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.

First Impressions of New Magincia Housing

On my home shard, I feel enough time has passed to start talking about New Magincia. Some of these impressions cover other shards, and I’m planning on writing up an article about other shards after a few weeks have passed and things have settled down, but for now I just want to talk about my first impressions.

Quite a few houses are up for sale or being actively traded, however not as many as I thought. This was a surprise to me, given the low cost of entering the lottery.

Out of houses that have been placed, most fall into one of three categories:
* Museums
* Guild houses
* Private residences

Some of the guild houses and private residences are in what many considered to be prime vending locations, which I found very interesting. I’ve come across some very organized guild purchases and/or wins.

I’ve also observed, both from looking around, and from talking to residents, that many of the private owners have no intention of opening their homes up or making them vendor malls. Many are incredibly pleased to own New Magincia homes and prefer them over Luna/Malas homes, even with the smaller footprint, because of the setting and the proximity to real water instead of star fields or crystals, as well as being a “town” home, but not being surrounded by town walls and vendors.

We still don’t know how the vendor bazaar will work, or at least what impact it will have until the next booster pack is announced and then put into place. For more on it, you can read Notes on Recent Client Update with Publish 70 – Booster Pack?, but you will see spoilers for the next booster pack.

So what have I not seen?

Luna 2.

I think if we were going to see Luna 2, it would have already happened.

Congratulations to the UO devs and the players for proving me wrong on my speculation about New Magincia being Luna 2.

What to do With Used Writ of Lease

So what do you do with a used writ of lease once you’ve used it to place a plot on New Magincia?

You can keep it. You can sell it, you can toss it in a trash can, you can keep it with the house and if you ever get rid of the house, give it to somebody as a souvenir, or keep it as a souvenir yourself.

In this Stratics thread, Phoenix, aka Mike Moore, UO Systems Designer, reaffirmed this, mentioned the original New Magincia document pertaining to it, and stated this:

The expired writ will not be deleted. It’s a normal blessed item, and can decay or be lost like any other normal blessed item, but it won’t just vanish after 30 days.

What Happens When You Win the New Magincia Lottery?

So you’re playing Ultima Online, you enter the New Magincia lottery for a shot at a unique housing development.

What happens if you actually win a plot? Like say a few minutes ago when the server came up from maintenance.

This is what happens – you get a message that you then open and well, I’ll let the video speak for itself.

My only question is why don’t they expand the messaging system, would be really nice to have a universal in-game messaging system like this, allowing players to send messages to one another.

If you are curious what I’m going to do, I don’t know yet. I won this on my main account (don’t have many), but the character I won this on was my “reporter” character that is used to dying and so doesn’t carry anything on him normally and I need to scrounge up some gold and a house placement tool and see if I can actually fit a 15×15 there. I really didn’t expect to win, but I am thinking of doing something interesting with it. I figured that if I was going to win, it would be a Fel plot and one of the limited plots where you could only buy one ticket. Maybe I’ll make this the in-game offices of UOJournal.com, or I’ll wait and see how the neighborhood turns out. I would like to be a part of a themed area.

The deed says I have 22 days, so more than enough time.

Oh, and the odds for that plot, there were 131 tickets sold – I checked shortly before the shard went down for normal maintenance. I’ll be posting the rest of the totals later today, but I can say that, barring any heavy buyers in the last half hour before the shard went down, that Lake Superior totals for both Fel and Tram were, drum roll please, 2,728,896,000 in gold.

UO Publish 70 – World Release is Tomorrow, April 1

Tomorrow is a very big day for a lot of us – Pub 70 will be live on all production shards tomorrow, April 1, 2011. It’s been in testing on the Test Center and Origin, but the rest of us will be receiving it. From UO Herald:

Pub 70 will go live on all shards during the next maintenance. European shards will be the first shard to receive this publish at 12am EDT. You can find the complete publish notes as well as the notes for the Classic Client 7.0.13 and the Enhanced Client 4.0.13 below.

I’m not going to repeat all of the previous patch notes, you can find those here:
* Publish 70 on the Test Center
* Publish 70 Patch Notes for Origin

These are the differences between Origin’s patch notes and the world-wide patch notes:

Bug Fixes
* The issue with the Gargoyle flight no draw tiles in the atlas was fixed.
* Scalis should leave the correct art for the corpse and the correct hues.
* Ship runes should now function correctly when recalling from the Abyss.
* The MTX ship dyes are no longer account bound.
* The imbuing gump materials list now displays the correct resources.

Enhanced Client
* Cliloc updates
* Art updates

Classic Client
* Moving Mobiles should now show the damage take over head in the classic client
* Players will again be able to see equipped Jin-Baori on both the paperdoll as well as the avatar.
* Art Updates

So get ready to start bidding on the various plots in New Magincia.