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[NEWS] QA5 Michael ”Phoenix” Moore, Designer II

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Lady Tia, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. Lady Tia

    Lady Tia Certifiable
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    [​IMG]Michael “Phoenix” Moore

    Designer II



    For those of us who don’t know, what has your “career track” been with the gaming industry?

    I am what is known as a game systems designer. That means I am primarily concerned with game mechanics and not game content. I don’t normally write quests or populate dungeons with monsters or lay out game maps. I occasionally do those things, but mostly I work with things like combat balance, monster AI, monster and player abilities, crafting, trading, and other such features. My job requires a broad skillset that includes software engineering, spreadsheets, databases, technical and creative writing, and user interface design. I often implement the designs I create.


    I’ve been doing this for ten years now. 6.5 of those years have been spent working on Ultima Online, and the remainder of it was spent on Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa.


    What project that you were involved in are you the proudest of?

    I had a hand in bringing customizable housing to UO with Age of Shadows. The idea was one that the team often talked about but largely considered a pipe dream. What I did, the thing I am proud of, was to build a prototype. It was a proof-of-concept that took about four days to construct. That prototype wasn’t very much like the final product at all, and was scrapped after use. But what it did was to show the possibilities in a way that people could interact with. Rapidly prototyping gameplay is the thing I love most about my job. I did later work closely with client and server engineers to bring the final custom housing to fruition.


    Another thing I’m really happy about is my recent work with the itemization system released in conjunction with the revamp of Dungeon Shame. I have long felt that UO’s random loot drops had one particularly bad problem: the randomness was dialed up to 11. Now, I love randomness in game systems up to a point. I just don’t think that finding a needle in a haystack is enjoyable gameplay. So I got the chance to address that issue, along with a number of other important problems with UO’s random item generation. I think the result is a huge improvement and will significantly change UO for the better.




    I think most of us understand and respect Dev’s having to remain tight lipped about upcoming content etc. However, when it comes to past content only, what was the hardest thing for you to personally remain tight lipped about? **kind of like, you saw a bunch of negative/griping posts on Stratics and you were sitting back thinking “dang if y’all only knew” or something along those lines**

    I pretty much have no desire to “spill the beans”. I prefer to play my cards close to my chest, as it were. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, this is true of game systems: A working alpha is worth a thousand forum posts. A simple prototype can show off a game system in ways that words can’t. Using mere words creates a layer of abstraction. You can’t teach a pilot to fly with just an instruction manual; at some point they have to take the stick and feel it. Similarly, you can theory-craft a game design on paper all you want, but you just won’t really know if it’s really good until you can actually play it.



    When it comes to the current team, who is the practical joker of the bunch and have they gotten you? OR What was your best retaliatory strike against “the joker”?

    Hmm. The current UO team is pretty tame. They could take some lessons from those who came before.


    When I was working on Tabula Rasa, one of the producers broke the build over an important weekend, when a pre-alpha version of the game was to be demonstrated live. This is one of the reasons why producers generally don’t get to touch the engineers’ shiny dials. But anyway, when he returned the following week, the bosses had literally erased his office door. They removed the door and the door frame, covered it with drywall, painted it to match the corridor, and removed his nameplate. Eventually they let him bust in with a hatchet.


    Then there was the time they tinfoiled the lead designer’s office. They went so far as to remove aspirin from a bottle, individually wrap them in foil, and put them back in the bottle (after, of course, tinfoiling the bottle). Every surface and every object in the office was wrapped in aluminum.



    When you are not chained to the desk working, what do you enjoy doing?

    I enjoy spending time with my wife of 15 years. We game together, watch movies and TV. We enjoy good food. Currently, we are fostering kittens with an animal rescue organization.
     
  2. Shelleybean

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    Heh, I remember a group of us at work got together and taped down everything in our boss's office. He was NOT amused. :)
     
  3. Larisa

    Larisa Reporting Manager
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    You are amazing...I love these QA5 things, just getting to know a bit more about the people that work on our beloved game is awesome.

    Thank you so much Phoenix for all you do, and now that I know that you had a major hand in the customized housing I love you even more! That has to be one of the top 3 things I love about UO, so THANK YOU!!!

    You're job sounds tough, but lots of fun and you are appreciated!
     
  4. Mirt

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    I love the new item system so thank you. I love the erased office door. That is a really really good one.
     
  5. Merion

    Merion Lore Master
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    This was nice and interesting and all, but honestly I'd rather have the classic FoF back, were actual game related stuff was talked about.
     
  6. Sevin0oo0

    Sevin0oo0 Guest

    agreed, altho, missing door FTW

    and..
    "I just don’t think that finding a needle in a haystack is enjoyable gameplay."
    Well put, cheers
     
  7. MalagAste

    MalagAste Belaern d'Zhaunil
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    So this is the guy that should be fixing my housing issue!

    Cool! Fix it! When KR was out the housing menu was AWESOME and you could bump friends to co-owner or vice versa... and houses excepted you having 70+ Co-owners.

    I want that back. I'm VERY happy to be able to be co-owned to 10 houses that's awesome.... UNTIL you realize that each house still can only have 10 co-owners... totally defeating the enhancement to co-ownership.

    As it stands now if you have 2 accounts then hooty for you.... you can be co-owned with all your characters to both your houses...

    However.... if you are like someone like me and you have say 8 accounts... then the vast majority of your characters are stuck being friends... therefore you can't "Friend"..... any of your friends in game because all your house settings have to be to friend.... and you can't "Secure" items in your own home. You can't use many things in your own home... and your friends CAN NOT have access to ANYTHING in your house or they have access to EVERYTHING. Or you have VERY limited access to your own stuff and you constantly have to log onto other accounts to do things in your own house.... ROYAL PAIN IN THE ARSE!

    Please fix it.

    Allow houses to have 70+ co-owners, please!
     
  8. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    This series is entirely separate and meant to give a more personal look at the UO Team.

    We are working on more interviews but we also hope to extend Ask the Devs into the same type of format. Stay tuned!

    I loved finding out more what Phoenix does behind the scenes and how much effort goes into all the details!

    Thank you Tia and Kylie for working on these :D
     
  9. Nok

    Nok Lore Master
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    Good interview. Thanks Phoenix and Lady Tia!
     
  10. Storm

    Storm UO Forum Moderator
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    great job !!
     
  11. Kylie Kinslayer

    Kylie Kinslayer Grand Inquisitor
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    :lol:

    I feel his pain, had the same experience in going to Prism of Light when it first hit. Paid 10k for the ticket, went down the ladder and was a little ticked that it cost 10k to see that little room. Did not learn about the "hidden door" for six months hehe.

    Great interview tho. Thanks for both of y'alls time. Now I just wonder how many Uhall'ers are going to foil wrap folks offices in the future :thumbsup:
     
  12. Theo_GL

    Theo_GL Grand Poobah
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    Is it just me or do 'developers' come off as holier than thou egomaniacs?

    Maybe if you shared some of your game design earlier with people who understand the game you would get some actionable feedback that will keep you from making the blatent mistakes the team continues to roll out.

    The secrecy and lack of communication/plans is annoying to the playerbase. The 'surprises' the dev team rolls out are more like unhappy accidents. I cringe at every new release.
     
  13. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    I don't know of many MMO titles out there who have based a lot of their actions on feedback from players as much as UO has over the years. Some things were scrapped due to coming to the players first while others implemented because of players asking.

    It's a delicate balance and you have your right to your opinion but I have never seen the team as secretive when we have the opportunity to test every publish first. Just my 2 cents and a snapple :)
     
  14. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    I have a few extra questions for ya Phoenix if you happen upon this thread:

    What was it like transitioning from UO to TR under RG? :D

    When you start looking at project like Shame, how do you line up a design doc for it? What comes first when you outline the dungeon?
     
  15. eve

    eve Journeyman
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    Phoenix........

    for whatever it is worth.... the single thing that has kept me in UO all of these years....... (13total, but really the past five or so) is housing and customization of housing. Good job!!

    And, I wish they would quit "improving" everything so that those of us who have trouble surviving in dungeons find it more and more difficult to do so because of the massive changes in armor weapons, etc.

    I wish the powers-that-be would ask us what we would like to see, rather than sit in their offices and plan it all and present us the total package as a fait accompli. Make an alternate path, perhaps...... I miss not being able to maintain Lady...... :(


    Love this game.........
     
  16. TheChocolits

    TheChocolits Seasoned Veteran
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    Oh Mi Gosh! .... U're an Awesome Dev in my book already!

    Kittehs FTW ! ... :p

    [​IMG]

    Keep 'em coming :)
     
  17. atlanticScorpion

    atlanticScorpion Adventurer
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    Hi Phoenix, Since you had a big hand at customizing housing I want to hear it from you. (and only you) Why can't you guys make castles and keeps customizable? And has the new migration system made it so that you have no way of knowing what houses are not being paid for and thats why house decay is not happening. Thank you,
     
  18. Kayne

    Kayne Guest

    Not sure you see the point of the interview. Its not about UO its about the devs, the EM's and other UO team members. The idea is to get to know the PEOPLE behind the game.

    Thank you Phoenix for taking the time to answer questions. Since I see you lurking I hope you have the time to respond to some of the extras asked here
     
  19. kelmo

    kelmo Old and in the way
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    Ding Ding Ding!
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Gospel

    Gospel Seasoned Veteran
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    Nope, I got that. I just would like to see UO related UO team interviews I suppose in addition to these.

    And Kelmo, grats on a quality post. :loser:
     
  21. kelmo

    kelmo Old and in the way
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    Man. Tough crowd.
     
  22. Lady Tia

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    Your welcome! This was fun! I hope he answers the recently posted questions!

    I loved this interview! Thank you so much for all the work you do Phoenix!
     
  23. Lorax_Pacific

    Lorax_Pacific Lore Master
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    Those were fun responses. I enjoyed reading this.

    -Lorax
     
  24. Kayne

    Kayne Guest

    Still hoping Phoenix responds to the extra questions here...
     
  25. Viquire

    Viquire Crazed Zealot
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    Well, I laughed...but then again, I'm an idiot, so go figure. :)