UO Poll Cards and Letters: Part 2

We present a second batch of responses to our Ultima Online poll.


Tuesday, we published the results of our GameSpot News poll where we asked readers to tell us what they did when their first month of free Ultima Online gameplay ended: Did you commit to the US$9.95 per month subscription fee, or did you decide otherwise?

Today we present some additional responses that "arrived" in just the past few hours.

Have a look at yesterday's story, and happy reading.

Again, thanks for responding.LETTER #1:

1) When I purchased UO no where did it state that the game was a 'work in progress' as has been stated so often by Origin.

2) While Origin has routinely patched many of the bugs, many more were introduced.

3) A common complaint, the lack of - and no variety of monsters has still not been addressed.

4) One of the best parts about previous Ultimas, quests, has only received minor attention by Origin.

5) Even though Lord British says the servers are up the majority of the time, this has not been true. You must also figure in the amount of game time lost when a server restores to its previous state, the fact that I (and probably many others) don't play in the wee hours of the morning (server is up at 3 AM, gee great).

6) The only real punishment I've seen for the hordes of PKers that used to exist was they received a lump of coal for Christmas.

7) The Lag issue still exists. I am on ISDN and have never had lag problems with any other on-line game except UO.

and so on...

Even though all of these problems still exist - it is very difficult to completely remove oneself from the game. I'll give them a couple more months.

-Karsten S.LETTER #2:

I had high hopes for Ultima Online, I showed up every day at my local computer store, money in hand. "Is it out yet?" "Nope. Its been pushed back.

Come back in a couple days...

"Is it out yet.?" "Not yet"

And so on.

Finally it came out and I bought it, and I played and I played. You see, I love big multiplayer online games - MUDS. I run one myself: Lost Oz (hermesnet.net 6250). I know how to manage these things, run plots, keep people in line, etc., etc. I do it as a hobby, for free, and I know that the one purpose "I" have is to entertain myself and others.

Well, the first thing that I noticed on UO is there is NO role-playing. Forget what anyone may have claimed to you. It's all a lie. People may make characters with fancy names, but really, nobody is immersed in anything. It's all anyone can do to make gold and stay away from the pkillers. So if you run into another player that hopefully won't try to kill you or rob you - probably you'll be talking 'out of charcater' just so you can assure each other that you should work together without any mischief occurring.

Next. Forget lag, forget the screwed up merchants or the notoriety or whatever problem UO thinks its having: its biggest problem is player management. This game is "out of Beta' (hah) so the players are no longer play-testers. They have NO reason to play nice unless that's the way the game works best. So they rob each other, they exploit bugs, they steal, they kill newbies - they do whatever it takes to entertain themselves, since that's what they bought the game for in the first place. Unwittingly, they keep Ultima Online a place a place of confusion that can never be *really* entertaining. After all, how could you run a plot and have players participate and get involved in the game, if they all have to worry about is each other ---king one another over? Excuse my French.

Does Origin DO anything about this? No.

Origin feels like if one player goes out and kills a bunch of newbies he's 'roleplaying evil' which is BS. Roleplaying evil is something I happen to have experience at. Roleplaying evil is kidnapping babies, convincing close friends that they are enemies, being part of an organized web of crime, organized assassination attempts. Killing random newbies who just happen to be walking by is not roleplaying evil any more than playing Quake is.

So what could they do? First, eliminate Pkilling. Just write a patch and turn it off. This group hasnt earned it yet. I am not agaisnt Pkilling myself, but lets face it: as a group- this bunch is not RP savvy enough to handle it JUST YET. They might make it an ability, a privelege, a reward.

Next, get more game-master guys. You don't even have to pay them. Recruit them right out of the woodwork down there. They want to be on for hours, right? People would jump at the chance, and do it for free. Run these people through a few basic training chat-seminars about player management. Train a few of these people in how to run plots and give them control of a few NPC-like characters. Organize a few storylines that will include lots of people. Its as simple as making a town crier and run him through the streets yelling 'Princess X has been captured' or murdered or whatever, and then having a few people play key NPCs. You Origin guys ever notice how cheaply writers work? You need a grand total of ONE guy on staff that can write and come up with storylines and brief a cast of key players who can help get the other players involved. That way the plots are there for people who want to roleplay. The rest of UO is there for people who want to slay monsters and make items...and Pkilling is in the hands of the roleplayers who won't abuse it, where it belongs. This leaves no group disenfranchised.

I will never buy another Origin game. I was SO frustrated with this game. I see its potential, and I see that they have fallen short. After that free month was up, I pulled my account and cancelled it and everything else. It pains me to say and do this too, because I am a Texan, and I support our Texas-based companies (like Origin, Compaq, etc). I can live with lag, notoriety problems and whatever minor glitches exist in the software. Those are a fact of life in Mud-type games, you have glitches. You fix them. But the real problem is player management, and Ultima Online falls far, far short of anything making it even remotely enjoyable.

-Prince B.LETTER #3:

Yes, I have decided to pay the $9.95 monthly fee - not so much for the fun I'm having now, but for the expectations I have of this being the best game EVER.

Day by Day it gets larger, and less frustrating to play. The new patches have really helped in reducing lag, even with my measly 26400 connection.

I beleive in about 5 years or so all the reviews in magazines will be pointing out how UO started the multi-million dollar industry that is large scale internet gaming.



I have tested and played many popular (and not so popular) online roleplaying games over the years, and after hearing about UO, decided to sign up for beta testing to see what it would be like.

I entered beta testing with limited expectations; even though Origin heavily promoted this game, I didn't think their concept was a sound one, and it didn't seem like they had learned from the failures of so many previous online FRPGs.

The game experience, simply put, is poor for any number of reasons which many other postings have gone into detail about. What I think the main problem is, though, is that the designers of the game got it into their heads that what makes an enjoyable game is, in UO's case, a glorified online economics simulation in a fantasy environment.

From what I have seen, they have poured their considerable resources into this concept, which is unfortunate because very few players are looking for this kind of experience - not to mention that what they are trying to do might very well be impossible with current technology.

I believe instead of all of the 'realism', Origin should re-start from scratch, designing a world that from the get-go is made to get the players into real adventuring and role-playing, including limiting Pkilling to specific areas, and making it easy for new players to get started. They shoud make the number one priority, after the new game concept, being to eliminate anything in the game that causes lag, as I don't believe any significant numbers of players will sign up and stay with lag problems.

Until they do, I won't even consider playing the game, even if the price is significanty reduced.

-Erik S.LETTER #5:

I will be keeping the account for awhile.

Yes UO has its share of problems. Sure Richard Garriott has outright misrepresented the reality of many issues. But overall the game has alot of possibilities to be great not just ground breaking.

The biggest problem I have with UO is the representation that Richard Garriot gives. For one the average response time of a GM is not or at least at the time he interviewed and said it was not 15 minutes it was more like 2 hours. He states they have never had server lag. It even says that on thier website. So tell me what it is when the game freezes, with 3 monsters coming toward me, and 30 seconds to a minute later it starts back up WITH the monsters in the SAME place they were when it locked. If the server wasn't lagging the monsters should be tearing me apart not still coming towards me. In this situation it is obvious the server lagged. Normally right before a crash it lags several times in a row then crashes. According to OSI it has never lagged though.

On another note the staff has decided GMs can't compensate. Sure there is a potential to exploit it but even a minimal compensation would make alot of players happy. When I say minimal I mean based on the loss. An example, I buy a house and miss place it by accident so a GM deletes it. (I did read a post of this occuring and believe even UOVault had it in their news section.) Now in this situation I think at the very least the player should get back half the cost of the house if not a new deed altogether.

Would it be that hard to make a file of everything a player has on him and everything he has bought and used and where (refering to deeds here). If something vanished the GM could check the file and say yup the file says u got it but you don't so here it is. If the file would have shown he gave it to someone or dropped it the GM would say Sorry u gave it away. Another possibility pick 8 GMs and make them Avatars of the Virtues and allow those GMs to compensate. Anything would improve the image most of the players have of customer support.

Even with all the complaints here I feel I will give it a month or two more. I feel by then most of the problems will be fixed and the game will be closer to being what most people wanted.

-Kris B.LETTER #6:

I'll kept it, most definately. I have played it since phase 2 beta, and have loved it from the first day. Most of the bad hype it has gotten is from two sources:

1) People looking at it as if it was just another game and should be finished when it is on the shelf. The problem is, it is updated weekly, so it is never finished. In a game this size, bugs and play problems, are bound to come up. And with this many people playing, there are bound to be some who want to ruin it for everyone else. The people at Origin have done a wonderful job working on the game, and putting up with all of the rants and raves people have thrown their way.

2) Bad reviews. From what I have seen, reviews it has gotten on the web, which not everyone sees, are fairly good. Those in published magazines which are read by more people have been bad.

There is only one medium at present that can keep up to date with all the changes: the web.

So the big problem with Ultima Online is that it is a brand-new class of game, and people won't accept that.

Thanks for your time,

-Greg H.LETTER #7:

Ultima Online even with the problems is by far the most immersive game Ihave ever played.

MY WIFE HATES IT!Which means I must really love it.

Even after reaching the pinnacle...There is still so much to DO. And the game will get better and better.

I will continue to pay the $10 several months to come.

-Name Withheld


I will be continuing my subscription to Ultima Online for the indefinite future. I'm not saying that the game isn't without its problems, what game isn't - but the framework is more than sufficient to roleplay anything to your heart's content.

I think the reason most people get bored is because they have no imagination or vision and get caught up in the kill-kill-kill mentality as the only thing Ultima Online has to offer.

With a little imagination, the sky is the limit.

-Michael B.LETTER #9:

"It was the best of games; it was the worst of games."

This is the most frustrating game I've ever played. You can see potential all through it. It could be great. It is addictive. It is also slow, error-ridden, and unreliable. I want to love it, but things keep going wrong. A good example was last Friday night. About 6:30pm, I was all set for an evening of Ultima, and what happened? I couldn't log on. Not until after 10:00pm. The servers were available, but for some reason, you couldn't log in. How did Origin respond? They responded with silence. They didn't even say a single word about the service interruption. It is what I've come to expect from them.

Everyone wanted to know why we were paying for what still amounts to a beta test for an incomplete product, and despite what "Lord British" says, their servers ARE overloaded. I urge you to track down a UO utility called UOTrace and put it to the test. It does a traceroute and pings the route to the servers, and gives you an analysis of the performance. I have had very few satisfactory responses and most reports it generates blame the last three hops on the route.

Hmmm...could it be a problem with their servers and ISP? Players are always talking about the "lag" monster killing them. Everyone knows what it is; you die because you can't do anything for up to 30 seconds at a time when a lot of things are going on, especially during combat. Try logging on to Lake Superior or Great Lakes and strolling around Britain for a while. Walk by the bank and time the lag. Origins is telling us it's our modems or our ISP's. That might be true if I were the only person frozen on the screen, but it's happening to everybody. Sometimes, it's funny. You can see half a dozen people saying "lag, lag, lag" on the screen at the same time.

Some friends of mine bought me a charter subscription to UO, so I have three months coming, not one. I am at the end of my first month, and I'm still playing because I have two more months coming to me. I don't know whether I'll quit in two months time, but it I had to start paying now, I'd quit.

-Karl H.LETTER #10:

I've owned Ultima Online since the first day it was released, and I can honestly tell you that I think it's worth every single penny of that $9.95 a month.

I have never played a single game for as many hours as I have with UO in such a short period of time.

Not since my old Commodore 64 days, playing Wasteland and Mail Order Monsters have I ever been so happily addicted to a game as I am with UO.

Does UO have it's flaws? Sure, but what game doesn't? UO has delivered exactly what I've been looking for in a game for years.

Long live UO and Lord British!

-Drew L.

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