WHY SIEGE FAILED [Author: wirehead]

From this very site, back in July:

EVERYONE I talk to is moving to Siege Perilous. People are talking about selling established characters on other shards, knowing that they are gonna be on SP full time. BEFORE THE SHARD IS EVEN UP. In fact, I know quite a few folks who are re-activating their accounts to start on this shard. Why is it so popular?

Simple – no twinks.

This shard is going to be hard as hell to get started on. Think about it folks – how are you going to get money? How are you going to go bash on your first orc? With that practice sword? I don’t think so. So go buy a sword from the NPC vendors… I dare you. What? It costs 190gp and you only started with 100gp? Gee. Guess someone has a problem.

So basically, the only folks who are going to be established here are the hardest of the hardcore. No more macroing tailoring skullcaps. No more going to your buds who have castles chock full of platemail for outfitting. Hell, no more castles – those deeds cost a cool THREE MILLION GOLD. Guild membership is a requirement, they may as well ask what guild you’re in when you roll up a new character.

You going to be a merchant? Fine (and they will rule this shard), but that’s what you are… no mules, unless you have a second or third account (and truthfully, not many of us are that ate up, including myself). You going to be a mage or alchy? Fine, but I hope you have a LOT of money saved up for reagents.

You going to be a PK? Heh heh heh. Hope you can run when the tables turn, boy, because Mister Kal Ort Por is out of business.

I predict the server will be FLOODED the first couple of days — then, as it sets in exactly how hard it will be to get started, the total number of people on will drop tremendously. But those who are left are going to have a riot.

This is a pretty shrewd move for the UO dev team. UO’s strengths over EQ lie in its cooperative/PvP environment and in its economy. Siege Perilous is the undiluted-heroin version of both of those. The economy will be 100% player driven… the ONLY way to make money in bulk will be from other players, or 200gp at a time from monsters. That’s it, folks. Everything else is up to you. Player vendors will be HUGE. Selling everything from equipment (and finally, non-exceptional equipment will have a player market now) to reagents to the little things… like backpacks. You really want to pay an NPC 250gp for a backpack? Didn’t think so.

And this server will be the PvP equivalent of the major leagues. Simply put, if you think you’re a badass in UO, you are going to be on Siege Perilous. If you aren’t on SP, you won’t be shit. Because you can’t compete. And everyone will know it.

OK. What happened?

Let’s look at what attracted everyone to Siege when it first booted up:

  • A PvP-oriented shard. No stat loss, no recall. This pretty much worked as advertised; most of the people on Siege are in it for the fight. The problem here, though, is that the introduction of Rate Over Time alienated the PvPers who were stuck as permanewbies when they tried the system. RoT was poorly documented, misunderstood, and wildly unpopular. So the planned migration of every PvPer and their dog to Siege failed to occur.
  • A player-run economy. This has to be counted as a failure. Since the target audience for Siege was hardcore UO players, almost every member of that target audience had multiple accounts, defeating the purpose of the one-character-per-shard rule. Muling still occured, and pure merchant characters (as opposed to merchant mules) became both far less common and far less needed. Since merchants were far less needed, no guild felt any need to adopt/protect them. Why bother? They already had their own mules. Thus pure merchants were relegated to strictly in-town characters, and as time progressed more and more gave up. More and more player-run vendors are empty now.
  • Inherent difficulty of shard acts as a filter for problem players. This worked to an extent, but the SUN dupe affair showed pretty conclusively that the twinks were on Siege in force as well.

Siege as it stands is fairly inhospitable to new characters. Established guilds such as CE and UDL basically own the landscape, and wipe out anyone who dares pop up in their terror-tory. Very few “anti” guilds have appeared; the most powerful are tamer guilds, and they are scorned by the red guilds who can’t have 20 dragons of their own on call.

Resource-rich areas, such as mining zones and forests, are regularly patrolled by PK guilds who wipe out anyone who actually thought they’d be self-sufficient. And, most importantly, the RoT system is unbelievably punishing to new characters.

A newbie stuck at 50 swords and 50 tactics has almost no chance of advancement; dungeons and spawning grounds are pretty much occupied 24/7 by PK guilds, all of whose members are now approaching the 7x GM mark. RoT is great if you’re pushing the skill cap; if you’re a newbie it doesn’t work.

Origin’s response has been pretty limited. Siege is locked down as it is, they’re happy with it, and most importantly, they aren’t going to spend any more time developing it. So there you go.

It was a worthwhile experiment, anyway.