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FIRST RULE OF REVIEW: YOU MUST ACTUALLY *PLAY* THE GAME [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Kevin Jenkins, a contributor to MPOG.COM wrote an article on 1/22/00 (note: probably a typo) in which he suggests the solution to problems in Ultima Online such as PKing and lack of housing space can be solved by PRESSING THE SHARD RESET BUTTON EVERY YEAR. Basically, he proposes a 12 month version of Age of Empires. First player to collect all the magic beans wins, shard wiped shortly thereafter. The only problem is that his article seems to indicate that he has yet to see DAY ONE of Ultima Online in preparation for his thesis. Take the first paragraph for example:

Joe Newbie walks into the local CompUSA and sees an old copy of Ultima Online for $20. “What a deal!” he thinks. It’s always been his fantasy to be a mighty swordsman with his own castle to dominate the landscape. He buys the game, eventually creates a character, and a new warrior enters the world of Britannia. His first sight, a massive gray fortress dominating the landscape. “Wow, look at that castle!” he exclaims aloud. A few clicks and his avatar walks across the screen gazing in admiration at a keep. “Whoa, another one!” he thinks. A few more clicks. “Another castle? Hail fellow!” he types in greeting as a black clad player steps out from behind a tree. The text “Vas corp por!” appears above the strange fellow’s head and Joe Newbie enters the ghost world for the first time. “OoO Oo OOO” he says, although he actually typed “WTF is this?” Over the next week our poor adventurer spends hours trying to make 100 GP (only to come across a cache of 100,000 behind a tree), and eventually quits in disgust because everyone BUT him has full plate with level eight spells, a house, and millions of GP. His last words, “Twas all for naught. I shall spent nary another moment in the land of Britannia.”

For those of you who have only been playing UO for the past year or so, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “What game was this guy playing?” Well, we technically was playing Ultima Online, but I would guess at most, two hours in one sitting over a year and a half ago – but I’m fairly certain I’m being generous with that estimate. I have been playing UO for three years now – SOMEONE TELL ME WHERE THE GOLD TREE IS PLZ! And for those who -did- find this boullion blossom, tell me if it made you want to quit in disgust. Oh, and here’s a tip: If it takes you several hours to make 100 GP in Ultima Online, might I suggest you try USING YOUR MOUSE? As for a day one newbie being PKed in the woods – could someone please let Kevin know that a young player has to really try *hard* to get to Felucca, and once there, won’t lose any of his possessions if he is killed? Thanks much!

I have a better solution, he continues, long term but not permanently persistent worlds. There should be a series of servers where each server has a unique goal that takes from one week to one year to complete. When the goal is completed, anything from ridding the land of a plague of monsters to destroying the gods, the world is created anew. The victorious player(s) can earn titles that carry over, perhaps with better titles the fewer players who accomplish the goal. So rather than 20 or so persistent servers in Everquest, have the servers recycle in a chain.

So let me see if I follow this. The solution to the complaint that Ultima Online and Everquest had nothing to achieve, nothing to explore, no bragging rights after the first six months (according to the article), is to erase all the accomplishments that players have attained, and reset the game periodically.

I don’t know about you, but if you remove the persistence from Ultima Online or EverQuest, you had better stop charging me a monthly fee for access. Maybe if Kevin Jenkins actually played Ultima Online or EverQuest, he’d feel a little less eager to have his tower on Sonoma deleted because some guy killed “The Big Foozle” last night.

To which end, I’m going to install EverQuest and play it for a month. I won’t keep the account because I can tell you right now – I wont like it. Not that I wont enjoy the KILL KILL KILL KILL *DING!* experience, but for me, if I cant use ICQ or run IRC while I’m playing the game, I won’t be playing it for very long. For me, these games are social games and I have yet to see one that allows me the same level of social interaction as ICQ or IRC. Ultima Online *tried* to incorporate both, but quickly repealed them when they proved to be as stable as a hyperactive child in a Mountain Dew jacuzzi. At least Ultima Online, for all its faults, allows me the ability to *MULTITASK*. If I want to play a game that doesn’t let me download email in the background, I’ll play something on my GameBoy.