Check Your Inbox for a Message from Origin – Discounts of 10% – 40% Possible

Check your email for a message from Origin/EA with the subject of “A surprise discount inside – how much will you save?”

It’s a Halloween promotion from, EA’s online store, and it includes coupon codes for anywhere from 10% – 40% off, with some getting lucky and getting 100% (very few I imagine).

It looks like you can use it for multiple items, just make sure and put the code in after every item.

Of interest to Ultima Online players, the following do seem to take the codes:
* Ultima Online High Seas Booster
* Ultima Online Stygian Abyss account upgrade
* Ultima Online Stygian Abyss new player/30 days.

The email will have something that looks like this, with the code below it:

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

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. was launched, 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.

UO between 1997 and 1998 or I Killed Cows for Karma Loss

As I’m working on the article about the The Second Age expansion (Update: UO: The Second Age – finished)in my little quest to look back at UO’s history as we head towards the 14th Anniversary, quite a lot was added to Ultima Online outside of the T2A Expansion, between September of 1997 and October of 1998. The following are some highlights taken from

Warning: This can be a long read, but it should be a fascinating read, as you’ll see some of the things we don’t even think about anymore had a lot of time and effort devoted to them. Those not familiar with UO’s early years but who play these days will probably (hopefully) be surprised and amused that some things we take for granted were not always a part of the game.

So we start in October 1997, just after the launch, here are the changes and additions made:
* A new pet command, “transfer,” was added. This completely transfers loyalty fr om one boss to another. This should be used to sell pets to other players, rather than “friend,” which merely adds an additional master.
* Animal trainers now understand the word “stable.” They will charge you 30gp fr om your bank account to stable a pet, and will keep it safely (unless they are killed) and well-fed even while you are logged out. The word “claim” will retrieve all pets y ou have at a given animal trainer.
* When clicking on someone, their name appears red, gray, or blue, depending on the following:
*** if performing a bad action such as theft, attack, or snooping would lower yo ur notoriety, they show in blue
*** if performing such an action on them would improve your notoriety, the name shows in red
*** if it would have no effect on your notoriety, it shows in gray
* The area west of Trinsic that has no bridges over the river will gain them.
* Ships and houses now put a duplicate key in your safety deposit box when they are built. Note that existing houses and ships will not do this for you!
* When you build a house, the key will appear in your backpack instead of in front of the house.
* Safety deposit boxes! All banker functions remain intact as before. But in addition, if you say “bank” to the banker, he will open up your personal chest. Note that there is a limit on how much this chest can hold! Also, gold in your account and gold in the box are the same gold; there’s just two ways of getting at it now.
* Committing a criminal act (an action that results in the loss of notoriety) will flag you for two minutes as a criminal. During this time period, actions against you will not result in any notoriety changes at all. Note that looting is not currently defined as a criminal act! Also note that attacks of any kind are still illegal in guarded areas!
* Herds of deer, flocks of sheep, herds of cows, packs of timber wolves, and small packs of undead will start roaming the land.
* Gypsy camps and brigand camps will appear.
* You will be able to rescue prisoners and escort them back to the location they request, for a reward.

November 1997
* Added a macro called “AllNames” that lets you bring up the names of everyone on screen instantly.
* Mining now has a small animation, a delay, sound effects, and autostacking of ore in your backpack.
Fletching and lumberjacking also now have sound effects, animations, and require “process” time.
* Gate travel is now two-way, so that if someone tries to trap you on a roof you can just walk back.
* There are now four damage types: direct (ignores armor), physical, fire, and energy.
* Newbie items are not stealable.

December is where things really start to pick up. Among the additions: Vendors, tinker traps, pack animals, the bounty system, orc mages and orc lords, circle of transparency.

Read more

Story: Demise of the Defiler

Yesterday, we got a large update on the Stygian Abyss-related storyline that is focused on the Gargoyle Queen Zhah. For a little more on Zhah, see the UO Guide entry for Zhah.

Below is a brief excerpt.

Written by Vincent Hatcher

It had all come down to this.

Zhah took a deep breath and reached into the pouch at her side. Pulling out a bottle, she stared at the dark, murky liquid within. It looked as disgusting as it smelled and, undoubtedly, would probably taste the same. The various components they had mixed during the empowerment ritual had created the substance and, if the ancient documents were true, it would grant her enough temporary power to destroy the Defiler’s protective poison shield.

Steeling herself, she popped the cork held the bottle up to her lips, drinking deeply. The potion was vile, and her initial reaction was to vomit. But she drank it all, dropping the bottle to the ground. Warmth flowed through her body as the potion began to take effect. She felt stronger, almost intoxicated, as power coursed through her very being.

It was time.

Stepping forward, she raised her staff, pointing it towards the imprisoned Defiler. The small army of adventurers that had chosen to stand and fight beside her tensed in unison, preparing for battle.

Read the full story: UO Herald

Publish 71 World-Wide Release – July 20, 2011

Yesterday, Publish 71 was pushed to Origin and later tonight, the rest of us should see it pop up. It’s scheduled to be pushed to the rest of the shards with the next maintenance cycle, which for many of us in North America maybe July 21, 2011.

Here are the Earlier Publish 71 notes

Full release notes: UO Herald