UO still outclasses other MMORPGs

Haven city in UO
Haven’s City in UO

A bunch of my friends are playing UO with me, and this afternoon we had a discussion about why games today aren’t made with these features.  On one hand you could say, “Why don’t they make games like UO anymore?”  That will fetch responses like, “Because it’s old and no one wants to take the risk making a niche game when they would rather shoot for WoW numbers.”  So don’t make a game like UO, but why not take some of the features which help UO outclass every MMO since 1995.  Here are just a few I enjoy, but there are tons.

  • Selecting which skills you want to use to build your own class, even if that class does nothing but craft, RP, or be a thief; no set path
  • Sail boats around the world
  • Place a house in the world and set up vendors
  • Be able to actually steal stuff from people, pop a disguise that changes your name and looks, and be a villain

UO gives players so much freedom.  I think the best feature is one I already mentioned: No set path and a ton of freedom to move around within that path.

I’m sitting here creating furniture and selling it to people.  I’m helping guild members place their houses and decorate them.  I’m one of only a handful of people on the entire server who can make the best weapons/armor.  People know who I am in-game because of the services I offer — a path I chose to take by creating a character capable of doing those things.

How about you?  What are you doing in your MMORPG this fine Saturday?

  • Archage does all of these you mentioned 🙂 and will published by Trion in the west, a company that I have respect for (even if I didn’t liked Rift). Well to be honest I don’t have much trust on Korean MMOs but this one seems interesting. At least I wanna check the ship battles 🙂

    -In ArcheAge, by combining 3 abilities out of 10, you can create your own class. 10 Abilities in ArcheAge presents 10 Gods and Heros in ArcheAge World. Each abilities have its own unique feature and skill.
    By free ability combination, you cannot only make the basic MMORPG classes such as Warrior, Wizard, Healer, but also unique classes by combining abilities on your own free will.
    Also, the 3 abilities that you picked at first are changeable. You can change the ability combination by paying certain amount of gold.

    You have 10 main combat skill setups. When you start, you can pick only 3 of them. Afterwards, you can deactivate some, activate others, but the maximum activated is set at 3. So overall it makes 120 variations possible.
    Each of 10 skill setups (from which you can only have 3 active) can be leveled up to the cap, but the price for changing between them is high. Each skill setup will have dozens of unique skills. For example, there are skills such as Floating Bubble, which traps the selected character in a bubble and makes it float in the air for a certain time, and Psychokinesis, which allows you to lift and throw a character. They are also thinking of making some combos between skills. For example, if Shock Arrow is used after Floating Bubble, the selected character will be sent farther than when struck on ground.

    -You have several transportation systems, from carriages who roam around the land from A to B that you can get in just by jumping when they pass by, mono rail systems inside the cities, zeppelins from cities to cities and your own mounts. You can build ships and move around continents, explore the seas or go pirate and roam the oceans for victims to pillage or attack ocean line towns. You can even swim all the way into other continents, but due to the monsters roaming the seas thats not advisable.

    -In AA you can build your house, pimp it out whit items, hire npc’s vendor’s to sell the stuff you grown in your crops (build commerce shops, kinda), you can pick your guild or a group of friends, claim a piece of land and build your city, size of houses go from small to huge mansions, you can build a house almoust anywhere in the game. Theres a tax system in player own land, if you fail payment your house will despawn and sent into your ingame mail (as CBT4).
    It seems that Boss class mobs roam around the land, and not even villages are safe, better to hire some security….

    Build system requires something called Labor Points, you can win thoes on a daily basis wich you then can also hire npc workers to build for you, or you can buy them from other players or sell them:

    -Q. Can I write my own book in ArcheAge?
    A. There are two different writing systems in ArcheAge. One way is to write a memo on a completed quest – since the completed quests will be logged as a story form, so you can always add a memo for interesting things, or things that need caution. Another way is to write a book to publish it later on. If you pay a certain fee, you can publish your own book, which will be kept in libraries, either you can sell the book for any price you want, or just give it to other players freely.

    -How will PvP work in the game? Is it an open system?
    Jake Song:
    The answer is half yes and half no. In ArcheAge, players can attack another player if they wish and can steal crops that the other user raised. Such sandbox features can give fun, but it can create conflict and disputes between players, and might damage the game play. Especially free PvP is favored by some but hated by some others. So in ArcheAge there is the trial and jail system. Players who kill another player will be put under a trial by the other players and be judged whether the activity was reasonable or not.

    How will court/jail summoning work? Are guilty players automatically summoned after evidence against them is submitted, or will guards or players have to catch the murderer?

    The guilty player will not be summoned automatically. We will inform the guilty player to appear in court, and if they don’t they’ll be put on a ‘Wanted’ list and other players can hunt him down.

    There is no area where PvP is totally open. (Criminal penalties are applied when player kills another player who is in the same faction.) This includes the Northern continent. However, most of the Northern continent is open to PvP. (Open PvP areas are where PK between hostile factions is allowed without penalty.) Certain factions, such as pirates, might be free from criminal penalties. Also, since blood prints are the evidence of PK, and blood cannot be found easily on the open ocean, the sea can be generally regarded as an open PvP area.

  • Despite being one of the people crying for more MMOs to implement housing, it’s not that hard to understand why. Because it’s easier to make Minecraft with Minecraft-style graphics, than with Crysis-style ones.

    It’s a compromise. Games like Guild Wars 2, Rift or even WoW create a very beautiful and “alive” world because they hand-place everything. Once you get closer to a more realistic look, it gets harder to random place stuff and let the rules keep the world running.

    The consequence of that is that you either make a world full of interesting stuff happening, or you make a world full of open spaces where players can build their custom towns.

    I personally don’t see how could ArenaNet make a world with all those events if they allowed for players to just destroy huge sections of the map to build their own towns. Do you let players just remove events from the game? Do you let areas vacant for players to build towns? If they do the latter, would those areas attract enough attention with only player-created content that is completely different from everything else?

    You need a completely different game concept, and it’s just not the kind of game they where creating. For instance, one could argue that you can have randomized events on current/next gen MMOs like Firefall, but there are just so many “rules” you can create for events to be generated automatically, and the variety of dynamic events on Firefall doesn’t hold a candle to that of Guild Wars 2. But you can in theory implement housing on Firefall without problems.

    That is the compromise. Ultima Online’s overall design allowed for these features, current-gen MMOs design don’t.

  • There have been several MMOs that use the skill based class system that UO does, but most of them have not been very successful. I suspect that this is an uncommon design choice because it’s more intimidating for new players. Personally I like the UO system a lot.

    Games shy away from actual theft for the same reason that most games do not feature looting in pvp. People don’t like having their stuff stolen. Featuring item theft and a full loot pvp system instantly places your game in a very niche demographic. That said, there are truly some hilarious stories that come from this kind of mechanic. One of the best MMO stories I have ever read comes from the Mortal Online forums where a new player experienced the heights of generosity and the heights of cruelty in the same play session. Basically, some generous fellow gave the new player a horse for free. The new player was thrilled, but soon got ganked and the horse was killed. The new player went to town and another kind soul gave him a horse to help him on his journey. Not wanting this horse to die right away, he went to the stables and stored the horse there. The stablemaster gave him his claim ticket and sent him on his way. Within one minute of stepping outside, someone pickpockets his claim ticket, goes and gets his horse, and then kills it right in front of him. That, my friends, is grand master level griefing. I suspect the vast majority of players would quit a game on the spot after something like that.

    UO is widely considered to have one of the best housing systems in MMO history. I can’t dispute that. It does have a dark side though. When I played UO I scraped together the cash to buy myself a house only to find out that there was literally no space left on the server. I tried to find a legal place to put my house for weeks to no avail — there was always one tile with some rocks or a tree or what not blocking placement. For me the house wasn’t that important, but for some players it would be absolutely game breaking.

    For the record, I loved UO.

  • I don’t know that the skill system intimidates anyone. The problem is that people expect dozens of abilities available for their character. When you make a system like this the challenge is balancing the different skills in all of the trees so that no one combination is amazingly better than all others. I think UO manages this by just not having much in the way of special abilities. SWG went with the same kind of system and while I enjoyed it, the developers obviously never figured out the right balance.

    Swarmofseals nailed the housing issue. Placing housing in the world is awesome, but the problem becomes that you end up with every spot of land that could hold a house doing so. And eventually there isn’t enough room for new players to build a house. Another downside is that the world becomes an urban mess of random houses all over the place. I’d like to see a game that implements housing in both the instanced and the UO fashion. Make the instances apartment blocks or rooms in boarding houses and shacks in the slums. In those cases the players would need to pay their weekly/monthly rents, or maybe even allow players and guilds to buy those properties and set their own rates but make them still pay taxes to the city/king/what ever.

    Then you could also allow players to build homes wherever the land was suitable. These players would need to purchase the rights to build a home and then continue to pay taxes to the king or whatever to continue occupying the property. Make all of this costly so that it’s a serious commitment, similar to owning a home in reality. I think one of the things that really annoyed me in UO was that I had to purchase my home part and parcel from a vendor. I mean, what the hell, there is a whole carpentry skill and all they can do is make furniture and accessories for my house? I would still expect to pay the king for a property deed for the land or whatever, but the structure should actually be provided by another player using resources. Make maintaining a house not just a matter of paying up some coin but you need to actually get a smith, carpenter or something else to come out and use resources to repair the building.

    I think that there should be storefronts in town that players can bid on to place vendors in, maybe with a hefty sales tax so that going out into the boonies to shop is still worthwhile I also like the idea of players being able to establish their own cities in whole; Guards, banks and all that.

  • “Selecting which skills you want to use to build your own class, even if that class does nothing but craft, RP, or be a thief; no set path”

    Because modern MMOs are all about completing content, e.g. fightin’…crafters are just support for the real thing…crafts need to be accessible to the masses…also make your own class = lack of control by Devs…they hate that…

    “Sail boats around the world” – beats me…

    “Place a house in the world and set up vendors”

    I think UO ruined that by people whining that houses were cluttering up everything…then people tried to solve this by putting them into their own instance (DAOC, AO) or into predesignated spots (DF). It’s lame…solving problems that arent really problems…that reminds me…a good question would be…what modern MMO features would NOT ruin a game like UO…this may actually be a pretty complicated question since even innocent features could have a big impact on the way UO is played…

    “Be able to actually steal stuff from people, pop a disguise that changes your name and looks, and be a villain”

    Thieves…this is a chapter on its own. People hate thieves like nothing else. I am pretty sure that people would collectively agree that they hate thieves more than PKs. People hate having their stuff snooped through…stolen…even the owner of the UOF shard seems to hate thieves. I have a feeling that he would be happy to take that skill out of UO if people would be ok with it. If you play one – it is one of the most hilarious mechanics in any MMO ever…

  • While I wanted to join you all in UO I jsut couldn’t handle the 2d top down graphics but your posts did give me incentive to go back to my beloved Asheron’s Call. I rerolled from scratch on the most popualted server there and made a new character. A dual Wield staff melle/magic hybrid. Dual Wield was introduced last year so its given me a new lease on an old love.

    My guy is now level 117 and no sign of letting up any time soon. Now that I know I can’t just twink the hell out of him (my main lvl 275 has everything needed and plenty of money to buy what little he desn’t had) the game has taken on a new meaning trying to work my way up. Thanks to your nostalgia posts for getting me back in with my first love Keen.

  • This is like your jazz-loving friend trying to explain to you why you really *should* love Ornette Coleman or your guitar-playing cousin insisting on playing you his Paco de Lucia albums until you learn to appreciate the finger-work.

    Maybe you’ll be converted, maybe you won’t. Maybe your entire outlook on music will be changed, maybe you’ll just hear some noises you can’t figure out and don’t really enjoy.

    People like different things and that’s fine.

    I tried UO in 2000. I found it very mildly interesting, mostly for the roleplay, which I was more prone to being impressed by then than I am now. Like Zederok, I found the 2d top down graphics to be a very serious barrier even then and I was a lot more tolerant of that kind of thing in those days. Nowadays I think that if that style of graphics was the only choice available I’d probably give up gaming altogether. It just doesn’t work for me at all now.

    As for skill-based systems, I’ve strongly disliked them since I made the choice between [email protected] and Runequest back in the early ’80s. I like class-based sysems where the choice is made at character creation. I don’t find chopping and changing skills fun, I find it intensely annoying.

    On becoming well-known on my server, that’s an absolute anathema to me. My goal in all MMOs, as in real life, is to remain as anonymous and unnoticed as possible. I have dropped characters, left servers and even quit MMOs in the past because I’d breached my anonymity to the point where I couldn’t reliably log in and be ignored. I like crafting but in games that put my character’s name on the things I craft I either don’t craft at all or craft with a character I only use for that and nothing else.

    UO resembles life in a village, where everyone knows who you are, who your family are, what trouble you got into as a child and what they might be able to get you to do. I grew up in a village but all my adult life I’ve lived in cities. I know which I prefer.

  • You remain as interesting as ever, Bhagpuss! I have never met another soul who doesn’t like choices, wants everything locked in, wants to be anonymous in every aspect imaginable (to the point of quitting), etc., etc. At least you know what you like; I’ll give you that. 😉

  • Me.. I recently picked up World of Tanks again.
    And I’m playing Ni Nu Kuni on the PS3. its a good game, not the greatness I hoped for, but good none the less.

    Not playing any MMORPG at the moment.. Nothing that interesting out there for me right now. Meh..

  • Easy answer for housing everywhere is put in realistic land taxes that scales with the amount of gold in the world. Make it very expensive on a relative basis to maintain a house.

    Only the very rich will have houses and the world won’t turn into an urban sprawl.

  • I would just go with banning housing in certain areas. Not to the extent of other games, but jesus Christ UO was a continual suburb. The main reason i went to tremmal back in the day was not to avoid PKs but to avoid the ever approaching city sprawl. I do not mind getting rob by a bandit on the road in a fantasy game, I do mind getting rob behind a supermarket connect to an apartment block in a fantasy game.

  • No MMOs for me lately as they have been just too much of a letdown. I’m glad I skipped TOR and GW. Instead I’m enjoying beers, cookouts, and friends over to play zombie dice, Munchkin, Pathfinder, and looking towards a skirmish game as soon as I pick one out. Kickstarter is helping with that and its like a game in it’s own way which is fun. Regular updates regarding my support of “Project Eternity” are all the gaming news I need at the moment until I pick out a new console game in a couple months.