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ONLINE RPG WEEK: ULTIMA ONLINE [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Once again the voice of bias echoes down the antechamber of Gamespot.com, and the annual “let’s go and invalidate ourselves” festival is underway. The festival is always initiated by yet another biting review of Ultima Online. To my best recollection, this would be the seventh time they have reviewed UO. I keep holding out hope that they will one day actually obtain a copy of Ultima Online and I don’t know – maybe install it and see what the game is like. And by that, I don’t mean creating a newbie and running around Haven for fifteen minutes. Desslock has done that particular review four times himself. This is the equivalent of Car and Driver magazine winding down the window of a new Mercedes, taking a sniff of the interior smell, and composing a sixteen page dissertation on the failures and incompatibilities of it’s on-board navigational system. However, I must give credit to Andrew Park for breaking free of the Desslock Manifesto, and actually providing a digested presentation of Ultima Online, balancing the good against the bad.

Calling out Grief Players:

“Ultima Online’s free-for-all player-vs.-player combat system, which originally let any player attack any other player at any point in time, led to a population of “grief players” – powerful player-killer characters who hunt other weaker characters. These grief players would either loot their victims’ corpses or simply enjoy the mean-spirited thrill of killing another player’s character.”

Calling out Counselor Lawsuits:

“In exchange for their services, counselors would receive free Ultima Online accounts. Recently, EA repealed the free-account program for counselors, which prompted many volunteers (and ex-volunteers) to file a class-action lawsuit that claimed that counselors were due compensation for their efforts.”

Calling out Market Impact:

“…gradual improvement and progression by means of regular patching has not only become accepted, but it has become a standard practice for all online role-playing games. That’s because Ultima Online set the precedent for online role-playing games to be more than simply games, but rather online worlds…”

The full article is a fair and balanced digest of the history of Ultima Online, and wraps up with some information about Third Dawn. You can read the whole article here.