Stratics will observe its 15-year anniversary on Sunday, 21 October 2012. To celebrate this event, our hope is to spend some time giving back to all of the staff and users who have made Stratics the oldest continually-operating MMO fansite on the Internet. On Thursday, Stratics and TGN raised $800 for Children's Miracle Network hospitals. This effort continues today at ShamusTurlough! Visit, cheer, donate for children! On Friday, Stratics users shared their memories for a chance to win 1-year Stratics Pro memberships (there's still time to win: click here). Sunday, we will host a 2-hour live hangout on YouTube at youtube.com/tgnstratics, where we'll give away beta keys, merchandise, and a Razer Naga mouse. Today, we share some insights and memories from Stratics Staff, both past and present. Enjoy and feel invited to continue the nostalgia, both here and in the Community Memories thread! Frarc UO Reporter UO Moderator UO Community Liaison Joined staff May 2010 After we started playing UO 1998 , people told us in game to look on UOStratics for help and guides. Its what we did and i still have printed guides i took from Stratics on some skills like smithing and tailoring. And still all these years later when i need information i go check it out. Several years ago i was asked if i was interested to write for Stratics as a Drachenfels Reporter. And i said no! I did not see and still don't see me as a good reporter and i thought i would not have the freedom to do what i wanted. I'm also not English so my writing could not have been how it would sound in dutch in my head. Several months went by and something was bothering me on Stratics. Not enough reports about things going on on Drachenfels. Plenty of announcements when a EM event was going to be hold but not really more. I just felt that it needed more of things happened on the shard. Not just EM events but also player events and anything happened. Mainly to show that although Drachenfels is a smaller shard, there is plenty of things to do. So at the 24th may 2010 i contacted Andrasta and asked if there was still a reporter need for Drachenfels. But i did said i would need a lot of help. I had no experience in anything like this. And i got plenty of help from many different people from Stratics. I still don't think I'm good enough as a reporter but i did had offers to write for others in the past. I declined them because my loyalty is here with Stratics. I enjoy this writing i do and i don't regret a minute i took this chance to become a reporter and happy with the people i work with. Vlaude Stratics.com Reporter Joined Staff March 2012 I first joined Stratics way too long ago to remember for the same reason as most people, in order to be a part of the Ultima Online community. I mostly participated on the Catskills shard forum since that was where I played and eventually moved on over to UHall and beyond! How I came to join staff? Although I joined Stratics for the UO community I've always been a fan of plenty of other games and game genres. I became a bit more active in the Stratics Off-topic community and really liked where Syrus and Cirno were taking things with the Stratics website and Stratics Central in particular. At one point I think I suggested a Stratics "off-topic" Portal for discussing games outside of the MMO umbrella. Cirno told me her vision for Central was to eventually include other types of gaming and so a few brief messages later I was hired! Thank you Cirno Smile Why do I volunteer? I enjoy discussions of games and gaming culture. Although it's not my only hobby it's one that I have found is easier to relate with people on the interwebs than with most people I meet in real life Smile So when Cirno hired me I was thrilled to be able to write about games alongside folks who also enjoy them. I also felt that as a fan of console gaming I could bring something to the table as a reporter that was different from what others were bringing and help Stratics grow and expand even more. What does Stratics mean to me? It's a place with an active, established community of gamers that has been around as long as the internet (as far as I'm concerned). It's a place where folks can come to discuss their favorite games and build friendships and community based around a shared hobby. Storm UO Moderator Joined Staff October 2009 Storm's Tale: Well I started playing Ultima when Ultima IV came out and that progressed up to when Ultima online started circa 1997. How did I come to join Stratics Staff Like I said I started playing UO pretty early and had played for a couple of years when one of my guild mates (Mystic Dragon lords) I think it was migliareto told me of this site to go to that had a great place to find answers to all kinds of questions. Yes that place was Stratics I would just come as a guest for a long time until one day I wanted to post something and decided to join as a member. As a member I started to enjoy jumping around trying to help people and then on day I got a PM from Magdalene I think it was asking if I would be interested in Moderating the EC Forum and that one of the posters had written her and said they thought I would be good at it (Thanks a lot OLD MAN see what you got me into)and I said sure and next thing I new Petra was setting me up and now I help mod EC,Crafting,Bugs Forum, and TC forum. Why do I volunteer Mainly because of the wide variety of people on the boards and the fact I enjoy helping people and I learn something new everyday it seems. What does Stratics mean to me. Wow that's a good one, the Stratics members have become like friends to me (Well most of you) And the Stratics Staff are like my Extended Family they are the best bunch of people you could ever work/play with they are so supportive not only in the game but in the real world They work hard to make this game the best. And I am Proud to be a member of staff with every one of them! Petra Fyde Stratics Forums Administrator UO Managing Editor UO Community Liaison Joined Staff December 2006 "By a Series of Accident and Con Tricks" How did I come to be Stratics Ultima Online ME? I guess it all started back in early 2007. The Europa board mod, Firebird, had a nasty attack of RL and couldn't be around as much as was needed. Some posters considered Europa was being neglected and that the way to attract admin attention was to cause disruption. I watched this drama unfold with a degree of unease till finally coming to the conclusion that the board needed another mod. Someone needed to step up, it may as well be me. I had the time and I knew the shard. I, somewhat tentatively, sent a pm to Magdalene. A similar situation arose on Siege in April of the following year. 2 of the 3 regular mods were MIA, leaving poor Kelmo alone. He badly needed help, and from someone who played the shard and knew the posters. No one was stepping up. I wasn't at all sure I could cope with the rowdy crowd on that board but I rather nervously offered to help till the others returned. Meantime, Spring Cleaning came to UO and I compiled a list of the hand ins and rewards for my own, and my hubby's, use. People on the boards began asking about the event, and I showed some my list. However I didn't really want to have too many people accessing our rather limited isp webspace. Zigzag, the then ME, offered to host it for me on Stratics. Only that's not quite what he did. Instead he accessed me to Drupal and showed me how to make a page myself. That lead to me helping him with the task of updating the neglected site. When I hit a wall, because I didn't know how to do something, he showed me how. October saw me invited to join the admin team, the update work continued - only now as well as showing me how to do things, when I hit a wall because I had insufficient access, he accessed me. We recruited more staff to help with the work, though none of it saw the light of day. Spring 2009 Saw Zigzag taking his leave. Magdalene and I were to admin the boards, between us aided By Ryna Mcbegg. Airmid and Watchertoo had the News Admin roles and I was to continue updating the site - content editing (or so I naively thought). April arrived, Zigzag had been gone a few weeks when Lady Aalia asked on our staff boards for a 'roll call'. who had what role. My response: "not sure who's supposed to be 'managing editor'. It might be me, but if it is, no one told me so". It gradually dawned on me that all that training and access Zigzag had been giving me meant that there was only one person on staff with the knowledge and access to function as the uo.stratics Managing Editor. Me. I was contacted by Den Dragon, who had been under the impression that Zigzag had asked me if I wanted to be ME and gave me the option to turn it down, but how could I really? There wasn't anyone else. I wasn't at all sure I could do the job the way it should be done, but I vowed to give it my best shot, and I have been really lucky to have the best support anyone could ask for from my fabulous team. Tarelther WAR Managing Editor Joined Staff March 2012 How I came to join staff? I joined Stratics when Mykiel was looking to jump start the WAR Stratics portal again. I figured why not? I writing WAR stuff on my personal blog anyway and figured I would love to get some more exposure to my writing. It's been a blast so far. Why do I volunteer? Gaming is in my blood. It all started when my aunt got me an NES for Christmas as a kid and I've been hooked ever since. I spend my time "working" at something I've been passionate about most of my life. I've even had the chance to travel to Bioware Mythic from being involved with Stratics and meet their team. It's been a lot of fun, and I hope to be able to do more in the future. What does Stratics mean to me? It's place with a lot of like minded people. I can relate to a lot of the people here and have conversations that aren't considered "weird" to the rest of humanity. We all work together to improve the games we represent and gaming as a whole. It's a lot of fun even when it gets difficult. Magdalene Stratics Forums Administrator Joined Staff February 2004 Oh dear... I started playing UO in early 2000 i.e. pre-Trammel. I started reading Stratics pretty much at the same time, because it was the world of unknown out there... At first I was shy, just reading the boards, but soon I got to know some Drachenfels people also in game and sort of joined a rebel group that was opposed to the Drach forum moderation (really!). We gor a bit vocal and... got a few infractions and such, but at the same time we managed to call the attention of the admins. Meanwhile, I got to know some people "in the know" and was invited (by Bella Noire and Crazy Joe) to moderate Drachenfels forum. The rest is sort of history - I moderated multiple UO forums at one time or another, always with special feeling for Drachenfels, New Players Corner and UHall, but also for all incarnations of SnR and OT(NHB) Tongue And now, after everyone who once was above me on the grid has either resigned, got fired or got a job in gaming industry - here I am... Vince EVE Managing Editor Joined Staff February 2011 Why do I volunteer? I do it because my brain tend to have a need to absorb alot of new stuff, but also it has a need to condense and 'box' it. This means I tend to enjoy creating guides and sharing them. As my knowledge in certain fields over time are consolidated and reaffirmed, so is my desire to revisit guides and make sure they are still correct. How I came to join staff? When I was playing SWG (back in the day) I used to talk plenty with BadgerSmaker, a stratics staffer. This was in a different capacity though, but he often wrote for Stratics, and so I was reading his stuff from time to time. At some point I left SWG and started playing EVE Online. I noticed that Stratics didn't have an up-to-date section on that game, so I submitted my resume and was immediately hired. What does Stratics mean to me? It means I have a place to submit my thoughts to, and I use it as a conduit to keep my brain happy! Xena Dragon UO Webmaster (former) Joined Staff February 2000 Greetings old friends, I've decided to start this message like that because I like to believe that there are still gamers around who have been playing Ultima Online for a very long time, and that there are some who are still part of the Stratics community. By random chance I had a little chat with Petra Fyde yesterday, and she informed me that the Stratics network is already 15 years old. And that, my friends, is quite an accomplishment. Thinking about that, I made a trip down memory lane, and started to remember all the good (and some of the bad) times I've had related to Stratics. I can remember the days back in 1997, when only a handful of people actually played on-line games. Being an avid fan of the stand-alone Ultima games I signed up for the Beta of Ultima Online the day I found out about it. Needless to say, I was hooked from day one. Like most players, I found myself in need of some basic info about the game since there was no actual game manual. I stumbled upon a site called UO Strategies and Statistics. I think it was shortly after it had moved from some basic Geocities pages (remember those?) to the stomped network. I noticed that much of the info I needed was on that site, but bits and pieces were missing. So I sent the little info that I had that was not on there to Den, the web master. He thanked me and asked me send in some more info. That inspired me to find out some more and keep sending it in. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was on the UOSS team as editor. I just kept adding to the site left and right, and we grew bigger and bigger. Den had bigger plans, and decided in 1999 to start a site on the game EverQuest, and he asked me to take over managing UO Stratics. Since then we've had many ups and downs. A very scary time was when the whole internet advertisement bubble collapsed, and we didn't have enough money coming in to keep the site running. We've always had a very close relationship with the developers of UO, Origin Systems Inc (to be acquired by EA in 1992), and when we presented our predicament they offered help. We could host UO Stratics on their web server for a few months until we found a new host, making sure we would survive. I think that's a very clear indication of how important UO Stratics was for OSI. They understood that for an MMORPG to succeed you absolutely *need* dedicated fans and fan sites to keep the community connected. After 10 years of playing UO I kinda lost interest in the game, and slowly started to let go of it. I found another MMO to play with my kids (and no, it's not WoW) and decided to take some steps back. Mostly lurking in the shadows, but I am in fact still a very small of part of the UO Stratics team, and try to lend a hand when the current manager, Petra Fyde, runs into some ancient code on the web site that I probably wrote a decade ago. It has to be said that she's doing a kick-ass job with what I still consider to be my baby Smile So, here we all are, 15 years later. It's good to see that the Stratics Network is still going strong, and it's even better to see that UO Stratics is still the number one web site for Ultima Online. That continued achievement really makes me proud. Recently I've accepted a position as Crew Leader on another fan site for a game called RuneScape, and I can only hope that when they celebrate their 15th anniversary it will be with as many good memories as I am having right now. Congratulations with your 15 year anniversary UO Stratics! Xena Dragon Ex-Webmaster UO Stratics Syrus (Taylor) Director of Operations Joined Staff October 2009 I have been a Stratics reader since I began playing Ultima Online in 1999. In terms of "magical experiences," my enchantment with UO Stratics was second only to allure of Ultima Online, itself. It was, to me, the most amazing site on the Internet. Even after I cancelled my UO account during my high school and college years, I continued to visit UO Stratics almost monthly. Reading it made me feel the same, tingly excitement that I used to experience every time I heard UO's iconic "login screen" music. After graduation, I returned to Ultima Online in 2008 and registered on Stratics as “Syrus of Gahd” on 21 October--incidentally, the exact date of Stratics' 11th birthday. Shortly thereafter, I began writing for a brand new fansite called the UO Ledger. I was working as a full-time fiction writer at that time, so gaming journalism seemed like an appropriate hobby. As the Ledger's Atlantic shard reporter, I covered primarily in-game events. This coincided with the revival of the Event Moderator (EM) program and I managed to build a friendly, working relationship with Atlantic's then-EMs Eris and Nestor. I took great pride in being able to publish EM news on Stratics Forums and UO Forums before any other news outlet. At the time, I assumed everyone was thrilled to read my brilliant writing, but in hindsight I suspect that this caused more than a little apprehension on both sites. In October 2009, Russian hackers killed the UO Ledger for good. Naturally, I was pretty unhappy about this, until Andrasta—then a UO Stratics News Administrator—contacted me about becoming a UO Stratics News Reporter. I was thrilled! Using the pen name “Fallon Valor,” I wrote news reports for UO Stratics from 2009 to 2010. Although I did continue to cover events, my favorite activity was writing spotlight pieces for famous Atlantic establishments and guilds. Here’s a list of my establishment and guild stories: A Blind Man's Outlet Falling Waters Fortress Moonglow Town Council Potions & More MiniMall SupSoc, Inc. The Book Store The Syndicate The Wheel of Time United We Fight Yew Town Council In early 2010, I made the decision to return to graduate school (projected graduation May 2013). This left me with less time to write, so I resigned my role as a UO reporter and became a moderator for UHall Off Topic and UO Spiels and Rants. Within a couple months, we suddenly found ourselves under new management, then new ownership. Lots of changes happened in a brief period of time . . . Skipping through the unpleasantries, seeing that things were not improving, I began in May 2010 to identify a number of forum and portal weaknesses, and offered recommendations for improvement. I approached a number of different people with my ideas, most of whom never responded. Petra, bless her, did. She suggested that I approach George directly. George was persuaded and forwarded me to Airmid. From that time forward, Airmid has been my single greatest support: an advocate when folks didn't believe in me, an encouragement when things didn't work as planned, and a friend during some very isolating times. If not for her, I'd have quit at least a dozen times. With support from Airmid, Petra, and Magdalene, I received admin permissions and the title “TGN Stratics Engineer.” In this engineer role, I began to implement my ideas for updating Stratics’ forums and portals under the administrators’ supervison. One of my more stressful achievements during this time was migrating our private staff forums from an end-of-life software to a newer, more secure software. By mid-2011, after the administrators grew a little more comfortable with me, Airmid led me to fill the role of “Acting Director of Content.” I started recruiting new Managing Editors and converting old portals to WordPress. Finally, in May 2011, 12 years after discovering the most amazing website on the Internet, I was announced as the Director of Content and earned my “A” badge. It is a bit creepy how much this achievement meant to me, so I won’t go into detail. It would get awkward. I spent a year as the DoC. During this time, I hired lots of Managing Editors (and fired a couple), established some content policies and guidelines, authored some tutorials, launched lots of portals, provided lots of technical assistance, worked with developers on some custom plugins, re-wrote our Managing Editor guide, ran a staff newsletter, revived Stratics Plus (now "Stratics Pro"), made some good decisions, made lots of bad decisions, migrated Stratics Forums to XenForo, and generally tried to push the network forward. In July 2012, I was promoted to Director of Operations. Stratics is a really big deal to me—it has been for 13 years. I've been volunteering here for three years. For two of those years, I’ve volunteered an average of 40-hours each week, and I'm not typically the type to commit to things. My primary motivation for this is that I want desperately to honor and preserve all of the work, of all of the volunteers, of all of the generations of Stratics staff, who have invested their time toward making Stratics an amazing resource to gamers and developers over the past 15 years. My capabilities and talents are, erm, not ideal for this role. I'm just a writer and I'm reminded daily of my weaknesses when I can’t seem to figure out how to speed growth, or how to properly encourage existing staff, or how to find new volunteers, or how to fix my growing list of bugs. Eventually, TGN will hire someone more competent to replace me, but until that person comes along, I'll continue to try my darndest to move us forward for the sake of all the folks who continue to support us, both readers and staff. I’m really proud to be serving with this particular team during Stratics' 15-year anniversary. Provided my liver is up to the task *hic*, I hope that I am here to witness our 30-year anniversary as well. Larisa UO Reporter Joined Staff September 2006 Back before I started reporting for Stratics, I was just your average player. There were two big alliances on Origin at that time, Dynasty and BTH. I was in BTH for awhile but for various reasons left and joined Dyansty...or ~D~. This was back when the whole blackrock thing was huge...and the event that gave us the original pieces of Blackrock was coming to a peak. The swirling tornado-like boss ??? down in Terra Keep was the turning point for me. I had posted on Stratics before, but this event was the key to getting me my reporter position. Certain things transpired during the event which were not pleasant, and I went to bed at 2 AM feeling defeated. The next morning I logged onto Stratics to re-tell the story of what had transpired the night before in the hopes that it would not happen to anyone else. A few days later I received a PM from Ghostwriter...have you ever thought about reporting? The story you wrote on Stratics was very impressive...well of course I had never though about reporting and I told him so. He suggested that I fill out a reporter application...and the rest is history Smile Not without a few bumps along the way, and a hiatus of almost 4 years, I occasionally logged into Stratics just to see what was going on in the world of UO. At another pinnacle point in my life, I happened to log in and see that Origin was in need of a reporter. I posted a reply half-joking that I might come back...which of course I did, how could I not? The staff had changed somewhat, but the entire Stratics Staff, not just those dedicated to UO, is just amazing. I am very honored to once again be a part of this amazing team. Stratics is, for me at least, like family. From the staff all the way down to the posters who post here, nothing gives me a sense of commonality quite like Stratics does. I have played and posted in other gaming forums, but none of them have had that family-like quality about them. Happy Birthday Stratics, thank you for making me a part of your family! Den Dragon Founder Joined Staff October 1997 I saw that the game (UO) lacked any in-depth documentation - in any form, really. The player manual was nice, but generic, and the Prima guide hadn't come out yet (and besides they wound up borrowing their content, in large part, from the UOSS - at first without my permission ). I had a quarter-Drow character (don't ask in D&D and wanted to translate him into a UO version. He wielded a scimitar. At that point, PK'ing was rampant, and while I wanted to stay true to my character's RP roots, he needed to be able to survive. I managed to ferret out some weapon statistics and put them online, on GeoCities. I called this page - 'cuz that's all it really was at the time - "Den's Den: The UO Statistics Site", or "UOSS" for short. Shortly afterward I added armor stats, and then evaluations of the overall effectiveness of the weapons set, taking speed and damage into account. This led to complete lists of item weights (the Items Catalogue), and so on. As I spent hours picking up and dropping items out of my in-game pack in order to see their weight in stones, readers began submitting content in the forms of editorial rebuttals (usually disagreeing with me ) and even strategy guides. As the content grew, "Statistics Site" got changed to "Strategy & Statistics", which was then, eventually, abbreviated to "Stratics". My only initial goal was the fulfillment of a personal passion for a game concept that I truly loved. So I guess in that sense it evolved as expected. That isn't entirely accurate, however, since I never truly had any expectations for the site. I merely knew that I wanted to do it, and so did. Eventually I was able to provide a platform through which others could have their voices heard: extremely talented, intelligent and capable people who then began bringing yet others onboard, and so on. It really became a communal effort. Over time, our goals changed. At times it was simply survival, and staying online. At others we had concepts and passionate ideals that stretched far beyond the times during which they were conceived. Sometimes we were successful in implementing them; at other moments, well... not so much. I'd felt like giving up - a lot. At times I had. Sometimes I knew in my heart that the passion which initially drove me was no longer there; that my interests lay elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is that I couldn't return to a time during which it was just me, in front of my computer, staying up all night trying to complete a new content section, or design a new site. There were other people involved at that point, and my obligation was to them. So they became my drive. The fact that a couple lives have been saved because of the actions on the part of our moderators is a testament to our worth. I am proud to say that Stratics is the last remaining independent MMO network from the heyday of the late 90's and early 2000's. We've even outlasted the development house we first covered. To say that Stratics is the oldest extant Massively Multiplayer entity may be a stretch, but then again maybe not... I can't recall any MMO game development house or fansite network from 1997 or earlier that's still around and producing.