|It wasn’t Britfest, but it was a 3 day weekend, so we packed up the Lumvan and drove… into the middle of freakin’ nowhere.After wandering around into the desert aimlessly, we finally came upon a tin wooden shack WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING which, apparently, was the site of the SemiMonthly Texas DeathMatch UO Luncheon Thingy.(Did I mention the was NO AIR CONDITIONING? IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT? Just checking.)
|However, despite there being NO AIR CONDITIONING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT, there was barbeque in abundance, which I assume, is why lots of people trekked from otherwise seemingly sane cities into THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING to eat a hearty repast. Here you see the room they stuck all the UO folks in.
|Here you see two of the organizers of this festive event, Sir Fragmor of the CSC guild on Great Lakes, and LadyMOI, of the OSI guild in Austin. Sir Fragmor is laughing nervously because LadyMOI just told him she was divorced. LadyMOI is grinning evilly because Lum is a few feet away and in the heat it is easy to imagine him being flayed alive by war beetles.
|This is the feared GM Ghostpig. Actually he doesn’t look like that, but(a) he told me that if I published his picture I would suffer horrible consequences,and(b) he’s a GM on Siege Perilous.Rest assured, he does not look 19 years old.
|GM Gabriel, on the other hand, DOES look 19 years old, but he is quite insistent that he is, in fact, old enough to drink legally. Unlike the previous time that I saw him, he was much more at ease with himself among the players and only flinched a few times.
|This is ToaD, WhO is NoW co-LeaD DesigneR for UO (he shares designer duties with Sunsword, who didn’t show). He only flinched when the words “necromancy”, “alchemy” and “Globalcenter” were mentioned.
|And here we see Calandryll, the Voice Of OSI. Many people seem to think Calandryll is female. Unless there are some serious chicken growth hormones in Texas that I need to watch for, he’s not. He was the Master of Ceremonies for the Question and Answer period and actually took the people asking questions seriously, unlike the rest of us who snickered during most of them.
|Here is a rare photo of one of the Secret Masters of UO. We don’t know who he is, but every OSI employee deferred to him and called him “Boss”. Frankly, he frightened us. So much so that we didn’t get his name. For some reason I thought it was “Gordon”. I’m pretty sure his name wasn’t “Gordon”. But for now, it will do. He lurked in the shadows, occasionally issuing forth one word answers to questions such as “NO!”, “YES!” and “LATER!”
Here is my abbreviated although somewhat word-for-word transcript of the Q & A that followed the lunch. The first question was asked by this guy pictured to the right and pretty much set the tone for the entire afternoon:
WHY DID YOU SCREW UP ALL THE SMITHS?
Toad: Uh…. we didn’t?
Q: Why am I getting 100% packet loss when on a cable modem while connected to Atlantic?
GM Gabriel: Send a tracelog to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll see what’s up.
Q: I saw “We will be revamping Order and Chaos” on the Update Center. What does “revamping” mean?
Toad: Lots of people don’t like the side effects of Order/Chaos wars such as huge piles of dead bodies in town, so we will be looking at ways to impact the effect of Order/Chaos on others. Nothing is planned immediately.
Q: What about necromancy, alchemy, player races…
Gordon: (interrupts) THERE WILL NEVER BE PLAYER RACES IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS! STOP! STOP! STOP!
LadyMOI: We will be updating the UO web sites with more detailed progress on outstanding issues.
Q: What about server-side lag, and are there any plans for dealing with network congestion and upgrading UO’s network?
Gordon: Server-side lag is caused by exploiters and “twinks” – I used that word, you can quote me – who use exploits to cheat in the game. We are working to fix these. As we eliminate exploits, server-side lag will decrease. As for network congestion, we are upgrading our equipment constantly to meet demand, but the Internet itself is congested, and no matter what network provider we choose, two months later they will become screwed up. Much of the problem involves network peering (a technical term which indicates the practice of network providers sharing bandwidth – Lum) and we work with our network providers as much as possible and try to choose those who do not rely on peering. You can help by sending us your UOTrace logs as we use those logs as leverage when dealing with our server providers. We are also working on methods in game to reduce reliance on network latency but that will take some time. However, 80 to 90% of network congestion is out of our control and pretty much all we can do is jump up and down and scream.
Q: What happened to Chesapeake? After the promised upgrades it didn’t seem too different from the problems we suffered last week. Any news on this?
Calandryll: I don’t know anything right now; I’ll check back at the office and with other Chesapeake players Monday and report back to you.
Q: Will we get the ability to resmelt used armor into ingots?
Gordon: Let me answer this one… Yes!
Toad: I love this guy.
Q: Well, when is it coming?
Gordon: I’m not going to say THAT!
Q: Well, is it going to be like necromancy?
Q: Well, what about alchemy?
Lum: This makes it awfully easy for me to take notes.
Gordon: Seriously, with Necromancy and Alchemy, we need to do a considerable amount of research into the possible effect of such radical gameplay changes on the game world. Do you really want hundreds of potions dumped into the world with no thought as to how they effect play balance? We want to move forward carefully. We have over 135,000 sets of expectations to meet. We are reacting to problems in the current service, while adding new features at the same time. It’s a difficult process.
Q: Is Siege Perilous going to have necromancy and alchemy updated at the same time as the other servers?
Gordon: Even though Siege Perilous has different rules from other shards, Siege will be updated with the same updates as the other servers.
Q: What about forgetfulness potions for skill management? Could those be added sooner?
Toad: Should we discuss that?
Gordon: We will implement skill management soon.
Q: Will any new land be opened up for housing soon?
Gordon: No comment! However, small houses are being placed every day on every shard. It does take effort and leg work to find a place to place a house, but it is possible. We are now tracking on every shard how many houses are placed daily and what type.
Q: The update center hasn’t been updated in quite a while with what is being worked on. Why?
Calandryll: We will update those parts of the web site soon. As a result of the recent “changing of the guard”, we are assigning personal responsibilities for each part of the web site and you should see much more updates very soon.
Q: Now that macroing is under control, will skill gain be made easier?
Toad: We’re not planning on doing anything immediately.
LadyMOI: If you have any thoughts on this or anything else, email us.
Q: What about house auctions?
Toad: Yes! (I’m following Gordon’s lead.)
Q (from Lum): What about UO2? I know that probably no one here is working on it, but will players be allowed input into the design process as it moves forward?
Gordon: What’s UO2?
LadyMOI: We don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.
(entire OSI team whistles and looks at the ceiling)
Q: Will anything be done about bandages being so much heavier than the cloth they are cut from?
Toad: Bandages are covered in antiseptic. They’re really heavy.
Q: What about veteran quests? Will they be more interesting than the newbie quests currently being beta tested?
Toad: They will be be much different from newbie quests. Possibly something like go find this sword to kill this monster to get this treasure. We hope to have the ability to have people going to multiple towns.
Gordon: Most issues involve enabling players to run quests and events. We are preparing to give new tools to Seers and IGMs (Interest Game Masters – GMs who run OSI events on shards – Lum) so that they can be empowered to build quests to order. The creativity of players will always be greater than anything we can come up with.
Q: I’m a PK on Siege. (in response to my question, he told me he had an Archery of 80 and a Tactics of 65) I get fatigued on my horse long before I would on foot, since I can eat fish steaks to regenerate stamina. Are there any plans to fix this? Everyone outruns me when I pursue them.
Toad: There are no plans to change horses.
Q: I remember when there would be monster invasions of towns – the town cryer would announce that, say, Trinsic would be under attack, the guards would be turned off there and the screen would just be filled with wall-to-wall orc mages. Those were some of the best events ever run in UO, and they just stopped. What happened?
Gordon: As I said, we are currently restructuring the Seer/IGM program and you should see many more events after this happens.
Calandryll: Also, events happen often now; you should check the Town Cryer and other news sites for details.
Q: Here’s a suggestion for housing – why not when placing a house make it so that the house shadow highlights when placing it? And making it so that ferns and blades of grass don’t block placing a house?
Toad: I’m not working on housing right now.
Afterwards the meeting devolved into anarchy as everyone fought over the best way to place houses, only to be stopped as LadyMOI gave out Free Stuff, including this T-shirt modelled by fellow UO Celebrity Kazola and music CDs which apparently were MIDIs from Ultima 7 and Strike Commander.
All in all, it was great material for a web page, so, um, that would explain the web page you are reading now. Oh, and there was NO AIR CONDITIONING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT. Did I mention that?