In case you actually have a life, the UO dev team announced their plan to “clean up Britannia”, aka reduce item counts on the shards, yesterday. This has been the stuff of rumors for weeks, and one of the most draconian solutions that was rumored, having items in houses decay, is the one Origin chose.

The basic impact of this? All items outside of locked down containers will be deleted from your house.

Gordon the Tyrant, posting on our message board and elsewhere, hinted that houses would see more storage/lockdown capability. Sunsword also stated:

The lockdown system is going to be revised to allow more secure containers and to allow you to lockdown generics.

I’m looking into the possibility of taking weight limits out of secure containers.

I just wanted to let you know that we aren’t just going to “turn on” item decay without making some changes to storage first.

Krelin, posting on the COB Dev Board, had this to say:

First, I’m not setting policy, or telling you what we’re going to do. (I haven’t been very involved with the item decay design & imp, but I do have some thoughts on it; especially as it effects server performance)

So, first let me give you my thoughts (again, just THOUGHTS 🙂 on the hard limit idea: By hard limit, I assume that you mean don’t even allow someone to exceed the maximum number of items (whatever that limit is) per house. This essentially means that if I’m crafting away and I create that one item that exceeds to total limit of my house, I have no place to put it, even temporarily. I’m basically stuck with the item, or forced to leave it on the ground outside my house, until I can either get rid of some of the OTHER items in my house, or figure out what the heck to do with it. Remember the “limit” is still the same either way. The “hard limit” way just means that we impose an artificial boundary that can’t be exceeded no matter what. The “decay” way means that we give you a certain amount of storage that you can use no matter what, and if discard things on the floor of your house (or otherwise not “secured” whatever that term means), they eventually go away, just as things discarded on the ground outside your house eventually go away. I think the “decay” solution seems more realistic, less arbitrary, and more convenient. (again, I’m not telling you what’s going to happen, or what’s been implemented, as I don’t know for sure. These are just My Personal Opinions ™)

To your second point, yes. I know that the team considers a large portion of what is posted here, and it all factors into what we eventually design and implement.

To your third point, your assumption is wrong. Any item count reduction measures we take (and have taken recently) are design _primarily_ to enance the EXISTING service. Certainly we have an eye on the performance issues involved in bringing new land and new housing into the world, but that is secondary to the issues we are facing right now.

Just to give you an idea of the problem, there were approximately half as many objects (peak; and objects include a lot of things) in the world (for most shards) as of about May, than there are right now. We’ve nearly DOUBLED in about 5 months!!! That’s a lot of objects. A whole lot. And a lot of them have been created in the last few months, but the reality is that right now there aren’t enough “forces” at work to get rid of these objects or incentivise you to get rid of them, and so you store them (it’s human nature), ALL OF THEM. Note that this increase in objects does NOT coincide with a similarly dramatic increase in active players at peak times (more shards spread more players out, so that one shard’s peak is generally the same over the last few months). That means that the same number of players are accounting for twice as much junk. 🙂

So what does all this mean to you? This means that each time the world “heartbeats” it processes a huge amount of data (not all of the items in the world on every heartbeat, but a portion of them). And as the data in the world grows steadily, the time required to “heartbeat” the world grows steadily. You perceive this as lag. Additionally, each object in the world must be backed up at some interval. The longer a backup takes, the more you will be “warped” if the world crashes. Also, longer backups mean longer downtimes (as the backups must be processed at startup). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, longer backups mean more LAG; because backup processes run on the same machines the world processes run on, backups suck CPU that could otherwise be used for cool monster AI and other useful features.

So, those are my thoughts on the situation. Again, this post is NOT intended to describe the solution to item count. I don’t know what the solution is. I just know what the problem is. 🙂 Our goal is NOT to hurt you guys in any way. Our goal is to enhance your gameplay by making our service run better, longer, and more stably, while continuing to enhance overall gameplay. Certainly given infinite resources it would be much more fun to have a totally infinite world (and that was the original design for UO, I suspect). But the truth is, the world _should_ be finite, because the resources are.

Anyways, thanks for listening to my rant, and know that we’re listening to yours as well. 🙂

On the player side, the responses have been… well… somewhat heated, as the impact of the proposed changes sunk in. Many guilds realized that shared housing would soon become useless for their member’s storage needs. Other players would be impacted as well, such as this one who writes:

this new patch for items to decay in houses that aren’t locked down, what about things you cant lock down??? Hanging herbs, furs etc., things we use to make our houses more pleasant environments. It’s going to drive me out of business as a bulk reg seller and interior decorator. I am in Australia so don’t hunt or pvp, I get my enjoyment in the game from other ways. I am not sure who to approach in UO but I have attached some pics of why its going to affect me, these are from jobs i have done in 2 different shards. Sure. let’s reduce items, but not this way! Well enough of my ranting, not too coherent hehehe but see the pics and if you could perhaps bring them to someone in UO’s attention as an example???

Another player writes on the Dev Board:

If I am reading this correctly, then it is true that items in locked down containers will decay. So this means we are going to be limited to 400 stones worth of stuff that we can keep in our house, plus 400 stones in the bank. Thats 8000 ingots total for a miner, 8000 regs for a mage, 800 blank scrolls for a scribe, 800 empty bottles for an alchy, and that means any of these chars cant have anything else. What if you have ALL of these types of chars. It absolutely isnt fair, I would rather play 4 hours a day and have 20 hours worth of backup then to have to play like this. Its just plain stupid. Calandryll posted yesturday that stackable items werent the problem, so why are we being penalized. We dont get credit for throwing them away, but if we dont toss them they will decay afterwards anyways. If another system is going to be implemented that will allow for no weight restrictions then I would assume that it would have been posted on the In Development with this junk. Why is there a weight limit anyways if items are the problem. My 60K ingots are worth more to me then 125 items worth of made armor, yet i can keep the 125 pieces of armor or a choice of 4000 ingots, its totally not fair.

I’ll keep you up to date on any developments, and keep emailing me and posting your thoughts on our message base (see link above). Your voices are being heard.