UO Forever: More lessons

UO Forever has been a great time so far, both from just a pure gameplay perspective and as a refresher of sorts on how the MMO genre got started and the design decisions that worked.

I’ve covered combat already, as well as talking about the slower pace and why that’s important. Keen has a post about his enjoyment of crafting, which I think touches on some of these points as well.

Quick comment on the crafting aspect; as I said on vent, mining in UO ‘works’ because you are advancing towards something that matters to you, in a way you want to. You mine to get ore, to get ingots, to skill up smithing, to smith better items, to place those items on a vendor, and ultimately to make that vendor known and have people come to you to shop. This ultimately makes you good money, but also gives you a bit of fame, carves out your spot in the world, and opens other doors (shoppers become friends or guild members, the gold is used to fund bigger projects, the vendor traffic attracts other shopkeepers to your area of the world, etc).

In other MMOs, a ‘crafter’ is just a monster slayer that happens to dump gold into a side profession (usually at a huge loss), and the ‘fix’ that many have added is to get monster slaying experience from the art of crafting. “Level to the cap from crafting” should not be seen as a step forward, it should be seen as a slap in the face to crafters. Of course, when the result of crafting is being an anonymous listing on some global AH, who really cares?

Moving on, the skill gain rates on UOF are interesting. Combat skills go up very quickly. You can max out the basics in about 10 hours, and all but a few skills (magic resistance being the main one) shortly after that. Crafting skills on the other hand are very slow.

The fast skill gains, IMO, just shorten one area of the game and get you into another faster. Had they been slow, players would have spent more time fighting weaker creatures, all while farming less gold/items while they skill up. Eventually many would have reached the cap, and what is happening now would have happened then, but instead that early phase was basically non-existent. If UOF had a sub fee, that would be bad design from a business standpoint. Since it does not, it might just lead people to burn out quicker.

That said, just because you are able to get some skills to the cap does not mean you are ‘done’. Far from it. My current goal is to buy a house to place in our guild city. Originally this was going to be a basic house for about 65k, but the farming has gone well and along with a buddy, we have decided to go big and aim buy a two story for 150k. We are currently about 50k short of that goal.

And once we buy and place the house, it opens up some additional options for us. We will now have a base to PK out of. We will have a place to run a vendor from if we choose. And of course, we can’t leave it unfurnished, now can we?

By the time all of that’s done, who knows what other goals or options will pop up. Perhaps we will be in a guild war, or working to establish control of a particular dungeon. UO being a sandbox, the path is not pre-arranged and laid out for you to follow.

Finally, playing UOF reconfirms my belief that the reason UO retained subs for so long was because it’s a great game, not because it was the only MMO out (as if people didn’t have other gaming options back then…). It also confirms how massive of a mistake EA made when the trammeled it, and later butchered the IP with silly stuff like elves, ninjas, and whatever else is in the current paid version of the game. To think that UO could have been handled like EVE has been handled, expanded and enhanced while remaining true to its original design. Somehow I don’t think the genre would be quite as focuses on ‘personal stories’, instancing, or voice acting.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, crafting, Housing, MMO design, Ultima Online. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to UO Forever: More lessons

  1. I’m glad they’ve upped skill gains – I still remember when they implemented the Guaranteed Gains System, and how it actually seemed to SLOW skill progression. That was a real headache. EA do have a lot to answer for – some of those expansions were ridiculous. By far what I hated most was when they added elemental resistance armour and damage weapons. Completely screwed up my farming regime and required tens of thousands of gold to get the new gear sorted!

    I don’t know if I’d ever go back to UO… I never enjoyed playing Felucca or PKing, and that always seemed to be what most people wanted to do.

    • SynCaine says:

      About the PK thing; it’s not so much that most want to do it (I believe only one person in our guild currently does it), its that we like a world with it in. It limits farming, it drives more economic movement, it makes things like mining have a bit of danger; all of those side factors add up.

      • That’s true I suppose! It still feels like a pain when you leave all your stuff on your corpse. Maybe I’ve been mollycoddled by modern games too much! ;)

        • hevy says:

          Correct, you have been coddled. ;)

          Also, with PKing it makes you work harder to find better farm spots with certain conditions to keep PKs out.

          For example, is it deep in a dungeon, multiple floors down? PKs like to roll through first floors for newbs for the most part because it’s easy.

          Or even more cool, you can set a trap by training multiple hard level mobs near the transport onto the floor and then trap then there so that anyone coming down will be owned unless they have a rune to the floor, which is still very possible.

          Or placing crates/boxes around the gate in spot, etc.

          It makes it much different and more interesting to farm because of things like this. PKs also make it so you have to leave every 5k or so gold because you don’t want to lose that much because it’s like 30-60 minutes of work depending, less for people farming champions but yeah.

          It drives the economy when I’ve had to purchase 2 full new setups after being PKed.

          It’s annoying getting your shit taken, and I’ve gone to sleep frustrated because I could have gotten away had I done this or that or I should have recalled earlier. It gives me content. It keeps the boredom of farming while just watching TV.

          You can farm in most other MMOs while playing another game completely basically. You can macro in UO, but farming mobs and anything worthwhile must be done out i. The world, away from the protection of the guards.

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