From the mailbag: fan mail, UO, ideas

 Posted by (Visited 14533 times)  Mailbag
Jun 162006

Here’s the latest from the mailbag…

Hey Raph, (sorry for my poor english, Im writing from Brazil) This is the first time I write to you – Ive been a fan of your work and UO player since 1998 until about 2002/3. After all this time Im yet to find another game as amusing and interesting as UO, which along the years brought me much fun, mixing the medieval role-playing and social interaction experiences.. While reading some old histories about UO, and remember the good ol’ days, Ive came upon your website.. and decided to leave this message. Id like to congratulate you, and thank you for all the fun you and all the other UO designers provided to us. AND, Id like to ask for some tips, about MMORPGS and games alike that you think that in some way resemble UO and it’s magnificent experience… cause I cant seem to find any! (since unfortunately it doesn’t seems like an “UO 2” is going to be produced..) Thanks a lot! Hope to hear from you soon, Carlos

Thanks for the kind words.

UO wasn’t inspired solely from the Diku branch of MUD design, the way that most of the other popular MMOs were (EverQuest, for example, was explicitly designed to bring that experience into a 3d world, Brad has said on several occasions).

On the UO team we had folks with Diku, LP, and MUSH/MOO backgrounds, and I like to think that the resulting game showed it — there was a mix of influences in the game architecture and in some of the activities as well.

Plenty of other worlds out there also draw from non-Diku traditions to one degree or another. Among them, I’d list Eve Online, A Tale in the Desert, Dark and Light, Shadowbane, Wurm… but the thing is, they don’t necessarily draw from the same mix as UO did. So the real question is which aspect of UO appealed to you — there’s probably a world out there that has some of the same aspects to it.

Of course, UO itself is still running too. There’s also a rather vibrant “gray shard” community out there with endless variants on UO rulesets from different time periods. The road not taken: at one point, I proposed that UO officially release servers and scripting documentation, and provide the ability to link up the servers to the main game, with unidirectional character copy from the main game out to the player-run shards. Alas, this was deemed too risky a business move at the time.

Just a little note to you. I really enjoy reading your blog. It is fun to read the behind the scenes info about game making. The only problem I have is that reading all your ideas really makes me wish someone would make a game using your ideas!! I know you are taking a break, but if/when you gat back into game building, please post what game it is in the blog so I can follow it. You can assure you boss/funding that you will have at least one (but I am sure it would be millions) subscriber secured. Best wishes, David

I’m not taking much of a break, actually, but don’t expect to hear anything about what I am doing for quite some time. But rest assured that once I do have something to say publicly, it’ll definitely show up here on the blog. 🙂 However, I will duly fill in the number “one” under “expected userbase” in my business plan.

Just wanted to say I really enjoyed your vision of how SWG should have been man.I know I speak for alot more but I wanted to at least give you the repsect you deserve for truly making a great game and I hope you will be making another Star Wars or not with the same kinda fundamentals that made that SWG really stick out.Have a great day bro and stay strong:) – Chris

So it’s really great getting letters like this, especially during the debates on overreaching and ambition. 🙂 But I don’t want to turn the mailbag only into congratulatory emails, either, so from now on, I probably won’t post emails like these.

Raph, I recently have been talking to ______ about a console/game idea of mine and she told me you would probably enjoy getting some feedback on it. So here i am!! I would love to run this information by you and see what you think. I’ve talked to a few game/console companys (Blizzard, Inde, Cryptic,ect) and they liked the idea but they said it would be to much work for the size of there companies. I really feel this is goin to to be huge (Revolutionizing Huge) Please just let me run my ideas by you and then you can be the judge on where this might lead. I have somethin golden i just dont know how to get to the next step. Please sir it would only take a few minutes out of you schedule and then who knows from there. Thank you, David

If there’s one thing the Internet definitely gives, it’s the ability to get feedback. If you post your ideas on a few MMO discussion forums, you’ll get more feedback than you can handle. I’m personally not in the market for ideas right now, and it’s not like I am in a position to do anything with your idea even if I turns out that I love it. So I think you should just start trying to work on it. If you have questions about how to do that, I’m happy to help out.

Just never forget that ideas are cheap. Lots and lots of people have ideas. I have so many, I’ve been known to give them away. Ideas alone aren’t usually worth very much, because they are so easy to come by. Detailed plans for implementation are better, and actual stuff in progress is better yet.

Also in the mailbag lately: speaking invites in China, NYC, and Second Life. Hmm, if you drew a triangle connecting those three points, what plane of existence would it be in?

  7 Responses to “From the mailbag: fan mail, UO, ideas”

  1. […] Comments […]

  2. You know what makes UO different, and great? The fact that you start playing the “endgame” the second you make a character. You don’t have to level all the way up to trade rares, or play real estate. You don’t have to be rich to PvP with the best of them. UO isn’t two seperate games, the leveling up game, and then the gold/item farming endgame. You don’t HAVE to be GM in every skill to have fun, or even to be competitive.

    UO gave us freedom in ways no other online game has so far. After playing on the UOGamers shard for the past week, after reading all these posts about the resource system, and what could ahve been done with the game, I don’t think UO will ever really die. I’m having more fun just running around broke on a horse with 30 of each reg in the past week than I’ve had since Age of Shadows was released and I moved on to DAoC and WoW.

    Sure, it had it’s problems to be worked out, like rampant PKing, and limited space for housing/cluttering of the landscape, the lack of a quest system (but not for lack of trying), and a steep learning curve. But honestly, even with all those problems, as a game (as opposed to a business), UO is the most powerful MMORPG out there, and it’s what… 9 years old?

    I’m still waiting for the remake with better graphics and more land.

  3. like rampant PKing

    It still scares me when people cite rampant PKing as a “problem”. It makes me worry that devs will take it into their hands to create a grief-free system, instead of letting the players say work out their own systems of morals. Whether that be ostracizing griefers from the community, griefing them back, or embracing that type of behavior as “hard core” should be up to the community.

  4. The road not taken: at one point, I proposed that UO officially release servers and scripting documentation, and provide the ability to link up the servers to the main game, with unidirectional character copy from the main game out to the player-run shards. Alas, this was deemed too risky a business move at the time.

    That intrigues me on several levels. EA seems a little too deathgrippish to ever do something like that, even at this time, though. And while it’d have been an incredible cash cow back in Raph’s day, one wonders exactly how it’d do this late in the game for UO. Somehow I doubt there are too many “wrong moves” ten years in though.

    Meanwhile, one has to acknowledge the fact that, since they won’t even put up a retro/classic server (something it seems EVERY aging MMO is doing these days – EXCEPT them), one would also have to draw the conclusion that they’re not WILLING to make a wrong move. It seems the plan is clear cut: Hold onto the current playerbase as long as possible, don’t rock the boat, get as much safe money as possible while it goes down.

    Can you blame them, though, I wonder. As a safe, solid source of income for the parent company, UO makes sense. In 2006, it’ll just never be seen as a potential this or a risky venture that.

    Did this turn into a rant? Seems everything I write turns into a rant around the second paragraph.

    Anyway. Point being. Interesting comment. Be more interesting if EA were still (or ever) willing to play with UO’s various potentials a bit.

  5. When I say rampant PKing, I mean the rampant PKing that turns off newbies at the start of the game. Dread lord days. That was a problem. Statloss helped a lot.

  6. I have to agree with KEtCHUP on PKing being a turn-off. Personally, I don’t enjoy games where I am required to PvP with other players. That’s one thing that turns me off about EQ and others. I would rather work WITH other players and cooperate toward a goal in a game than worry about some 12-year-old punk with lots of spare time on his hands and a few buddies who pop out of hiding and rob me of hours of “work”. Even when I play multiplayer games like Battlefield 1942, I prefer to have all the human players on one side against the AI players. EVE Online comes closest to my personal philosophy of cooperative play vs. PvP, but I had other problems with that game (like it taking literally hours to get anywhere) that made me drop it. I still play UO when I can, but I’m definitely ready for something “better”. Like this letter writer, I haven’t found it either.

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