Monday, August 20, 2012

Some insight on AoS:R, staff and the future

Things have come on a long way since I first started dreaming of making the perfect AoS shard in summer 2011. I never believed we'd get so close, or attract so much interest before we even launched.

We've not had more than 15 people logged into the test shard at any one time, but I don't think that's anything to go on, if Rel Por is any guide. After an average of 10-20 logged in during their beta stage, they shot straight to 400-500 after launch. Amazing really. We don't have their advantages (replacing a fading shard like IPY2), but I'm still hopeful we can match those numbers after a few months, once word spreads that we have a stable, well run and corruption free server.

We recently made the biggest decision - shard/server host and location. We've gone with OVH, based in Northern France. We didn't plan to go back on our promise to find East Coast USA hosting, but the practicalities prevented it. Our server specification is great, but to find something similar in the US would have cost us at least twice as much. When you also factor in that at least two-thirds of our prospective player base so far are based in Europe, the decision became obvious. We have perhaps given up the chance of attracting any players from the West Coast USA with this decision, but it seemed the lesser of two evils. Pings should still be sub-100 from the most of the Eastern US, and below 130 from central. Europeans can expect sub-50 from all but the most remote locations. The game is very playable for all but PvP right up to 200ms.

As far as development goes, things are moving along quickly. The list of bugs has been small, and although there are probably many yet to emerge, feedback has been encouragingly positive. One thing players should note is that development may at times move slowly. All the developers have full-time jobs, and despite absolute dedication to this project, it will and does take second place to our actual lives. We are paying for this server, not getting paid. We will seek to fix problems and bugs as quickly as possible, but please give us 2-3 days for non-critical issues.

We are committed to this project for years into the future. I personally have been in love with UO since my first day in 1998. Despite not playing consistently since 2007, it really is the only game that has ever captured by attention fully. The guys are all the same. If the players still want it, Redux will be here in 10 years time. On the same lines, we are absolutely dedicated to ensuring no corruption occurs. No favours to friends, no inside info. A completely even playing field for all. We are very fortunate in that the shard owners have known each other for a decade and consider each other very good friends. We can trust each other absolutely, a huge advantage over other shards that are forced to rely on hired help, with no attachment or established commitment to the shard.

There are no more features planned for shard opening beyond those set out on the webpage, but we do have some exciting plans for the future. A possible player government system, allowing guilds full control over their own and NPC towns, a vastly improved factions system, and many other smaller ideas. Nothing is set in stone however, and we are always conscious of not becoming too customised, moving far away from the era we wish to recreate. I am confident that just our starting ruleset and customisations are enough to hold the interest of a significant player base for years to come.

I know many of you are familiar with the staff of this shard from our shared background in UO, but here is a run down of the people involved:

Chris/Calix. Shard figurehead and decision maker. Game Master.
Steve/Oz. Chief coder. Game Master.
Mike/Ashikata. Lead Game Master.
Neil/Ingo. Coder.
Mike/Night. Server administrator.

It is possible that more staff will be added in the future, if the need arises. This will only happen if they earn our absolute trust beforehand, however. We would rather run a server without sufficient staff than take the risk of offering power to someone that may abuse it.

On that subject, I'd like to take the chance to point out to players that we will be taking a very hands-off approach to running the shard. I will change stupid character names, I will respond to legitimate player pages, and we will rectify bugs and issues. What we won't do is respond to GM pages that could be dealt with on the forums, get involved in player disputes, or any other trivial matter. Players should remember that the time of the GM's is limited - when we are in game dealing with issues, we aren't out of game fixing code problems, advertising the shard, or helping players on the forums. I'd also like to reiterate how serious we are about banning for breaking our rules. We can detect speedhacking with ease, and will ban instantly for it. Including all accounts you have logged into, even if they do not belong to you. EasyUO use isn't as easy to detect, but I will be making it my personal crusade to catch people using it, and will take pleasure in banning every account you are associated with.

To finish, I'd like to thank our first donors and subscribers:


Cheers guys, very much appreciated!