests or mobs. Instead Cal got really careful about what he said.
We don’t know at this point if we are getting brand-new artwork or artwork used previously with the Kingdom Reborn expansion. If it’s new artwork, it would be pretty easy for them to charge a fee of sorts. Mesanna did say it wasn’t going to be a full-blown booster. If it is all new artwork for Ultima Online, I can’t see EA giving it to us for free, and I wouldn’t have a problem paying a bit extra for some kind of graphics booster pack. If the artwork we get is from the KR expansion, I wonder how that would work for those who paid for KR. You probably shouldn’t charge them twice.
The speculation is not as good as what Hermes was discussing as far as the gaps/delays pointing to the major decision being an artwork update, and for the record, I think he’s probably right. We get this mysterious gap between January 3rd and late in February that Cal references, and then we get a mention of new artwork, just a few seconds in the dev video diary, and then a very reserved mention of artwork in the House of Commons chat, and then just a few days later we are told that the planning is done, and we’ll soon get details.
They wouldn’t have decided on new artwork in just a few short weeks between when Cal announced the video and when it was supposed to be posted in early January. At the time that Cal mentioned the video, it seemed like a very low-key video that would be done in a day or two and posted on YouTube. That does not fit a graphics update either. I could see them spending 6 weeks deciding what to do about the graphics update. It would also explain why this video became such a big deal, why it had to be so heavily edited, and why they clammed up when talking about the booster or graphics.
Remember, that’s just speculation, not news.