Town Hall Meetings are always a special time for the players of UO. Whether you are lucky enough to get to attend in person, or forced by the perils of real life to have to watch a video stream, everyone is on the edge of their seats, impatiently waiting to get a glimpse of what changes are in the workings for our beloved game. This years Town Hall Meeting which was held in Fairfax, Virginia, was no exception, as UO players and administration once again came together for a day of fellowship and surprises. Those of us who watched the meeting unfold via video stream and radio, were also fortunate enough to have a few of the folks in attendance post pictures and video to help give us a feel of the excitement there. Of course being the “never enough” UO players that we are, some of us wanted even more insight on how the meeting went and Uhall was soon filled with posts demanding additional information. Concluding that the best information we could obtain would come from the players that were actually there at the meeting, Airmid and myself, (mostly Airmid), “cornered” a few of the attendees and asked their opinions on the meeting and some of the new changes. We also “begged” to use some of their great photos for a slide show which they so graciously permitted. [youtube]lvSwZPXy3YM[/youtube] More from the perspective of players that attended the Town Hall Meeting: EM Faine Morgan: “It was great getting to meet the other EM's that were there and the players. After working with the other EM's for so long, it was fun to be able to "talk shop" face to face and get to know each other. The Devs of this game truly have a passion for it. I was really impressed with how much they care and how much they really do listen to the players. I'm excited about the Booster Pack. I think the route of adding to existing land and "boosting" it makes great sense. And I adore that they are fixing some of the bugs along with this. The smooth boat movement is going to be incredible based on what we saw. It's really impressive to me how much time they spent just chatting and sharing ideas with everyone. Just seeing their eyes light up like ours do reminds me why I've played this game for so long. I'm also very hopeful for what they had to say about cheating and third party apps. I know have posted very negatively but this is honestly the first time I remember them coming out and saying, "We have something in place to track this. We know who is doing this. We are working to take action." I don't need them to tell me what action. For the first time that I can remember, they actually said more than, "We recognize it's a problem." G.v.P.: “For Ultima, the "booster" approach is a sign of the times. In 1997 you had to have your new game or expansion on a physical shelf. Today, game developers can produce content entirely through a "digital" shelf, as users download content through their broadband Internet connections. For an extreme example, Darkfall, a modern MMO which is best described as a Fel-only 3D world, does not have any sort of physical shelf presence. The result is the user having to download over 7 GBs through a digital downloader in order to even test the game. However, for the purposes of Darkfall, if the user can't download the game in a timely manner, then the user probably can't run the game sufficiently. For a less extreme and in-house example, EA's Bioware division created a single player RPG game called Dragon Age, which was designed so that the user could purchase "booster" like expansions for $10-20 a piece. Some of these expansions were timely, such as holiday item packs, while other expansions were more bold, such as the ability to replay the entire game through the eyes of your enemy. This relatively new age of micro-transactions, which users of Ultima are familiar with since UOGameCodes.com started to release its own content, has further encouraged developers to work on smaller projects. However, a major concern of this trend is how EA Bioware-Mythic will attract new players to a game with over 13-year-old graphics. In my opinion, EA should continue to do boosters while they work on a next-gen MMORPG based on Bioware's Dragon Age engine. Otherwise, I think players need to understand that it's still up to us to advertise for UO, which is unfortunate. As far as the content of the booster goes, boat movement looks great for a pre-Alpha build. Everything else is classic Ultima: new things to do, new content to get, and more space to put it all. Not to say I'm not excited by the content, but the idea of multis (boats, houses, things like that) being able to move smoothly opens up a whole new door for the devs. Anyone up for some player-owned wagons down the road (pun intended)?“ Basara: “The meeting was pretty neat, though next time I'd advise Bonnie to buy 20 XXL shirts and only 2 Larges, instead of 20 Larges & 2 XXL. I had to settle for the "first come, first served" 2008 town hall leftover shirt, and a Juggernaut action figure, instead of a grab bag, as I wasn't gonna take a shirt too small to fit anyone I know (other than my mother, who doesn't wear t-shirts or play anything more sophisticated than Spider Solitaire). The proposed changes look great, though if I were them, I'd make the time to go ahead and revamp SOS loot to go with the Booster release, and not put it off. Other opinions: If they are going to have orc pirates, and player-owned orc ships, they REALLY need to rethink not having Orcs as player characters. It's not like 2D orcs would need more than elven skin tone selections applied to a human paperdoll, and a new head design. What's the only stumbling block was the ill-advised art change to orcs for KR/EC to make them less human, when even UO lore indicates they captured human children, that were almost indistinguishable from Orcs by adulthood. Cal seems out of touch on a few things. For example, his idea that the ONLY reason people do peerless is for the ML ingredients, when even the CRAFTERS I know, send their combat characters to peerless to try for the boss-specific rare items, Crimson Cinctures, and the commonly-used ML Minor drops (SS, totem, etc.) - the ML ingredients are somewhere down on the list around "items to unravel" and "armor set pieces", because (barring a miracle) you won't get the amount of taint needed for one item from 10 Peerless trips - and most of the boss-specific ingredients are useless without 10 taint to go with it. (note that another dev, from a response several weeks ago, considers Chivalry a Spellcaster skill, not one that enhances weapon combat like Bushido & Ninjitsu, for purposes of things like special moves - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???? Ninjitsu is more akin to spellcasting than Chivalry, and Bushido's about the same as Chivalry) More non-AHS info and constructive criticism was passed back and forth between attendees and other staff members, at the food table between the sessions (and at the bar), than was really done during the Question & Response session, and I look more to come from those exchanges (that of course, weren't on camera) than from all the stuff brought up on-camera.” GrimmOmen: “It was really awesome (and always is) to get to meet with the players and talk about the game. It really feels for me like the ties between players and devs gets drawn a little tighter each time we do this. I mean, we’re all players, and it was great to be able to connect with everyone on that level. With every town hall, you forge new friendships. From a devs point of view – it was terrific to hear the “OOOooo’s” and “Aaaahhhh’s” when the ships were revealed. That was incredibly satisfying. A LOT of work has gone into getting those things working – from all the disciplines, not just art. So for them to have been received like that, it felt good.” Thank you to all that contributed pictures, your thoughts, and your time!