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User Communities via Ultima Online shards

November 24, 2011

User Communities via Ultima Online shards


November 24, 2011


  1. This is nothing new • Ultima Online is 10+ years

    old • Graphics evolve, but not too much • Still in 2D 
  2. This is nothing new • Emulated servers evolve – Sphere

    0.99 R4 now, since 0.55 – POL, RunUO… evolved too • Scripting skills/knowledge increase with time • Berks Worlds has been running for 6+ years • Some of us (players & admins) have been playing 5+ years
  3. A user community is important • Forums – Since the

    beginning – Primary source. 3000-7000 daily visits – Some users only look at the forums!
  4. A user community is important • Website – There was

    one, got broken and still no new (blog actually works as current website) – It is supposed to be under dev…“internal affairs” ;) – Some users demand it. Others say not needed – Gives a public, first look for newcomers – Difficult maintenance (news, content…). Staff usually focuses on forums and game server – Server needs to de-centralize forums 
  5. A user community is important • Blog – Relatively new

    (march 2007) – Worse results than with the website. Only two of us post new contents, rest of the staff ignores it. – Player base doesn’t knows what is RSS. Bad habit of directly typing forum’s address. – Only staff & selected players can post. Anyone can comment. No problems of comment-trolls yet ;) – Tiny bunch of players do like it
  6. A user community is important • Blog – Better impression

    of the server: Screenshots, Youtube videos, News, Server events,… – Better a blog than nothing (at least until website finally appears)
  7. A user community is important • Wikipedia – Anybody can

    participate. Loosens staff work – Players like it (actually fill more content than staff) – Easy change tracking and notifications via RSS – No trolling yet either! – Lots of user content added by themselves which would be very hard for staff: guild lore, active guild member list, custom-made maps, logos, icons,…
  8. A user community is important • Wikipedia – Still needs

    tons of man-hours of work: Too many years adding content without writing about it – Dozens of dungeons, hundreds of monsters, thousands of items. Nearly 99% of content missing, game mechanics at least 50% missing too
  9. A user community is important • Events, Prizes, votations, advertising

    – It is an RPG (geek=1) 10 yers old (geek++) with overdated and hard gameplay (geek+2) – And yet, new people keeps entering :O – Mouth to mouth still nº1 source of new players – Lots of players are “family of”, “friend of”, “colleage of”, “girlfriend of” – Yes, we’ve got women! :D
  10. A user community is important • Events, Prizes, votations, advertising

    – But sadly, player base slowly decreasing – Very difficult learning curve – Large part of the player base only wants rude PvP (Player vs Player), ruining roleplaying of others – Strict policies against cheating/bugging. Scares out any non 100% legal player – Old players grow tired of the game and watching their friends stop playing
  11. What fresh/different stuff it has? • PvP & Roleplaying balance

    – PvPrs don’t see it. Eternal arguments with staff – RPG-like quests, pvp quests, tournaments, adventures… variety and mixture for all – Dungeons with “typical” RPG elements: Puzzles, secret rooms, hidden quests, traps, … – Tournament arena, Color Wars, Survivor event, horse-racing, ship-battles, …
  12. What fresh/different stuff it has? • Thousands of new graphics

    – Hundreds of monsters & props, thousands of items, even new sounds and custom UI – Some of then haven’t yet been used (less but bigger updates) – World map & dungeons constantly expanding and being redone with better quality – Other graphics are substituted by better, newer versions
  13. What fresh/different stuff it has? • Dozens of 100% new

    dungeons – Varied themes: Pirates, vampires, samurai, lizardmen, dark elfs, amazons,… – Quality of decoration improves with time – Complexity increasing too (traps, hidden rooms, no-map zones, puzzles, riddles,…) – Genuine and special monsters in each one – Just added: Interaction with scenery (very hard to accomplish in UO, where scenery is static)
  14. What fresh/different stuff it has? • Quite varied monsters –

    Varying and getting upgraded as years flow – New monsters added regulary – Lot’s of them drop unique loots or special materials for crafting – Special behaviours (doppleganger/clone, random loot, polymorph…) – Some have special scripted reactions and actions
  15. What fresh/different stuff it has? • Great players <-> Staff

    communication – Sometimes too much (becomes a problem). Many arguments, players forget “who is in charge” – Usually they end up agreeing with staff POV – They are always listened to, but get impatient quite fast – We try to avoid a dictatorial system… but is not always possible
  16. It is a great sandbox • Quite interesting to study

    human psychology – At least teenager’s now (in the past we had lots of adults, now just a few remain) – All sort of stories: Love, hate, lies… Like real life – In the past, quite a variety of people, lots of comments, suggestions and ideas – Now it’s becoming like a school: Almost all are problems of bullying between players
  17. It is a great sandbox • Quite interesting to study

    human psychology – Some pleople “live it” – … a few of them too much – Greed makes some otherwise good people do bad things (exploit bugs) – Being an artificial life, the dream of being rich or powerful corrupts people
  18. It is a great sandbox • Allows creativity (staff) and

    fantasy (players) – Players can live fantasy book lifes and adventures – Sometimes we introduce wanted existing lore. Example: Drow (dark elfs) – But roleplaying players’ quality is decreasing: • In the past, complex alliances, balanced economy and concept of “honor” • Now a great part only want hack ’n slash gameplay and PvP fights
  19. It is a great sandbox • Allows creativity (staff) and

    fantasy (players) – Being able to craft items and own a house becomes a creativity explosion. Players do incredible things just stacking simple items – We made a house/fortress decoration contest and the results were simply amazing – We have a Biographies & Tales subforum because some players write stories and lore around their characters
  20. It is a great sandbox • Small actions make big

    changes – A small change in a weapon can unbalance all PvP – A small script bug can do from small nuisance (ex. make an object useless) to terrific things (allow players to become invincible, obtain “cheap money”) – Server has severe problems with economy system, because of past mistakes :(
  21. It is a great sandbox • People doesn’t like rules

    – We’ve got a rule list almost as big as The Bible :) – And players are still capable of finding legal holes – Probably proximity between staff and players affected. In the past rules were less but much more severe and we had much fewer problems
  22. Nothing is perfect • Staff has very limited time: Some

    are students, other work, other have children… • Limited knowledge: Scripting in Sphere is hard, limited and extremely bad (whoever designed it deserves a bad bad fate! }:( ) • Only two of the staff members have programming skills. The rest learns by pure try-error-fix-try-error-fix …
  23. Nothing is perfect • Yet, impressive things keep coming out

    from those who are less prepared • No further improvements to the server (development halted time ago) • There are better alternatives (RunUO is C# 2.0, multithreaded and much better), but we can’t take them (only I could then develop new contents). No content could be migrated either
  24. Nothing is perfect • We don’t have latest UO features:

    Champions, custom-built houses, special skills… • Network protocol not optimized, hardware not correctly used… Not prepared for current age of videogaming and MMORPGs • Doesn’t works on Linux (a few players want to play from Linux) and won’t work because of custom client code
  25. Nothing is perfect • Is getting old – Fewer and

    fewer people play UO – Graphics are too old – 3D mode is so bad it’s best to forget it exists :) – Client designed for Windows 98: Tons of compatibility and performance problems (eats 60- 70% CPU even on a P4 3GHz!!!)
  26. Nothing is perfect • Lots of security problems – Incredibly,

    there are hackers specialized in UO hacking – Some bugs cannot be fixed, so parts of game logic have to be re-made from scratch to avoid vulnerable logic – We have obfuscated code, third-party security monitoring tools, additional security server-side scripts… but nothing is enough
  27. Anyway… • We will probably keep updating until nobody plays

    UO  • Wanna try? If you speak spanish, surf to: www.berksworlds.com