We are Not the Future of UO. Hell, We are Barely the Present.

So here’s the video again:

Stratics’ user Tina Small has put together a transcript that was posted on Stratics.

These are some of the things that stood out to me, and that I felt like commenting on.

I’ve already ranted about cheaters and scripters, so this will be a more positive look at the interview.

Focuses, Short-Term Plans, Long-Term Plans
Everything is focused on the 15th Anniversary for now, or rather using it as a kind of a timeline (my words). There is a focus on addressing unfinished systems, long-standing bugs, and revamping old areas. That is good!

New Players – Act like it’s the 15th Anniversary
You know a lot of people are going to show up to your party. If you give them crappy beer in the form of a shitty new user experience, you think they are going to want to come back and party with you in the future? Don’t give them Schlitz or Pabst Blue Ribbon, give them the good stuff that says you are interested in seeing them come back.

And make sure to have at least part of the high resolution artwork update available. A lot of folks are going to be looking at UO, and momma needs a new pair of shoes, or dress or something. You want them to get their foot in the door, but you better give them reasons to keep on coming through that door. 1990s graphics don’t cut it for a lot of potential players. There are people who might be interested in UO who might have still been in diapers when UO was in beta testing. They don’t get excited over the thought of playing Intellivision games and they ain’t going to get excited over UO’s 1990s artwork.

Ultima Franchise
Jeff mentions that there is “Lots of stuff going on”, not just with Ultima Online. At the start of the interview, he mentioned that his job is a lot more than just UO. I know I’m bitching, but we’ve been teased about other Ultima-related stuff for over a year now. I’ve said this before – it’s Ultima-related, and when you play something up for so long without talking specifics, people are going to start thinking that it’s just going to be typical EA – another Ultima project that goes nowhere and is canceled.

Jeff mentions subscriptions have climbed. I’m not sure what to say other than to put some money into more artists and into dedicated community relations.

Publish 75 and future publishes
Sometime this month (March). Upcoming publishes are focusing on the 15th Anniversary content-wise. Jeff discussed town loyalty, including obtaining city banners that declare who you’re loyal to.

Updating UO to “current” MMO styles
Jeff says no. I agree completely. If I want to play World of Warcraft or Rift, I will do so. UO does need to support modern computers though, namely higher resolution artwork.

A question was asked about advertising. From a long-term UO player and MMO player point-of-view, UO is not worth advertising at this point. It needs a new website (UO.com), high resolution artwork, and a better new player experience.

I see this question come up a lot on Stratics and elsewhere. Look, UO gets plenty of free exposure from some very high profile MMORPG websites. Many people who have never played UO are aware of UO. The problem is they take one look at UO and flee in terror, or they go through the trial and are hampered by a shitty new player experience.

Merging Shards
Jeff says no plan to merge servers. I don’t know why people bring this up, it’s a ridiculous question, because you are going to destroy the community of whichever shard or shards are closed or merged. The fairest way to merge shards would be to set up a brand-new shard, and allow everybody from the shards that would be merging an equal chance at house placement, etc., on that new shard which to Jeff’s credit, he brought up.

Jeff understands how disruptive shard mergers is, but it’s a damn shame that some people don’t give a shit about their fellow UO players who are happy on their low-population shards. I would bet a large sum of UO gold that the players who push for shard mergers are not advocating their shards be closed, they probably want other shards closed and those players moved to their shard.

That leads me to this:

We are Not the Future of UO. Hell, We are Barely the Present.
You can’t continue down the road of catering to us older players while ignoring potential new players. I think it was JC the Builder who said that UO producers can never compete with real life. Players are constantly leaving UO, and we are lucky that so many are able to come back and that so many want to come back, but many will never come back. Real life issues such as children, illness, jobs, finances, all contribute to UO players leaving and never returning.

At some point, you have to decide that new players are more important than a lot of what’s going on with UO. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to keep existing players around or bringing older players back, but the resources don’t seem to be there for accommodating everybody. I know that many hundreds of thousands of people have tried UO over the years and then left, but that pool of players who might come back is not as deep as we’d like to think it is.

I leave you with this thought:
We were all new players at one time. It’s time to say that you want to give a new generation of players a chance to walk in our shoes and experience UO. Right now, new players are screwed unless they find a kind soul to help them out.

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