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Ultima Online

Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot embark on Steam Greenlight campaign

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Ultima Online, Promotions, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

UO
Since its acquisition of Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot in February, Broadsword Online Games has not been content to let the titles sit around merely getting older. Earlier this month, the team hosted a large state-of-the-game chat about the future of UO's design, and now the developers have posted their latest ambitions: a spot on Steam bathed in green light for the venerable old MMORPGs.

"We are in the process of getting UO on Steam but need your help. Please go here and vote for UO! Thank you for all your support!" wrote UO Producer Bonnie Armstrong on the official site today. DAOC's Steam Greenlight campaign is likewise now live.

You heard the lady. Chop, chop.

Ultima Online's April state of the game address

Fantasy, Bugs, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, News Items, Ultima Online, Community Q&A, Sandbox, Subscription

UO
On Friday, Ultima Online Producer Bonnie Armstrong and the Broadsword Online Games crew took to Google Hangouts for an informal state of the game address and player question-and-answer session. The event marked one of the first times we've heard from the Broadsword team about its plans for the game since its pseudo-acquisition a few months ago. The highlights?
  • The artwork update is still on the way, as are new housing tiles.
  • A resurrection of the old MyUO.com website is planned, along with a revamp of the new and returning player experience.
  • The team hopes to resume putting out one expansion or booster every year.
On the downside, the team isn't currently working on new housing areas, new items for the cash shop, or storage expansions, and there's no ETA for the bug-free return of vendor search, which was implemented and promptly went kaput just a few weeks ago.

An interesting factoid pointed out by Stratics poster Nails Warstein: The player split between the old classic client and the newest enhanced client is now 50-50.

Ultima Online patches in searchable player vendors

Fantasy, Economy, Patches, News Items, Ultima Online, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

Ultima Online's new developer Broadsword announced earlier today that the latest patch for the legendary sandbox has arrived. Chief among the new additions is the long-awaited vendor search feature, which allows players to search existing player-owned shop vendors across the shard for specific items and then pay to teleport directly to that vendor to make the purchase.

The patch also kicked off the game's Easter gift period because nothing says Britannia like Easter bunnies and marshmallow ducklings. In six different colors, mind you.

Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #10-1

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Ultima Online, LEGO Universe, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous, Firefall, Jukebox Heroes, Music

We're finally here: my top 10 MMO theme tracks. I anticipate that out of all of the weeks, this will be the most controversial, since not only am I proclaiming the 10 best, but you'll realize which of your favorite games I've left out of the top 40 entirely.

A final reminder as to my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game. I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed earlier parts of this series, check out themes #40-31, #30-21, and #20-11. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

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The Daily Grind: Do you keep MMO accounts on for veteran rewards?

Fantasy, Super-hero, City of Heroes, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Anniversaries, Subscription

UO
I've got a guildie who's a bit insane. He is notorious for staying subscribed to MMOs he's not playing, sinking tons and tons of money into these games but not logging in. Is he doing it to support developers? Nope. He does it for the veteran rewards. Seriously. He once told me he stayed subbed to City of Heroes because he really, really wanted a veteran minipet. When I consider what that minipet must have cost him in subscription fees, all I can do is think how many brand-new games he could have picked up on Steam for all that dough!

And yet here I am looking at my Ultima Online account the same way. The account is 16.5 years old with nine years of vet rewards on it. I left it on a few extra months last year to get to the ridable ethereal polar bear mount reward because hello, ridable ethereal polar bear mount, right?

What about you -- do you leave your subscription MMO accounts on to collect vet rewards?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Game Archaeologist: Ultima Online field report

Fantasy, Interviews, Opinion, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Subscription

UO
A recent Daily Grind here on Massively asked about what games readers think deserve more coverage on the site. That's a loaded question, of course, but the answers were still very interesting to me, especially the desire from some of you to read more about older games.

Even though I've looked at the history and development of classic MMOs, I don't often know what's going on inside of them right now. With insular communities and a dearth of news being put forth by the studio, the only way that I can think of to find out the real skinny is to ask those who do still love and play these games regularly.

So that's when the idea for a "field report" series on Game Archaeologist came forth. Every so often I'm going to track down players of classic MMOs and see what's happening in them and their communities from these first-hand perspectives. Today we've got Dimitri and Common Sense from Ultima Online, who graciously took the time to answer my questions.

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Working As Intended: Endgame is the worst thing that ever happened to MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, EverQuest, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Ultima Online, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, WildStar, Dungeons, MMORPG, Working As Intended

Taken by Bree Royce in Sacramento, CA
Endgame is the worst thing that ever happened to MMOs. I tweeted this last year, and it won't stop rattling around in my head. Every time a developer dodges concerns and leaps to his version of the "elder game," every time a reader claims a reviewer who doesn't get to endgame is irrelevant, and every time someone justifies a weak game mechanic because it doesn't matter at max level anyway, it rattles around some more. Endgame is the worst thing that ever happened to MMOs.

Having an endgame, thinking you need one, and designing your game around it -- this is the core problem of the MMO genre. No matter how hard you spin it, when you create a game with an endgame, you create a game with an end... and not much else.

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Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Arena
Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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The Game Archaeologist: The care and feeding of older MMOs

Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, Guild Wars, Meridian 59, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Free Realms, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, Sunsets

When an MMO has reached a certain age and dwindled to a certain player population, what do you do with it? Do you put it out to pasture, nurture it, or put it down?

With some of our older graphical MMOs approaching their 20th anniversaries, the question of what studios should do with aging titles is becoming very important. It's not just important for the games in question but as a precedent to the population of games that will one day become just as old.

Lately we've seen different studios act on this topic in a wide variety of ways, all of which I find fascinating. Some of these games have seen tragic ends, while others may be entering into the enjoyable golden years. If nothing else, it's shown me that there isn't just one set answer for this and that some devs are hoping to do the right thing by their companies and their players.

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Ultima Online brings back the player counselor program

Fantasy, Culture, Ultima Online, Subscription

Ultima Online is looking for a few good men and women to sign up for a tour of duty as a counselor.

Broadsword is bringing back the game's counselor program in the near future to lend assistance to newer and more inexperienced players by pairing them up with vets. The counselor program is looking for players who are 18 or older and "have great game knowledge and a desire to work with others."

In addition to being part of this team, Broadsword said that it will give an additional (work) account to those participating in the program. Interested participants need to email the devs to join.

One Shots: Guard whacked!

Screenshots, Culture, Ultima Online, One Shots, Final Fantasy XIV, Vindictus, Miscellaneous

Ultima Online
According to Massively Law, which is as unshakable as it is awesome, if you send in screenshots from an MMO that was made during the Clinton presidency, then I'm required to feature them as a header for this column. Hence, Ultima Online.

This picture comes from reader Azzura, who found out the hard way that not everyone likes a bad guy. "This is my 'red' character, one that I used to player-kill (PK) with, strolling near town," he said. "The NPCs did not like my being around and were calling the guards on me to get me 'guard whacked'."

I mourn not for thee, but I shall be entertained by thy photographic memorial. Smite that "continue reading" button, readers, and feast thine eyes upon the glory of our community.

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Perfect Ten: MMO features that were hyped but never delivered

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Humor, Champions Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Octonauts
Developers like to talk a big game. It's expected, it's encouraged by all parties, and it's part of the fun. When a game or big expansion is coming up, the spokespeople for studios like to hop on stage, grab that mic, and start proselytizing for all they're worth. And while some promises come to fruition, others are various shades of white lies, and still others never come to be at all.

These are the features that studios would much rather you forget were mentioned in the first place, although this is the internet and the internet never forgets. Well, players who latch on to everything devs say as absolute truth never forget.

Sometimes things happen along the way in development. Studios run out of time to get in all of the features and have to prioritize which make the cut and which do not. Features end up not testing as well as hoped and the studio quietly drops them because the PR hit for the features not going in is much less than the disaster that they might cause. And some developers like to flap their gums and spout brainstorm ideas that send the actual programmers and designers back at the company into spasms of agony when they try to figure out how to make them work.

Today let's go through 10 features that were talked up but never delivered in MMOs!

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Mythic devs form new studio, take over DAoC and Ultima Online

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, MMO Industry, Ultima Online

Broadsword
Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online are moving out from under Mythic Entertainment's management and into a new studio: Broadsword Online Games.

Today Mythic announced that 14 members of its team, including co-founder Rob Denton, have left to form Broadsword in order to take over daily operations and development of Mythic's two remaining MMOs.

Broadsword will continue to work with EA for the games' billing and account services. The new studio said that it will be releasing more information about plans for UO and DAoC shortly.

Ask Massively: Giveaways, zombies, and capturing the spirit of Ultima Online

MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Perpetuum, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Perpetuum
This week in Ask Massively, we're answering questions about eerily quiet games, giveaways, and capturing the spirit of classic sandboxes and The Walking Dead.

Holden asked, "Why has Perpetuum dropped off the map? I never hear about it anymore. The only time I even remember it is when I am doing searches for (more) robot/mech desktop wallpapers. Once monoclegate blew over, it was as if Perpetuum fell of the face of the earth, but it seems that it is still around from glancing at the website."

This was such a good question that we went digging for an answer before we even added it to Ask Massively. It had been a long time since we'd reported on Perpetuum because it had been a long time since Perpetuum had made a big splash in the news. Readers speculated that the game's playerbase has shrunk over the last two years, but in fact over the winter holiday, developer Avatar Creations posted a dev blog detailing plans for a newbie tutorial island intended to bolster the new player population. Hopefully Holden and other fans of the game will enjoy this "island of noobs" (Avatar's words, not mine!).

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EVE Evolved: Designing EVE Onland, part 2

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Ultima Online, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Dungeons, Player-Generated Content

EVE Evolved title image
When it comes to living sandbox MMOs, there really isn't a bigger name than EVE Online. Throughout its decade-long history, EVE has produced some huge gaming headlines, delivered record-breaking in-game thefts and heists, and played host to the complex political machinations of dozens of warring alliances. EVE's sandbox design has even made it remarkably resistant to changes in the market, with subscription numbers remaining relatively stable in the face of new releases and the free to play phenomenon. It comes as no surprise then that the sandbox genre is seeing a triple-A revival, with games like Star Citizen, EverQuest Next Landmark, and Camelot Unchained on the way.

With the sandbox genre due to explode back onto the fantasy scene, I've been left wondering how much of the core gameplay that makes EVE tick could be easily adapted for an avatar-based game on land. Even features such as EVE Online's trademark territorial warfare and player-run economy have roots in classic fantasy MMOs like Ultima Online, so they should be easy to convert to modern fantasy equivalents. Last week I started this game design thought experiment with a territorial warfare system and free-for-all PvP with harsh consequences for attackers, but there's a lot more to a good sandbox than smashing people's heads in.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I delve into the hypothetical world of EVE Onland again and tackle issues of realistic world scale, exploration, economics, and the evils of global banking.

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