Eve Online now eclipses UO's peak subscriber base in 2003. AND IT'S A DECADE OLD. They did it with face lifts. Well, if you haven't noticed, isometric action RPGs are big again. So let's talk. Want to make that sort of money off this old game? Here's how. The EC can be salvaged with unrivaled success. Its engine is modern, and Pinco has given its UI the best suite of features in the entire isometric RPG genre, although it needs to be optimized for some performance issues. It's a wonderful client with lackluster implementation. Not just a face lift. Don't throw out the EC, re-imagine it from the ground up. Make it or break it. Don't treat this like just a face lift. Treat it like building a new game on top of an established one. Create black moon gates within the old servers and charge players a discounted, one-time purchase price to copy (not move! one-way trip!) their characters and items to "Ultima Online 2", the way it should have always been built--built on top of Ultima Online, retaining all of your subscribers characters and items. This will end interdependence (new items, races and facets with zero duplication requirements), it will easily bring your old players back--and after 15 years you have the lion's share--and encourage existing ones to move forward; it will begin the new era. I've been a fan of the Classic Client for 15 years, but it's time to polish it off, wrap up some unfinished things, put a bow on top for a booster pack, and then put it--and ALL THE SERVERS running it--into maintenance mode. Want to compete with Diablo III, Torchlight II, Path of Exile? The planned Torchlight MMO? Spend several million on this. Introduce an extensive and optional quest system into the middle of your sandbox (maybe sell story arc packs in the store), a rich pet and companion system (sell pets and hirelings on steroids), as well as an auction house, and vendors who BUY items from players (you know, like those crappy Sphere servers were doing years ago). There is absolutely NO reason to build another ARPG from scratch. Ultima Online has GREAT systems and features in place. There's your foundation for something bigger. You know it, I know it. But the art doesn't compete, and that means you're not competitive. So stop doing what you're doing, take my suggestions (they're free!), and make yourselves some money. Competitive means competing (the face lift) HD, HD, HD! If the environment art pixelates too much on a close zoom, you're doing it wrong. Build this for contemporary specs. You're doing this for new customers, and to bring back all the customers you've lost to better looking isometric RPGs! Don't just hire a superb artist and animator. Hire a team of them. Since dragons and other creatures in western fantasy look different from those in eastern fantasy, make both variants, and spawn them regionally. For the face lift portion, your new high definition art should allow players to zoom much closer to their characters. Great! Build an item store rich in cosmetics (as well as temporary stat boosts and other consumables for use in Trammel), and give your isometric player base a level of customization seen no where else in the genre. Sell faces, body types, mood stances, voice and body emotes, new race skins for RP. UGC The current kings of the MMO industry are starting to agree to the obvious: user generated content represents a substantial return on investment. It means player investment and retention. It means thousands of people doing your work for free. Give players map editors and give them the ability to create little bits and pieces of the world, wherever programming limitations allow. Steal Linkrealms' idea. Google it. ULTIMA ONLINE IS DEAD. WAIT. NEVER MIND. JUST SLEEPING. LONG LIVE ULTIMA ONLINE. When you're finished with a good, polished release version of all of this, open up a slew of new Free To Play servers, and charge a one-time purchase price to all the new players who will be ditching their crappy isometric ARPGs for what you've built--the industry's first and final, definitive say in the matter. Ultima Online. Let's save UO, let's do this, let's make EA a crap ton of money, create some jobs, beat UO's peak record, and give birth to the next era. All over again.