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Nostalgia, KR, Stygian Abyss, and the Lessons of the Lost Lands

Discussion in 'UHall' started by RaDian FlGith, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. RaDian FlGith

    RaDian FlGith Babbling Loonie
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    It is my strong opinion that the Development Team is sitting on the edge of the end of Ultima Online, and it saddens me. They speak of their bold plans, they talk that there are great things coming, and we continue to see nothing. Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn was supposed to usher in the rebirth of Ultima Online. Instead, it has sounded a death knell, a war between clients, and rightfully so. In its present condition, the KR client will never replace the 2D client, and yet, in order for UO to survive, the 2D client MUST someday be made obsolete.

    So to first address the KR client... there are three things that the UO Dev Team MUST do in order to encourage adoption of the KR client:

    1) Bring back the interface that makes UO special. It is said that people complained that the UO interface was difficult to learn. That was probably true given only the state of the instruction manual. Contrary to those claims though, the UO interface is fairly intuitive at its basest levels. What needs to happen is a unity in the look and feel of interfaces. But the magic of those interfaces doesn't need to be replaced, and they most certainly do not need to become EQ or WOW interfaces. If people want to play EQ and WOW, they will go there.

    2) Refine the artwork and make it crisp at least at default zoom level, which should be easily selectable. The artwork needs to be clear as icons, the artwork needs to be brighter than it is, and most importantly, when its tiled artwork, it needs to be seamless whether zoomed or not. This means that staircases should match their tilesets, that walls should line up well, and so forth.

    3) The KR client MUST do everything the 2D client does, and MUST do everything that UOA does. It should be an inclusive package that you don't need add-ons to accomplish.

    Now that I've opined about the KR client, let's move on to the Stygian Abyss, and discuss expansions. To me, there have been only two successful expansions in all of UO's history. Ultima Online: The Second Age, and Ultima Online: Third Dawn/Lord Blackthorn's Revenge. Okay, you caught me, 3D and LBR are separate expansions, however, the reason I list them both is because they both presented Ilshenar. One as a 3D only feature, and the second to all users of Ultima Online. However, of the two, T2A is the one that stands out the most.

    The Second Age was introduced to us with forboding in-game events. Blackrock and the Followers of Armageddon. Suddenly the earth rips and there's entrances to the T2A areas, and off you go into a lost land filled with new creatures, mystical places, and so forth. The only failure of T2A is that large areas of it continue to go unused because the initial DevTeam was planning on it being the great frontier with player communities forming -- but they couldn't overcome the technical problem of house placing with the bumpy landscape, and as the DevTeam changed, so too did the goal of placing housing there.

    But T2A was a new adventure. It was a new experience. There was danger and intrigue. There was a war between two unknown species. And it was exciting.

    Ilshenar was the only thing that came close to that experience, because it was a similar presentation. It simply lacked in that its introduction was never complete and had no in-game events surrounding it. It just literally appeared.

    The Age of Shadows and Malas were a joke. Little fiction, but there was some. However, the trailer park of UO was exactly that. A place to put houses, with nothing even remotely interesting about it. No real history to it, and certainly nothing about it in-game. And of course, an island in the middle of nowhere that ended up not being used because of server lines (something that by now you'd think they'd have found a way to overcome in 10+ years). Sure, there's Doom, the "largest dungeon ever," but it wasn't really the largest dungeon at all, and aside from the repetitious gauntlet and poorly implemented stealables, no real reason to venture deep within.

    Samurai Empire returned to the ways of previous expansions, but to me was a failure in that it all felt so very ... not there. Like, there are nice touches to scenery, but there's no compelling reason to go adventuring there. None of the nice touches that were found in the Lost Lands or Ilshenar. Just a few points of interest, no in-game history to be found anywhere via text, tomes, signposts, or anything. It just sort of was. And while it had some in-game introduction, like all other expansions since Ilshenar, it was just a moongate.

    Mondain's Legacy... destruction. Which is what's been happening to UO lately. But it's not much of a legacy. The dungeons aren't even cleverly designed. Some of them look down-right sloppy. The "instances" aren't. I don't know... it just felt rushed, incomplete, and ultimately boring.

    So, what to take away from these experiences?

    Put some heart into the Stygian Abyss. Fiction. In-game leadup. New, interesting creatures, in-game points of interest, and so forth. Take a lesson from the Lost Lands, but more, come to think of it, take a lesson from Khaldun. Khaldun was a piecework dungeon to which anyone who's been there for adventure and lived the exploration of it STILL hopes has a second level accessable by some manner (and I think we can all agree that it was meant to happen, but they took away the events workers). And there are just awesome little touches in it that leave hooks for roleplay, for thought, for conjecture. But don't leave it all to us. Those tomes that drop in Khaldun (or is it dropped) were awesome.

    Take time with the expansion. DON'T MAKE IT ANOTHER MOONGATE FACET. Allow it to become one with the world. The last thing we need is yet another facet.

    And in the meantime, start looking at existing dungeons. Sit down with them. Maybe take a storyline, and give a theme to a dungeon. Put in some of the Khaldun magic. Drop in a new level, secretly hidden, leading to somewhere we've never been before. Open the crypts. Blast entrances into things from previously closed off areas. Play with the existing world. Bring content from within. Give Malas a purpose. Whatever. But put more than ten seconds of design into a dungeon. And with Stygian Abyss, make us drool for adventure. Give us that feeling of going somewhere new for the first time ever.

    These things I list here, along with setting up a small, dedicated team that works to improve the PvP experience, will keep UO alive, will get people excited about it again, will get people telling old players they need to come back and check this stuff out. THIS will bring a rebirth to Ultima Online.

    But there's one catch.

    Once you start down this path, there's no turning back. There's no starting something and then failing to complete it. There's no doing it for a bit, and then switching DevTeams and goals and taking it away again. Because that would only hammer further nails into the coffin.

    But this... along with regular bug fixes, revisiting systems that need to be revisited, and the regular stuff that's just a continue part of the balancing act, but this over all other stuff... this will keep UO alive.

    I'd love to see it happen. And I have no faith that it will. But you, the developers of Ultima Online, are the only ones who can make it happen, my doubts -- our doubts -- aside.

    Words of wisdom from someone here from the very beginning, and from someone who, unlike the suits at EA, knows why you continue to make money with Ultima Online. I'm just some poster on a forum, but trust me, I'm not off-base here.
     
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Nicely written. Good points. Disagree on the end of UO. Its sort of like you put it. Well what worked? Now get back to what made it work. A legacy interface would make KR a done deal for me. Well almost done deal. Legacy vending is needed to.
     
  3. Indeed, nicely written.

    Although, just to point out.. All indications about SA point to a "land within the old land". It's literally going to be one huge dungeon, not a whole area like Ish, by comparison. I think they said it may have a town in the dungeon, but something tells me it won't be just another moongate, as you put it.
     
  4. You talk like the devs are making bold plans that they aren't following through on. It's true that KR as easy to create or generally accepted as the devs seemed to think it would be, but it is getting better with every patch. I think KR will eventually have the level of polish required for it to be the primary client for all players.

    The devs have followed through on their plans. It's just that some of their plans haven't panned out quite as they expected. Magincia is destroyed as planned. Artifacts drop in virtue dungeons as planned. Doom drops are less of a grind as planned. Champ spawns drop more 20's and are more challenging to complete. Runic changes are planned... I bet they arrive.

    The game is getting improved all the time. It just takes time.

    I don't think we're on the verge of UO's death either, but I agree that SA needs to be immersive and make sense in the context of the UO world.
    I really don't think SA will be another moongate facet.

    I'm surprised you liked T2A so much. I loved the T2A dungeons, but overland map is really uninspired and unappealing to me. I really don't like how they just slammed a bunch of random-gen boxes together and called it a "unique overland map". Unique doesn't mean good... if SA is random-gen patchwork garbage like that I'll be annoyed.

    I really liked the AoS expansion from a design perspective and I like a lot of what it became. The AoS release, on the other hand, was a MESS. Both Necromancy and Chivalry have become staple skills in UO. I concede that that map of malas is primarily used to sell stuff (luna), farm stuff (laps at the gauntlet) and place housing, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Some people seem to like doom... personally, I find doing laps there to be boring.

    I like the diversity that was added by the AoS loot system. I realize a lot of people preferred the old system. We can't exactly go back to the old system from what we have now, though, so really I don't see a point in debating it.

    I have faith that there will be at least one thing in the SA expansion that will be so cool that I really want to try it. That'll be enough for me to justify buying the expansion for both my accounts.
     
  5. pallas

    pallas Guest

    <blockquote><hr>



    The devs have followed through on their plans.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Did I mention how much I love the Virtue System...?
     
  6. I agree with everything you say. Especially about the moongates. That UO should be designed as an online 'world' seems so self-evident, yet has been forgotten by successive teams of developers.
     
  7. Arcus

    Arcus Grand Poobah
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    As usual, good post!
     
  8. pallas

    pallas Guest

    Oh btw... post was spot on, nicely written. [​IMG]
     
  9. I agree the virtue system is a wonderful, innovative system. I wish it was completed.
     
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    How was it innovative?? And of course his point was that they did NOT follow through, as its been half finished for what 6 years?

    To the OP good posts, and all good points. I agree.
     
  11. RaDian FlGith

    RaDian FlGith Babbling Loonie
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    <blockquote><hr>

    You talk like the devs are making bold plans that they aren't following through on.

    [/ QUOTE ]I am. They quite often don't follow through on things. When was the last time the Faction System was worked on? Virtues? Heck, is the KR client even complete yet?
    <blockquote><hr>

    It's true that KR as easy to create or generally accepted as the devs seemed to think it would be, but it is getting better with every patch. I think KR will eventually have the level of polish required for it to be the primary client for all players.

    [/ QUOTE ]Eventually, I sure hope, but eventually may just be too late for it. The 3D client was eventually a pretty stable environment. Eventually people forgot about it and no matter of discussion would get people over to it. Of course, the avatars went from ugly to uglier to ugliest, and then to follow through, they found a point beyond infinity and made them uglier than the ugliest thing they'd previously done. Though I won't lay blame for that on the current team.
    <blockquote><hr>

    The devs have followed through on their plans. It's just that some of their plans haven't panned out quite as they expected. Magincia is destroyed as planned. Artifacts drop in virtue dungeons as planned. Doom drops are less of a grind as planned. Champ spawns drop more 20's and are more challenging to complete. Runic changes are planned... I bet they arrive.

    [/ QUOTE ]The devs have followed through on some of their plans.
    <blockquote><hr>

    The game is getting improved all the time. It just takes time.

    [/ QUOTE ]I'm pretty sure I didn't indicate that it wasn't getting improved. I'm simply outlining what, in my opinion, ensures the future success of UO.
    <blockquote><hr>

    I don't think we're on the verge of UO's death either, but I agree that SA needs to be immersive and make sense in the context of the UO world.
    I really don't think SA will be another moongate facet.

    [/ QUOTE ]Look around at all of the people leaving, the number of people who were vocal supporters of UO, and see how many of them are starting to question UO's future, and maybe you'll reconsider.
    <blockquote><hr>

    I'm surprised you liked T2A so much. I loved the T2A dungeons, but overland map is really uninspired and unappealing to me. I really don't like how they just slammed a bunch of random-gen boxes together and called it a "unique overland map". Unique doesn't mean good... if SA is random-gen patchwork garbage like that I'll be annoyed.

    [/ QUOTE ]It wasn't all random. Like I said above, the problem with T2A is that those big huge empty areas were also intended to be used as player housing areas. It's why there weren't many healers (ie: they're all in town), and why certain areas had no monster spawn at all. Because they were intended for housing. But shortly after Designer Dragon left, those plans, as well as Necromancy and Advanced Alchemy were scrapped.
    <blockquote><hr>

    I really liked the AoS expansion from a design perspective and I like a lot of what it became. The AoS release, on the other hand, was a MESS. Both Necromancy and Chivalry have become staple skills in UO. I concede that that map of malas is primarily used to sell stuff (luna), farm stuff (laps at the gauntlet) and place housing, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Some people seem to like doom... personally, I find doing laps there to be boring.

    [/ QUOTE ]I'm not sure what you liked about AoS. I do think new skills were a good idea -- and long awaited -- but the Malas map was plain, boring, and aside from Doom, there's really not a lot to do there. One dungeon. No real spawn areas of any substance (orc fort, brigands, and various wildlife aside)... *shrugs* Not a lot to explore either.
    <blockquote><hr>

    I like the diversity that was added by the AoS loot system. I realize a lot of people preferred the old system. We can't exactly go back to the old system from what we have now, though, so really I don't see a point in debating it.

    [/ QUOTE ]Actually, I'm one of the few people that still believes that in order for UO to have survived this long, the item-property system was a necessary evil. With the top loot being vanquishing, the game was going to go nowhere on a loot-based level, and that wasn't good. They didn't exactly implement it in the best of manners, but I still maintain it was necessary. I will also say they could have done better had they opened up discussion about it to the public, because first, we'd have expected it, and second, we could have brought up important points and suggestions. No, not everyone would have liked it, but less people would have left due to the instant surprise that it was.
    <blockquote><hr>

    I have faith that there will be at least one thing in the SA expansion that will be so cool that I really want to try it. That'll be enough for me to justify buying the expansion for both my accounts.

    [/ QUOTE ]I hope so. At this point, I'm not even sure SA is going to be released, but I do hope it's worthy of exploration and expansion, and that the cool factor is lasting, not just a two month burst of energy.
     
  12. Terraxia

    Terraxia Guest

    Nicely written, but I will not support UO any longer if the 2D client is gone, and I am sure I am not alone. The only solution is to merge the 2D client into KR, so that the EXACT graphics and interface are available in KR, and updated regularly. I want to play UO that looks like UO, and KR is not UO.
     
  13. RaDian FlGith

    RaDian FlGith Babbling Loonie
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    <blockquote><hr>

    Nicely written, but I will not support UO any longer if the 2D client is gone, and I am sure I am not alone. The only solution is to merge the 2D client into KR, so that the EXACT graphics and interface are available in KR, and updated regularly. I want to play UO that looks like UO, and KR is not UO.

    [/ QUOTE ]That solution is limited in both goal and mindset. The KR client should be designed around the existing 2D interface, I certainly agree, and the graphics in KR should be improved versions of the existing graphics, but to simply port it all over is an exceptionally horrible idea.

    Why?

    Because the 2D client as it stands, from interface to interface outside of the basics, is a mish-mash of interfaces. No one ever implemented a standard interface. The closest they came was the crafting menu which is fairly identical across all crafting systems (but is clearly not easy to add stuff to given the amount of time it takes to put stuff in, the number of bugs that typically arise, and the amount of items that are not shown in the display).

    The 2D client itself is in need of a serious interface overhaul from a continuity standpoint. Heck, even the questing system needs an overhaul.

    But I'd rather see them spend time on one client, because developing for 2 means splitting time between them, and half as much gets done. Now, all that said, right now, the 2D client is the viable client they should be programming for unless they intend to fix the KR client and bring it up to 2D's standards, and THEN surpass it. Right now it's not even at 2D standards, and that's most of the problem.