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[News] An Interview With Regine ‘Sakkarah’ Abel

Discussion in 'UHall' started by AirmidCecht, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    [​IMG]

    An Interview With Regine ‘Sakkarah’ Abel


    Lining up a few questions with Sakkarah for the UO community is always a treat when it comes to “what’s next?” because one never knows what the team has up their sleeve. I think many would agree when we look at the last few holiday events that there tends to be something for everyone and adjustments have been made when necessary. With a strong background in UO, we need that sense of history now more than ever after suffering the loss of some great team members with EA layoffs. That said we have a few questions and a thank you to Sakkarah for taking the time to give us an update.

    While many in the community are already familiar with you, can you give us a quick run down of your history with UO and your transition to the development team?

    I've been playing UO since beta. I started out as a crafter (Blacksmith), did a bit of RP, then got hooked on treasure maps. That led me to start my treasure maps website which grew over time to training guides and what not. I dabbled in Factions, mainly with my thief. Then came champ spawns which drew me permanently back to Felucca. I ran a fairly large guild for many years until I joined the team. In between that, I had been running a lot of events as a player and ran the QuestMasters guild for a while. That got me noticed and I was invited to join the EM program. During that time, I was obtaining a degree in Game Design and started working in a Montreal game studio. Two years ago, I was approached by Mythic regarding an opening on the UO design team and the rest is history :)

    How is it different running an event as a player vs. as a developer?

    Extremely different, both good and bad. As a player, you are limited by existing game mechanics. I was lucky on Atlantic to have had a great network of friends and helpers (Tazar definitely being at the top of that list!) so it made things easier. After a while, I had established a reputation too, so players usually behaved. But providing enticing rewards was challenging at times and always very costly.

    As a Dev, it's challenging differently. Players are a lot less forgiving towards us. So you have to account for every possible situation, every playstyle, real life schedules, exploits, lag, casual/hardcore players, rares market, balancing issues, etc. But it’s great because you have a lot more power to do crazy things. The only real limitations here are your own creativity and scripting skills. I’ve come a long way on that front since joining the team. That has enabled me to be more daring in the type of things I do. So I’m excited about what we will be able to deliver in the future. Personally, I try to make events that encourage people to work together and help them rediscover part of the game they may have forgotten about or never had a chance to experiment before.

    With the readjustment of the UO team, can you give us an idea of how this will impact the community moving forward with events?

    We intend for the impact to be minimal if at all noticeable. There may be the occasional apparent downtime while we’re frantically working on the next big thing but we’ll do our best to keep it minimal. I think we’ve done pretty good delivering some fun content in the past few months and we already have quite a few events lined up for the not too distant future. The EMs are also doing an amazing job keeping things hopping on their respective shards. So overall, I think our players will be happy.

    Realizing you just wrapped up SA in a pretty nice package for the players, are there any plans for future expansions along the lines of ML and SA?

    There certainly are. We've done quite a bit of brainstorming and some pretty solid designs have been laid out already. In fact, our engineers are doing a first pass in investigating some of the things we want to accomplish. We are not looking at as big an expansion as SA was but it should be just as exciting! I know I’m definitely looking forward to both develop it and play it!

    Do you have a 'dream project' you'd like to do, if time and resources permitted?

    My dream project would revolve around RP Towns and RP tools. Frankly, I pretty much have it all laid out in my head. But it would require a lot of engineering, art and design time to make it happen. I would love to give players the real ability of building their own towns with a RTS side to it, where certain buildings and upgrades become available as the town grows in size. Each town would be encouraged (though not obligated) to specialize itself to unlock specific upgrades (i.e. crafter town vs. military vs. maritime). It would have a proper election, taxes, war systems integrated. Instead of everyone camping Luna, I would like to see people congregate to specific player towns when they want specific specialty goods or activities. With that, I would also like to give players a lot more tools to create and run their own events, from oracles to customizable clues and rewards that can be scattered out in the world, even in the depths of a dungeon.

    With the Felucca vs. Trammel debate standing the test of time, how do you address the different play styles when implementing new items and events in UO?

    We try to give items that can be used by the greater number of people, and not so much focus on a specific class or play style. The simplest route is decorative items. But not everyone is into decorating. So we try to get useful items that aren't overpowering, such as the costumes and harvester's blade.

    In the case of weapons and armor type, we just try to limit the number and type of the properties we give them. HCI, DCI, SDI, MR and LRC are usually properties that can be beneficial and appealing to both PvMers and PvPers. So we will often use them. Because of PvP, we try to be careful which item slot will be used to prevent people putting together insane gear, and now with the gargoyles, we also need to make sure it's something all races will be able to use.

    Other MMO’s seem to undercut the importance of player “ownership” in their games. Do you feel this has affected the longevity of Ultima Online with housing and crafting and how do you feel the community itself affects UO’s history?

    I think the strong sense of ownership and community is one of the main reason UO has stood the test of time. In UO, you literally own a piece of world. This is your house. This is your town. This is your legacy. Not the Dev’s, not the EMs’ but yours. As a character, you make your own destiny, which in turn will impact those around you. How significant this impact will be is up to you. I have yet to experience another MMO where individuals, guilds, towns can truly make their mark on their world (hate them or love them) and be commemorated in History as is the case with UO, be it on their home shard or globally.

    In most other MMOs, you’re just another DPS, another Tank, another Healer or some dude in an auction house. In UO, if you’re looking for a good PvPer, they will be referred to by name. If you want some potion kegs, you’ll be sent to John’s shop, he’s always well stocked. You want armor? Go check Sarah near Moonglow gate. A good guild for a new player? Go talk to (insert guild name). House deco ideas? Talk to so and so or go check out Linda’s houses near this town or that town. No one cares if another DPS quits, but the Johns and Sarahs and Lindas do matter. And the people who rely on them give them a reason to stick around.

    What does this week consist of for you? What are you focusing on for UO?

    Right now, the focus is on the next event arc. A lot of back story writing, quite a bit of coding mainly for feasibility testing and assets requests. The destruction of Magincia was no doubt one of the most impressive events ever put together. The rebuilding by no means pretends to be as spectacular but it will certainly try to do it some justice. Since this involves the reconstruction of a city, crafters will definitely be involved. The tricky part is to make it as enticing for PvMers as well as PvPers and to also come up with ways to reward shard participation.

    Thank you Sakarrah for taking the time to address the community of players as we head into another wonderful year of Ultima Online!
     
  2. Stupid Miner

    Stupid Miner Guest

    Don't worry Sakkarah, you're doing a great job. After introducing the new plants I don't think i could ever dislike you :D

    Reading about the player towns... you remind me of me.
     
  3. Salivern_Diago

    Salivern_Diago Lore Master
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    Now this is stuff I like to hear!

    I love the stuff to do with RP/Player towns!

    Thank you Sakkarah for the interview!
     
  4. Tomas_Bryce

    Tomas_Bryce Rares Collector Extraordinaire | Rares Fest Host
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    Very well put. I really liked reading it. Thank you.
     
  5. Storm

    Storm UO Forum Moderator
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    Great interview! Thanks
     
  6. hawkeye_pike

    hawkeye_pike Babbling Loonie
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  7. kelmo

    kelmo Old and in the way
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    I think I might be in love...
     
  8. Nok

    Nok Lore Master
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    Thank you Aidmid & Sakkarah.
     
  9. I'm glad Airmid asked Sakkarah to do the quick run down. It's so nice to know that Sakkarah doesnt just care about UO because she works for EA/Mythic and its her job, but she cares because she has also been apart of the UO Community since the very beginning. It's also something I didn't know :)


    "Other MMO’s seem to undercut the importance of player “ownership” in their games. Do you feel this has affected the longevity of Ultima Online with housing and crafting and how do you feel the community itself affects UO’s history?"
    I think the strong sense of ownership and community is one of the main reason UO has stood the test of time. In UO, you literally own a piece of world. This is your house. This is your town. This is your legacy. Not the Dev’s, not the EMs’ but yours. As a character, you make your own destiny, which in turn will impact those around you. How significant this impact will be is up to you. I have yet to experience another MMO where individuals, guilds, towns can truly make their mark on their world (hate them or love them) and be commemorated in History as is the case with UO, be it on their home shard or globally.

    In most other MMOs, you’re just another DPS, another Tank, another Healer or some dude in an auction house. In UO, if you’re looking for a good PvPer, they will be referred to by name. If you want some potion kegs, you’ll be sent to John’s shop, he’s always well stocked. You want armor? Go check Sarah near Moonglow gate. A good guild for a new player? Go talk to (insert guild name). House deco ideas? Talk to so and so or go check out Linda’s houses near this town or that town. No one cares if another DPS quits, but the Johns and Sarahs and Lindas do matter. And the people who rely on them give them a reason to stick around.


    This is so so true and it definitely sets UO apart from every other game out there, this is why I'm here and not going anywhere.

    Sakkarah, you've been doing a wonderful job, keep it up! ;) And a BIG Thank You to you and Airmid for the interview.
     
  10. Phaen Grey

    Phaen Grey Lore Master
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    I've been a fan of Sakkarah's since learning if her involvement in gardening and other mini games in UO. I really like her perspective and hope things continue with her for a long while.
     
  11. canary

    canary Guest

    very well done interview.
     
  12. AesSedai

    AesSedai Guest

    "Thank you Sakarrah for taking the time to address the community of players as we head into another wonderful year of Ultima Online!"

    - That about sums up my thoughts :)
    (thx to AirmidCecht as well!)
     
  13. Cear Dallben Dragon

    Cear Dallben Dragon Babbling Loonie
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    Re: [News] An Interview With Regine ‘Sakkarah’ Abel

    *nods once*
     
  14. Jhym

    Jhym Guest

    It's always great to get honest interviews with thoughtful questions.

    Doesn't hurt that Sakkarah knows how demanding we all can be, since she was one of us for so long :gee:
     
  15. popps

    popps Always Present
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    That would be a dream come true.
    I'd LOVE to see those things coming to Ultima Online........


    My concern is that the items and modifiers are too many and the more they are, the much harder it is to keep everything in balance.
    And, if there is not enough balancing among them, developers and programmers have to spend work and time (resources) to rebalance everything.

    That is, I am afraid, that too many items and too many modifiers may counter fire drawing resources away from the game to the expense of other things.

    Not to mention my concerns about new players.
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Slightly Crazed
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    Great interview! Thanks to all involved and I'm more than thrilled to say the least, about the directioon Dev's are taking to the player communities. Good things happening now, more on the way. Gots to love it!
     
  17. FireKitten

    FireKitten West Vesper Arena - Pit Mistress
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    *Sak's Number One fan* I hear she keeps catnip in her desk!!!:heart: *purrs*
     
  18. Lady Lovely

    Lady Lovely Guest

    On thing is always evident with Sakkarah , she Loves the game and community! So many come and go and its obvious they don't care as much as we do....
    You have made your mark in UO history Sakkarah! Thank you :grouphug:
     
  19. Hunters' Moon

    Hunters' Moon Grand Inquisitor
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  20. Tina Small

    Tina Small Stratics Legend
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    It was a treat being part of the SA beta and reading Sakkarah's comments and explanations during that process. However, I became an even bigger fan of hers (and the rest of the team that often go unmentioned here) the day she came to my house shortly after the SA expansion went live and while she was eyeball-deep in preparing for Halloween. She wanted to dig through some old seeds I had there to try to figure out if there was an easy way to get them to stack other than planting them all and then dumping them out of their bowls. I don't think that problem's been solved yet (it's probably way down the priority list and rightly so), but I know from first-hand experience now it wasn't just empty words on her part when she promised to look into fixing a problem.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. Sadrith Mora

    Sadrith Mora Guest

    If you've read Sakkarah's blogs, and read this interview, then you know she is the right person to take this game to a new level.

    The only thing i don't understand is what happened to Draconi? I think most people reading this forum would agree that he did a phenomenal job keeping UO going, and giving fans hope for continued future success.

    Did he leave on his own, or was he replaced? I can't help but be curious of the situation.

    Nothing bitter of course, just curious. If he was happier leaving to pursue something else, then good for him, and hope he's happy.

    UO seems to be in good hands either way, though...
     
  22. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement. Last year for the most part was wonderful with the expansion and events. It may not have ended on a high note and that is a shame but such is the economy and business right now, though they personally shot themselves in the foot a bit with losing some great people. I look at our collective investment of $12+ a month as a great source of 24/7 entertainment that not even Avatar can satisfy *grins*

    Some say they speak their displeasure by unsubscribing and that is everyone's right as a consumer. I just know that by doing that, I'm the one losing out on a game I really enjoy. I buy the lil dollar items on uogamecodes (*cough* when it LETS me) hoping that my new undertakers staff and snow tree buys Sakarrah and other devs a few more resources to focus on UO. It's the nature of the game and I'm playing :)

    We can see by the honesty and dreams of a future UO in Sakarrah's answers that there is still much to do and I hope 2010 affords them the opportunity to do it! Thanks again Sakarrah *hugs*
     
  23. Magdalene

    Magdalene Stratics Legend
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    Well done, Airmid :thumbup:
     
  24. Trebr Drab

    Trebr Drab Guest

    If they do this, I hope it's part of a player built city and not individual player owned.

    Not that I don't want it for myself too, I understand that.

    It's just that I think player built cities would be huge if they could build and control things like docks, depots, palisades, guard towers, resource centers, etc.

    Think Ages of Empires or Civilization here. Take the city building from games like that, modify the ideas for a game like UO, and create a city function that acts sort of like a player in those games, but run by a council of city leaders elected by the citizens.
     
  25. Coldren

    Coldren Sage
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    Excellent interview! Good questions and good answers.

    Incidentally, this is of course my favorite part.

    Why?

    *Cough*

    http://vboards.stratics.com/showthread.php?t=159656

    :thumbup1:
     
  26. Viquire

    Viquire Crazed Zealot
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    These types of changes and community tools have been talked about before, and I continue to hope to see them implemented.

    While I refuse to sharply inhale and hold anymore, I will wish Sak the very best of luck on making it all come together and say that I think the real hope for the future of this game lies in more player control of the facets we play in.

    Thanks to Airmid for taking time to put it together, and thanks to Sak for, well, for getting that part of the game. ;)