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UO's Future - Why can't we find anything out?

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Woodsman, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    Out of consideration for what AirmidCecht asked, that this topic be moved out of the thread it was in and a new thread started, I ask the following question: why can't we find out about UO's future?

    Just so we are clear. Vet rewards, holiday gifts, and in-game story stuff are not UO's future, those are things that happen every year within UO going on since basically 1997 in varying degrees. We did get the comprehensive new player guide, but we don't know where that fits into Jeff's plans. We were getting a high resolution graphics upgrade, but that's been put aside for the time being in favor of anniversary stuff (and we don't know Jeff's plans for the upgrade). Everything else being worked on is stuff that is either a normal part of work done for UO year-to-year (bug fixes, tweaking existing systems), or is a part of things announced over a year ago (dungeon revamps), or is system work that has been going on for years (like the virtues).

    I'm inspired to ask this because of a message Jeff Skalski, the UO producer posted on Twitter (which he uses for official communication about UO as well as letting his followers know what he's doing)
    As a gamer, Jeff is very excited about finding out what Nintendo has planned for a console that won't launch until sometime in the last few months of the year.

    UO players are gamers, and as gamers, we would also be excited to hear about UO's future beyond the anniversary. So what is the future beyond the anniversary? I thought I had a pretty good idea about it, but much of what shaped my view of it has either been canceled (better new player experience, new quest system) or pushed aside (high resolution graphics), and that makes me wonder.

    It's possible that Jeff sat in the UO producer's chair last fall, looked at everything that was being worked on, and decided it was all good. But we don't even know that. Being such a huge gamer, I think Jeff probably understands us better than some producers in the past, and he obviously knows the power of talking about the future of games.
     
  2. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    If the mods don't like the title, please change it to simply "UO's Future (Not Anniversary Discussions)"
     
  3. Sevin0oo0

    Sevin0oo0 Guest

    I can understand only hearing limited directions from Jeff, but don't understand why we don't even get those 'broader strokes' in some timeline fashion.
    The UO Herald said Mesanna was "discussing plans for the near future" in her thread. No offense to her, but she's only made 1 additional on-topic post I think, what's up with that?
     
  4. Uriah Heep

    Uriah Heep Crazed Zealot
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    Would be nice to see beyond our nose for change. The sneak peek thread that I thought would be big news, basically just was early release notes for the upcoming patch. *shrugs*
    I'm not trying to be doom and gloom, but after the damage a few nameless prods did, to even maintain status quo is gonna take some doing. Jeff really does not want to see what his numbers are if we all drop off to one account only to feed our addictions. I think they are wanting to just let the few mags out there writing about 15th anny to be our advertising. Cause there sure isnt a push anywhere else. Saw an ad on FB, fer crying out loud, for a freeshard. Amazing. They have an ad budget, but we cant get on there?
    lol
    Guess I better go away nd be quiet
     
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  5. Redxpanda

    Redxpanda Lore Keeper
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    It has always been like that. They don't talk much about what is planned for the distant future, only the near. I would like to see some spoiler alerts on whats coming further down the line.
     
  6. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    It has not always been like this. Even before I took a break last time (before KR), I knew what was coming quite a ways down the road, and before that we heard plans from the UO team about where they wanted UO to go fairly often in producer's letters or other postings. Even Stygian Abyss was officially revealed a year before it launched. I don't know at what point things changed, but in the past, even if you weren't playing, you could always check a few sites and see what direction UO was going 6 months or a year down the road.

    I guess I'm just looking for some clarity, because the past year and a half has seen a lot of mixed messages. First it looked like they were making this huge push for new and veteran players and to get other people attracted to UO with things like the high resolution graphics upgrade. All of that has been canceled, scaled back, or pushed to the side, and they are focused on the anniversary and making us (current players) happy.

    I have no problem with them focusing their work right now on the anniversary. It's one of UO's most important anniversaries, more important than the first anniversary in a way. UO will get a lot of free press and UO could use an influx of players. But if people take a look at UO because of the anniversary, either people who have never played or people who played and left for other stuff, they are going to wonder about UO's future.

    Honestly, I just cannot believe there are no plans for UO beyond the anniversary or the same stuff we get every year (vet/holiday gifts, stories).
     
  7. Sir Ophid of Yew

    Sir Ophid of Yew Babbling Loonie
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    I asked the question before about advertising in a couple of town hall meetings. I asked why we couldn't put a 30 second commercial on the sci fi channel.

    I was told there was no budget for that kind of advertising. Yet, the amount of players that would join just from a few 30 second commercials on sci fi or G4 or the cartoon network would be amazing.

    They told me that the word of mouth advertising is the history of UO and what makes it so awesome. I think that is a cop out and that they should invest more heavily in advertising so we can increase our player base.

    With a larger player base, a larger budget would be justified. We need real advertising in order to increase said player base, and then everyone is happy!

    Ophid
     
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  8. Madrid

    Madrid Slightly Crazed
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    I don't see the playerbase ever increasing unless something is done in terms of how this game looks. The CC is a dog and the EC is the CC in sheep's clothing. Why the hell they'd put graphics on the back burner is beyond me. What they should be doing is halting everything and putting whatever resources they have into getting this game looking good so it might actually attract some new players.

    You can advertise all you want but the way the game looks like now people will just laugh at Ultima Online.
     
  9. Ashlynn_L

    Ashlynn_L Lore Master
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    Maybe they cannot tell us much about the future. There could be a bunch of bureaucracy above them preventing them from doing so, or maybe they cannot predict that far ahead because of budget or contractual constraints or whatever the management is considering with regards to UO's future existence (though I'm pretty sure we will outlast SW:TOR =P), or maybe they choose not to because they will get critique either way (you know they will =P) so it's easier to just not promise something to begin with. I imagine there are a lot of variables at play and things are always going to frustrate someone.

    I would love to hear about what is planned, what they have in store for us. I wanna know when exactly the graphic upgrade for EC is and what the anniversary has in store. But at this moment I can deal with them not informing us too much about it. I've been trying to keep up to date, watching various stuff and I believe the current team does care about the game and is doing the best with what they have so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. They certainly seem to care more than some previous developers in my view anyway.

    Advertising is a big thing though. I wonder if it's handled by a whole other department or something and it has to be signed off by some other manager? In a company as big as EA, I would not be surprised. I recall reading an interview with Garriot oddly enough where various EA departments would work at odds with each other. We don't know anything about EA's internal politics and the company has other MMOs, one that just built itself on a hollywood level budget.

    I would definitely like more advertising to try and attract new players. I'd like to see more banner ads for UO like I see for other games I'd never play. And also with regards to the Bioware boards and no UO board, I remember the reasons for us not having a forum there and they seemed mostly fair, however I think there should at least be some links on the bioware forum system to here, and the other main UOFansites just so everyone knows we exist.
     
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  10. Sevin0oo0

    Sevin0oo0 Guest

    'Word of mouth' builds, or breaks a business, and is usually the core source of a stable income. If you can't build a player base on what you do everyday, then you need a gimmick, flashing widgets, snazzy advertising, Something. Which may net you a short term gain and smoke screening deficiencies. Only good product and services will make a business grow.
    When you need a doctor or mechanic, do you ask your friends for word of mouth references, or just look for a cool advertisement? when I see advertisements (with a few exceptions), i usually think scam.

    Not giving a little forecast of future directions give negative word of mouth. I someone came up and asked is there anything cool planned for UO, you already know the answer, "maybe, hope so" - Their response, "maybe, I'll wait, or look for something else".
     
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  11. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    I don't believe there is a special UO bureaucracy that prevents only UO from being discussed in future terms.

    EA is constantly blasting us with information about Star Wars: The Old Republic on a near weekly basis, and discussing things that won't go into Star Wars for several months out, or even a year. Not a week goes by without EA sending me emails about some EA game's future plans or expansion.

    Here's an example from EA about E3 this week:

    Star Wars: The Old Republic | News Articles

    They got an increase in their budget for the graphics upgrade under Jeff Skalski. They have plans of some sort.
    Criticism comes with the job and no other MMORPG shrouds its future plans in such secrecy. Jeff came from Warhammer Online and the criticism there was a lot worse - I was there for Warhammer's launch, and I followed the official Warhammer forums and some of the fan sites. UO is about a 4 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst of the Warhammer players.

    If somebody gets upset that the UO team has plans to grow the game, the hell with them. This should not be about the small minority of people who want UO to remain as far back in the past as possible, this is about those of us who want UO to last, because if there are no plans to grow UO, there will be no UO for those people to argue about.
     
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  12. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    They don't need paid advertising to be honest, at least not until they have the graphics upgrade in place. The last thing they need is a bunch of people coming in and seeing the old graphics.

    Every time they do something major and it gets posted on the UO Herald, it gets picked up by the game and MMORPG websites. Joystiq.com picked up on the new player guide within three hours of it being posted. If they laid out UO's future, talked about the graphics upgrade, the game sites are going to post it.
     
  13. Ashlynn_L

    Ashlynn_L Lore Master
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    Well they got an increase in art budget yeah, but was that just for the anniversary? just to help out grimm's update? we dunno. It could only be a temporary thing for a fixed period or until they finish X assets. The thing is this game is old and yet seems to fall outside the rules for all other MMOs since. Others have come and gone. Games EA has hoped to topple WoW have been built on larger budgets and have just become minor players or died out.

    I try to imagine it sometimes. EA keeps UO on (I assume) because it still turns a profit (and also because of the IP too). They have made other games since that they hope will topple WoW with bigger budgets but they just don't seem to perform. And here is UO, still here. I sometimes imagine they are just thinking "wtf" and when they look at UO they see it's still turning a profit and seem even more mystified. This is all speculation of course, but we are all still here.

    I also wonder if some people in EA wish UO was gone for that reason. Again company politics and more speculation but we don't know.
     
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  14. Poo

    Poo The Grandest of the PooBah’s
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    always leave them wanting more.

    hence the reason a lot of us have been here for 15 years.
     
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  15. Poo

    Poo The Grandest of the PooBah’s
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    and, on a side note, i can look at all the replies on this thread and i can point out with certainty who all the 'present shakers' are just from reading.

    haha, ya you all know who you are!
    put that back under the Christmas tree ya buggers!
     
  16. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    I feel more comfortable offering my thoughts here so it doesn't go off topic in the Sneak Peek thread, thank you Woodsman. Now I can weigh in a bit.

    From what I gather from your many posts, it's not the level of current communication on various forums or even on the UOHerald. It's the content of that communication. Many things have changed since your last activity and some of it obviously hasn't been for the better. I don't know EA's stance on Ultima Online since they rarely speak directly of it or to the players. I'm not okay with that but they do have other titles they want (and need) to push out there. I wonder sometimes if its a matter of not wanting to be be perceived as old themselves. EA has been playing a bit of catch up lately, trying to evolve with the times with social application type games. When you did see any reference to UO what form did it come in? Lord of Ultima, which by the way I really enjoyed. However, it IS a social app game meant to appeal to a wider audience than MMO players.

    Shameful plug here but Richard Garriott did refer to it in his interview with us. Pretty much anyone playing X-ville on FB, smartphone, Google+ ect is an MMO player but very few of them may be RPG players in the traditional sense. EA has tapped into it as well as just about any gaming production company. It's part of the evolution of gaming.

    Where does Ultima Online fit into this? Maybe they are still sorting that out. UO has evolved through the years, it had to in order to survive. We didn't like all of the improvements and much of it may feel item based now but even the Enhanced Client is designed to appeal to the newer generation of gamers. This is a good thing.

    Back to topic, I think sorting out WHAT that future is needs to be far more important than WHEN info on that future is released. We want to know, is UO going to last past year 15? I think that is the major source of anxiety for the community. So some reassurance comes in not just saying, 'yes' but 'this is how we know.'

    I don't think we want UO to continue just for the sake of existing. Many see year 15 not as the time to put the old dog down but to change up its brand a bit and give it new life. So with that in mind, and since we're sort of sitting on the bench eating popcorn waiting for the new season to roll around, maybe it's a good time to ask. What would you like to hear from Jeff and the UO team being supported by EA?
     
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  17. RuSini Neb

    RuSini Neb Journeyman

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    I would just like to point out their has not been a real expansion in UO sense SA.... The art updates are coming so slow and yet it seems that's all they have time for, that and breaking random systems like factions. As well as offering up loot from a dungeon made many many years ago altering the names and trying to pass it off to the player base. Also can not forget the great oh you out of pvm challenges ??? Try to solo shame in a sash.... The devs seem to be lazy and thats more or less why they are stuck on a 15 year old back burner Niche game. I honestly doubt the developing qualities of the developing team... No expansion, just a failed half arsed booster.... some dungeon overhalls that seem to keep peeps busy a full week before they decide not worth the time..... I just wish we could get a higher level of quality in the game or subs lowered beyon the price point of the leading contender mmos..... Hey I have a 1990 Trans Am ( just basic maintenance preformed ever) ... Wana buy it for original sticker price, because that's in essence what we are doing...
     
  18. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    Careful where you go with that darlin, some 'classics' are worth FAR more than the original sticker price ;)

    We were told that instead of major expansions that require an insane amount of development time and more than likely a lot of extra warm bodies on it, that smaller 'boosters packs' was the goal. In the age where older MMOs have gone FTP only to realize that's not quite working either, I think booster packs are a good idea for now. The thing is now that leaves booster packs right? We had High Seas and some Rustic/Gothic theme packs and opinions varied on it. I personally love the HS with my fisherman and the creativity and activity it brought to the ocean. So hopefully we'll see something along these lines announced soon.
     
  19. Viper09

    Viper09 Grand Poobah
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    You can't really compare UO to a new game like SWTOR. SWTOR is fresh, they are trying to draw in more players, keep existing ones, and trying to compete that game against all the other popular MMOs. Not to mention they have a big enough team to keep such future plans coming every so often. The only thing we get off comparing it UO to SWTOR is a noticeable difference in how EA treats brand new games vrs really old ones. Perhaps there just aren't that many future plans to keep posting or there isn't a big enough team to keep developing future plans as often as the newer games. Perhaps the problem is simply that the team isn't big enough to be the news "new" as often as you would like...
     
  20. Viper09

    Viper09 Grand Poobah
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    I thought that was before Jeff though. After he took over I thought the booster pack idea was dumped in favor of revamping all the old stuff such as the dungeons.
     
  21. Picus of Napa

    Picus of Napa Slightly Crazed
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    I'll say that for "new" players some type of graphics is needed but would it really but such that mass people join only to compete with those that already have everything? I doubt that would work. A new graphics engine and such is really only asking for UO to be closed and fresh servers with the new stuff on it, they might call them the same as we play on now but it would have to be blank.

    I can't vote for that. I saw to many people leave over the last poor change, that would be the death blow.

    That said we truelly need more dev feedback. I, like everyone else, have stuck by while changes have been made and we have all rolled with it but for the love of god throw us a bone and give a real hint.
     
  22. G.v.P

    G.v.P Stratics Legend
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    Other than a next-gen Ultima successor, what else could be revealed? They increased monthly payments around last July, I believe, and since the fall of 2011 they've been focused on giving us "free" dungeon re-vamps. I'm okay with that. I pay around $3 more per a billing cycle. I'm not sure how many users still play UO, but assuming there's 100,000 that's at least $600,000 additional revenue from last July to this coming July given the same rate. We know the cash flow is there, at least. Not enough to create a new game, but perhaps enough to give the EC/SA another facelift by next year?

    Jeff is Tweeting about Nintendo, a company, releasing new hardware. Unless you expect Origin software integration, or some sort of EA specific angle as to how UO will develop as part of the collective company, I'm not sure I follow why you selected this specific Tweet. It's not as if Jeff is talking about a single game, specifically, like, "Wow, now I can play Madden with friends and select my plays from the controller itself. It's about time." Even so, UO doesn't have many game-specific gadgets. There are specific third-party applications like UOA and Mapper, and universal gamer hardware like the Logitech G-series and the Nostromo, but how can things like UO's NPE really compare to the Wii U hardware? The Wii U is going to revolutionize gaming. UO's NPE? We can dream, but it isn't likely we'll be using our tablets to help advance our UO characters.

    Without the new art I don't see a NPE. I just don't see the SA/EC attracting older players or new players the way it is right now. A prospective player is going to need a lot of incentives to play a grid based MMO that's pay to play, and I doubt EA would profit much if UO went completely f2p.
     
  23. Ryna

    Ryna Sage
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    This may be way off, but I think they don't announce things because of the reaction they get when something happens and they can't follow through with their original plan.
    Back when they communicated more, they got a serious amount of flack for announcing both plans and cancellations. People said some nasty things and it just turned them off of sharing information.

    Think of it like poor parents saving up for an awesome Christmas present and then being hit by a random hospital bill or something. They don't want to tell the "kids" what to look forward to until they're absolutely sure it's going in.

    This is just my guess, though, so grain of salt and all that.
     
  24. hen

    hen Certifiable
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    I don't think we can excuse the lack of communication on the devs being sensitive souls and crying themselves to sleep every night over comments from players.
    This lack of communication has been a problem way before the current 'franchise' Producer took the reins, but he continued the trend. Remember how long it was before he even introduced himself and got a Producer's letter out?
    Getting things approved by the 'suits down the hall' became another convenient excuse in the recent past.
    If the team are working on something big for during and after the 15th anniversary then great.
    If not, it smells of a small kernel of a team, having to fly by the seat of their pants and desperately keeping their heads just above maintenance mode.
    I really hope it's the former scenario and not the latter.
     
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  25. Sevin0oo0

    Sevin0oo0 Guest

    I believed all that, said by Cal, to be BS, and still do. Isn't Jeff "All things Ultima"? Does anybody think he has to wait for approvals? His responsibility, his butt on the line. Legal/PR has defined support they offer for Ultima, not to decide direction or approve replies. i think The UO Team works together to support Jeff's vision. When Cal had to wait on PR to do their thing with that video, i think it was because he wanted them to Make the video, and they said sure, here's your number, get in line.
     
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  26. Ludes

    Ludes Babbling Loonie
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    I also think this is the case..
    They sure don't want a repeat of the Ultima X farce.
     
  27. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    The "Ultima X farce" happened nearly 10 years ago, had nothing to do with UO, and it only happened because EA thought more people would move from Austin to California than actually would in reality (among other things). I was there for it and had they stayed in Austin, I would have taken a job offer with EA.

    We're not going to get any grandiose expansions or even boosters or theme packs - we've seen the last of those.

    Jeff's been on the job for 8 months, I'm just looking for his "vision" for UO past the 15th anniversary. Nobody can tell me that he doesn't think about UO's future, it's part of what he's paid to do.

    He got an increase in the graphics budget, he pushed the UO team to get the new player guide out earlier than he originally said, so he must have some kind of plan.
     
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  28. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    There is a lot that could be revealed. I have a hard time believing Jeff and the UO team are just moving from one publish to the next, without thinking or planning for something beyond that. If they are just moving from one publish to the next, then UO is in maintenance mode and we're in trouble. We're never going to get another expansion or booster pack, but that doesn't mean somebody hasn't thought about UO 6 months from now.
    The point was that Jeff was excited about a company announcing future plans. He's attending an expo that is focused on announcing future plans. This morning EA laid out basically the next 6-12 months for Star Wars. As a gamer, he indicated he's excited about companies announcing future plans, including his own with Star Wars.

    As gamers, we would be excited to hear about UO's future and Jeff surely understands that, because right now it's not looking too hot beyond the 15th anniversary, given how much was canceled last year, and given that major things have been pushed off to the side.

    As for the comments that others made that the UO team is thin-skinned or doesn't want to risk upsetting people or that they lose sleep over what they can tell us, that's basically an insult to the UO team - they are adults, they are in the MMORPG industry. You can't be in that industry and not have thick skins. If it was a problem for them, all of them would have gotten jobs with other companies a long time ago - all major MMORPGs are full of former UO and Mythic devs. The top person running The Elder Scrolls Online was the original Camelot producer, his second in command was a lead designer for UO. Hell, Jeff came out of Warhammer, he would not have survived that experience without a thick skin. Going by the BioWare forums, the SWTOR people are even tougher on their dev teams (especially after the leaked DLC docs), and their dev teams are under incredible pressure, yet they are still pushing out updates and talking about future plans.
     
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  29. AirmidCecht

    AirmidCecht twitch.tv/airmid
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    I hear what you are saying Woodsman. A basic outline even of what the plans are heading into 2013:
    New expansion?
    New booster packs?

    Maybe if we trim it down a bit to that outline it would be easier to address the frustration over it?

    Just a few thoughts :)
     
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  30. Zero Day

    Zero Day Guest

    UO will stick around as long as the profit after upkeep and maintenance costs is reasonable enough for the headache that comes along with it.

    After the losses from their previous MMO release (Warhammer) EA laid off a sizeable chunk of developers. That was an across the board cut, which included UO which actually made money off the SA expansion. With this latest hit SW:TOR can you expect any less?

    Even with a scaled back team they managed to release High Seas, which had some heavy artwork just not alot of it.

    Expect the future of UO to be small system changes like dungeon revamps rather than anything on a large scale since the reduced development team have to focus on the same level of maintenance and still develop these new changes.

    The fact is I sincerely doubt that there has been a significant infusion of cash into the UO budged despite what Jeff says unless they sacrificed one or more team positions and re-allocated some of the funding.

    EA unfortunately coming from a single serving title release publishing house has never understood the MMO market, as a result once a title has shipped, it tends to be immediately placed into maintenance mode. Ever so often when the level of player attrition begins to grow, they expand the team temporarily and push out an expansion, then switch back to maintenance mode.

    There is no planned continuation of development at any time, so each release is typically a one shot deal, they may revisit it later and come back to build on it but thats not from pre-planning.



    The Dev team and producer can't give any preview of what's to come because they really can label what they are currently working on with any certainty.
     
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  31. Ludes

    Ludes Babbling Loonie
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    Okay to some people "happened nearly ten years ago" might be an excuse.. Woodsman you know better and I'm surprised to hear you say something like that... And I''m also just as sure if you rethink what you said about it having nothing to do with UO you'll change your mind... UO-X had EVERTHING to do with UO. It was our next step in taking UO into a modern game engine. But it got stomped by the CC users.
     
  32. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    It was set in a different world, Alcinor, and picked up where Ultima IX left off and was going to stick more closely to Ultima canon, unlike UO. It was also a leveling game and it was less of a sandbox than UO. You might as well claim the Ultima Facebook game has everything to do with UO as well.

    Now there was a different attempt at making a new UO of sorts that was within 2 years of UXO's cancellation (and it was later canceled), I don't remember what the name was, but there were some screenshots released or leaked a year or two ago.

    Regardless, there is nothing happening with UO on the level of a full-blown expansion, let alone a completely new game. We're not even getting a 2nd booster.
     
  33. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    We've already been told there will be no more expansions or booster packs. I'm just wondering what Jeff's plans are. If we truly have reached a point where UO is just moving along from publish to publish, well I don't know what to say. Would be nice to hear about some of the other stuff outside of the normal publishes of bug fixes, dungeon revamps, and new gifts.
     
  34. Sauteed Onion

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    Well, we got the High Seas "booster" (shudder, I had hate that word.. so cheesey.) and then we get a step down.. THEME packs. We got a gothic theme pack and a rustic theme pack. That even SOUNDS worse than a booster. And what's better even weirder, we got these cool little items that came along with the "theme" packs (which in and of themselves were WALL TILE SETS. v_v) but when you put in this little code, something popped in your backpack or bank box ( memory a little fuzzy meow). no quest associated with it.. oh just HEY here have a treat. Blewp. And there ya go. You can't tell me thought went into something like that. Oh something did.. but it wasn't clear rational thought. As it stands, I don't think I will ever purchase another "theme pack" if we get something like that. The doodads, cool, raised garden bed, cool. I mean literally, we didn't even get clothes or anything. Or an NPC that gave us a quest to get the garden bed or dinky chest I only used 1 time and then sold cause I wasn't enthused with it. Meow.. < / 3.. poo ea.. poo on you for pooin on me.
     
  35. G.v.P

    G.v.P Stratics Legend
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    I agree with you that a follow-up to the original video would be a nice way to clarify goals, but I don't see them making one until after the anniversary, nor am I concerned, at this point, of a post-anniversary future. I want to see what they do for the big 15th first before I decide whether to stick around for whatever comes next, and I imagine that's their thought as well.

    The scope of Jeff's "Sosaria Reels Interview" (Video | Transcript, Stratics, February 2012) tackled the whole year, as he spoke about re-vamps and the virtues and the anniversary. I do expect a follow-up video post-anniversary which will address what's next. If we get to next January-February without any thoughts on the future then I will join you in being confused as to why there isn't more communication from Jeff or the team.

    I understand you are focused on in-game systems and design, things that will extend the virtual shelf life of the game and/or encourage new players to join. Hopefully your thoughts will be addressed by the anniversary itself. My thought on Jeff's Tweet is that everyone in the video game industry should be interested in the Wii U hardware, and I was thinking how UO could improve based on that technology. Of course, that's not a 15th anni. thought, but more of a future of the industry as a whole thought.

    While console gaming is focused on accelerometers and gyroscopes, PC gaming is beginning to join the movement. For now, first person shooters are the main target, even though diehard keyboard users will likely remain locked on WASD. One day I imagine we'll use dual controllers for every process, from web browsing to MMOs. Meanwhile, Richard Garriott wants to make an MMO for mobile devices, or I suppose MMOs are still a far reach. Ultimate RPG will probably be synchronous and asynchronous, but I imagine they could develop a turn-based MMO at the very least. If Garriott can end up with a truly simultaneous mobile/Facebook game then the industry will do a back flip.
     
  36. Uriah Heep

    Uriah Heep Crazed Zealot
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    Ultima X: Odyssey is what you are talking about as UXO.

    There actually was a UO2, it was so close to shipping. If you remember they even had a big pre-launch party for the game, and then unexpectly they just pulled the plug. Beats me how they can develp and spend the money on it up to and including a launch party, and then just toss it all out the window.
    And as far as I am aware, there never was a real reason given for it.

    So don't be thinking we are dealing with a reasonable/logical entity.
     
  37. Ludes

    Ludes Babbling Loonie
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    I was at that party.. getting cut off at the last minute sucked..

    And Woodsman your half right and half wrong.. I played UO:X and while it was much more based on canon and lore it WAS NOT less sandbox.. I played both a smith and a cook in the UO:X beta and found them both to be enjoyable..

    There was no leveling..
     
  38. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    Ludes, I'm not even sure why we are discussing Odyssey - we can disagree about it and what we saw, but I know it is not the reason why the devs won't talk about UO's future - for several years after Odyssey was canceled, UO teams talked quite publicly and candidly about UO's future, both in broad and specific terms. The last major example is Stygian Abyss being announced a year before it launched.

    If I had to guess, based on old Stratics threads and UO Guide, the decision to clam up about UO's future happened somewhere around the time that UO lost it's remaining dedicated community relations people and was forced to share one or two people with the other two Mythic games. I won't go into the speculation that it was tied to the time period when Mark Jacobs claimed he saved UO from getting axed, that's another thread entirely.

    Funny thing is, Cal laid out a plan of sorts last year around this time - high resolution graphics, better new player experience, dungeon upgrades, new quest system, and several smaller things. Those are the kinds of things that tell people that the producer has a definite plan for UO's future and that UO is not lurching along from publish to publish and it was actually a good plan to bring people into UO. Then again, it seemed like Cal went through hell getting any kind of message out there. Look at the UO developer diary that went from 10 minutes to a poorly edited couple of minutes ( and it's been removed/deleted since that time).

    Since then, things got secret again, the new player experience was canceled (or replaced by a new player guide), the new quest system was canceled, other things got canceled, the graphics update seems to go through this on-again, off-again cycle. We're getting the dungeon upgrades, but you can't pin UO's future on something that would have been a normal thing with past UO teams.

    I just find it very hard to believe that Jeff has been on the job for nearly 9 months now, and does not have some kind of direction laid out for UO beyond a couple of publishes for the anniversary.
     
  39. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    I too will decide at the 15th whether to stick around, but let me explain my thinking about why it's so important for Jeff to be talking now (and it does tie to the 15th anniversary).

    As many people have pointed out, the 15th anniversary is the biggest and most publicity that UO will have gotten since Stygian Abyss, and it's free publicity and all of the game sites are going to be writing about it, because UO changed everything. It may even be more publicity than Stygian Abyss.

    Jeff is going to have this huge spotlight shining down on UO thanks to the anniversary.

    If Jeff doesn't get a future laid out for UO by the time those sites are writing their articles, he'll be throwing a massive amount of free publicity away and the biggest chance that UO has of getting new players in. New people aren't flocking to UO in huge droves right now and haven't been for years, many because the graphics are so outdated, but there are other reasons as well.

    Before the 15th rolls around and before these game sites write their interviews, Jeff needs to be out there telling everybody that UO is not a has-been game, that there are plans, that it's getting a graphics upgrade, among other things.

    It is EA and the cynical UO player in me that EA has helped to create does imagine a scenario where EA just throws away this huge opportunity with the anniversary to bring new players in and just keep their heads down and focus on us who are already playing, but Skalski seems like a guy that understands hype and publicity and getting people interested in games.

    UO can make it to 20 years, but not without a vision that is going to attract enough new and old players into the game to counteract those who leave for various reasons. So many of our problems stem from not having as many players as we used to, and we have too many defeatists who think UO is incapable of attracting new or old players. UO can be great again. It has the content, it has the variety, it has a housing system that nobody else has, it just needs to be sold to the public, and I just can't believe that the 15th anniversary publicity is going to be wasted.
     
  40. Sauteed Onion

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    Quoted for truth. I literally almost have nothing to add, aside from taking time to publicly admit that yes there are serious problems and bugs that will be fixed. Not just tossed into a thread which is now locked, probably won't be made again.
     
  41. Amren

    Amren Journeyman
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    You do realize that graphics are the least of this game's problems. How about the issue of no-one in the younger generation knows or cares about the 'Ultima' franchise? It's kinda like how everything sucks except iPhone.

    I played UO back in the beta, and even then it was a niche market. I played all the games in the Ultima franchise, so it was only natural that I experience an awesome gaming world online. But even with people who I grew up with, I was about the only one who played Ultima. Special props to U7 and U8.

    It seems that unless you are on xbox/PS3 no one will care. Ask a young person what 'Call of Duty' is and I bet they get it. Ask the same person what 'Ultima' is and I'm sure they won't know, or say it's just too old.

    Btw.

    - Graphics don't make a game. Diablo 3 is nothing more then a watered down WoW game client. All the textures are very similar to WoW, yet, there are a lot of people who played Diablo 2 years (12?) ago that are die hard fans. I bet this game sold more copies then vanilla UO, only because of it's fan base.

    - And why do you think WoW was so successful? The 'Warcraft' name resonates across the world, wither you like it or not. Ultima is niche. I honestly think the game should get a graphics upgrade, and be re-marketed to have any shot.
     
  42. G.v.P

    G.v.P Stratics Legend
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    One thing you know he'll mention is the live arc and the EM team. Hopefully he'll be able to discuss art and other things, but EA will always fall back on the live experience, especially since EMs are unique to UO.

    I feel like EA is trying to sell people the EC, which looks dull and common, while hiding the CC, which is stylistically unique. Old players might want to join again with the old client, but if they see the EC they might turn away. I watched the last half hour of the "Wayback" stream, and another user, who claimed to be a former player, said he wouldn't return because UO changed too much. Several users, including myself, then explained the difference between the EC and the CC, and the former player said he might give it a second look.

    Art is subjective, but both clients suffer technical limitations EA needs to resolve before I'd recommend the game. Take quests, for example. You can participate in a maximum of 10 quests at one time in UO. That's kind of low. To use a poor example, I'm currently on 30 concurrent quests in "Ultimate Collector," Richard Garriott's new Facebook game. Should players expect a three-month old Facebook game to offer more concurrent quests than a 15-year old MMO?

    Another aspect that bothers me is how you need to break party for an instanced corpse. The main benefit of a party is to have party bars and party chat, but the main drawback is shared loot. I asked the devs for an instanced loot option back when they had the last Fairfax meet-up, but Cal left shortly after and I'm not really sure how far the idea went.

    The 10-player party limit doesn't bother me as much as the 10-quest limit. I know someone will be like, "Well, who really does quests?" And that's a valid point. The loot isn't that great. Still, the most annoying part about the 10-quest limitation is what the NPCs say once you meet the maximum: "I'm sorry, I have nothing for you at this time." Really? Why not just tell me I am on too many quests?

    A quest upgrade would be nice. Maybe even a point turn-in system, or a merit system rather than the crappy elf quest loot we got with ML. I guess they could, instead, change the ML loot to Shame loot. Would make the strongbox quests interesting.
     
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  43. Sauteed Onion

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    you know, with all the things there are to do, and if done properly, I've said this in another thread.. it could all be looked at as job security. But I think it's looked at as a oMGWTFnonstop people complaining and nabbing on us type thing. We put that in, but then they said it isn't what they wanted.. or we did that, and now they want this.. OMG!!

    And if that isn't how it really is, it certainly is how it seems and feels.
     
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  44. Martyna Zmuir

    Martyna Zmuir Crazed Zealot

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    If the Devs feel this is how things are, then they are in the wrong business. Or, in the fourth grade...

    Since Kai doesn't deign to interact with the UO community (no, posting news isn't interacting) the Devs are the public face for UO. They randomly drop by and occasionally acknowledge a bug or explain what a new property means/does. Sometimes we even get a formulae or in-depth explanation. Once in an extremely long while, we get a scrap or two of plans for the future...however, I think those posts over the last 3 years can be counted on one hand.

    Without a dedicated, knowledgeable community rep (like Jeremy or Chrissay), or a lead programmer who enjoys engaging the community (Draconi), we have to rely on the Devs we have. Out of all the UO staff, TheGrimmOmen has been the most forthcoming in regards to his activities. Jeff just obsfucates in interviews and informs of jaw-droppingly-bad business decisions (delayed EC graphics upgrade, NPE cancelation, etc) along with insipid, meaningless gobbledy-gook reminiscent of Cal's vapid PR spin posts.

    Last Friday, Mesanna shocked us by posting actual plans for the future (regardless of how vague they were). This is the kind of communication we want, and yes, the kind of communication we deserve. The notion that the Devs "don't owe us anything" is laughable. Nobody has said they owe us luxury penthouses and trips to Milan, they have asked for communication. Over and over. Till they were red in the face. This is despite the fact that we have pom-pom wavers and Mods beating them down and making excuses for the grossly unprofessional way in which the UO-PTB interfaces with the p(l)ayers.

    Some people act like whipped puppies when it comes to communication. Seeing any "positive attention" as mana from Heaven that they must fawn all over, regardless of how they get treated the rest of the time. The Devs are the ones who need to break the cycle they started and begin posting things, especially threads they will continue to interact with. Start the process before coding has begun on system so they can take community input into account - thus releasing systems that don't have everyone going "WTF were they thinking?!" and fail right out of the gate. Will they take some flack? Assuredly. Will there still be vitriolic posts after publishes? This is the internet... However, such incidents will be far, far less.

    Without communication, especially about the future of UO, the community is left to speculate. Wildly. About all we know about the Anniversary is that it will happen and that Exodus is involved. If we don't start hearing about concrete things beyond that, the Chicken Littles grow braver.
     
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  45. Sevin0oo0

    Sevin0oo0 Guest

    She posted an early release of a UO herald post, that was it. Next, the Herald said she was "discussing" plans in that thread. she made an additional comment, then appeared to abandon the thread. That's NOT what I want, but we Do deserve more information about future content releases. Even vague is better than utter silence.
     
  46. Martyna Zmuir

    Martyna Zmuir Crazed Zealot

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    Yeah, well, the lack of follow through is completely Mesanna's failure. It underscores (yet again) the need for a UO-only Community Rep as Kai is far too mired in WAR.

    Edit: I think the word we need to use from now on is dialogue. We want a dialogue with the Devs or their proxy regarding the ongoing future development of UO.
     
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  47. Sir Ophid of Yew

    Sir Ophid of Yew Babbling Loonie
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    It would be so awesome if a member of the UO team replied in this thread, and touched on ALL our points!
     
  48. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    This.

    Right now, based on everything that has happened in the past year and a half, I can make the case for two different scenarios:
    1 UO has gone into maintenance mode, they've canceled or sidetracked things needed for new and old players and therefore have given up on them for the most part, the focus is on pixel crack and events, both of which appeal to a lot of current players, and we are just shuffling along from publish to publish until the day it becomes unprofitable.
    2 UO has big things planned, but the focus is on the 15th anniversary. It now has a good player guide, the graphics budget was increased, work is being done on animation and other things that they weren't originally going to do in last year's graphics announcement, and even though the graphics update was put on the backburner, it's still alive, and somebody plans for things beyond the 15th anniversary.

    I could expand on both of those scenarios quite a bit, complete with quotes from developer posts and interviews.

    Yeah, things were canceled and it seems like we are getting things just meant to consume our time, but if people would at least talk to us about the future, and tell us the plans beyond the 15th anniversary, it would reassure a lot of people. There's been a lot of people quitting this year.
     
  49. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    People aren't flocking to UO thanks to the existing graphics. You have to do something to get them in here. Jeff didn't get the graphics budget increased on a whim - his background is in graphics, he knows that graphics are important. There is a reason why companies aren't flocking to mimic Uo's 1990s graphics with their newer games.

    As far as the Ultima games, I agree with you, there is a loss of connection there. I don't know what they intend with this Ultima Facebook stuff, but I really wished they would have put the money into updating UO instead, because at least we'd get something out of it. If the Facebook game flops, that's millions that could have helped UO, and it probably won't make Ultima popular with EA (not that it is popular with them).
    Well Ultima used to be as big or bigger than Warcraft, used to make the cover of the PC gaming magazines every time a new version came out or was announced.

    But one thing WoW did and did extremely well, was the new player experience. It's a lot easier for somebody who has never played WoW to slide into WoW and be up and running very quickly. There are also things done within WoW to help get new players attached to WoW. The first flight out over the landscape, the early quests to familiarize people with the game and the game world, etc. The new player experience is extremely polished, and I think that is one of WoW's biggest assets.

    The "cartoony" graphics that some frown upon also have a point - they designed such that they run well on a lot of older computers. They could have pushed the hardware like say Guild Wars, but they have wisely chosen to keep things a lot more simple. Same with Diablo 3 - the graphics have a point - they can be dialed way down.

    And UO could use that as a strength. For people with old computers or who like the 1990s graphics, play the CC. For those who have good computers and want something to take advantage of large displays, the EC.

    Also, WoW does a very good job of laying out their direction and keeping people informed. I'm constantly getting emails from them, they are constantly talking to the media.
     
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  50. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    That's fine with me - both can be a selling point, but the focus should be on getting people into the game and then worrying about retaining them with things like the live arc and the EMs. You nailed a major problem though - falling back on things that mean nothing to somebody who has never played or hasn't played UO in a while.

    People aren't flocking to UO because of the CC or its older graphics. At least not since I've been back. And the fact that there are far fewer players now than when I left before KR reinforces that. And it feels like there are fewer players than when I came back last year, but that could just be people have quit playing but they haven't quit paying.

    The problem with the EC right now is that it's based on the CC graphics (and therefore not as desirable to people to switch) and it's not bundled with Pinco's UI, and the graphics are still low resolution. The graphics are supposed to change. The problem is when? The upgrade got pushed aside, and it goes back to what I said - there's no direction.
    I agree, and I think it's a good example actually, and it ties into things that new and old players expect (such as customizable interfaces like the EC).
    This goes back to the new quest system that they announced last year that got canned. I don't know what was involved with the quest system upgrade they had planned, but I have to believe that it handled more than 10 quests and that the interface was better, and that there were more quests.