People in meatspace sometimes react strangely when they find out that I'm a gamer. I always thought that "There are no girls on the Internet" was a tongue-in-cheek meme, but Australia is a backwards sort of place, and I guess it makes sense that people here would take the saying seriously. The best response I've had was from a boy who came to my workplace to do his two weeks of mandatory high-school work experience. He was a few months younger than me, hilariously excitable, and his answer to "I game" was something along the lines of, "ZOMG YOU'RE HORDE AMIRITE you seem like someone who'd play Horde omg omg what server do you play whats your character YOU CAN JOIN MY GUILD IF YOU WANT plz join my guild we have no girls!!11! do you pvp" Once I was certain that he wasn't about to jump up on the table and start dancing (he was incredibly high-strung), I told him the terrible truth: I didn't play World of Warcraft - I played Ultima Online. He looked horrified. For a moment, I could see him torn between two opposing urges: impress the breasted gamer, or bag the geriatric game? Finally he said, "Ultima Online? Isn't that like a hundred years old? Why would you pay to play that outdated piece of crap?" I don't remember my exact response, but it could probably be summarised as "Hail, how art thou, fair addle-pated maiden of ye olde yonder tavern, aye, thou art a wastrel knave - fie, fie! for thy mother dost be a curdled wench indeed! Hail to thee, good sir, and fare thee well, sandbox sandbox sandbox roleplay sandbox." Which is exactly how he took it, and for the rest of his placement he greeted me with "Hail, how art thou!" every time we met, even if we'd only seen each other thirty seconds ago. It caused him endless amusement, and I got to feel like a martyr for my cause, and it was good fun for everybody. Absurdity aside, eighteen months on, the question still stands: why do I pay to play this "outdated piece of crap"? Why do I happily shell out twelve dollars a month for a game that's been around since I was seven years old, has approximately three players, and boasts graphics that wouldn't look out of place on the Gameboy Advance? Why don't I go and play WoW, or EVE, or WAR, or something shinier? Why indeed. Obviously the answer could be "Sandbox sandbox sandbox roleplay sandbox." But I think that I can do a little better than that. So, in response to a question that nobody on this forum asked, I present - in no particular order - seven things that I love about Ultima Online. If the devs are reading this, I want you to know how much I love this game you're running, and I think it still has life aplenty in it. To everybody else, please understand that these are subjective opinions and the issues are not necessarily very important; they're just things that make me squee and jump about like an idiot and reach for my credit card, month after month. Warning: Extremely long. Very parenthetical. May contain Pokémon references. Seven Reasons Why Siyeng0 's UO 4 Eva Customisable Housing! I can hear your eye-rolling muscles straining from here, but this is my list, and I can Tram if I want to. I love customisable housing. I love being able to build extravagant marble palaces in the middle of nowhere and cover them from entryway to roof with flower gardens if I so desire. I love exploring the housing jungles on Dagger Isle and around the mouth of Ice Dungeon and seeing that some lunatic has made a giant staircase or an 18x18 checkerboard or something else awesomely impractical. I get all jittery when new tiles are introduced. Of course this relationship is not without its bumps; I've not yet been able to build a proper roof, so all my houses either have battlements or end up looking like they are wearing a party hat made of shingles, I tend toward weirdly sloping, unbalanced, marble-overkill "wedding cake in the rain" designs, I need to seek treatment sometime soon for my archway and leadlight window addiction, and I think that the Brickboxes That Ate Malas are prime arson-bait. But that's not the system's fault. I've seen customisable housing used for the most ingenious things. I personally lack the imagination to use it like that, which is why my houses all look like sets from The Agony of the Everpresent Archway and its sequel, Agony II: Plague of the Poppies. But I digress. The fact of the matter is: I love you, customisable housing, and I hope that we're together forever. Vollems, Skree and Chicken Lizards! No, I don't like Vollems because they allow my fundamentally unskilled character to retain his lordship without the least amount of effort on my part, although it certainly doesn't hurt. I like them because they're the coolest pet in UO history. Seriously, look at them. They're magical albino lions with wings and dragon tails. They shouldn't be stuck following neon-clad pointy-hatted tamers about and slaying trolls for them; they should be perched atop a temple of the Virtues, belching white-hot flames and bathing in the blood of heathens, or pulling the Shadowlords' fiery chariot, or doing something that involves a little less macroing and a little more epic kicking of the backsides of the unrighteous. Mine is named Semjaza, he is fully trained and he is awesome. If they nerfed him tomorrow down to the strength of a housecat, I'd still tow him around everywhere with me. Why? Because he is a white red-winged fire-breathing dragon-lion, and if you don't understand why that is cool, you're probably a scallop. What pet is cooler than a vollem? There is no pet on Sosaria that is cooler than a vollem. But there is nothing that brightens up my day like seeing a Skree or a chicken lizard. Obviously these two things are very different, but they have a couple of things in common: they're small and they're brightly coloured. Skree look kind of like a lime-green chihuahua with wings, and chicken lizards are either an attractively vivid orange and green, which is great, or they're blindingly candy-coloured, which is even better; either way, they're little bipedal geckos with chicken combs, and there is nothing on this earth that could make that combination unappealing. If you're like me and enjoy making people think that the end is nigh, I recommend getting a quintet of chicken lizards and making them all follow each other so that they trail you like ducklings. Skree have the added appeal of being ferocious, which makes them real winners: tiny, adorable, and willing to bite your fingers off just to be nefarious. These things are great. Skree and chicken lizards make me very happy. Twelve Years of History! I am only seven years older than UO. If I had been playing since the beta... well, if I'd been playing since the beta, you could conclude that I had rather lackadaisical parents. We didn't even get a computer until I was eleven. I don't remember exactly what I was doing at age seven, although I have a faint memory of running around the playground yelling "Bulbasaur! Bulbasaur! I use Vine Whip! Swp swp swp!" while another child chased me, going "I use Flamethrower! Raaarrr! You're weak against fire, why aren't you fainting?!" It was a bit like PvP, in a way. Anyway, my point is that twelve years is a long time. There are pros and cons to having a game run that long. On one hand, you end up with a playerbase full of adults who've been playing since forever, view the good old days through a haze of nostalgia and are stubbornly averse to the slightest change, which can make things very difficult when the dev team tries to modify something and the forums erupt in incomprehensible nerdrage. On the other hand, I've grown up with UO. I know Sosaria well. The oldest parts of the world have taken on a real antiquity, and the lore runs deep; it's not as easy to find as with some other games, but whether canonical or player-written, it's out there. The sheer age of this game has allowed for layers upon layers of gradual development, resulting in a very intricate world full of long-lost mysteries - mysteries that are actually long-lost, rather than storyline arcana that everybody knows OOC like in other, younger and shallowe games, and can only be re-discovered via archaeological digs into the archives of the internet. It's all very meta. Other games have a canned storyline. UO has a history, one that has grown naturally from its roots in the Ultima mythos, and it's always evolving, and it differs from shard to shard, and that is excellent. Someday I'd like to see an opportunity for the players themselves to shed light on some of the in-world mysteries (what happened to Montor and Lakeshire? What's the deal with Khal Ankur and Khaldun? What, on those shards where the EMs haven't already used it, is on Lenmir Anfinmotas?) and have those explanations made canon - it's not important and I'm not waiting out for it, but that would be really super-cool. When I was fourteen, I used to spend hours doing nothing but exploring every corner of the world. That fascination remains. UO is an awesome interactive story with a community that's been building in strength longer than its younger members have been alive, and after twelve years it's still going. I love that. Wind! Nujel'm! Magincia! My favourite cities. Wind is just gorgeous, very interesting, and swarming with dragons (plus liches, my favourite UO monster) - great for RP purposes, if anybody ever cared to use it that way, and it has the most badass central park in history. Nujel'm is very pretty, and I love walking about reading all the player-written books in the library. (I like Trinsic for the same reason, but I have an aversion to sandstone after years of Luna. I think Wind and Nujel'm influenced my chronic marbleitis. Also, Nujel'm's official title is "The City of Pleasure"; make of that what you will.) As for Magincia... alas. Alas. I hope to see it restored to its former glory one day. Speaking of which, I had a great time fulfilling the recent Souls quests - I enjoyed going through all the threads with my necromancer and checking the messages on each. I just really appreciate little touches like that. The Incognito Spell! I was spamming Incognito in Ilshenar once and my character went from Lindae, to Lyndon, to Lindae, to Liam, to Lindae, to Lyndon again, to Lindae, to Loren, to Lindae, to Kevin. It was a happy day. Sandbox Sandbox Sandbox! I can kill things. I can shear sheep. I can pick wheat and steal vegetables. I can rob NPCs and burgle crates. I can mine for stone and chop trees. I can hatch chicken lizard eggs. I can get into a boat and sail from island to island for days, picking reagents up off the ground, completely self-sufficient. I can do any of this, if I want to. I can be an elf, a human or a gargoyle. I can use the Polymorph spell or ninjitsu and become a troll, an orc, a cat, a ki-rin. I can be a lich. I can be a moloch. I can be... something that looks like a Gardevoir soaked in radioactive lime cordial (seriously, what the hell are those things?). I can be a blacksmith who breeds unicorns and is a virtuoso on the bamboo flute. I can be a master clock-maker with a tendency to bake arsenic-laced cookies for his enemies. I can be a cross-dressing lumberjack who hunts for treasure with his trusty entourage of chicken lizards. I can be anything! UO has no barriers for a roleplayer like me. I can play whatever I want, however I want, with only the most cursory limits in place to hold me back. The world gets bigger and weirder with every expansion. It's a big crazy demented patchwork quilt of continuities and anachronisms ("John the Samurai"?) and that is hilariously awesome. You can be as traditionalist or as absurd as you want. The sky's the limit! Sandbox sandbox sandbox roleplay sandbox, thou art a stealth-herding chef with a pack of pet bears, ye verily. Brilliant. I wish I could sit and lie down, on the ground or on beds, but if they introduced that feature I'd probably just use it to make my (epileptic) character have seizures in public. (I originally used that as an excuse why I would drop out suddenly and for extended periods; that was back when I was playing on 28kps dial-up, which was an experience I don't really want to repeat.) Putting Items on the Ground! Seriously. I could go on and on and on, but I think 1800 words is quite enough joy for UHall. I love UO and I hope that I'll be playing it for years to come. So, what do you like about UO?