HAD TO HAPPEN, YOU KNOW [Author: lum]

The hype continues on our sisters in insanity at CoB…

UO2 Board

Already getting some red name action from the looks of it. (Then again, I may have to implement red names on my own cheesy webboard if they keep invading it. Infidels. 300 year anniversary of Mondain’s defeat my tan ASS. Historical revisionists. Feh.)

TWO [Author: lum]

The rumors are finally confirmed.

The official press release is below. You can also check out my interview with Gordon the Tyrant for more information, both on UO2 and UO1. Here’s some salient information, from both the press release, follow up questions to OSI, and the interview with Tyrant:

I’m told Fear of Battle Vortex has an audio interview ready to go, you may want to check there. Jinx of the Chosen apparently knows some things too.

UO2 will use a new 3D engine, with motion-captured models.

UO2 will feature a full suite of community building tools including robust communication software, a comprehensive party/guild system, diverse player-owned property and detailed character customization to ensure that a thriving community emerges.

UO2 will have a beta-testing period. To quote OSI:
“There will be a series of external tests starting in the near future. The testing positions available in the 1st phases of these tests will be open exclusively for applications from current Ultima Online players. Please be sure to sign up on the mailing list and check back here often to stay updated.”

UO2 will not have a PK switch. To quote OSI:
“There is not a switch, but the team addresses PvP/Pkilling in a way that they believe is better.”

UO2 will launch with servers outside the US.

UO2 will use the same volunteer assistance model (counselors etc) as UO1.

Despite earlier rumors, there will be no transfer of characters from UO1 to UO2.

Will UO2 be based in Britannia? You’d think that was a simple question, but OSI had no comment.

Staff of UO2:
Executive Producer: Jeff Anderson
Producer: Starr Long (Blackthorne from UO1)
Lead Designer: Damion Schubert (formerly a designer with Meridian 59)
Lead Programmer: Jeremy Gaffney (formerly lead programmer for Asheron’s Call)
Conceptual Art/Monster Design: Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn/other comics)

===

David Swofford
ORIGIN Systems
dswofford@origin.ea.com

Electronic Arts and ORIGIN Systems Developing
Ultima Online 2
Ultima Online sequel to redefine the meaning of online communities; next generation 3-D engine, easy access and a fantastic virtual world will make UO2 the digital playground for the new millennium

AUSTIN, Texas, September 24, 1999-Two years ago, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) and ORIGIN Systems(tm) ushered in the future of online games with the release of Ultima(tm) Online. Today Electronic Arts’ ORIGIN studio is
preparing to raise the bar one more time with Ultima Online 2 (UO2), currently under development.

“We’ve learned a lot about online entertainment over the past two years since we launched Ultima Online,” said Jeff Anderson, vice president of development at ORIGIN and executive producer for UO2. “But, most important, we learned that we are not just making ‘games’ any more. We’re building virtual worlds that will offer new ways for people to interact, socialize and adventure on the Internet.”

Like the original Ultima Online, community building will be a top priority. UO2 will feature a full suite of community building tools including robust communication software, a comprehensive party/guild system, diverse player-owned property and detailed character customization to ensure that a thriving community emerges.

Ultima Online 2 will also captivate players with its remarkably realistic 3-D graphics engine and beautiful animation (created with state-of-the-art motion capture technology). Players will experience an online world filled
with richly detailed environments, deadly creatures, bizarre technologies and mysterious lands where they can adventure, role-play and build communities.

“One of our primary goals is to make Ultima Online 2 fun, exciting and accessible,” said Starr Long, UO2 producer. “We’re implementing an intuitive interface and easy-to-use tutorials to give players a jump-start on their adventures. We’re also designing UO2 around extraordinary fiction, artwork and animation which will make UO2’s virtual world in a different class from the competition.”

Ultima Online 2 will also feature monsters and characters conceptualized by Producer/Director Todd McFarlane, creator of the award-winning HBO animated series, Spawn. ORIGIN is partnering with Todd McFarlane Entertainment to create an action-figure line of products based on the Ultima Online 2 world.

More information on Ultima Online 2 can be found on the Internet at http://www.uo2.com.

While Ultima Online 2 is still at least a year from completion, its groundbreaking predecessor, the original Ultima Online continues to grow and develop. The product that redefined the massively multiplayer genre currently has more than 134-thousand active subscribers paying $9.95 a month to participate. UO is now played in more than 50 countries located in every time zone. A global server network (17 production servers) and support staff are now co-located on three continents (North America, Asia, Europe). Plans are currently underway to grow Ultima Online’s service even larger. In the next six months, ORIGIN will be rolling out a series of exciting new feature upgrades for current players and new players alike.

Earlier this year, Ultima Online’s popularity rose to new heights as players began to buy and sell UO accounts on Internet auction sites such as eBay. Some players have purchased UO accounts for as much as $3,000.

ORIGIN Systems develops and publishes state-of-the-art entertainment software. To date, the company has released more than 60 titles, including the award winning Ultima, Wing Commander(tm), Privateer(tm) and Crusader series of games. ORIGIN is based in Austin, Texas and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electronic Arts. More information on ORIGIN products can be found on the Internet at http://www.origin.ea.com.

Electronic Arts, headquartered in Redwood City, California, is the world’s leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, Electronic Arts posted revenues of more than $1.2 billion for fiscal 1999. The company develops, publishes and distributes software worldwide for
personal computers and video game systems. Electronic Arts markets its products under seven brand names: Electronic Arts(tm), EA SPORTS(tm), Maxis(tm), ORIGIN(tm) Systems, Bullfrog(tm) Productions, Westwood Studios(tm) and Jane’s\’c2\’ae Combat Simulations. More information about EA’s products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at http://www.ea.com.

# # #

Electronic Arts, ORIGIN Systems, ORIGIN, Ultima, Wing Commander, Privateer, EA SPORTS, Maxis, Bullfrog and Westwood Studios are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts in the United States and/or other countries.
Jane’s is a registered trademark of Jane’s Information Group, Ltd. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

SOMETHING BIG… EVENTUALLY [Author: lum]

Guys, sorry about the buildup and no, this is not some cheap tactic to get you to keep coming back. If anything it’s to SAVE you the trip… so you don’t keep reloading like a madman looking for Something Big.

We’re waiting on the lawyers right now… everything’s in the chute ready to go till then. Latest estimate is now 10PM CST.

YOU CAN WIN STUFF! [Author: lum]

Look, here’s the deal. We only have 48 hours left to push Scott “Stop Calling Me Samwise Goddamit” Kurtz’s “PvP” comic strip to #1 in the Popularity Poll. This calls for extreme measures.

This calls for bribery.

So, in that spirit of enough frenetic mercantilism to make a Ferengi’s ears wiggle, we at LumCo are running a contest. All you need to do to win is vote HERE. Just click the damn link, it’s not rocket science. Then, send me an email filling in the blank below that you see when you successfully vote (not that I don’t TRUST you or anything…)

Thank you for your votes!
Your votes will be used for _________________________, usually published on Mondays.

You can vote as many times as you can think up weird-ass email addresses (for the love of God, DON’T use your real email, unless you actually like getting email telling you about NEW MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES!) and each vote you get puts you that much closer to winning our valuable prizes.

Did I mention prizes? Oh yes, we have prizes. Oh yes.

FIRST PLACE – THE NEW GAME “LEGACY OF KAIN: SOUL REAVER” by Eidos Interactive
This is not a joke. If you win, I will send you a copy of this new game. You are a vampire and you run around killing other vampires. I think. I never could get it to work on my funky sound card, and Eidos tech support was no help whatsoever, so instead I dedicate the $45 I spent on this game to a worthy cause – you.

Note: We do not guarantee that this game will work on YOUR computer, either. Includes CD, designer carboard CD case complete with worthless Eidos Demos CD, and instruction booklet with lots of cool drawings of vampires and demons and crap. Does not include box since I pitch those. I’ll pay postage. I will email you if you win to get your mailing address.

SECOND PLACE – WIN A DATE WITH DURGA!
She was a senior executive with AOL, she writes a hip gaming column, she runs the Companions program, and now she can be YOUR Companion for an evening of fun and frivolity in Austin, the Live Music Capital Of Greater South Central Texas! Hit the clubs and nightspots, tour the romantic OSI office complex, or just drive aimlessly on the freeway – it’s up to you.

Note: it is the winner’s responsibility to travel to Austin, contact Durga, befriend her, and convince her to go out with you on a date. We make no guarantees that Durga will in fact go out with you on a date, that Durga is not currently involved in a meaningful relationship already, or that Durga will not call the police and have you arrested for stalking. Mentioning my name or this contest is not recommended.

THIRD PLACE – GET A PERSONAL EMAIL FROM CALANDRYLL!
Second only to the Helpful Daikatana Monkey for service rendered to the gaming community, Calandryll is already a legend among the UO cognoscenti, and you can get a real authentic email from this actual person. This is something you will treasure for the rest of your life, assuming your hard drive does not crash and you do not upgrade your email program.

Note: it is the winner’s responsibility to email Calandryll and ask a question that requires some sort of response.

FOURTH PLACE – GET SLAIN BY CRIMINAL ELEMENT!
Silent, professional, and deadly. No dewds, these – if you are a lucky winner, you can recieve prompt and courteous service from these masters of UO PvP. Siege Perilous only, please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS [Author: lum]

Jesse Berst’s Anchordesk, which I’m ashamed to admit I subscribe to (hey, my boss does, and, um, I need to know what he’s gonna bitch at me about. yeah.) has a feature today on how high tech companies are failing at basic tech support tasks.

Origin’s answer, of course, is one Gateway and Dell never thought of – get unpaid volunteers to do it for you. I wonder how soon it will be before that “solution” trickles down to the rest of the industry…

STRAP YOURSELF IN, BOYS, WE’RE IN FOR SOME CHOP [Author: lum]

OK, before I start, let me set a few ground rules. I think you all can agree that I am far from “an OSI tool”. When Origin screws something up, chances are good that thirty seconds later I’ve got a profanity-laden update posted exactly where the dev team can shove the poorly-tested-ridiculously-thought-out latest patch.

OK. Admit I’m right? Screw you, I don’t care what you think anyway. That being said:

Lay off the goddam dev team.

In the past few hours, the peanut gallery (I can call y’all that, I got a big ol’ box of peanuts right HERE) has just jumped up and down shaking that moistness out of their pants as they yell the mantras. “WHERE’S NECROMANCY? WHERE’S ALCHEMY? WHERE’S MY PK SWITCH? WHERE’S PLAYER RACES? YOU GUYS LIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEED!”

Well, let’s look at what we got. The specifics – new lands (come on, ONE of you say Britannia is too big and new lands would be somehow bad), new monster AI and new party system (OK, so they’re going for the EQ market, they’d be idiots not to), and new smurfs (yeah, that one had me going yippie skip too, but someone needs to justify Durga’s existence).

No new potions? No differently colored spells? Excuse me while I don’t give a shit, OK? According to Sunsword’s postings on the Dev Board, they’ve brainstormed a way to expand the world WITHOUT A NEW CD. Chew on that one, dewds and dewdettes… more land. no CD.

Run out of room on that continent? Don’t worry — we’ll make more!

Of course, I’m sure there’s other limiting factors — server capacity chief among them, I suspect — but think about it. Patches that include the equivalent of a new T2A. Remember how we all were when T2A came out? We didn’t really give a crap about ostands and titans and all that happy horseshit, there were new places to go. The orc fort. The oasis. Terathan Keep. Sure, you probably know every centimeter of all those now, but wait until Serpent’s Isle gets patched in.

And the other side of it… non-PvP zones. I admit, I will be surprised if the Dev team actually pulls this off in an exploit free manner. Everquest sure screwed it up. But that points out something very, very important that all of you are missing.

The Dev Team gets it.

Face it… the majority of you vets are in it for PvP. Monster AI is boring as hell… nothing can match the thrill of taking down a thinking, scheming human being. And UO, right now, is the best persistent-world implementation of platoon-level combat. REALLY. Right now all you ex-militaries are nodding your head and going “Yep.” Because the things that win wars in real life – coordination, planning, training and equipment – win wars in UO. This is not to say that UO is somehow so realistic that it’s good training for World War 3 or something… but the very lack of balance in UO PvP is what makes it more real than the competition, more exciting. You can be better. You can dominate. You can conquer. In EQ, by contrast, you can get to Level 50. Woop.

And the Dev team understands that this is one of UO’s strong points, why it attracts the kind of player that is still playing two years after release, and has the kind of passion to spend perfectly good time reading crappy sites like this one. You think the Dev team wants to nerf PvP? Hell no! That would kill the golden goose! Without PvP, UO becomes like EQ, only without as much eye candy.

They get this. That’s why they are getting those who aren’t interested in PvP the hell out of your way. When that happens – I’m calling it here first – kiss stat loss buh-bye.

But to get those who don’t want to be PKd every thirty seconds out of our way, there needs to be more room. The old refrain “if you don’t want to be killed by PKs, stay in town” is horseshit, and everyone knows it. No one plays UO to stay in Britain inhaling the fresh fumes of DewdZilla at the bank. Given that choice – being cattle or being prisoners – most people with sense will take the third, unspoken choice and not play. This, while possibly not bothering you, bothers Origin quite a bit, I’d guess.

So, what do you want, no more stat-loss or pretty pink potions? Think about it… I’m waiting.