I Didn’t Go AWOL and There’s Stuff Happening

I didn’t go AWOL. I have a certain amount of time I can devote to UO-related website stuff, and right now that time is devoted to a website that is not UOJournal.com.

But there are things happening, big things. Here are a few of those things.

A new third party program has been approved for UO! It’s been a while.

Ultima Mapper

Ultima Mapper is the new mapping application for Ultima Online Classic and Enhanced clients that allows users to share the entire experience, rather than just their whereabouts.

UO gets its 1,623rd mention on Massive – Do you Miss Player Written Books in MMOS:

Ancient sandboxes like Ultima Online and modern classics like EverQuest II give players the ability to write their own books, which then populate player-run libraries, serve as tavern menus, explain quests, and mark the memory of friends who left the game. Later games, however, have sadly passed over the mechanic.

Another edition of The Yew Times, a break from the normal UO news.

The Awakening – Act II, Part 2 – A continuation of the ongoing story arc.

People who hare having patch issues, read this

And finally, Patch 75! There is so much going on, you just need to read it yourself.

UO’s 14th Anniversary: A Look at 2011 (So Far)

Yeah, I’m behind on looking back at UO’s history with the expansions – I’m getting in the attic tomorrow to retrieve some missing things from my Renaissance and LBR boxes, since they weren’t were I thought they were.

But I wanted to take a brief moment and highlight some key areas covering the last 10 months or so UO. It’s been a while since I made one of these posts. My overall feeling: cautiously optimistic.

The Publishes
In general, the publishes this past year have been pretty solid in my view. A good mixture of bug fixes and adjustments with a mix of new content. A lot of thought has been put into revamping areas that needed it or had been neglected for far too long. Impressive if you stop to consider that a lot was going on that we haven’t seen yet – the high resolution artwork update, among other things.

The Rustic and Gothic Booster Packs
I have a feeling they were an experiment. If they wouldn’t have happened without being paid content, well I’m glad they happened. We haven’t had any mention of booster packs since then. I still think some things should have been broken out and sold on their own, but what’s done is done.

High Seas and Stygian Abyss
Publish 69 saw the Stage One of the “Abyss Flesh Out” where some of the unfinished Stygian Abyss areas started to be fleshed out. High Seas got a lot of work done to it this year since it came out with Publish 68, but Stygian Abyss really needed to be worked on, since it had been unfishined in many areas. Publish 71 saw a lot of work being done on High Seas.

New Magincia Reconstruction, Virtuebane
The New Magincia reconstruction was strongly reminiscent of something first talked about during the Second Age release – player-built towns. No, I’m not ignoring Luna either. While I saw some would-be Lunas in the making, I also saw some serious attempts at larger guilds making a go at having a player town. It was a unique experiment, one that probably won’t be repeated, but it was long overdue. The planting system for New Magincia was also an interesting experiment, as was the New Magincia Bazaar system. Whether you like them or hate them, they make UO unique. Player populations need to be bumped up on some shards to really make them live up to their potential. As for the events, I enjoyed the Virtuebane events, both the EM and non-EM events. The EMs of the events I participated in were top notch. My only complaint is that they weren’t publicized on UOHerald.com.

Honesty Virtue and Mini-Quests
The Honesty Virtue/quest (aka the “Lost and Found” quest) that arrived with Publish 72 are getting a lot of people out and about and walking around Britannia, in areas that they might not normally otherwise go. I have a feeling this was what Mesanna was talking about in February as far as getting away from the mob-killing quests that have no point to them. This was also a part of the Virtue system that everybody has talked about for years. I like it a lot and look forward to the other virtues having virtue-specific quests built around them.

Account Migration
This is the last UO-specific issue I’m going to mention. This was a major lowpoint of UO’s storied history. It’s painful, it’s caused problems for a lot of people, some of whom are still having issues. I’m even having a few issues. I don’t know what else to say, other than BioWare Mythic really dropped the ball on communicating with us before, during, and after it happeend. I don’t know who first said this, but the fact that they included UO in the migration is a good sign that somebody wanted UO around, but UO players were treated poorly with the lack of instructions and help early on, instead forcing players to rely on one another, even when EA’s customer service representatives didn’t know what to do themselves. And before any DAoC or WAR players jump on me, yes their games were affected by the migration as well. UO’s problems seemed worse though.

Dark Age of Camelot / Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
If you haven’t visitied the Dark Age of Camelot website, do so. It’s been improved. If you read through the stories, you’ll see articles from the developers talking about work they are doing to improve the new player experience. Something is happening with DAoC. Warhammer, I’m not really following the Wrath of Heroes game, which could be seen as an attempt to bring players into WAR. It reminds me of Ultima X in some ways. Still, attention is being paid to the Warhammer franchise.

Ultima Franchise Producer
I’m ending with this one, since it’s the most important one. UltimaForever.com was launched, GOG.com released a bunch of Ultima and other Origin games for players to buy and download at cheap prices. If you’re not familiar with GOG, basically they are wrapping those old DOS games up in a software wrapper to easily allow you to download and play them on modern operating systems. This is generating interest in Ultima. Something is afoot with the Ultima franchise. Last week, Jeff Skalski confirmed he was the Ultima Franchise Producer and that UO was one of the projects under him. What this means for us exactly, I don’t know. I get a sense that things are in good hands.

Yesterday he gave us a brief peek into UO’s future, when asked about EA’s plans for UO:

Continue to grow the game by revitalizing old areas forgotten, add new things to keep players happy & crush as many bugs as we can.”

Now I hope when I revisit this topic at the end of the year, I’ll have even more to talk about, including the art update, but putting aside the migration problems, it’s been a solid year for UO. Last year had a lot of us worried about the future of UO.

Ultima Online Publish 71

Last week, the UO producer mentioned they were close to another publish and some updates, and they weren’t kidding.

Update: Full patch notes are now on UO Herald.

Update #2: Additional Notes/fixes

Game Balance Changes

Focus Skill Spec (PVP)
Increase of spell damage increase cap from 15% to 30% (Reduced from TC 40%) for templates that focus in only one spell school. Focused players, having no more than 30.0 modified skill points in another main skill set will be able to benefit from the raised cap.Main skills include: Magery, Necromancy, Mysticism, Ninjitsu, Bushido, Animal Taming, Musicianship, Chivary, Spellweaving.

A few tweaks to Poison and Poisoning Skill. Poisoning skill now grants a small measure of resistance to being poisoned. When poison is cured by any means except potions, the target receives a temporary resistance which is similar to, but less effective than the natural resistance granted by the poisoning skill.

Poison (Magery): Players with greater than GM Poisoning and GM Magery will have a 10% chance to inflict lethal poison at distance of less than 3 tiles. Poison strength now reduces with range instead of dropping to 1 at ranges 3 or greater.

Poison Strike (Necromancy) : Necromancers with greater than 60 poisoning skill will have a 3% to 9% chance (Scales with poison skill) to poison their target.

Healing Skill
* For healers with 80 skill or greater in healing and anatomy, at half the Heal Duration for self heals, healing will attempt to remove poison and bleed effects. This will reduce the amount healed when the heal is finished its normal duration.
* Max Heal Duration Reduced to 8 seconds.
* Slip Damage Now Scales based on Dexterity
**Faction Bandages do not require the healing skill and so function using the old healing methods.

Cure Potions:
Success chance for curing poison with cure potions has been adjusted.

Cleansing Winds:
Should no longer heal target after removing mortal wound.

Enchanted Apples:
* Cooldown Increased to 30
* They now have a chance to fail depending on the level and number of curses applied to the user.
* Failure does not invoke the cooldown period.

Petals/Poison Immunity:
Deadly poison and stronger now have a 25% chance to break the poison immunity granted by orange petals.

Lightning Strike
* Mana Cost raised from 5 to 10.

Dual Wield
A successful Dual Wield attack will give the player a chance to execute an extra attack at reduced damage for a short duration. Players can execute additional dual wield specials during the initial effect to provide a very slight buff to the duration and an increased chance to execute extra attacks.
Duration of the dual wield effect scales with Ninjitsu skill above 70. Extra attacks are commited at 60% damage of a regular attack and CAN cause additional weapon effects.
Executing additional Dual Wield strikes while already under the dual wield effect will extend the duration by 2 seconds and increase the chance by 15%.
The effect can be stacked up to 2 additional times.

Defensive Mastery:
Defensive mastery will now provide an increase to physical resistance which can exceed the 70% resist cap. The increase scales with Bushido/Ninjitsu and Parry skills. Damage Penalty now Scales between 60 -10% with Bushido/Necro. Increased duration to 5 seconds.

On executing a successful block, players will receive a bonus to their defense chance which scales with their Ninjitsu or Bushido skill for a short duration. Players will also receive a temporary penalty to their hit chance and damage. While under the block effect, the next damage the player receives will be severely reduced. (Damage reduction scales with parry skill above 70)

Psychic Attack:
A successful psychic will now afflict the target with a 15% Mana Cost Penalty, and a 15% Spell Damage Penalty. This can be stacked one additional time, but does not offer an increase in duration.

Force Arrow:
This attack now provides a 20% Damage increase. Additionally it will reduce the target’s DCI by 10%. This attack can also be stacked multiple times for a further DCI reduction of 5% per stack and 2 second duration increase.
The Dazed effect, will now provide a GUARANTEED spell interrupt. Even if the target is under the effect of Protection.
Once this effect wears off, it cannot be re-applied for 10 Seconds.

· The way chivalry and abilities work has been revised so that the effects, and durations now place more emphasis on skill level rather than just karma. In cases where Karma is evaluated, it will provide a modifier to the chivalry skill factor. This means that chivalry will provide a baseline for the power or duration of the effect and karma will either increase or decrease that baseline. In order to achieve the highest possible levels, both skill and karma will be required.

* Divine Fury:
· Bonus effects and stamina regeneration from divine fury now scale based on chivalry skill and karma. Stamina regeneration from divine fury is no longer a full refreshment, but rather a set amount of stamina. Stamina factor increased to 4x duration (from 3x ). Chivalry Elder level and above receive reduction in the DCI penalty.

* Cleanse By Fire:
· Cure chance for poison has been updated.

* Enemy of One
· Enemy of one has now been changed to a Spell Toggle. You can remove the effect before the duration expires by recasting the spell. (Recasting while the spell is in effect will cost 0 mana and 0 cast time)
· The Damage bonus will now Scale based on Chivalry Skill. Duration Will Scale with Chivalry and Karma
Remove Curse

The difficulty of successfully removing curses now scales with the level and number of curses in effect in addition to factoring chivalry skill and karma.

* Consecrate Weapon
Consecrate Weapon no longer guarantees damage against a target’s weakest resist. Concecrate weapon now provides a scaling chance to do damage against the targets weakest resist type. At 90+ Chivalry, consecrate weapon will also offer a damage increase in addition to optimal damage type. Effect is now 100% Chance at 80 Chivalry. Scale is approximately 50% Chance at 50 Chivalry.

New Buff Icons
· Healing Skill
· Despair (Icon on player using it)(Bard Mastery Ability
· Tribulation (Icon on player using it)(Bard Mastery Ability
· Spell Focusing
· Focusing Weapons
· Hit Lower Attack (Debuff)
· Hit Lower Defense (Debuff)
· Block Special Move
· Feint Special Move
· DefenseMastery
· Psychic Attack (Debuff)
· Disarm (Debuff)
· Dual Wield
· Force Arrow (Debuff)
· Consecrate

New Fishing Features
· Trophies have been added for the following fish: kingfish, samurai fish, fire fish, Seeker Fish, giant koi, bull fish, stone fish, and lantern fish.
· Fish Oil: Fish oil recipe has been added to cooking. Fish oil is created from fish steaks and when used on lanterns will make them stay lit for a very long time. It can also be used to recharge the Oracle of the Sea (see below).
· Schools of Magical fish: The Order of the Dragonfish has discovered that most magical fish travel in schools. If you start catching a large number of magical fish in one area, it is likely you have found a school. After several fish are caught from a school it will move a short distance away. There is no known way to predict how to find these locations, you just have to get lucky and then pursue the school.

Lava fishing items have been added to all lava locations

Cracked Lava rocks: Players may use an axe on cracked lava rocks to see what is inside.

New Rewards for the fishing Quest
· Fish hooks are attached to fishing poles to give them special properties, double click the hook and then select the pole to use it
· Fish bait may be used together with fish hooks.
· Junk Proof Hooks: Using a junk proof hook will ensure you don’t catch shoes.
· Dredging Hook: Using a dredging hook will increase the chance of pulling up things from the depths that are not fish.
· Lava Hook: This is replacing the lava fishing pole and has the same effect, the main difference is that hooks are stackable.
· Oracle of the Seas: This reward looks like a blue spyglass and is used to find charybdis. Double click it to locate the monster. The monster location is good for 1 day. Locating the monster consumes a charge, fish oil can be used to bring the charges back.
· Charybdis bait: Can be used on a fishing pole. When at a location identified by the Oracle of the Seas, fish using charybdis bait to start the encounter. You may have to fish several times to get the charybdis to rise.
· Improved magical fish bait: The Order of the Dragonfish has discovered ways to improve fishbait for magical fish. (technical note: the way fishbait works essentially is by giving you a certain number of rerolls when trying to catch certain fish, the improved fish bait is simply giving you more rerolls)

New Sea Encounter
· Charybdis: This is a new sea encounter that requires special items from the fishing quest to start. Warning: the Charybdis is a dangerous monster and you should only provoke it when you have 2 or 3 friends to help and a fast ship in case things go south!

Bug Fixes
* Fixed the issue that stopped players from stealing from monsters
* Fixed an issue with Tinkering, the correct ingots will now be used.
* Archery and Throwing will not stop at 25 skill points now when using the Advanced Training Dummy, they will train to the cap of 60 points.
* Fixed an issue where certain power scrolls were becoming cursed when bound in a scroll binder.
* Archery will no longer drop on Gargoyle jewelry nor will you be able to imbue it into any gargoyle items.
* Stygian Dragon will no longer teleport the player to him but he will teleport to the player to try to fix some reported issues of being stuck.
* You can no longer hand the Solen Matriarch a second seed while your current quest is active. You will now get a message she is busy.
* Fixed an issue related to stabling pets prior to death.
* Fixed the issue with The Tentacles of the Harrower spawning in areas out of the reach of players.
* All pets (not just bonded) can now follow their masters thru a gate onto ships.
* Players can obtain Ophidian Loyality by killing Terathans
* Sound has been added to Tinkering.
* Fixed an issue with the Weaving Friendships Quest, should display correct text now.
* Added a new system message for cooking with flour, if the bag is not opened instead of getting the message You do not have the components needed to make that you will get a message stating you need to open a bag of flour.
* Using Poppy Dust on a Silver Sapling Seed was turning the seed into a plain unused seed, this will not longer happen.
* Fixed an issue with missing text in the Scraping the Bottom quest
* When using the Easter Basket you will no longer identify itself as a cornucopia.
* The Devourer of Souls will no longer spawn out of the reach of players.
* Fixed the issue with the flour mill placing the bags of flour under the house.
* Fixed the levers in the Terathan Keep, doors should function properly now.
* Mana will no longer be consumed on Siege or Mugen when trying to use the Sacred Journey from a spell book.
* Parrots can now be placed on a perch on the Britiannian Ship
* Threads of Ether should now give the EC client the proper system messages when they are used or expired.
* You can no longer use Archery Special Moves without arrows.
* Nosferatu the Hellhound Treat Vendor has been removed
* Clainin’s Spellbook will no longer display spellchanneling.
* Pet Leather wolf golems will no longer be able to summon help.
* Putrefier now has a leash on it.
* Fixed an issue with placement of unmade beds
* The chance to get books from the fishing quest has been reduced.
* Fixed an issue that made it difficult to place addons on the second floor of a house.
* Resolved an issue with placing deeded house addons on the correct floor of the house.
* Fixed an issue allowing players to cast a spell without being frozen under certain conditions.
* Made the Magincia Bazaar vendors so you may customize and move them around in the stalls

Enhanced Client
* Cliloc updates
* Ter Mur world building update
* Added a tooltip for the War/Peace button
* Fixed a few issues with the default target settings in the hot bar (ex. Rising Colossus and Animated Weapon Spells)
* Fixed an issue that would eventually cause the Enhanced Client to crash if played long enough.
* Item properties will no longer appear for objects under the floor

Classic Client
* Cliloc Updates
* Ter Mur world building update
* Characters created with the legacy client now start with 120 skill points to match the EC instead of 100. Characters can also start with four skills instead of three.
* Fixed issue that was preventing players from receiving the “of ShardName” title when copying a character to a test center.

That’s a lot! Now the client patches have rolled out and that is in testing on the current Test Center. When Cal discussed several general areas they were working on, I mentioned that I liked they were working on adding or revamping already-established areas, the High Seas updates, some of the PvP work, and the bug fixes.

I consider bug fixes to be a very important issue, and this publish is full of them. I consider them especially important in light of BioWare Mythic wanting to attract new players and retain current players. Although many players on some of the forums are overlooking this kind of work, it’s being done, and there has been a definite shift in the attitude towards bug fixes.

Those who favor fishing are going to be interested in this update as fishing is being expanded quite a bit.

I do want to see the art updates, but as mentioned in the producer’s letter last week, that’s a little further down the road.

I’ve been doing some traveling and haven’t had much time in-game, but look forward to checking these out on the Test Center later in the week or next week.

Theme Packs / Mini Boosters Available on UOGameCodes.com

You didn’t think they were going to get the theme packs into the UOGameCodes.com store today did you? Well they did, pretty close to midnight my time.

The price is $9.99 apiece or $14.99 for both, the same as the High Seas Booster Pack. I can’t say I’m too happy about the pricing, but I’ll be upgrading one full account and possibly picking up an individual pack or for another account or two. I expected them to be individually priced in the $5.99 – $7.99 range, as the house tiles are considered by some to be incomplete due to no new doors or floors and roofs, and we don’t get the original see-through stairs. I don’t think the pricing was controlled by the developers, I think it was set by somebody within EA who maybe didn’t understand it, especially given that together they are the same price as the High Seas Booster Pack, and more expensive than the Stygian Abyss upgrades when they go on sale. In my view High Seas is worth $14.99, and I believe it has more content than the two theme packs combined.

With that said, I believe I understand why the packs are priced the way they are since they were probably priced by people who aren’t involved with UO, and I don’t think this will be the last of the theme packs. I just hope that in the future, pricing is cheaper and that the house tile sets are complete and that we see doors and floors that match.

It is what it is, and maybe now that these are out, the developers can turn their full attention to the artwork update, along with the Ter Mur storyline. It would be incredibly disappointing if the developers were forced to make more theme packs before they are able to finish the artwork updates and the Enhanced Client work.

UOGameCodes.com Store
* UO Rustic Theme Pack – $9.99
* UO Gothic Theme Pack – $9.99
* Grand Bazaar Pack – $14.99

Rustic Theme Pack contains:
* Board and Batten wall tiles
* Raised Garden Bed
* Distillery
* Topiaries
* Rustic Bench
* Commodity and Pet Broker Encampments

From the Rustic Theme Pack, I like the wall tiles, I like the garden bed – it’s maintenance free gardening. I am holding my judgement on the commodity and pet broker encampments.

I don’t like the fact that the distillery requires something that has to be stolen. To me, this is potentially another academic bookcase problem. It will be frustrating for some people, and that’s never a good thing for something that people are paying money for. See the issue with cannons, gunpowder, etc., and the High Seas booster.

Gothic Theme Pack
* Gothic wall tiles
* Advanced Training Dummy
* Chest of Sending
* Ritual Table
* Gargoyle Statues
* Commodity and Pet Broker Encampments

From the Gothic Theme Pack, I really like the wall tiles although I would have also liked new floors and doors. Don’t like the Advanced Training Dummy – too many things are too easy in UO as it is, however I guess this is for new players. The Chest of Sending…I’m still not sure how that replaces a bag of sending, and I probably should look into it further.

Keep in mind that these won’t be live on all shards for several more days, if not longer!

Origin gets Publish 70.4, Theme Packs

Yesterday, Origin received Publish 70.4, which includes the new Mini Booster Packs / Theme Packs:

Today Publish 70.4 comes to the Origin shard along with the Enhance Client Patch and the Classic Client Patch The shard will be unavailable until approximately 7pm EDT.

In the meantime we wanted to share the notes for your reading pleasure, thanks!

Publish 70.0.4
Rustic Theme Pack
Board and Batten wall tiles
Raised Garden Bed
Rustic Bench
Commodity and Pet Broker Encampments

Gothic Theme Pack
Gothic wall tiles
Advanced Training Dummy
Chest of Sending
Ritual Table
Gargoyle Statues
Commodity and Pet Broker Encampments

Note: Codes can be purchased at http://www.uogamecodes.com but will not be valid for any shard except for Origin until June 7th.

Bug Fixes
* Players are no longer able to steal from EM’s in Felucca
* Felucca players now have access to the stairs of the building in the hedge maze
* Corroded boxes will now properly highlight and show tooltips when locked down in your house and you customize it
* Ingots will no longer disappear when the player’s backpack is overweight when smelting
* Hell hounds can no longer be turned into Ancient Hellhounds
* Increased the chance to receive copper wire from thieving and a random chance to get it from Pirate Ships
* Pets owned by Faction members will now obey verbal commands given by the pet’s name

Enhanced Client
* The Use English Item Names option will now only apply to item properties names
* One line generic gump text boxes will no longer wrap to the next line
* Updated art for the Arcane Circle and the Freshly Picked Rose
* Cliloc updates

Classic Client
* Cliloc Updates
* Updated art for the Arcane Circle and the Freshly Picked Rose

UOJournal Note: http://www.UOGameCodes.com does not yet, as of June 2, 2011 1pm Central, have the proper codes/purchasing options up for the new Theme Packs.

From here on out, hopefully we’ll see less theme packs/booster packs and more work on the artwork updates and Enhanced Client.