UO’s 14th Anniversary: Remember Enchantress Emily?

Ultima Online: Renaissance: Enchantress Emily

UO.com actually still has her around, with the following advertisement:

Hail Former Citizen of Britannia!

I bring you greetings from Lord British. Return to Britannia and see for yourself the brave new world emerging there.

You’ll be surprised at how much as changed!

I hope to see you there…

Enchantress Emily

New Safe World equal to the size of the original Britannia where player vs. player combat is consensual

A Safe “Haven”, a city restricted to new players where over 2000 volunteers are available to answer questions and provide guidance.

Expanded Housing Areas with double the amount of land mass available for housing, where the dream of being the master of your own castle can become a reality.

Live Events – thousands of special events where players determine outcomes; shaping the destiny of the world.

My UO – your own personal web page offering your character graphics and information, event updates, and exclusive membership benefits.

And a German version
and Japanese!
and Korean!

Why am I talking about her? She was kind of an iconic image. She wasn’t on all boxes, in fact, not very many at all – I know there was an insert for the US/Canada releases that puts her in the “O” of the UO Logo:

Ultima Online: Renaissance - US Release

But in many places it was a plain box, such as the French release:

Ultima Online: Renaissance - French Release

When I post my review of UO: Renaissance, I’ll explain the insert thing – the cover folds out and has pictures of real people and their UO avatars/alter-egos.

There was a lot going on, and the whole “enchantress” motif was carried over into some of the in-game fiction, with this article from the Britannia News Network:

It was a peaceful day at Yew Abbey, with not a breath of wind. Brother Ambrose and a small band of monks prayed and meditated in the Ankh chapel in Yew Abbey, preparing for their pilgrimage to the Shrine of Justice. Suddenly the door of the chapel was flung open and a group of adventurers entered. “Brother Ambrose, beware!” they warned. “We just found out that Vilendra, the Emerald Enchantress, plans to ambush your whole party of monks.”

Vilendra was obviously a very vile Enchantress, unlike our Emily.

This was a very exciting time for UO – the player population had grown to over 150,000. In an effort to communicate with, and encourage the UO community, in May of 2000 the UO.com forums were launched and you had a lot of very passionate people all of the sudden talking to one another on UO.com and interacting with developers and UO’s community staff. I’m watching the Star Wars: The Old Republic official forums and seeing some very passionate people as well.

Now if you want to know why this has its own topic, well this was the smaller of the four articles I wrote about UO:R, and I just thought it was kind of interesting because of the symbolism involved. Let us not forget that UO still carried the Mature rating at that time, but that the Enchantress Emily image was not present on all boxes. What was very noticeable about all boxes is that they had a “lighter” or white design, in most cases white with a globe of Sosaria behind the UO logo, emphasizing the virtual world aspects of UO. When you look at the previous expansion of UO, The Second Age: you see a darker design:

Ultima Online: The Second Age (Box Front)

Talk about your symbolism. We move on from evil being inflicted upon the world and a dark box, to a light or white box, with a globe/map of sorts as the background, and along with that we received Trammel, where the non-PvPers were able to do their thing in peace. Inside the front cover, you can read brief biographiess of real-life players and their in-game characters, stressing the communal aspects of UO. It was an attempt to really drive home the fact that you’re not playing with mere computer characters, but that behind those characters there were people from around the world. Incredibly symbolic when you start to look at it in that light. Whoever designed the box art for Renaissance deserved an award for that. They got it right.

As for my other articles, I’m working on them now, but they are big and I’m trimming them down. One is a review of UO:R and what it came with, the other is a look at the agonies and joys of the Trammel land rush.