Why I play UO: Relying on Others and Building a Community

Ultima Online Forever is still my game of choice these days, so I thought I’d give you all an update on what’s been going on in-game and some of the reasons why I continue to enjoy a game nearly 15 years old.

Relying on Others: A slightly different take

Often this topic centers around having to group with people to take on PvE encounters (forced grouping), but I had an experience yesterday where I willingly chose to rely on other people to help me with something economy related.  A guild member of mine was showing me something when we came upon a location he uses to farm wool from sheeps.  He said, “I’m hesitant to show you this location because then you won’t need wool anymore!”  I thought about it for a second, and what he said is true; if I decided to farm this on my own then I wouldn’t need to pay him for wool anymore.  However, taking the time to go out and sheer the sheep is yet another activity I would have to add to my already busy schedule in-game.  I told him I can’t take the time to do that, so I want him to continue to be my supplier of wool.

I formed a relationship with another player wherein we both benefit from each other, and rely on each other.  He needs money, and I need wool.  I have created similar relationships with several other players.  One random person I’ve never actually met before approached me and wanted to supply me with a modest sum of Iron ingots once a week.  I have come to rely on this individual because, once again, I don’t have the time to go out and mine iron ingots.  I have yet another relationship with 2-3 other players who supply me with various types of leather.

If not for these many other players, I would not be able to play UO the way that I do.  I enjoy creating things, selling them, coming up with ways to improve my margins, and ultimately profiting from my time and relationships with others.  If not for having to rely on other people, I would be left with a completely hollow experience.

Haven has a fence!

Our guild, Haven, has a city (Haven City) located East/NE of Britain.  We’ve been here for a while now, placed a dozen or so houses, and even attracted some neighbors we enjoy having around.  We have created a tiny little sub-community that seems to grow every day.  Haven has a great history on UOForever.  We were the first to place a house, first to place a second house, were the first to GM many of the crafts, and we’re ultimately responsible for spreading the fact that this server exists to a great many people.

To thank us for playing (and being awesome if I do say so myself), the server admin placed a permanent fence around our existing city in order to symbolize our unity, our status, and recognize us as an official community.

We were talking on ventrilo last night about how we haven’t had this much fun in a game in a long time.  I attribute almost all of that to both the reliance on other players, and the fact that we have built a community that feels like it is permanent.

  • @Idunaz: Doh! We’ll see if we can bring you in the fence next time we expand the fence. We’ll end up having to expand it east as more people move in anyway. There should be a gap very close to you, at least, for you to get in.

  • I’m always on the fence about relying on others. I like systems where I’m part of the ecosystem, e.g. some of my favorite WoW memories was when crafting and the AH clicked, and I knew I could find items on the AH (like cheap greens) that I would never have the time or patience to gather myself, but I know I could purchase and turn around into things that both sold for a higher price and would be more valuable (like enchanting mats).

    But at the same time I loath being forced to go out and develop personal relations to do so (I don’t mind interacting with people, but if I had to troll around in trade chat every time I wanted to do some crafting, I know I’d ignore the entire system), especially as I get older and want more easily interrupt-able/resumable gaming experiences.

    This sort of thing ends up being really dependent on the quality of automated systems (like AHs and Dungeon finders).

  • What Shutter says resonates with me. I like being in an environment with lots of other people and making a positive contribution, but I also really value easily interrupt-able gaming sessions. When there is too much inter-dependence I end up feeling guilty if I want to log out when my friends ‘need’ me. Do I just do what I want and let down my friends, or stick and out and play while I’m not having fun? Either situation is bad.

    True inter-dependence really adds a whole new layer of social obligations that I don’t want to take on. I already am kept pretty busy by the people in my physical life who rely on me. Adding a group ‘virtual’ people that are also relying on me creates tension in my life as I struggle to keep up with both.

  • To add, I absolutely think what you’re talking about in UO is the best way to develop a true and lasting community. I also recognize that it also often brings the most satisfaction and pride in what you’ve done.

    It just comes at a cost. Like building any “real-world” community, it requires hard work, long-term commitment, and self-sacrifice. That’s a lot to ask of people who are just looking to unwind by playing video games for an hour before going to bed.

  • Its just that UO stimulates community and friendship.

    Most mmo nowadays are al about how awesome you are and that you need that 1337 piece of loot. Anyone else is just a roadblock on your path to glory and at best a temporarily help that you drop as soon as you do not need that person anymore.
    Why is this? Because the game is created that way.

    You might wonder where did we go wrong? Its just like the AI in the fps game Fear. It was great.
    Now compare that to the AI in the new Aliens colonial marines game.
    “Bangs head on desk”

    offtopic: I am giving Tera a go now that its F2P. I like the combat system, much better then the stand there tab target and hit a number.
    You have to aim, dodge and block.
    Just do not expect much more then a prettier looking wow.. in terms of question and progress. The game is very colorful, but somehow it does not run that great on my pc. (yeah I need to update my drivers, that could be the culprit)

  • Totally agree Zyler … spot on. But alas some people look for different things in different games, the early MMO players (uo and eq mainly) wanted the whole package not just ph4t l00t, which is why I mourn the good old days.

    Quite considering joinig this UO shard now, are there many EU timezone players (I’m from the UK)? or would be a ghost town when I get home from work and try to play?

  • Every time I hear about the game it sounds awesome, exactly what I’m looking for. I might try and make time to give the game a shot. But honestly, I’m ashamed to admit, part of the reason I’ve not tried it yet and keep putting it off is because of how it looks. I think I’m spoiled by fancy pretty modern games, it makes me think that something that looks like UO is going to be the same quality of some crappy Facebook game or something.

    I know that’s completely stupid to think, but I have trouble getting interested in older games these days, which is weird because these are the kinds of games I grew up with. Still, I might have to hop on and try it out later today or something.

  • @Ghiest: In our guild we have several EU players and a few Australia players. Many of us seem to be online when they are online. The server in general feels pretty active at all times.

    @TheRedComet: I’m the opposite. I think if UO had modern graphics it might be LESS appealing to me. Something about the graphics gives the game its charm. Lately I’m in the mood for older, simpler, looking games.

  • I like how you handled the wool dilemma. Prosocial spending likely leads to greater individual and community happiness.


    Unfortunately as in real life this is unlikely to thrive outside of local niche environments (co-ops, communes, collectives).

    In large MMO’s, guilds will typically act as avarice-driven corporations valuing outsiders only for what they can contribute to their own ends (in some cases equivalent to the ends of the officer core).

    It would be an interesting experiment to see if a pro-community guild could succeed in establishing a server-wide prosocial economy in the context of a niche MMO, or is the concept of a guild too tribal an idea, intrinsically at odds with the concept of universal community?

    I also bet that the chances of establishing a prosocial economy would be greater after a game has passed from the public’s attention, as opposed to at launch.

  • Oh, don’t get me wrong, I agree it’s 100% ambitious to the extreme! Still, it could be worth keeping an eye on, you never know 🙂

  • Does this fence protect you more compared to other player cities? Seems like the devs are just looking out for their own again, as you wrote in another post.

  • Correction, I see you seem to be talking about a freeshard with a name similar to Ultima Forever which is the game I was talking about when I said that the (official UO/EA Mythic) devs said it would not be like Ultima Online.


    When gamer folks write about Ultima Online, please specify if you’re writing about a freeshard. The freeshard has not been around for 15 years, Ultima Online has been around for 15 years.

  • @Lord Raven: If you have actually read my blog before, or followed any of my previous posts, you’d see that I have clearly identified this as a free shard on numerous occasions.

    I have also correctly identified it by name, linked to the websites, and made every conscious effort to ensure people know this is not the official UO.

    Personally, I hate when bloggers think they have the full story and attack other bloggers to look like an aficionado.

    If you’d like to actually discuss why I choose to play on a free shard vs. the official server, let me know. Although I have already written about those reasons, I suspect you haven’t read them either. I’d be happy to help you through the education process.