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Ultima Online: Interview with Aaron Cohen

DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

Aaron Cohen is a Producer for Ultima Online and joined us to chat about the game, it's future, what Mythic has done for them and much more. In the new year, you'll be hearing more about the expansion Kingdom Reborn (see images).




image MMORPG.com: A day does not pass without a thread on our boards about "old-school UO PvP". How does PvP in Ultima Online work today?

Aaron Cohen: PvP is still very much a part of UO but it has evolved over the years and offers players several options. On almost all shards (servers) there is a land called Trammel, where there is no PvP, and a land called Felucca, where there is wide open non-consensual PvP. On Felucca, you can take part in a faction war (four sides in conflict over territory), or engage in red vs. blue fighting. Red players are murderers who attack others without provocation, while blue players tend to think of themselves as more noble and will only attack reds. There is also a full guild war system that many players take part in, with wars and alliances beginning and ending all the time.

However, for those who miss the good old days of full non-consensual PvP with no safe haven, you can play on Siege Perilous, which has a rule set similar to the original UO. This means you can kill anyone, anywhere, at any time and take their stuff. That style of gameplay isn't for everyone, but for some of our most dedicated players, it's the only way to play.

The full interview is here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

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Comments

  • hiddenpockethiddenpocket Renton, WAPosts: 5Member
    Havent seen news for UO in a while; though this isn't much of news but more as to announce to the masses about the new graphics overhaul that UO will get in (early I hope) 2007 with Kingdom Reborn.  I personally can't wait for it image, and I wonder how it will be received.  Cant wait to see the comments here, both from players, ex-players, and specially the haters image(those are always fun!). image


  • GungaDinGungaDin Philadelphia, PAPosts: 514Member Uncommon

    I don't know what to say.  I left UO in 2000 after I got sick of Trammel being added a later on that expansion with the customizable housing.  I forget which expansion exactly because it was long ago, but I basically got sick of the game and its changes. 

    The only way (speaking as a veteran from 1998) I'll return to UO is if you create new servers with just the Felucca ruleset (of course with the new graphics :) circa 1999.  Otherwise its not worth my time and effort. 

    I wish UO well and i'm glad its still going strong but the community I interacted with back then is completely gone.  It will never be like I remember, hence I'd probably return for a month and realize my mistake and soon quit again.

    Thats all I have to say.

  • BrenicsBrenics Warren, MIPosts: 364Member Uncommon
    Siege Perilous sounds like fun. I will have to resub once the updated gfx hits.

    ESOTU had a great patch today, it could change the direction of game for the good!


  • kishekishe aitooPosts: 1,978Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by GungaDin
    I don't know what to say.  I left UO in 2000 after I got sick of Trammel being added a later on that expansion with the customizable housing.  I forget which expansion exactly because it was long ago, but I basically got sick of the game and its changes.  The only way (speaking as a veteran from 1998) I'll return to UO is if you create new servers with just the Felucca ruleset (of course with the new graphics :) circa 1999.  Otherwise its not worth my time and effort.  I wish UO well and i'm glad its still going strong but the community I interacted with back then is completely gone.  It will never be like I remember, hence I'd probably return for a month and realize my mistake and soon quit again. Thats all I have to say.
    It's been there all along, it's called Siege Perilous...there's no trammel there!




  • AnagethAnageth .Posts: 2,217Member
    I'm still not sold. They clearly just want to go mainstream and impress people with just graphics. If they concentrated on both deep and meaningful gameplay and updated graphics, I would be interested. This interview has been aesthetics only.

    No longer visiting MMORPG.com.

  • DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

    Originally posted by Anageth
    I'm still not sold. They clearly just want to go mainstream and impress people with just graphics. If they concentrated on both deep and meaningful gameplay and updated graphics, I would be interested. This interview has been aesthetics only.
    The only info provided on this expansion is three screenshots. As noted, you'll hear more during an event in January.


    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • hbosmanhbosman ZwollePosts: 107Member

    I wanted to play this game for some time. The '2D' graphics remind me of the MSX RPG times image

    But before I am going to spend any money I want to trial first. And while I can with this game it needs a creditcard to activate. I just aint going to enter a creditcard number in order to play a free trial. If they really want new players they have to lift the creditcard need for the trial so more people will try it out.

  • AranStormahAranStormah OsloPosts: 278Member
    Very interesting read, allthough I can't help but react to his take on subscription fees.

    I have nothing against paying them and often have three different game subs on (long time since a signle MMO held my attention), but as a consumer/player it's annoying to have subs defined as "there's lots of entertainment in this game for you. ie you pay full subs". If that was the true definitation then offline singleplayers would enforce subs too :P

    Again, I don't mind online game subs more than paying for a movie ticket, but it's sad to see the focus move from "we want to keep full subs so we can support the game with the most possible resources at hand" or its lesser brother: "we need full subs to cover server upkeep, patches and manpower" onto "you get lots to do so pay". The 'lots to do' part is usually covered by buying expansion packs ;)

    Ah well. Thumbs up for UO. It proves a good game is ageless.
  • avienthasavienthas FreiburgPosts: 94Member
    When Trammel went live, it felt like a good friend dying. I tried to relive the experience a couple of times since then ,with little to no sucess. Now the dead friend turns zombie and comes to hunt me down, eat my brains to punish me for playing all that crap I played since leaving UO. Mindless grindfests, small unimaginative stale little cages, when compared to the masterpiece.
    UO: even in its (for my taste) deranged old age the ONLY game out there with deep and meaningful gameplay, the one and only real sandbox game, a virtual world.

    And once more, the hopes go up and I dream of a reunion with old friends and reliving the thrill of old time UO. But deep inside I know, UO is going to break my heart again, as it does every time...


    ...but as long as it survives I can still hope that someone will have the guts to produce something of a similar gigantic scope. Something new.

    image

  • ZorvanZorvan nowhere, CAPosts: 8,912Member


    Originally posted by hiddenpocket
    Havent seen news for UO in a while; though this isn't much of news but more as to announce to the masses about the new graphics overhaul that UO will get in (early I hope) 2007 with Kingdom Reborn.  I personally can't wait for it image, and I wonder how it will be received.  Cant wait to see the comments here, both from players, ex-players, and specially the haters image(those are always fun!). image

    I can't help but laugh when someone mentions the "graphics overhaul". Slapping a new coat of paint on the same tired, worn out engine is an "overhaul" to you? This is why EA/Mythic will never have to bring UO up to par with other games as far as graphics/performance: 'cause the fanbois will gladly lick up any bone they are thrown. That is why UO struggles to get, let alone keep, new blood. But that's okay, because the "old schoolers" would rather it just be them playing anyway. Too bad EA/Mythic is about making money, and when their latest overhaul fails to garner the interest and subscriptions they are counting on, they will not do anything more. They will simply let it die to the point it doesn't break even anymore, and they will finish killing it.

  • GameloadingGameloading NAPosts: 14,182Member
    "And yes, the subscriber base has grown smaller over the past three
    years, as have many MMORPGs. I am proud to say that UO maintains a spot
    on the top-10 list in North America and the top-3 list in Japan."

    Ok Mr.Cohen, lets get back to reality. Your game has been knocked out of the top 3 in japan YEARS ago.
    In fact, it wasn't even in the top 3 back in april.

    "http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/ragnarokonline/news.html?sid=6147395"
    "Japanese Web site RBB Today reports that a recent study found that two of the
    three most popular online games in Japan--Ragnarok Online and Sukatto Golf
    Pangya--are Korean in origin. US games--even the blockbuster World of
    Warcarft--are conspicuously absent from the list, as the third spot went to a
    domestic effort, Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI."
     
    Ofcourse, that one is currently outdated.
    according to this report:
    http://www.hanbitsoft.co.kr/down/ir/2006_IR_Book.pdf

    the current top 3 MMO's in japan are:

    1: Final Fantasy XI
    2: Ragnarok Online
    3: Granado Espada.

    Oh well, so much for Ultima Online in japan then.



  • ConnoisseurConnoisseur Null, CAPosts: 273Member

    Originally posted by Anageth
    I'm still not sold. They clearly just want to go mainstream and impress people with just graphics. If they concentrated on both deep and meaningful gameplay and updated graphics, I would be interested. This interview has been aesthetics only.
    What? UO is KNOWN for 'deep and meaningful' gameplay... that's not what they needed to work on, they needed to work on graphics and UI so it can stay up to date with the current generation...


  • sakersaker harrisburg, PAPosts: 993Member Uncommon

    Hmmm.... Where are these wonderful improved graphics, I didn't see anything to speak of in those screenshots, they just weren't very immpresive.

  • AngelfireAngelfire Middle of Nowhere, TXPosts: 145Member

    Originally posted by srohek
    Originally posted by Anageth
    I'm still not sold. They clearly just want to go mainstream and impress people with just graphics. If they concentrated on both deep and meaningful gameplay and updated graphics, I would be interested. This interview has been aesthetics only.
    What? UO is KNOWN for 'deep and meaningful' gameplay... that's not what they needed to work on, they needed to work on graphics and UI so it can stay up to date with the current generation...




    I agree that UO has gameplay down. But what I dont see is how this so called 'upgrade' is an upgrade. Unless something changes prior to release ..the graphics they are showing arnt as good as many single player 3/4 over prospective games that have been out for YEARS (diablo 2 for example) .. I dont see how this is gonna do anything other then show this is a game on its last legs .. not only in player base but in develpmental focus. Dont get me wrong... I dont forsee UO sunsetting anytime soon ..but the fanchise is currently so stagnant ..I cant see it ever drawing back a mainstream following again, and DEFINATLY not with a roughshot attempt such as this.
  • pgasper8725pgasper8725 Westport, INPosts: 1Member
    Age of Shadows killed UO...so they say, which is, in my opinion, arguably logical

    It was good to introduce new classes, new spells, new housing ideas, etc.  The thing that killed it was the new magic item system.  It is a lot better than the previous version  BUT  it killed PVP which everyone seems to love about UO.  PVP Nowadays is all about money...whoever can afford the most expensive items with the best resists and most/best mods will be victorious.  It just flat out got stupid...

    Personally, I don't care about PVP...it is all just $h!t talking anyways.   But if you want a more balanced PVP ruleset then play on test center or try siege...just quit whining about all the "trammies" and DO WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY.  We "trammies" just like to roleplay and enjoy the storyline...it's near impossible to do so in felucca where people kill your crafter for no reason...then start calling YOU a n00b because you didn't fight back...with your pickaxe in hand :-/

    As for the graphics update, it may not look like much compared to other big time games such as WoW or whatever but look at the graphics as they are currently...it's one hell of a facelift, a step in the right direction if nothing else.  The bottom line is, Mr. Cohen, while the graphics update will be nice it still will not be enough to be "stunning" to the eye.  It's gonna take more than that.  Put your little graphics engine up against WoW's...it's ok to cry

    This is a very solid game for gameplay IF you can look past the graphics which most people have a hard time doing.  I have enjoyed little to no PVP for about 6 years now.  I've made a few good friends along the way as well.  I could keep going but it's getting late...goodnight for now  



  • StarkStark Chicago, ILPosts: 119Member
    Most of the vets play in 2D still (there is a "3D" mode already just not that good). This also allows them to play on an old computer. A graphics upgrade is not what this game needed although it might draw more attention to an old game.
  • acmtalkacmtalk Boston, MAPosts: 405Member
    I for one look forward to try it afeter the update,  You peopel have to remember that a Huge number of people playing UO have old computers,  While they are updatting the graphics, They will keep it running on those machines.


    image

  • Lunar_KnightLunar_Knight Portland, ORPosts: 292Member
     

    You know what I'd like to see get revisited that was in 2D, Nox. That game was really nice to look at it, even though it was in 2D. I think EA, since I think they have the rights to it, could develop some kind of UO-esqe MMORPG based on the Nox game. From what I've seen of the UO screen shots, Nox looks better then UO.

     

     

    .....................................

    ...but time flows like a river...

    ...and history repeats...

    -Leader of "The Fighting Irish" in DAoC on Hib/Kay-

  • ZorvanZorvan nowhere, CAPosts: 8,912Member


    Originally posted by acmtalk
    I for one look forward to try it afeter the update,  You peopel have to remember that a Huge number of people playing UO have old computers,  While they are updatting the graphics, They will keep it running on those machines.



    I quite agree, and a seperate server with the 2d UO for those with limited computer power while a fully 3d version is available on another should not be a problem. And by fully 3d, I mean EQ-type 3d. Like UO2 was before they pulled the plug. There is no reason why the all the gameplay, story, skills, buildings, quests, mobs, npc's, etc. could not be done with a newer graphics engine and servers. Outside of the fact EA/Mythic are a bunch of cheap bastards who want to suck up as much money with the least investment. What is this, the third "graphics upgrade", that is nothing more than some extra color and one or two extra pixels thrown on a very out-of-date isometric engine? Not to mention their server code, from what I understand, is far from optimized and more resembles a patchwork quilt than a steady server?

    I've said it before and I will say it again. UO could and should be at the top of the mmorpg mountain. But without REAL upgrades and commitment from EA/Mythic (an oxymoron, I know), UO will always be what it is: that great game that the vets all fondly remember and the new guys see as "that old, isometric game". I'd just like them to do the game the justice it deserves, for being an original and a basis for countless mmorpg's after it. It desrves it's name in lights again, so to speak.

  • silverbearsilverbear big sandy, TNPosts: 9Member
    Graphics update would be a plus but what do they plan on doing about all the cheats ya I know no matter what mmorpg you play there will be cheats but I think uo holds the number one ranking in not doing anything about them felucia is chaos people casting spells at speeds 10x faster than cap, healing scripts, and doing feats such as multiple attacks at the same time I been playing for 9 years and they just get worse over time I'm right now considering pulling out Kingdom Reborn will be the last straw with me so I hope it's worth it or i'm finding something else to invest my time into for an mmorpg.
  • RyldRyld Monterey, CAPosts: 99Member

    I agree on the cheating.  EA "proudly" announced recently wiping 400 or so accounts....a drop in the bucket.

    I just spent a month with them and found the game lacking the NO.1 resource ....people to play with, shards are empty, outside of the Great Lakes shard which is sparse itself others were totally devoid of peeps.

    Quality housing is still an issue on nearly all shards and the houses on many shards show dozens and dozens all having the same ownership name....a telling issue in showing  how little control EA really has on the game.

    So, with many accounts still active but no one playing, the game it seems is now all about making a buck on Ebay.   I've also read that peeps are exploiting the free 2 week accounts horribly.

    Forget the wonderful gameplay of UO past, its just not going to be there in any large scale form.  I was hyped by the nice graphics coming but after this last month with them I see its just a $2000 paint job on a $50 junker.

    Ryld

     

  • kishekishe aitooPosts: 1,978Member Uncommon
    to me it looks like third dawn with just a little bit more detailed models.


    It IS possible to create completely 3d UO that is compatible with the 2d...Bunch of amateurs have done it using normal cheap, hobbyist 3d engines that costs like 30$ (see, Ultima Iris) but EA still claims it's impossible.



  • GarrikGarrik WidnesPosts: 925Member

    You people really could complain over nothing. The graphics are a welcome upgrade, sure it may not get the most out of your new 7950GTs but who cares, this game is accesible to anyone and its a very good game.

    Ill be happy to play UO for quite some time aslong as there are plenty of other playing it to.

    Garrik

    ________________________________

    Waiting for:

    Lineage Eternal

    "once upon a midnight dreary, while i porn surfed, weak and weary, over many a strange and spurious site of 'hot xxx galore'. While i clicked my fav'rite bookmark, suddenly there came a warning, and my heart was filled with mourning, mourning for my dear amour, " 'Tis not possible!", i muttered, "give me back my free hardcore!"..... quoth the server, 404."

  • bigtroybigtroy AdelaidePosts: 10Member
    I miss the days where there were 100 people standing outside brit bank chatting, selling their wares or getting guard whacked for trying to steal something from someone elses backpack. UO is still one of the greatest games I've ever played. The only thing they're missing nowadays is the population. 

    I for one would be glad to see an overhaul and hope that it attracts more people especially those who have yet to experience it.

    image
  • JorevJorev Fenwick Island, DEPosts: 1,500Member
    Are they going to add first person view? I won't play MMOGs without it.

    image
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