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.

Publish 70.0.5 for Ultima Online to be Released on All Shards

It was just a few days ago that Publish 70.0.5 went up on the Test Center and it looks like it is about to be available to the rest of us. As I mentioned previously, this is a publish with a few bug fixes, that is mainly focused on pushing new content out to the shards, and moving along the Stygian Abyss storyline as well as rounding out the unfinished areas.

These are the publish notes from earlier today:

Publish 70.0.5 will be release to all shards during the next maintenance cycle. These are the complete publish notes:

Publish 70.0.5

Echoes of the Past – Ter Mur Live Event – Phase 1
We are pleased to announce that the Echoes of the Past event will commence shortly within Ter Mur on all shards. The first phase will begin with a quest provided by Queen Zhah herself in the Royal City Throne Room. This quest will take you to a newly opened piece of Ter Mur, and begin to show a glimpse into the history of the Gargoyle kingdom.

We invite you to take part in this story and help save Ter Mur!

Bug Fixes
* Fixed the issue that stopped players from stealing from monsters
* Fixed an issue with Tinkering

News: UO Herald

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.

New Magincia Bazaar aka the Encampment System

The official information about the upcoming New Magincia Bazaar, which has been renamed the Magincia Encampments, was released a few days ago.

You can visit the official website and download a PDF of the information, however UO Guide has put together an online reference page for the Encampment System.

Keep in mind that this maybe a part of the upcoming booster packs and some if it might require the purchase of one or both booster packs. That is subject to change. Language within the client files indicates it will require the purchase of a booster pack.

Here’s a brief bit of information from the PDF (which UO Guide assembled into an online guide):

The New Magincia Bazaar is a dynamic new center for commerce that offers buyers and sellers alike the opportunity to trade in extraordinary new ways.

The Bazaar of New Magincia consists of 50 stalls that will be leased for one week at a time by prospective merchants. These stalls are available to renters for commerce. The Bazaar Authority keeps expert brokers on staff, who are available for hire by those leasing stalls in the bazaar. These brokers act on behalf of the stall renter to buy and sell merchandise. Brokers are of two types: Animal Brokers, and Commodity Brokers.

Animal Brokers will take possession of pets and sell them at a price determined by the owner, charging a small commission for each sale, plus a small percentage commission on the sale price of unsold inventory. Prospective customers will be able to preview animals for sale in specially designed pens, and see their vital stats.

Commodity Brokers are able to both buy and sell commodity items for their employer. They work on commission similarly to Animal Brokers: they receive a small percentage of each purchase or sale, and they charge a percentage commission on all sale-able inventory.

I would highly recommend visiting the UO Guide page linked above, as it’s the easiest way to view the information online. I’m not going to restate the information here, although I’ve posted several stories in the past about it.