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Ultima Online Celebrates 10 Years

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the stage-of-history dept.

Role Playing (Games) 52

The well known EA-run MMORPG Ultima Online is now celebrating its ten year anniversary. At the time, Gamespot referred to the game as a 'buggy, unplayable mess.' Here's to another ten years, UO. 'In recognition of the game's 10 year anniversary, EA has announced the "Return to Britannia" initiative. Past subscribers of the game can download the free Kingdom Reborn update through Ultima Online's Web site, and then play the game gratis until October 9. EA will also be hosting a number of events during this period, including a monster hunt where players can win loot such as an ankh pendant necklace, a map of Brittania, an Ultima Online commemorative sculpture, and a virtue armor set.' I think it's also worth pointing out that UO isn't the first big graphical game to hit ten years; that would be Meridian 59.

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10 Years... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764245)

And still waiting for that mac version. Boo!

Re:10 Years... (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 7 years ago | (#20764707)

And oddly enough... for a short period of time... there was a Linux version. :P

Re:10 Years... (1)

uolamer (957159) | about 7 years ago | (#20764839)

Yes, unfortunately there is many 3rd party apps, virtually a must to play, that are all windows only ;( Also had to update in windows..

Re:10 Years... (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 7 years ago | (#20767995)

Yes, unfortunately there is many 3rd party apps, virtually a must to play, that are all windows only ;( Also had to update in windows..
Back when I was playing with the Linux client, I wasn't aware of the 3rd party apps (either they weren't around at that point or I wasn't aware of them). As for updates... you just went to the FTP server and downloaded the updated Linux binary. All the fun ended when the devs who created said binary (unofficially) left and the updates ended.

Condensed summary of the article (1)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | about 7 years ago | (#20764297)

At the time, Gamespot referred to the game as a 'buggy, unplayable mess.' Here's to another ten years, UO.
Couldn't have said it better myself, having played from 1998-2000!

Re:Condensed summary of the article (3, Interesting)

This_Is_My_Happening (1151393) | about 7 years ago | (#20764753)

having played from 1998-2000!
Noob!

Ha, kidding. I remember being a part of the UO beta myself back in '97 - those were great times. Hell I was actually there when Lord British was assassinated - it was an impossible to control lag-a-thon (dial-up FTW!), but at that time it was an unparalleled experience.

I went on to play UO after the beta for about a year before I called it quits. After being lag-killed for the 20th time or so I decided to give my hard-earned house (literally about 30 hours of tailoring skull caps) and my boat to my guild and move on :(

Re:Condensed summary of the article (1)

Fizzl (209397) | about 7 years ago | (#20771211)

(literally about 30 hours of tailoring skull caps)

This was considered grind back then?
Shit, it takes 30 hours of PvP grinding to get a pair of mittens in WoW.
No idea what time frame EQ1 items should be put as I never had the time and will to get keys or do the planar progression.

Re:Condensed summary of the article (3, Funny)

This_Is_My_Happening (1151393) | about 7 years ago | (#20772817)

Well UO was one of the first MMORPG's. Back then no one knew that if you made it more like a job you could sell millions and millions of copies. The developers simply didnt know any better and just tried to make the game "fun". Poor, poor bastards. ;)

Re:Condensed summary of the article (1)

Faw (33935) | about 7 years ago | (#20781705)

I was in the beta too, payed for a while. Even though UO had better graphics for some reason I found "Legends of Kesmai" and "AirWarrior" more entertaining.

Pimps and Dragons (3, Interesting)

klenwell (960296) | about 7 years ago | (#20764303)

It was Ultima Online that was the basis of one of the earliest and most entertaining articles I read on MMORPGs: "Pimps and Dragons" by Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker. A quote from that article that still haunts me:

"Playing a virtual-world game takes some getting used to," Garriott told me. "You have to realize that the world is what you make of it. Unfortunately, that means most likely you're going to have a relatively mediocre life."


You can find a copy here:

Pimps and Dragons [btinternet.com]

Re:Pimps and Dragons (1)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | about 7 years ago | (#20768675)

Interesting article. The part that I found most interesting is below.

...Vogel and Koster referred to themselves as "gamers," by which they seemed to mean not just that they liked to play computer games but that they didn't really see them as games.
I wonder what she (the author) believed these "gamers" felt they were playing.

To all the Trammies at the bank... (4, Funny)

losman (840619) | about 7 years ago | (#20764427)

*Corp Por*

Re:To all the Trammies at the bank... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20765143)

GUARDS! VENDOR BUY ME A LLAMA!

Most fun I had with my cloths on: Earthquake at Brit Bank, then call the guards.
For each person standing there, one guard would materialize and whack you dead.

Oh and duping using UoPlugIn - we used mules to carry away the gold :D

Re:To all the Trammies at the bank... (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 7 years ago | (#20775787)

even better was to have a second friend do a second earthquake: for each person/guard you would get a another guard.. this could continue for quite a while.

Re:To all the Trammies at the bank... (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 7 years ago | (#20793213)

n00b!
*Vas Flam*
*Cor Por*

Of course when everyone turned into melee Dexers in 2000 it was less likley they were wearing magic reflect.

MMORPG (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#20764447)

Nice move making the mention of Meridian59 at the end. I can't tell you how many posts I've seen where people claim Everquest or something was the first MMORPG. Which is pretty funny, especially since the term MMORPG was coined in order to describe Meridian59. Too bad they were unable to adequately describe a good reason to pay $5.95? a month for a game, when people were already paying $29.95 at the time for dial-up.

Re:MMORPG (3, Informative)

Adambomb (118938) | about 7 years ago | (#20764553)

Let us not forget Muds [wikipedia.org] . PvP on MajorMUD's [wikipedia.org] was one of the primary reasons I'm able to type as well as I (for the most part) do. Some of the boards we played on had anywhere between 50 to 500 player peaks at the time, depending on how much exposure it had, and some were donation supported instead of subscription.

I mean jebus, its still around today as well [majormud.com] , and they have an actual market of people paying for a massively multiplayer text based game. Its definitely not shine, polish, and brand name thats keeping them around.

Re:MMORPG (2, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | about 7 years ago | (#20764577)

Almost forgot. do not forget the near verbatim similarity between the original Everquest game mechanics and the Toril(/Sojourn/Sojourn3/etc) [torilmud.org] Used-to-be-Diku codebase. Aradune I'm glaring at you.

Re:MMORPG (1)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20767295)

You realize that the people who made Diku publicly stated they didn't believe the rumor that EQ stole code from them, right?

Re:MMORPG (1)

Adambomb (118938) | about 7 years ago | (#20769369)

i meant specifically the modified diku codebase used by toril/sojourn over the past 15 years or so. Check it [torilmud.org] and compare and contrast.

Re:MMORPG (0, Offtopic)

Splab (574204) | about 7 years ago | (#20764637)

What about Command & Conquer? It might not be a MMO, but it sure as hell was a trend setter and they hit 12 years this month. They celebrated with giving away C & C 95 Gold for free here: http://www.commandandconquer.com/intel/default.aspx?id=61#NewsMain [commandandconquer.com] .

Re:MMORPG (2, Interesting)

gravis777 (123605) | about 7 years ago | (#20768449)

My problem with the summery is it said Meridian59 was the first game to hit 10 years old, however, from the Wiki, the game was shut down in 2000, and rereleased with an updated rendering engine in 2002. As such, you cannot claim 10 years, as the first incarnation was killed after 5 years, and the rerelease has only been out 5 years, and there was a two year timespan between the two. Ultima Online has been online nonstop (with the exception of maybe a few server hiccups) for 10 years. That should be a better article summery than what was given.

Happy Birthday! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764799)

Happy Birthday Ultima Online!

I wonder if I should at last use the 30-day gametime I received with my retail UO box many years ago. I only used to play on freeshards, so I never experienced "the real thing". Though I'm afraid the real thing can't be experienced on the official shards either anymore :/

no offense but this is why it sucks (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764825)

a monster hunt where players can win loot such as an ankh pendant necklace, a map of Brittania, an Ultima Online commemorative sculpture, and a virtue armor set.
Dont get me wrong, I played uo from beta till 2004 or so.. thats like 7 years. The problem with uo is they went from a nice free form game (like eve online currently) and made it more like a collecting stupid fucking rares and equipment game (wow has since refined this technique). I blame entirely EA. They made it into a game about collecting and decorating your house.(not that i didnt pimp the illegal no draw tile i had)

Its bittersweet because as much as people complained about OSI back in the day, they ran it LIGHT YEARS better than ea ever did. So grats i guess to the hollowed out shell of one of the best and most forward thinking games of all time. I still cannot build a house in any game since*.

*POS and 0.0 stations are almost houses but not quite.

Re:no offense but this is why it sucks (1)

Cozminsky (452030) | about 7 years ago | (#20765421)

EA, where games go to die.

Re:no offense but this is why it sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20765557)

made it more like a collecting stupid fucking rares and equipment game

Problem behind that is larger than many think. It is so because majority of paying customers are simple minded who don't care what elitists have to say. The want Spiderman over Citizen Kane, they want Mine Sweeper over Chess, they want Big Macs over dinner of seafood with white wine, etc. And they want collectible item games over actual story telling RP games.

It is so because majority brings in more money, mediocrity brings in more money, than actually good, classy, even legendary product would.

That is why we must suffer idiots in WoW who pester others with begging, bad language and behaviour. Because Blizzard wants their money. Blizzard wants their money more than they want to make a good game.

Re:no offense but this is why it sucks (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 years ago | (#20766693)

Its bittersweet because as much as people complained about OSI back in the day, they ran it LIGHT YEARS better than ea ever did.

EA purchased OSI years before UO was released - though the name on the door changed, the people inside running the game never did.
 
 

The problem with uo is they went from a nice free form game (like eve online currently) and made it more like a collecting stupid fucking rares and equipment game (wow has since refined this technique). I blame entirely EA. They made it into a game about collecting and decorating your house.(not that i didnt pimp the illegal no draw tile i had)

That's an odd claim to make - since the game is still free form.

Re:no offense but this is why it sucks (1)

netsavior (627338) | about 7 years ago | (#20771333)

I have a house in Runescape(started in 1999, java/cross platform implementation pay version is $5/mo) with my own dungeon... It is instance housing, not world housing though (you have to go to your house through a portal, and friends can come in), so it has its weak points.
Just saying Player owned housing is not unheard of.
Also there are just not very many rares in runescape, it is largely about community and skill building, not l3wt collecting.

Nintendo is just as guilty (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 years ago | (#20774559)

I blame entirely EA. They made it into a game about collecting and decorating your house.(not that i didnt pimp the illegal no draw tile i had)
And Animal Crossing isn't?

Obligatory shill from an anonymous dev! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764911)

People like to point out that other games came before UO, and that it isn't the "first" MMO.
To those people, I remind you (cough) that UO was the first MMO to be a major success: to hit 100k subscribers, setting the standard for judging MMO success for years to come.

It brought a world to life, introduced an entire generation to a new way of playing online, and opened the doors for games like EQ, DAOC and WOW.
It brought joy to hundreds of thousands, and frustration, and angst and anger and every other emotion one could think of.
It brought people together and foreshadowed the massive impact the internet could have on our social lives.

Oh, and it was fun too! Between 97 and 99 for some, between 2000 and 2003 for others, and even in 2007 today.

So, here's to the longest running, continuous, subscription based MMO - here's to another 10 years!

For anyone who wants to see where UO is going, check out some screenshots of the new client:
http://boards.stratics.com/php-bin/uo/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=uouhall&Number=7421553&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=31&fpart=all&what2=postlist [stratics.com]

Post from non-anon dev (4, Interesting)

Psychochild (64124) | about 7 years ago | (#20765515)

To those people, I remind you (cough) that UO was the first MMO to be a major success[...]

Of course, it all depends on how you define "major success". If we define it as the game that had over 1M subscribers in North America, then UO is merely a historic oddity compared to WoW.

(Caveat: I run the company that currently owns Meridian 59.)

While Meridian 59 didn't live up to its potential (IMNSHO), it was still a success. For a while, 3DO was only making significant income from two areas of the company: Meridian 59 and lawsuits. Considering that M59 began as a small garage development project, not a project from a large company using a long-cherished IP, it succeeded quite admirably.

But, you can split hairs and try to define who was really "first" in what capacity. Even your highly qualified statement, "So, here's to the longest running, continuous, subscription based MMO[...]" doesn't describe UO because you forgot commercial text MUDs; I believe Gemstone is the game that matches that description. In the end, both M59 and UO influenced online games. M59 even influenced UO by going with a flat-rate monthly subscription model, which set the trend for the rest of the games you mention.

Anyway, no need to put down other games to make UO seem better. It's nice to see games that reach the 10 year mark at any rate.

Have fun,

Re:Post from non-anon dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20765631)

MUDs != MMORPGs

Re:Post from non-anon dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20770175)

MUDS: massively multiplayer? check. online? check. RPG? check. At least as much RPG as any of the other MMORPGS are. MUDS = MMORPG

Re:Post from non-anon dev (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 years ago | (#20766779)

Of course, it all depends on how you define "major success".

I can do so easily, and without splitting hairs.
 
It's a game that a significant number of people have ever heard of. When you mention UO, virtually everyone knows what you are talking about. When you mention Meridian 59... The answer is a resounding 'who?'. Etc... Etc...
 
When you have to keep reminding people that you even exist, and your only mention on Slashdot is in a snarky article summary or comment when the actual article is about another game... You aren't a major sucess by any reasonable definition of the word.

Re:Post from non-anon dev (1)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20767707)

When you mention Meridian 59... The answer is a resounding 'who?'. Etc... Etc...
Really? Because when I mention M59 to my friends, they know exactly what I'm talking about, and what that game did for the genre. Just because you or your friends don't know the classics, or any history of the genre, doesn't mean the game was any less significant.

Outside of gaming circles, who really knows much of anything about UO anyway? The only thing I've seen outside of gaming sites/news was the first ebayed character. [cnn.com] And hilariously, the article quickly goes from a UO story to an EQ story.

By your definitions, are you sure UO was even that big of a success? Seems like Everquest was really the first of the genre to hit big news.

Re:Post from non-anon dev (1)

tgrigsby (164308) | about 7 years ago | (#20778855)

Just ignore him. Derek is used to taking snarky little potshots at people. I think his mother didn't hug him enough as a child or something.

Re:Post from non-anon dev (1)

Psychochild (64124) | about 7 years ago | (#20773841)

So, why are you posting on Slashdot? More people know what Digg is, so shouldn't you be posting over there?

Re:Post from non-anon dev (2, Insightful)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | about 7 years ago | (#20767583)

Yep, Gemstone and the rest of the MUDs are the real first MMORPGs. I still think Dragonrealms is one of the finest games I've ever played. I have never in my life seen so much effort put into masking the numbers from players to make them actually read whats going on and immerse them in the story. Combat was an absolute joy as was everything else. Great playerbase too.

Re:Post from non-anon dev (1)

Durinthal (791855) | about 7 years ago | (#20769485)

And unfortunately, graphical MMORPGs still can't even remotely approach the level of detail that MUDs achieved years ago. I want to be able to hack off that goblin's arm and make him drop his sword, which I can then pick up and attack him with.

M59 wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20771957)

This is the first time I've ever heard of Meridian 59 and I haven't been in a cave either. Sorry but it sounds like a real niche game.

Re:Post from non-anon dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20777159)

> (Caveat: I run the company that currently owns Meridian 59.)


I'm glad you told us that, because I never would have guessed.

It would not still exist... (1)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | about 7 years ago | (#20766121)

The game would not still exist if emulators like UOX, Sphere, and RunUO hadn't kept people interested long after they stopped paying their monthly fee.

Re:It would not still exist... (1)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20767791)

So you're saying the only reason UO has survived is because people stopped paying EA for upkeep of the game?

What's the oldest (still active) MUD? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766367)

MUDs have been running far longer (although admitedly this does not contradict the original article in any way). I play Discworld MUD and that's been running for 15 years for example.

I wonder which MUD has been running the longest out of all the ones still going? There are hundreds so I'm not researching it but if anybody knows then that'd be an interesting addendum to the article.

Re:What's the oldest (still active) MUD? (1)

Antony.Muss (1152597) | about 7 years ago | (#20770681)

MUD2?

Woah (1)

entmike (469980) | about 7 years ago | (#20767421)

I didn't realize this game was still around and recognized by EA. I was aware of the emulators and such, but had no idea that it was still being officially run. Everquest is coming up on a decade in a couple of years, too I believe.

Good ol' macros (1)

UWM (1162951) | about 7 years ago | (#20767561)

vendor buy bank guards i ban thee

Re:Good ol' macros (1)

Reapman (740286) | about 7 years ago | (#20768987)

Oh man I totally forgot about that... I loved UO back in the day, I mean sure if you think about MMO's now the game is/was laughable, but can't deny it was groundbreaking. I remember me and my buddy trying to build a house using crates, back when we did'nt realize crates would eventually vanish. We thought some thief was stealing our "walls", turns out we were just n00bs not knowing how things work :P

UO, M59, EQ1, those days were fun, when nobody knew how to make a good MMO really because it never had been done before, most people were on dialup, etc etc. Kinda reminds me of the early days of the automobile before the big companys streamlined the whole thing for the masses.

Corp Por or Vas Flam still run shivers down my spine. Free trial for previous subscribers eh? Might just give that a go...

I'm sure (3, Funny)

Gregg.Baker (1142539) | about 7 years ago | (#20772089)

All three people still playing the game feel very proud of this fact.

Goodie (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 7 years ago | (#20772789)

"Return to Brittania"?

That list of goodies is nice, but not gonna happen unless I get a Necklace of Pk Griefer Teenybopper Groups Slaughtering People By The Graveyard Die Now Pigs.

The best MMORPG of all time, never RPGs too restri (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20773943)

I played from the day the game came out (1998 was it? to 1999). This game was really one of the first and best graphical MMORPG's to this day. Today's Online RPG's aren't fun as UO. I played Warcarft and FFXI... there are too restrictive....

Back in the day players had MORE control over the world. That is what was fun. Not killing monsters together as a team (like in the World of Warcraft)... yawn..

Until they fixed the so called "loop holes" in UO, you could

Gate Monsters anywhere: Being a member of LLTS of on Atlantic Shard, we had our own Island, so every few weeks we would gate in high level beasts to our huge island (with the OSI building on it), hold them for a bit, then release them for a huge "Monster Invasion Role Playing Shannanigin of our Island Base." It was tons of fun and we had prizes for the teams that saved the day.
You could also gate Monsters into houses, trap them behind chests, and create "Magic Resistance Training Houses", were you could go into and the monsters would attack you with magic, you would get hurt, and yoru resist would go up. We would also kidnap healers (NPC) to revive you in case you died. You could charge admission to stuff like this.

PVP - PVP was so much better. Sure, most high level characters were tank mages, casting spells with gold plate armor on , then using a quick macro to equip a a crossbow or halberd to mow down the PKers. But this was fun. Magic was more powerful and more plentiful.

New games, you have the LAME option of not being PVP. In UO, you had the constant threat of being killed. This made the game GREAT. It was very realistic. You could be killed anytime, so you best have your skills sharpened, have you attacks ready to use at a moments notice, or be ready to escape.

Death & Looting - More Permanent: I feel like newer RPG's are made for children. IN UO, You die, you lose everything (expect your spellbook). Good, this made the game fun. Nothing was more interesting then sitting at the bank, talking in an IRC room, and hearing "Guys, we've got PK'ers at Covetus" from my fellow guild members. We would then meet up, and gate a mile south, run up, destroy them, and i would leave with 200 of each reagent, tons of plate mail, magical weapons.. etc...
There was also the flip side to this... when I would die... and boy it was horrible... but the emotions I felt when I died, the sinking feeling in my heart, has never been replaced my any RPG to date. I die in WOW. big deal,I just get resurrected. I don't really lose anything significant (exepct some stats are made lower).

Ownership of Property: I came to own 4 houses, a stake in a castle, and my character was a carpenter to top it off so would furnish my places (and I had fun chopping down trees to furnish my home). I also had my own boat (which was kinda pointless with instant warping, but it was still fun). What games to it like UO did.. none.

Warp anywhere in the world: To my knowledge you can still do this in UO, however, most new RPG's don't allow this. This instead jump makes the game lots of fun, and you don;t waste time either.

Anyway, this buggy game really let me feel in more control, do more things, experiment more, and at the end of the day, have more fun. It was cool to figure out the processes behind the game (like how monsters wouldn't follow you across server boundries).

If anyone wants to write an Online RPG like UO used to be, lets do it!

~Cloud [Tactics Officer] LLTS (Atlantic Shard)

Need a credit card, even for the free trial... (2, Insightful)

AdamTrace (255409) | about 7 years ago | (#20775801)

"Trial requires the entry of a registration key provided below. A major credit card is required to validate your account but will not be charged during the trial period. Please note the credit card will be automatically charged at the end of the trial unless cancelled."

I hate stuff like this. It preys on those of us who are too lazy to cancel our free subscriptions when the trial is up.

I'd love to give it a shot, but I just don't trust myself.

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