35 Minute Interview with Jeff Skalski, Ultima Franchise Producer

Stratics has posted a 35 minute interview with Jeff Skalski, Ultima Franchise Producer.

I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but I noted one error in the interview – Jeff mentioned upgraded from an Intellivision to an Atari as a kid. That is actually a downgrade. Intellivision was clearly superior to Atari.

Thanks to Airmid for keeping me informed about this.

Win a Copy of the Ultima Online Ultima Collector’s Guide

If you are familiar with the Ultima Ultimate Collector’s Guide 2012 (up on Amazon.com), you might be interested to know that an Ultima Online version is coming. The Ultima Online Ultimate Collector’s Guide 2013 is planned to coincide with UO’s 15th Anniversary in September of 2012.

Here are a few details about the UO Ultima Collector’s Guide, revealed in a contest to win said book:

Ultima Online related items will be included in the upcoming UO book (currently in progress and planned for release on UO’s 15th Anniversary). New Ultima items will be featured in an Addendum chapter for the new Ultima Companion Guide, as well as a free PDF download to update the 2012 Ultima Guide.

The Man behind the Ultimate Ultima Collector’s Guide has launched a Facebook contest where you can win a copy and get your name in the book as a contributor, if you can help dig up a few things that might have been missed in the current UCG. He is looking for information on UO as well.


Participation is easy, just “fill in the blanks”. Compiling pictures and detailed information on more than 2000 items was a challenge (as you can imagine), particularly since most of them are quite rare. As such there is still a lot of information left to uncover, or items which fell through the cracks SI Completion Certificate

Additions, updates, and corrections can be about any item listed (or not listed) in “Ultima: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide” – for either the main series or Ultima Online (including the media guide). All submissions will not only help to preserve the Ultima legacy, but also get your names listed as contributors in the next book.

All you need to do is send missing items, pictures and/or information (UPC/EAN codes, page counts, dimensions, etc) to me at: cmdrfalcon@hotmail.com

via: Ultima Aiera

UO Herald Interview – Noteworthy Persons – The Yattering

This appears to be a new feature on the UO Herald, an attempt at reconnecting with the UO community.

In this instance it’s the “Noteworthy Persons – The Yattering“, and it’s very much reminiscent of the old days on UO.com when player characters and player establishments were given a lot more importance.

People forget that some of the best content in Ultima Online comes from the players themselves.

I’m not going to post the whole interview – it’s quite long, you can read it at the link above, but it features a character named “The Yattering” on Baja, who is rather fond of Mesanna and has an interesting way of talking, as you can see from the excerpt below:

People seem to either love you or hate you, do you know why that is?
no Mama. yattery adorable! how no lovings me?

Where did you live before you came to Britannia?
yatter was livings in Abyss. they say yattery annoying. big demons toss yattery out.

Where is the rest of your family?
demons throw yattery out. no family but Mama now. yattering have gobliny-friends though. missings Bom Evilstench.

How did you become Mesanna’s Pet?
was bitings knees as faire. bit Mama. Mama bite back. LOVE!

Blast from the Past – the Making of UO

Ultima Online gets mentioned quite often by the gaming media, sometimes in the past tense, sometimes in the tradition of “wouldn’t it be nice if somebody did this like it was done in UO”.

Last week, MMORPG ran a two-part article:
Ultima Online: The Making of a Classic Part 1
Ultima Online: The Making of a Classic Part 2

For those of you who have been following UO for a long time, there won’t be any major revelations, although a lot of nostalgic feelings, as well as a mention of the sequels or successors, depending on your view of Ultima X: Odyssey:

The publisher would try a number of times to push out a sequel to their MMORPG, the closest attempts being Ultima Worlds Online: Origin, a time-hopping overhaul of its predecessor with elements of high fantasy and steam punk. The other near-miss was Ultima X: Odyssey – part sequel to the main series, and part successor to UO. This game was completed enough to show at e3 (our own coverage from 2004 makes for an interesting read) but as EA finally closed Origin Systems and relocated the staff to the Bay Area in San Francisco, most developers opted not to move away from Texas, and EA finally decided to cancel the project rather than bring in new staff. An awkward way to bring to an end the, once, biggest RPG-series gaming had seen.

Development of Ultima Online would continue, with expansions periodically released, but with the torn focus of a sequel and with the eventual dissolution of its founding studio, UO would never capture the type of audience that it could have if it was handled with a little more foresight.

MMORPG.com goes on to call it the most important title among the online games.

What interested me more than MMORPG.com’s two articles, is a follow-up by Raph Koster, where he he offers a few comments and corrections:

Technically, we didn’t have the engine at the point the article states; the client was basically rewritten in 1995-96. Rick Delashmit had been there for a few months when my wife and I joined the project on Sept 1st 1995; other key early folks such as Scott “Grimli” Phillips and Edmond Meinfelder also joined in August to September of 95.

I have to admit I love the idea of rabbits and deer that level up and can take on what would normally be their “natural” predators in UO:

I think I have told this story before, but the whole “dragons eating deer” example came from the design samples that my wife and I sent in as part of our job applications. We showed up on the first day and were taken aback when we were told that was how the game was going to work… So at least that much of the notion of “what the game was going to be” was set in 1995…

That crazy resource system stuff, particularly some of the AI, did in fact work in the alpha test. It led to rabbits that had levelled up and were capable of taking out wolves — or advanced players. We found this intensely amusing, and quoted Monty Python at each other whenever it came up.

Raph clarified one important bit – UO was not created by a bunch of single-player designers/developers, there was actually a lot of online experience on the team:

This is just not really right. At least on the game dev team. From that September team, Kristen and Rick and I came from DikuMUDs. Edmond came from MUSH and MOO backgrounds. Scott and a tad later Jeff Posey came from LPMUDs. We had Andrew Morris, who was the original lead designer, who was a veteran of U7 and U8. And of course, our first artist, Micael Priest (most famous for his amazing poster art for bands in the 70s) wasn’t an online gamer either.

Later, as the team grew and absorbed a lot of folks from U9 (which was suspended for a while) there were plenty of non-online folks on the team. But the basic premises of UO were definitely set by folks from MUDs.

Digital Memories of Ultima Online Project

Have you heard about the Digital Memories of Ultima Online Project?

I’ll let the mission statement speak for itself:

The purpose of this project is to establish a central repository of images (screen caps) taken by users of Ultima Online while playing UO. The images might be of events, guild meetings or even character paperdolls. The images will be open to public viewing on an online image-sharing service or hosted website.

And a video:

There was an update a few days ago – DMUO – Private folders are now in use, regarding Dropbox as a means of collection, as work is being done to determine the best way to collect and display the information. See the previous article, DMUO Clarification and Evolution for other details.

You can view a roadmap, or mindmap here: DMUO_mindmap_share.png to get a sense of the project.

DMUO Information and Sign-Up