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  • Old News: July 2001

    Distributed Backup Update

    We will be enabling the distributed backup system on all remaining shards with the exception of Balhae and Arirang, on Thursday, July 26th CDT. We estimate that this change will bring shard backup times down to approximately 15 minutes per shard. As a result, the amount of time required for shard maintenance, restarts, and ‘time warps’ may be narrowed to approximately 15 minutes in most cases.

    Please note: As this backup system decreases the amount of time required for a shard backup, it will also decrease the amount of ‘warp time’ available prior to a maintenance period. We urge that players keep this in mind when playing before a scheduled maintenance period.

    We will announce a release schedule for Balhae and Arirang in advance of their activation.

     Posted by Balandar
     Thursday, July 26, 2001 12:25 AM EDT

    Housing Decay Reactivated

    Housing decay has now been reinstated on all shards, to become active following their next downtime. The schedule for these maintenance periods is as follows:

    East Coast shards, with the exception of Chesapeake, experienced an unscheduled downtime at 5:00 pm CDT, July 24th, and the housing decay became active at this time.

     Posted by Balandar
     Tuesday, July 24, 2001 7:52 PM EDT

    Veteran Rewards Update

    As a reminder, we will be monitoring all public shards once they have received Publish 12 to see that the publish is running optimally before we will activate veteran rewards. Please note that this means players will not be able to choose rewards immediately once the publish is received. The rewards system will be activated systematically on pre-determined shards, and we will post a schedule once it is determined. We are working to see that this delay will be as short as possible, and we appreciate your patience.

     Posted by Balandar
     Tuesday, July 24, 2001 11:59 AM EDT

    In-game Support and Publish Update

    Due to a departmental meeting, in-game support will be limited from 3:00 pm - 6:30 pm CDT Monday, July 23rd. International Game Master support will not be affected.

    In order to provide better support coverage, the unscheduled downtime set for 2:00 pm CDT on the East Coast and Central Shards (with the exception of Chesapeake) has been delayed, and will now occur at 6:00 pm CDT.

    Thank you for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

     Posted by Balandar
     Monday, July 23, 2001 5:04 PM EDT

    Housing Decay Reactivated July 24th

    Tomorrow afternoon (July 24th) at 11:00 pm CDT, we will be reactivating house decay on all shards. Houses currently marked as condemned will be uncondemned before the decay is turned back on, and will not collapse when the system is reactivated. Please note that once the decay rate is turned back on, all players will need to refresh their homes as they normally would.

    For information on housing decay rates, see http://guide.uo.com/house_6.html.

     Posted by Balandar
     Monday, July 23, 2001 12:46 PM EDT

    Publish 12 Today!

    Posted on the FYI section of the UO.com boards:

    Publish 12 will be published to all remaining shards today, to be active following their next maintenance period. The schedule for these maintenance periods is as follows:

    All East Coast and Central shards (with the exception of Chesapeake) will be taken down for an unscheduled maintenance at 2:00 pm CDT, July 23rd.
    Japanese and Korean Shards will be taken down for their normal maintenance period on at 8:00 AM local time, July 24th (JST).
    European Shards will be taken down for their normal maintenance period at 5:00 am local time, July 24th (GMT).
    Siege Perilous will be taken down for its normal maintenance period at 5:00 am, July 24th (CDT).
    Formosa will be taken down for its normal maintenance period at 8:00 am local Taiwan time, July 24th.
    Oceania will be taken down for its normal maintenance period at 5:00 am local Sydney time, July 24th.
    AOL Legends will be taken down for its normal maintenance period at 5:00 am EDT, July 24th.

    The changes will be added to Latest Game Updates once the publish is active on all shards

     Posted by Martok
     Monday, July 23, 2001 12:37 PM EDT

    House Placement and House Transfer

    The auto refresh that was implemented on all shards has affected the ability for current house owners to place or have new houses transferred to them. The development team has been notified and is working to resolve this. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to resolve this as quickly as possible.

     Posted by Balandar
     Saturday, July 21, 2001 1:17 PM EDT

    Improperly Condemned Homes

    We would like to assure all players whose homes are currently marked as improperly condemned that they will not lose their homes at this time. The housing decay is not active currently, and the problem causing homes to appear as improperly condemned will be addressed as soon as possible.

    We will update further once this has been fixed.

     Posted by Balandar
     Saturday, July 21, 2001 1:16 PM EDT

    Housing Decay Alert

    Housing Decay Alert ^top

    Due to an issue causing permanent buildings to decay, all shards with Publish 12 (Chesapeake, Baja, Sonoma, Napa Valley, and Pacific) were given an automatic housing refresh last night (July 19th), and the affected buildings will be refreshed manually until the issue is addressed.

    In addition to this, housing decay on all remaining Ultima Online shards has been turned off over the weekend. This means that all homes on these shards will be refreshed to like new status, and will remain so until further notice. We will give at least 24 hours notice before the decay is turned back on, and we will update the patch message to ensure that all players are notified. We apologize for any inconvenience, and urge all players to check the patch messages before logging in to avoid missing important information

     Posted by Balandar
     Saturday, July 21, 2001 1:14 PM EDT

    Scenario Analysis by Calandryll

    Calandryll posted this overview of the scenario on the UO.com boards. How do you think the scenario went? What suggestions do you have?

    A few weeks ago, based on some requests from players, I promised I'd write a synopsis of the scenario, describe the goals, and write my view of what we accomplished. Ask and ye shall recieve:

    The Savage Empire Scenario
    Scenario Description
    Strange creatures (the savages) are driving the orcs out of their homes, which is causing the orcs to attack the player cities. The savages' reasons for doing so is not revealed...yet. Note, while the scenario title bears the same name as the single player Worlds of Ultima game and was inspired by it, it is not based on that game.

    The Savage Empire Scenario had 6 major goals:

    1. Introduce players to the concept of scenarios and set the expectations.
    a. Since everyone reading this knows what a scenario is by now, I think we achieved this one.

    2. Update new content into the game within a context (story) on an ongoing and uninterrupted basis (no delays or off-weeks once a scenario starts).
    a. With the exception of the Chesapeake shard, there were no delays, off-weeks, or interruptions in the scenario.
    b. We did split week 4 into two weeks (the orc bomber was originally supposed to be with the orc chopper and town attacks in week 4) to give QA more time to test, but most players didn't even realize the change to the schedule and it was a good example of fluid design.

    3. Make sure new content is fun and useful and try to include as many play-styles as possible.
    a. Most feedback from players regarding the new monsters (especially the orc scouts and savages) was very positive. The new AI introduced worked well and players seemed to enjoy the challenged they presented. Good AI, with respects to monsters in a video game, does not mean "make the monster more difficult"...it means "make the monster fun and challenging."
    b. The interaction of the bola with savage riders (need to knock them off the ridgeback to tame the ridgeback) helped create some grouping, while not forcing it on those that like to solo.
    c. Some players played the scenario because of the story and role-playing. Some played it for the loot. Others enjoyed searching for the orc encampments and exploring the new dungeon. All of that is good.
    d. Most of the new monsters were texture changes. The artists did a great job making sure everything looked good as far as the Third Dawn models and most of the 2d replacement art looked good.

    4. Introduce as few bugs as possible, fix any bugs by the next update, and don't impact other development.
    a. We published the shards nine times. During those nine publishes, we had no reverts and with the exception of the merge issue with publish 12 (which was not a problem caused by scenario code and only occurred on Chessie), we did not impact development at all.
    b. There were only two bugs of major concern released as part of the scenario. One was a shard crasher (happened once, was fixed an hour later) and the other was an issue with stealing caused by the orc mask (again, fixed within 12 hours of the first GM report).
    c. The majority of other bugs were fixed by the next week's update (what few there were) and overall, considering the amount of content and nine shard publishes in a row, our QA team did a bang-up job catching the bugs during testing before any of you ever saw them.
    d. We also had a lot of help from folks such as Prophet, Evocare, Vex, Adrick, and Groover working on things such as the looting rights change, client patches, making savage paint work (you have no idea how many changes we made to code that had not been touched in years to make this happen), and general design ideas. The team pitched in a lot while continuing to work on their systems.

    5. Create a dynamic outcome based solely on code and systems
    a. While the dynamic outcome got a bad rap, actually, the code worked perfectly, the timing issue is what caused concern. The fact that it ended too quickly was a major disappointment for many players and one we plan to resolve in future scenarios. But, the way in which the code reacted to the players' actions proved that we can code dynamic outcomes without having to manually update or force anything.

    6. Take the feedback from players on the first scenario and incorporate them into the next scenario.
    a. I'd like to concentrate on the last one. I've been reading the feedback and here is what I believe were the major concepts players wanted more of.
    - i. More in-game fiction. Books, scrolls, etc.
    - ii. Less camping...have some monsters spawn in random locations.
    - iii. More story in general (explanations and reasons). This is more a product of the fact that the Savage Empire scenario was more of a set-up scenario. You'll learn a lot more in future scenarios.
    - iv. More craftables and less that require fighting to get the resources. While I believe that having some craftables require fighting (again, encourages community group play - sorta the point of play an MMORPG) not all should.
    - v. Make sure the dynamic outcome lasts longer. This one goes without saying.
    b. While not all of these will make it into the next scenario, the feedback is useful and could influence future scenarios. Did I miss anything?

    -Jonathan "Calandryll" Hanna
    Designer, Ongoing Content

    [ Comment on this article ]


     Posted by Martok
     Thursday, July 19, 2001 5:10 PM EDT

    Update on Vet Rewards

    This was found posted on the FYI section of the UO.com boards

    Since activating Publish 12 on the Chesapeake shard in late June, we have been monitoring the shard closely, and we are targeting to release the final week of the event scenario publish to the Chesapeake shard on Tuesday, July 17th. Once it is determined that there are no unforeseen issues involving the final week of the Savage Empire scenario and Publish 12, a schedule will be set for the release of Publish 12 to the other shards.
    Publish 12, which includes the veteran rewards system, is our highest priority, and we hope to see it released to all shards soon. We are looking to roll out Publish 12 to all shards by late next week, but please understand that due to testing considerations and time-sensitive problems that may arise, all schedules may be subject to change.

    A list of the changes included in this publish can be found in Testing for the Next Update.

    Considering the complexities of the rewards system, we will wait until all public shards have received Publish 12 before the veteran rewards system will be activated. Once all shards are running Publish 12, and we are confident that the veteran rewards system is functioning properly, we will begin to activate veteran rewards systematically on pre-determined shards. Please note that this means that players will not be able to choose rewards immediately once the publish is received. We are working to see that this delay will be as short as possible, and we appreciate your patience.

    [ Comment on this article ]


     Posted by Martok
     Wednesday, July 18, 2001 9:04 PM EDT

    Scenario Comments

    Calandryll recently posted this on the UO.com boards. Questions/comments to Calandryll are noted in bold text.

    --First, great feedback!!!
    --I pulled out the major points of each of your points to respond to. If I took something out of context, please correct me.

    "If neither outcome is worse, then there is no reason to favor a certain outcome at all -- or even participate at all.
    --I don't agree. Perhaps neither outcome is worse, but different players will benefit from different outcomes. For instance, let's say two outcomes in a fight for the city of Skara are: a) Skara becomes a dungeon (meaning monsters spawn there) or b) skara is saved (meaning you can bank there). For some players, the idea of a new dungeon is preferable, while to others, Skara is their home and they want it back the way it was. I'm sure I could think of a better example, given enough time. What I meant by my original statement was that outcomes where the player-base as a whole "loses" are a bad idea.

    Perhaps the worst outcome should come from doing nothing??"
    --I like that idea a lot. In fact, that is what happens now, if players don't retake the towns, they will be forever under attack. Doing nothing does result in a negative outcome until they do something.

    During this scenario I felt a little bit that the new content (which took the form of new items many times) was used as a crutch to help support a story that could not be fully expressed in game.
    --Actually, it was more that much of the story was not told on purpose. Again, think of this scenario as the opening chapter of a book. For instance, lets say that book starts out with an invasion of a town by marauding monsters. Do you (or the characters in the book) learn in the first chapter who caused that invasion? Usually not. Usually, you have to read a few more chapters before you can put the pieces together. In-game fiction didn't fit in this scenario...in the next one (the next chapter if you will), it does.

    "This scenario needed to be far more dynamic. There were basically three outcomes: orcs, savages, or neither."
    --For us to do what you propose in the first scenario would have been the absolute worst thing we could have done for a first pass. What you have listed in your second example is the result of an evolution of what we did in the first one. It is extremely easy to make that diagram, even easy to fill it in, but as you said, infinitely harder and more time consuming to design, code, balance, and test it. The fact that the first, fairly simple dynamic outcome did not go well is proof that trying to do something that complicated would have been disastrous. Too often, in our eagerness to flex our design muscles, we design above our own experience. It’s like trying to run before one has learned how to walk (to quote Tyrant). :)
    --Is it a goal to have a scenario like that? Actually, I'm not sure if they ever need to be that complicated...but even if I did, they won't be like that for quite some time until we learn more.

    -Jonathan "Calandryll" Hanna
    Designer, Ongoing Content

     Posted by Martok
     Wednesday, July 18, 2001 8:59 PM EDT

    Universal Festival

    A messenger brings this invitation to those of the Empire

    Come to The Universal Festival. Hosted by Jaco Universal, Lord Beldin, and
    Jack Ransom. This Grand Event is The First and Last time it will ever Happen! So Don't Miss it! There will be a Gaming Area,
    Palm Reading, Gambling, Chicken Fights, Food, Drinks, and even a Band! Yes People this is a Once in a Life Time Chance! You ask "Is there any more activites!?!?!?!?"
    But Of Course! We will have Player Run Sales, Bars, Horse Racing. Food and Drinks are Available for Sale and It is First Come, First Served! We will also Have Live Shows, Even some Boxing, and that's not all
    We Have Much, Much MORE!
    First and Last Chance People!
    July 21st, at Noon Eastern time! At Festival Tower! Gates Will be given at All Town Banks!

    [ Comment on this article ]


     Posted by Martok
     Monday, July 16, 2001 3:27 PM EDT

    Patch 12: Murder Count and Reg Spawn Addition

    According to UO Stratics, patch 12 is currently up and running on the Chesapeake shard. Also according to Stratics, patch 12 includes an addition of exactly what type of murder count you have! It will tell you what your short, long, and ping-pong counts are by saying: I must consider my sins.

    Posts on the UO.com boards also speak of an increase in the reagent spawn as well. Rumor has it that the npc reagent vendors have had their spawn rates increased! You can now expect to see anywhere from 400-999 of each reg spawning every fifteen minutes!!

    [ Comment on this article ]


     Posted by Martok
     Sunday, July 15, 2001 7:48 AM EDT

    Ridgebacks & Orc Brutes?

    Reports are coming in about a new Ridgeback mount, that some savages ride and is tameable. As well as a new underground orc hideout somewhere south of Yew with huge orc brutes gathered. Attacks on certain cities have also picked up, with especially violent reports from Vesper.

    Latest news indicates that the Ridgeback "WILL" require High taming to tame, but there will be no taming requirements to Own / Ride.

     Posted by Kalinaf
     Wednesday, July 11, 2001 1:36 PM EDT

    The Queen's Poison Opens!

    A dark hooded messenger brought this to me at Olympus. The messenger would not speak, but dropped off this parchment:

    The Dark Monarchy, Kingdom of Demorium is opening their new tavern called the Queens Poison. The grand opening is Friday July 13th at 9 pm est time on the Catskills shard,Trammel. Runes to the tavern will be given
    out at Lord Blackthorns castle from 6-7 pm est. Gates will be made available by request at icq number
    12372364. The tavern is for all people good or evil. Private dining reservations will be taken in advance. The
    Queen's Chef Otik will prepare fresh food daily. Wheter ye wish a fine dining experience,or to sit in our library
    and quietly read ,browse the copies of books available for sell in our bookstore, or just relax with a jug of
    wine in front of the fire with family and friends, The Queens Poison is the place to be.

    [ Comment on this article ]


     Posted by Martok
     Tuesday, July 10, 2001 8:39 PM EDT

    New Savage Tribe????

    I sent this to UO suggestions but I would like feedback fromt the RP world

    A new RP guild was formed today on catskills:
    Eaters of the Dead (TRB) (standing for tribe) A guild of Role Playing Savages such as the new NPC's in UO now.

    Request OSI look into increasing the RP potential for this type of character. Of course savage paint and masks are good, but a true savage is a fierce warrior and uses primitive technology to tremendous savage effect. ie only what can be made from bone/wood/ leather

    The guild is looking at only authorizing use of the following weapons in keeping with what the game offers us to RP with- and of these we ask OSI to consider the next paragraph.
    Archery: bow (not crossbows or heavies- above their technology level)
    Fencing: Spears and daggers (RP"d that they are created from wood and bone)
    Maces: club and quarter staff (ie small and large sticks)
    No swords are allowed because metalworking is not a savage skill.
    Magery: Savage Shamans are not common in the populous but do exist

    Suggestion 1: Request bone be added as a resource (from skeletons or from any animal, like hides) in order to create savage weaponry ie:bone tipped spear, bone knife (fencing)
    Request a Bone tipped spear be created (Tinker skill) or which can only be equipped by a char wearing savage paint, which would offer a savage bonus to the savage paint wearer. A bone studded club and quarterstaff are probably also easily coded to provide bonuses to wearers of the paint. As for archery, bone tipped arrows might also be possible, and would only be able to be fired by characters wearing the Savage paint.
    A savage would not wear metal armor- only bone, leather, and studded (studded might be above a savage level of technology but perhaps not if studded with bone)
    Suggestion 2: Request these types of armor have an armor bonus attached to a savage paint wearer. It would decrease the amount of metal armor worn by wearers of savage paint who are NOT in the RP savage community.

    A Savage RP guild would not allow mounts- so bolas would be standard savage equipment. However NON RPers wearing savage paint are currently allowed and there is no reason to change that.

    This guild is going to work long and hard to create a viable savage culture in the community- and with OSI's help we can create savages in the RP world for ALL shards! We are currently researching hawaiian and other pacific islander languages as well as some south american cannibal languages to create an RP language such as is used by the Orcs currently on all shards.

    Thank you for your time- please consider what we are trying to create in the community when considering your next development efforts.

    Those players on catskills that would like to help pioneer this Savage Tribe concept WITHOUT the advantage of these requested bonuses should contact the GM at 101937403 for cultural questions (names, language, RP nuances)
    Questions concerning tactics and templates unique to a savage should be refered to: 4714240

    We'd appreciate whatever player support we can get from ideas and suggestions to active participation. We'd like to see tribes of savages pop up on every shard in droves!
    Please reply

    Catskills PK-Hunters

     Posted by Kalinaf
     Tuesday, July 10, 2001 6:52 PM EDT

    More info on Orc Masks and Savage Paint!

    Taken from The Ultima Online Update Journal.

    Many players have been asking about the new masks of orcish kin and the savage tribal paint and how they work. While most players have figured out the mask will explode if you attack an orc and the paint will burn if you attack a savage, there are many other interactions that are designed into these masks. In order to clear up some confusion, the list below should clarify some of these interactions. Note the examples are all in reference to the mask of orcish kin and orcs, but they all hold true for tribal paint and savages as well.

    • If your pet, hireling, or summoned creature attacks or is attacked by an orc while you are wearing a mask of orcish kin, the orc mask will explode. Note this is the case even if your pet auto-defends.
    • If you provoke two creatures onto each other and an orc attacks one of those creatures while you are wearing a mask of orcish kin, the mask will explode. The system sees you as the controller of the creature you provoked and hence, the mask will explode if an orc attacks or is attacked by it, even if you are no longer in the area.
    • If you attack an orc and kill it and then put on the mask of orcish kin the mask will explode because you still have that orc in your aggressor list. After attacking an orc (even if you never hit it and it never hits you) wait a while before putting on an orc mask.
    • You cannot wear a mask of orcish kin and savage paint at the same time.

    The orc masks and the savage paint are powerful items, but with that power comes danger. It is wise to use caution when donning either of these items.


     Posted by Kalinaf
     Tuesday, July 10, 2001 6:38 PM EDT

    Life after the Orc Quest

    Calandryll brings this to us from the uo.com boards. Here is what he has to say:

    Will they continue the weekly updates in the form of another ongoing 'quest' (I use the term loosley)?
    --I wouldn't use the term "quest" at all actually. But yes, we're planning on doing another one after this one conclues.

    If so, what type of 'quest' will it be?
    --Different than this one based on the learning we have gotten from this one. Beyond that, no comment as I will not give anything away.

    What would everyone like to see? What were the major problems with the current one (besides the obvious!)?
    --Good questions. I actually think it might be better to wait until this one concludes though. I plan on writing a post about the current scenario after this one concludes and gathering feedback from that as well.

    To answer your questions about dynamic changes to the world such as destroying a city. Doing something like that, while it may sound cool on paper, so may not be appropriate for UO. Let's forget about the programming issues with this (of which there are many) and discuss the design/community issues. If you have been reading the posts about this scenario since it's beginning, there have been more than a few posts of complaint towards the town attacks. They were (are) angry about not being able to bank/hang-out in their favorite town. Imgaine, if you will, if we not only attacked a town, but actually destroyed it! People have become very attached to the cities in UO. Another example, I had an idea a long time ago to make a scenario where reagents became scarce and players had to solve a scenario to solve the problem. Imagine the howls of anger from the mages should the players lose that scenario and regs remained harder to get than they already are?

    While you may not agree with that mentality, as a developer, I am beholden to all players and must take it into account.

    The problem with win/lose outcomes is that as a general rule, people don't like to lose. A lose scenario such as the ones you describe are not fun if the players' lose. Losing isn't fun. Rather than have a win/lose outcome, I'd prefer to have different outcomes, neither necessarily worse, just different, and all interesting and fun. But that sort of thing is far more difficult to design (again, not talking programming issues here) than a simple win/lose scenario. In truth, in my opinion, lose/win scenarios are rather uncreative as anyone can come up with "if the players lose, Minoc blows up, if they win it doesn't". It takes far more creativity to come up with two outcomes that are meaningful, but also equally fun.

    Truth is we are not at that point yet. We need to move these along gradually. The biggest mistake developers make in my opinion with MMORPGs is we try to run before we learn to walk. We have so many cool ideas we just want to get them started right away. But, in the long-run (and with these games, the long-run must be considered) moving slowly, learning from the feedback, and expandind as we go along, is the far better course.

    Oh and just a sidenote, you made an excellent post with some really well thought out ideas. Lose the profanity (and yes, even using "*"s can be considered a ToS violation on the boards) next time as I would hate to see a good post get locked (as this one would be justifably locked if it was) because of unneeded curse words that didn't add to your post anyway.

    -Jonathan "Calandryll" Hanna
    Designer, Ongoing Content

    [ Comment on this article ]


     Posted by Martok
     Tuesday, July 10, 2001 5:58 PM EDT

    Could precasting be returning?

    Posted by Adrick (Lead Developer) on the UO.com boards:

    The argument could be made back at the time precasting was removed that it could be used to pk and was a mystery to those who did not understand how to do it.

    As it stands today given the tram fel ruleset and various other avenues for consensual pvp - precasting if restored to the game would effect pvpers - those who want no part of precasting and pvp have the means now to avoid it altogether. A vast majority of the posts, emails and general conversation in the pvp community is that restoring precasting to the game would make pvp more fun for them, more of a matter of player skill in who wins a fight.

    The concern for us going into this is to ensure that characters with no magery can be competitive in pvp. The insta hit will not be returning which was one of the obvious unbalancing features of the old style.

    The introduction of special moves, lumberjacking along with anatomy healing and med, swing timers with hit times based on dex have added more choices that will not be available the same to a mage/warrior as before when precasting was removed.

    So we are looking at the feedback - and we are discussing what the end result will be when the combat changes listed in concept are finally published to all the shards

     Posted by Martok
     Monday, July 9, 2001 2:59 PM EDT

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