Friday, September 21, 2012

State of Redux, Part 2

Earlier in the week I discussed some initial impressions post launch. Now almost a week into the live server we're in a better position to evaluate how things are going.

If there's one thing playing and theorising Ultima Online over 15 years should have made me appreciate, it's the stunning ingenuity of players. We've seen everything pushed to the max. We're having to make adjustments to spawns and loot on a daily basis to compensate for every clever thing our player base comes up with. It's great!

Although players may not always be happy to see their favourite 'mob' toned down, or favourite spot changed, hopefully it's understood that it's for the good of the shard economy and the longevity of the project. We really didn't anticipate the level of power gaming that would take place. Hopefully our gradual adjustments will help us find the correct equilibrium.

Feedback has generally been very positive. I regularly check back to IRC to see excited discussion about in game happenings, or PM's praising or congratulating our very good work on the shard. My favourite comments so far have related to the 'Adventurer' class. A pet project of mine was restoring this to some kind of real role on our shard. Making adventure pay. It seems with the hundreds of new rares, the stealable artifacts and ancient chests we have hidden across the shard, the profession is back. A number of people have noted to me that it is now a real alternative to PvM or Crafting as regards money making and fun. I'm delighted.

Activity appears to be picking up as well. Although we've peaked at around 180 online clients every day this week, we have roughly 10-20 more accounts created per day, and the shard feels busier as I move around spying on everyone. Earlier on tonight there were three seperate PvP battles going on at once! I couldn't keep up. Very encouraging. It's the kind of action that breeds excitement and convinces more people to come and play here.

I'd also like to praise the (mostly) positive attitude of our player base. People have been helpful and understanding when we've not been able to fix things right away, and I've had more more bugs reported to me than I have seen being exploited in game. It's also been encouraging seeing experienced players making an effort to help the newer members of our community. Having said all this, there have been a few cases of frankly dissapointing and disgusting ingratitude and selfishness from a few people. We won't tolerate it and we don't need you, so shape up. This shouldn't take away from the generally very positive attitude of our player base, however.

As regards future development, we will continue to tweak gold and loot from spawns to keep the economy in check - any areas that appear 'too easy' will be toned down, and some currently 'worthless' spawns may be improved. Long term we will be looking at adding further end game content and gold sinks. Improvements for crafters is high on the agenda, and if releasing an 'expansion' ever becomes a possibility with our limited time, an improved faction system would be what we will work towards.

I will be making a start on the shard 'evolving storyline' shortly, and will be seeking the involvement of RP-friendly and positive members of the community to play not only their own character but potentially some GM-created NPCs and take a lead role in the events.

I'd just like to assure you all that we are in this project for the long term. The people involved in running and funding it are all absolutely in love with UO and this shard in particular. We're desperate for it to succeed and devoted to ensuring nothing happens to ruin the experience for ourselves and our player base. Imagine if we can make a real success and this thing snowballs? That UO replacement we've all been chasing? This could be it, UO itself. Only this time managed by people with the best intentions of the players and the game at heart.

Some stats:
Accounts created: 593
Concurrent login peak: 183
Accounts banned: 5

Expect another update next week.

Monday, September 17, 2012

State of Redux, Part 1

It's been an interesting few days! I'll keep this brief, expect a follow up in a week.

In June 2011, I first started thinking about putting together a plan for a 'perfect' UO shard. Here we are not much more than a year later, and we've actually got a pretty good approximation of what I would consider perfect, launched and well populated. A real credit to all the ex-Europa people from various guilds that have been involved, and especially to Oz for taking on 95% of the coding burden.

We released on Saturday the 15th, and peaked at 178 clients online earlier tonight. With our 2 clients per IP limit, that's an impressive number to have online at once. 457 accounts have been created - again with a maximum of 2 per player. The shard looks busy and alive, people at every bank, and in all the dungeons.

A few things we're happy with:

  1. Increased insurance costs for murderers. This has been a big success so far. Only four players have dared to go red, and doing so has set them back hugely once they have suffered expensive early deaths. It'll be a while before mass PKing is a problem here. Has AoS, the hated era of UO purists, provided the best cure so far for the age-old "PK Problem" ?
  2. Increased mount costs. With NPC vendors charging 3000 per mount, it's been great to see Tamers in Moonglow selling mounts, often under-cutting each other in a bid to make sales. I've not seen this on any other free shards, and not on OSI UO since maybe 1999, it's great!
  3. A diverse range of skills and templates being developed. Someone is training almost every skill in UO currently, including the supposedly "useless in AOS" Stealing. Made relevant again by it's use on Redux in opening Ancient Chests and retrieving stealable artifacts.
  4. A really good mix of old friends and enemies of ours from Europa and Drach, as well as representatives of both the European and North American free shard communities, and even some players new to UO entirely.

A big thanks to everyone involved, and even more so to the players who have pointed out bugs and problems instead of exploiting them - Scolt especially. More updates to come.